Easy Air Fryer Recipes
Wondering what to make for dinner in your air fryer? Whether you just purchased your first air fryer and can’t wait to try air fryer recipes, or have had your air fryer for years but are looking for something different to cook with it, then you have come to the right place. We have rounded up over 25 of the best easy air fryer recipes including roasted vegetables in the air fryer, air fried meat like chicken, beef, and lamb, and all the air fryer seafood including salmon and shrimp. Plus, most of these recipes are quick and easy with minimal prep — perfect for busy weeknights.
Whats The Big Deal With Air Fryers
At first, the cooking worlds latest craze of air frying might seem too good to be true. Dont know what it is? We have a longer explanation here, but its essentially a device that gives the texture of deep frying with only a fraction of the oil. With such a device comes the promise that fried foods dont necessarily have to be reserved for state fairs and fast food, especially with this healthier alternative. To find out if this device was all its cracked up to be, we asked our Test Kitchen pros, What can you cook in an air fryer? They let us know what works and what definitely does not.
Check out our Test Kitchens entire guide to air fryers.
What Are The Best Foods To Cook In An Air Fryer
A lot of people turn to the air fryer to cook packaged frozen foods like tater tots, chicken nuggets and French fries, and many parents like that their children can come home from school and safely prepare a snack in the air fryer. But thats not all it can do.
This is not a device you have to use for convenience meals. You can make your own items from scratch, says Brandi Crawford, author of “The Super Easy Air Fryer Cookbook: Crave-Worthy Recipes for Healthier Fried Favorites.”
Anything you can bake you can make in an air fryer chicken breasts, burgers, steak, lamb chops they dont have to be breaded. The air fryer cooks them to the perfect temperature theyre juicy and tender, Crawford says.
Air fryers are great for cooking vegetables. A light spritz of olive or avocado oil will get your veggies to brown and crisp up. Most veggies are done in under 10 minutes, Crawford says. Shes a big fan of green beans, broccoli and mushrooms and she says asparagus and baked potatoes also cook nicely in the air fryer.
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You Can Cook A Flavorful Steak In An Air Fryer
Yankel Polak, head chef at ButcherBox, told Insider that it’s possible to cook a delicious steak in an air fryer.
“Rub the steak with a little olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper before cooking,” he said. “The olive oil helps it get a really good sear and the salt and pepper give a simple, yet satisfying flavor.”
To make sure your steak cooks evenly, Yankel added, flip it over halfway through the cooking time. This ensures both sides of the meat have contact with the hot surface of the basket.
Are Air Fryers Healthy
The answer to this is relative to what cooking method youre comparing air frying to. According to the Cleveland Clinic, air frying food can reduce your caloric intake by 70-80% when you choose to air fry food over deep frying food, so air fryers can be a good idea if youre on a diet or in a weight loss program. Air cookers wont make you lose weight but they can be considerably less caloric than traditional deep-fried foods. However, if youre comparing air frying to baking, roasting, steaming, or sautéing, air frying is unhealthier than these methods.
There are a few ways you can make your air-fried meals healthier for example, instead of air frying chicken nuggets, you could replace chicken nuggets with tofu nuggets for fewer calories.
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Bell & Evans Breaded Chicken Breast Nuggets
I will say that these are terrific chicken nuggets from the get-go whole breast meat pieces, air-chilled, antibiotic-free, flash fried in soybean oil before freezing. Theyre just an above-average nugget. And they perform like champs in the air fryer, with moist, satisfying chicken inside, and a lovely lightly breaded exterior, which crisp up a bit more when they rest post air-fryer for just a quick minute. They taste like good restaurant-caliber chicken nuggets.
How Do You Clean An Air Fryer
Air fryers are easy to clean and should be cleaned properly after each use. The pan, tray and basket can be washed in warm water and washing-up liquid or can go into the dishwasher. The appliance itself should be unplugged and wiped down after use.
Like other counter-top appliances, an air fryer should stand on a heatproof surface.
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How To Choose An Air Fryer To Buy
There are many air fryers on the market, including ones from brands like Cuisinart, Philips, and NuWave. They range in price from about $50 to $350. Pelcher says they can be great for people living in small spaces with no oven or stove, such as college students living in dorms. One thing youll want to consider is the amount of counter space you have, because they come in different sizes. Also consider your lifestyle when choosing the right air fryer for you. A small one, for instance, may be difficult if you need to feed a family, Plotkin says. Most can cook about 1 to 3 pounds at a time, according to Cleveland Clinic.
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Im Going To Need A Bigger Basket
That was when I discovered my first problem with the air fryer its size. I bought the 2.75-quart Philips TurboStar, which says it provides up to four servings.
