You Must Make These Air-Fried Caramel Pasta Crisps
Pasta can, and should, be dessert. There are a number of ways to transform this popular carb into a show-stopping sweet, but you can also turn a pot of rigatoni into a quick, snackable, four-ingredient nosh. It’s a lovely afternoon graze, and completely appropriate for watching TV (turn the captions on to combat their crackling snap). Rev up those air fryers and get these crunchy, cinnamon-spiced pasta crisps ready for the next episode drop of The Mandalorian.
Air fryer pasta crisps have a similar texture to delicate bread sticks, but with a lightness that’s reminiscent of popcorn. Italian macaroni is usually made of durum wheat flour, water, and maybe eggs. When you buy it dry from the grocery store, the pasta has no water in it at all, making it the affordable, shelf-stable carb we love. When you boil the pasta, water permeates the dough, and the starches swell. At this point, you could enjoy the noodles as-is. Or be a wild child and cover them with butter, cinnamon, and sugar before air frying the heck out of ‘em.
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The air fryer provides a blast of intense heat. The water within the pasta dough rapidly evaporates, leaving behind air bubbles and a flaky, light, shattering crunch. It’s almost too easy to toss back a bowl of these cereal-like crunchies, especially while watching Pedro Pascal traverse the universe. (I’m pretty sure he would love these.) You can air fry any pasta shape, but I would suggest something squat and sturdy, like rigatoni, ziti, penne, radiatori or fusilli. Thin pastas are easily torched in the air fryer.
This is the way (to do it). Boil a serving of pasta as usual. Salt And/or sugar your boiling water. Turn off the heat. Dump the pasta out of the pot to drain, and put the pot back on the still warm burner. Add a smidge of butter to the pot and let it melt. Add the pasta back in the pot and toss it with the butter so it’s well coated. In a small bowl, mix together some cinnamon, sugar and a pinch of salt. Using a slotted spoon or fork, lift out the pasta and add it to the cinnamon mixture. Leave any excess butter behind. Toss the pasta until it’s well coated in cinnamon sugar. Lay the noodles in a single layer in the air fryer. Set to 350°F on the “air fry” setting, and let it rip for five minutes. If the pasta has browned to your preference, go ahead and take it out, but you can leave it in for another minute or two if you like deep browning.
The sugar coating melts into caramel, so be very careful moving the pasta to a cooling rack or sheet of parchment paper. I use metal tongs for this. The pasta might feel flexible when it’s hot out of the air fryer, but it’ll crisp right up after cooling for five to ten minutes. You can make these little crispy bits with leftover, cooked pasta, and you’re not limited to cinnamon- sugar. Try a cocoa powder-sugar coating, or cardamom-sugar. If your pasta is hollow, try filling it with jam, Nutella, peanut butter, or dulce de leche. I like to eat these day-of, but they will keep for a few days in an airtight container at room temperature.
Cinnamon Sugar Pasta Crisps
20-30 rigatoni, penne, or other squat pasta
1 teaspoon butter
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Nutella, dulce de leche, or other filling (optional)
Boil the pasta as per the package directions. Set the air fryer to 350°F on the air fry setting.
In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon, sugar, and salt. Drain the pasta. Return the pot to the warm burner and melt the butter. Toss the drained pasta in the butter until well-coated. Add the pasta to the sugar mixture, leaving excess butter behind, and toss until well-coated.
Lay the noodles in the air fryer in a single layer. Bake for 5-7 minutes. Cool and serve.
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