Air Fryer Patatas Bravas With Quick Romesco Sauce

Air Fryer Patatas Bravas With Quick Romesco Sauce

This spin on the classic potato tapa won’t splatter your cooktop with grease.

Prep: 10 mins

Cook: 30 mins

Total: 40 mins

Servings: 2 to 6

My first meet cute with patatas bravas was while I was backpacking in Spain. Tired, nearly broke, and perpetually starving, I happened onto a tapas bar with high top tables spilling out into a narrow street. There, a kindly mustachioed waiter guessed my plight, suggested a small glass of the local brew, and brought me a plate of patatas bravas without my asking. He just knew my spirits needed lifting and I didn’t have much of a budget to do so. 

These Potatoes Are Your New Best Friend

Since that first encounter, I’ve had a serious romance with the iconic Spanish crispy potato dish. What’s not to like about cubed spuds fried in copious amounts of olive oil topped with (or dipped into) a spicy red pepper-tomato sauce? Cheap, filling, and absolutely a blast to say (paaa-taaa-taaasss brahhh-vass), I will forever love this dish for serving with grilled meats and roasts, as a last-minute party appetizer, and as a midnight snack for one after a night out. They are always there for me. 

The Two-Step Method to Air Fried Spuds

The traditional dish is made with peeled, deep fried potatoes. I skip all that fuss and go straight for my air fryer. It’s quicker and there’s less mess and fat. After tinkering for years, I’ve arrived at a two-step cooking method for the crispiest potatoes with the creamiest insides. First, I cook  the spuds in my toaster oven-style air fryer with moderate heat until tender. Then I crank up the heat to 450 F and air-fry the spuds until they are crispy and deeply golden brown.

The Perfect Dipping Sauce

While the potatoes are air frying, I make a streamlined sauce that’s lots easier than the complicated bravas sauces of Madrid. I base my sauce on roasted jarred piquillo peppers because they have an intense, sweet and smoky flavor. Regular roasted red peppers will work in a pinch.

Then I add a little sherry (or apple cider) vinegar for a punch, Marcona almonds for richness, sweet and smoky paprika, and just enough cayenne to make the sauce a little fiery. Add salt to taste, as every jar of peppers varies. It’s really more of a romesco sauce than a bravas sauce, but it’s dead-easy and it tastes AHH-mazing. 

Serving Patatas Bravas

I prefer to serve my patatas tapas-style, with toothpicks stuck in a few spuds and the bravas sauce on the side for dipping. This helps keep the potato pieces crispy longer. But it’s not unheard of to toss the potatoes in the sauce until they are totally coated. For the Cadillac version, go ahead and drizzle garlicky aioli over the top. It’s rich, but very sexy, like most Spanish things. 

Tips for Making Patatas Bravas

  • Preheat the air-fryer basket for at least 10 minutes to prevent the potatoes from sticking.
  • Don’t overcrowd the basket! My airfryer fits 2 large (10 ounces each) potatoes, but you may need to cook yours in batches. 
  • Keep an eye on them—Watch the potatoes carefully the last 5 minutes, as air-fryers vary and your spuds may need slightly less (or more) time than stated in the recipe.

Make Ahead

The bravas sauce can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Whip with a whisk to make sure the sauce is well blended before serving.

“These are so easy to make and the sauce is the perfect accompaniment. They’re also perfect for a party because you won’t stink up your house with the smell of frying oil thanks to the air fryer.”—Megan Scott

Air Fryer Patatas Bravas With Quick Romesco Sauce

A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 large (10 ounces each) russet potatoes, cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch chunks

  • 4 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 cup drained, jarred roasted piquillo or roasted red peppers (from a 12-ounce jar)

  • 1/4 cup salted Marcona almonds

  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar or apple cider vinegar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Aioli for drizzling, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Air Fryer Patatas Bravas With Quick Romesco Sauce

  2. Preheat the air fryer with its basket at 400 F for 10 minutes. Toss 2 large (10 ounces each) russet potatoes , cut into 1 to 1 1/2-inch chunks with 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon fine salt, and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper.

    Air Fryer Patatas Bravas With Quick Romesco Sauce

  3. Transfer the potatoes to the air fryer basket and spread out in an even layer with plenty of space between them. (Do not overcrowd, air-fry in batches if necessary).

    Air Fryer Patatas Bravas With Quick Romesco Sauce

  4. Air fry, shaking the basket or stirring with a spatula once halfway through, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork (they will still be pale), 15 minutes.

    Air Fryer Patatas Bravas With Quick Romesco Sauce

  5. Stir the potatoes again and set the air-fryer to 450 F. Continue to air fry, stirring once halfway through, until the potatoes are deep golden brown and crispy, 10 to 15 minutes. Watch carefully to make sure none of the potatoes burn in the last 5 minutes of cooking.

    Air Fryer Patatas Bravas With Quick Romesco Sauce

  6. While the potatoes are cooking, make the sauce. Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 cup drained, jarred roasted piquillo or roasted red peppers, 1/4 cup Marcona almonds, 1 tablespoon sherry or apple cider vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon fine salt in a blender. Blend until smooth. The sauce should taste sweet, smoky, and finish with a little spicy bite. Adjust the seasoning with more salt and cayenne, if desired.

    Air Fryer Patatas Bravas With Quick Romesco Sauce

  7. Transfer the potatoes to a serving plate and insert 4 to 6 toothpicks in the potatoes. Pour the romesco sauce into a small bowl and serve alongside the potatoes.

    Alternatively, skip the toothpicks, spoon the sauce over the potatoes and stir to coat. Drizzle with the optional aioli, if using, and serve immediately.

    Air Fryer Patatas Bravas With Quick Romesco Sauce

Feeling Adventurous? Try This:

  • Substitute Yukon Golds—You can use Yukon gold or red potatoes if you don’t have russets on hand, but you may have to increase the cooking time slightly.
  • Make the sauce spicy—For an extra-hot bravas sauce, use hot smoked Spanish paprika instead of sweet paprika.
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 231
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 544mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 47mg 235%
Calcium 37mg 3%
Iron 2mg 9%
Potassium 620mg 13%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.


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