The half-pound of shrimp the recipe calls for fit nicely in the bottom of my fryers basket, with room for the air to circulate around and brown it. But it made for a light lunch for two people if I was cooking for more, Id want to make a second batch.
Later I tried making chicken wings. Patted dry and air-fried for about 30 minutes, they finished with skin that was deliciously brown and crispy. They fell into the same camp as the shrimp, though leaving enough space for the air to circulate meant I could only cook about a pound of wings at a time.
While the cooking area of the air fryer is on the small side, the overall footprint is big about the size of my Instant Pot. And dismantled, the basket takes up about half of the top drawer of my dishwasher, so I found myself handwashing it most of the time.
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What Is An Air Fryer
Contrary to the name, an air fryer doesn’t actually fry at all. Instead, the air fryer works more like a convection oven, circulating hot air with a fan. The main difference between a regular convection oven and an air fryer is that the air fryer fan blows faster and the compartment in which food is cooked is often smaller. Because of these two things, all that hot air hits food more rapidly and so it doesn’t lose as much heat in transit. Most air fryers come with a grated rack or perforated basket so the air can travel through and hit the food on all sides.
The perforated basket helps the hot air hit food on all sides and crisp evenly.
This fast, hot roasting or “super convection” will quickly brown chicken, potatoes, frozen snacks, veggies and fish without overcooking the inside. That’s very similar to how deep-frying works which is where both the comparison and name come from.
While it isn’t the case for everything, I’ve air-fried many foods that taste nearly identical to if they’d been deep-fried. In fact, some things taste better since they are not saturated with heavy oil which can overpower the flavor of the food.
Air Fryers Can Help You To Avoid Soggy Zoodles
“Zucchini releases a ton of moisture during cooking, so you can quickly wind up with a soggy mess in a pan,” Dang told Insider. “In the air fryer, however, all that excess moisture just drips out of the basket, leaving you with perfectly al dente zucchini noodles.”
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Where Can I Get Them
If youre looking to buy an air fryer, your best bet is getting one of these highly-rated air fryers.
If youre looking to eat out and try the taste of air fried foods, the reality is that your choices are limited. This is likely due to the high cost of commercial air fryers. Its also related to the fact that although air frying has become quite popular throughout food and health communities, as of 2018 it has yet to go mainstream throughout the general public.
However, as the awareness and demand of healthier air fried foods grows, its inevitable that more restaurants will offer oil-less fried foods. Here are a handful of restaurants that currently provide air fried foods on their menu.
Best Air Fryers At A Glance
- Best blow-out multifunctional air fryer: Ninja Foodi MAX Health Grill & Air Fryer, £249.99
- Best looking air fryer for rotisserie chicken: Princess Air Fryer & Dehydrator, £169.99
- Best large-capacity air fryer for small kitchens: Instant Vortex Plus 6-in-1 Air Fryer, £119.99
- Best large capacity air fryer for affordability: Cosori Pro 5.5-litre air fryer, £109.99
- Best multi-tasking air fryer: Sage the Smart Oven air fryer, £329.95
- Best air fryer for roasting chicken: Tower Vortex 5-in-1 digital air fryer, £119.99
- Best air fryer for versatility: Tefal ActiFry Genius 2-in-1 air fryer, £269.99
- Best air fryer for making chips: Ninja air fryer, £94
- Best air fryer for families: Philips Avance air fryer XXL, £295.34
- Best air fryer for quietness: Salter EK2819 XL digital hot air fryer, £139.99
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Switching To An Air Fryer May Aid In Weight Loss
Deep-fried foods arent just higher in fat, but theyre also higher in calories and may contribute to weight gain.
One study of 33,542 Spanish adults found that a higher intake of fried foods was associated with a greater risk for obesity .
If youre looking to trim your waistline, swapping your deep-fried foods for air-fried foods may be a good place to start.
Clocking in at 9 calories in every gram of fat, dietary fat contains over twice as many calories per gram as other macronutrients like protein and carbohydrates.
Because air-fried foods are lower in fat than deep-fried ones, switching to an air fryer may be an easy way to help cut calories and help you manage your weight.
Besides being higher in fat and calories, frying food can create potentially dangerous compounds like acrylamide.
Acrylamide is a compound formed in carbohydrate-rich foods during high-heat cooking methods like frying .
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, acrylamide is classified as a probable human carcinogen, meaning that some research shows that acrylamide may be linked to cancer development .
The Environmental Protection Agency also finds that acrylamide is likely to be carcinogenic to humans .
Air-frying your food instead of using a deep fryer may help lower the acrylamide content of your fried foods.
In fact, one study found that air-frying reduced acrylamide by up to 90% compared to traditional deep-frying .
Can You Cook Frozen Food In An Air Fryer
You can cook completely frozen food in the deep fryer. Some fryers, such as the FrenchMay Air Fryer, also come with a recipe book that lists the temperature and time settings for frozen foods. They are ideal for preparing frozen meals and snacks, from frozen mixed pouches to frozen tilapia fillets or frozen salmon fillets.
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Air Frying Does Not Guarantee A Healthful Diet
While air fryers are capable of providing more healthful food options than deep fryers, limiting fried food intake altogether can significantly benefit a persons health.
Just replacing all deep-fried foods with air-fried foods in no way guarantees a healthful diet.
For optimal health, people should focus on a diet filled with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein.
More Things To Know About Air Fryers
Now that weve gone over some of the best air fryers you can buy, wed like to debunk a few air fryer myths to give you a better understanding of air frying in general.
How it works: The first myth to debunk is that air frying is not really frying at all. Air fryers use high-powered convection ovens that rapidly circulate hot air so that the food you put in the basket becomes evenly browned. So a better term for the device could be a browning oven. But we all know that marketing teams have a much easier time promoting air fryers than browning ovens.
Health factor: Another myth about air fryers is that they give you a healthier alternative to fried foods since youre not using oil. Although some air fryer recipes dont call for oil, most do. Granted, its significantly less than dunking your food in a vat of scalding grease. Still, youll want a touch of oil to enhance flavor and crispiness. How healthy or unhealthy an air-fried dish is comes down to the foods nutritional value. An air-fried basket of cauliflower is naturally going to be healthier than a basket of air-fried chicken wings.
Cook time: Finally, a common misconception that people have is that air fryers are as fast as conventional fryers. Although the condensed, high-heat cooking area makes the process faster than a regular oven, youre not flash-frying a basket of fries in three to four minutes. It depends on what your frying, but some air fryer recipes call for up to 40 minutes of cooking time.
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What Can You Not Cook In An Air Fryer
You can cook most foods in an air fryer, but there are some exceptions. You want to avoid air-frying battered foods, like beer-battered fish or corn dogs. While these types of foods fare well with deep fryers, they can splatter and cause a huge mess in an air fryer.
Its also a good idea to avoid using an air fryer to cook things with a lot of cheese, like fresh mozzarella sticks or jalapeño poppers. While frozen versions of these items do okay, fresh cheese melts too quickly , leaving you with a mess and a not-so-great finished product.
Air Fryer Baked Brie With Pesto Sundried Tomatoes And Artichoke Hearts
Thanks to the air fryer, not only does puff pastry get perfectly golden brown and flakey, the overall cook time is a fraction of what it would take in a standard oven. Layered with pesto, sundried tomatoes and marinated artichoke hearts, this crowd-pleaser is loaded with flavor and festive charm.
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An Oversized Air Fryer That Can Bake Toast Roast And More
- Features: Minimal preheating time, simple touch controls
- Additional Functions: Roast, broil, bake, toast, reheat, proof, dehydrate, rotisserie
If youre cooking for a family or want to be able to air fry for guests, you may want something thats a little larger. The Instant Vortex Pro Air Fryer offers a much larger capacity than other options on this list, sitting in at a hefty 10 quarts.
Thankfully, its not just bigthe Instant Vortex Pro air fryer is also highly functional, boasting nine settings, including the ability to bake, broil, air fry, dehydrate and more. Its a little more expensive than some of the others on this list, but its still very affordableand nowhere near the price of the premium options.
Air Fryer And Multicooker: An Air Fryer That Does It All
These are the most advanced and versatile air fryers and they do a whole lot more than air fry. Think Instant Pot but with an air fryer function as well. Ninja’s Foodi multicooker and Instant Pot Duo Crisp are two popular models, and if you want an air fryer and multicooker or pressure cooker but don’t have a lot of kitchen space to relinquish, one of these is a great option. I’ve used the 6-quart Duo Crisp a bunch and find it works really well, turning out some of the most delicious fried chicken ever
These models generally retail for about $175 to $250
The Duo Crisp is a powerful air fryer but it’s also a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker and more.
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Best Splurge: Philips Premium Digital Airfryer With Fat Removal Technology
Philips’ Premium Digital Air Fryer is a worthwhile splurge. You’ll find that it’s super easy to make crispy chicken wings, fries, and more by following its accompanying recipe book. Simply plug in the air fryer, turn its incredibly sleek knob to the correct temperature and time, and press to begin frying. The machine is so silent, you might forget it’s there, and its large basket fits everything from a whole bag of frozen fries to a small chicken for four. You can even grab Philips’ baking kit to make a cake and the grill kit for barbecue salmon, steak, and vegetables. One reviewer used their air fryer to make “the crispiest, tastiest nuggets The same was true with my experiment with grilled cheese sandwiches. Wow, perfect toasting and no greasiness. Roasted vegetables, also a hit. I am using this fryer more than I initially imagined.”
To buy: $250