You’ve likely heard the hype. Air fryers are the new Instant Pots. The latest home cooking trendy countertop appliance, air fryers claim they can give you the crispy, crunchy texture you love in the perfect french fry, chicken tender or mozzarella stick, all via the magic of air. Sure, you can be skeptical all you want, but that doesn’t negate all of the rave reviews mommy bloggers and Facebook fans dole out for this buzz-worthy item.
To help the skeptics, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about air fryers, plus giving you 26 of the best air fryer recipes, so you can cook up everything you’d normally fry (and some things you never would) in less time and with fewer calories.
How Does an Air Fryer Work?
First things first, let’s get one thing out of the way. How does an air fryer work? Because we all know that you can’t fry something simply with air… right?
An air fryer works via a hot air circulation method. You add your cooked items to a basket, lower it into the fryer, set your temperature and then watch it work. Food blogger Organically Addison shares why an Air Fryer is a good investment. “Air fryers are great for making quick, easy and crispy foods! They are powerful appliances, so I usually air fry at a temperature that is slightly lower than I would use for an oven. In addition, less time is usually needed!”
The fryer circulates hot air around your food for around 10 to 15 minutes, both cooking the food and giving the exterior a crispy texture. There’s no oil needed (though you can oil up your food before adding it to the basket for even more crispy crunch).
So, yeah, it is kind of like magic.
Does an air fryer work for all kinds of food?
While an air fryer impressively works with many different types of foods, it doesn’t work well with every single type of food. You can’t deep-fry batter foods in an air fryer, for example, as the batter would just drip out of the basket and into the bottom of the fryer, causing a potential hazard (and lots of clean up). You also will find that many vegetables (other than potatoes — they’re one of the few air fryer vegetables that work well, along with green beans and zucchini) end up all soggy and gross in the air fryer; they just don’t crisp up as well.
Your air fryer will work best with potatoes and meat, so that’s what we’ll get into first.
Best Air Fryer Potato Recipes
Cooking up some spuds? Sure, you can throw some frozen french fries into that air fryer, and you’ll most likely love the result, but why stop there. Try these other air fryer potato recipes for a bit of variety.
In about the same amount of time it would take to bake a potato in the oven at high heat (45 minutes to an hour), you can air fry your baked potato for a super-crispy shell and a perfectly cooked, fluffy interior. Make an entire weeknight meal out of your air fryer baked potatoes, with loads of yummy toppings, from fresh veggies to different cheese varieties to crispy bacon bits and even chili. (Hint: you can do the same thing with sweet potatoes!)
But why not level up your air frying experience by twice “baking” your potatoes? This easy air fryer recipe shows you how to take those baked potatoes to the next level by slicing them, scooping out the middles and then combining it all with butter, parmesan or cheddar cheese, bacon bits and the rest for an even more scrumptious side dish or easy entree.
Hasselback potatoes look impressive, but they’re oh-so-easy to make — when you use your air fryer, that is. With this recipe, you’ll need to cook, season and oil your potatoes before adding them to the air fryer for 40 minutes, but once they’re done, you’ll have beautiful potatoes that are golden brown and crispy on the outside and soft and perfectly cooked on the inside. They’ll make a gorgeous addition to your dinner table for any special occasion — or just whenever you’re feeling fancy!
Have you ever wanted to make your own potato chips but hesitated because it just seems like too much work? Well, with this air fryer recipe, it’s hardly any work at all. The most time-intensive part of the process will literally just be slicing the potatoes. After they’re sliced, you’ll let the slices soak for about half an hour or longer, and then oil and season the slices before adding them to the air fryer basket in a layer.
Best Air Fryer Entree Recipes
Looking for dinner ideas for that air fryer, but not sure where to start? Here are a few main dish ideas to help — and, yes, they go beyond your mere crispy air fryer chicken tenders.
You may not think it an entree, but charcuterie lovers and plate-grazers sure do. This recipe comes together quickly with just two ingredients, but it will look (and taste) as though you’ve been preparing for it all day.
Pair it with some good wine, and you’ll be on your way to a classy soiree.
You won’t believe the amazing texture you’ll get from air frying your hot dogs. The result is an exterior with a snap and a perfectly cooked, juicy interior. The process is super simple, too, and only requires that you toss those dogs into the fryer and let them cook.
If you’re accustomed to cooking your chicken wings in the oven, but you’d really love to achieve that restaurant-style crispiness that you get at your favorite wing joint, try air frying your chicken wings. This recipe is for buffalo-style wings, but you can use whatever sauce you want.
You can even fry your burgers in your air fryer for a juicy patty with a bit of crunch on the exterior. This recipe cooks up four patties in just 15 minutes. You will have to watch the patties as they cook and flip them as needed, but you’d need to do that anyway if you were cooking your burgers on the grill or stovetop.
Sure, you probably know you can make a whole chicken in your Instant Pot with ease, but in your air fryer? Turns out, you can cook an entire cornish game hen in your air fryer. Not only that, but it’s incredibly easy and takes less than an hour.
Scallops are likely one of the more intimidating things to make at home and are certainly more intimidating than a hamburger! But, your air fryer makes things easy. You’ll need to line your fryer basket with aluminum foil for this one, but the actual cooking time takes literally less than five minutes.
Struggle to cook steak on the stovetop or on the grill? Try air frying your steak fillets next time instead. This recipe cooks steaks to your desired doneness fast, in as little as 10 minutes. All you have to do is flip the steaks once during the process and then chow down.
Okay, so your air fryer is big enough to fit most chicken recipes, but it’s not quite big enough to fit an entire turkey. So, instead of frying a turkey in your air fryer, opt for turkey breast. This recipe shows you how you can get prepped for Thanksgiving dinner.
Best Air Fryer Dessert Recipes
Your air fryer isn’t just relegated to savory foods. You can also whip up some delicious desserts using your air fryer.
If you’ve never tried a caramelized banana before, once you do, you’ll never go back to plain bananas again. This decadent air fryer recipe produces the perfect banana for pairing with everything from ice cream to yogurt to vanilla cake.
Okay, remember how we said above that you couldn’t really use batter in your air fryer? That’s mostly just referring to runny batters (like the batter you might use for a funnel cake). If you have a batter that will hold up well in the fry basket, you can go ahead and give it a try — like with these air fryer donut holes that use firm and sticky canned biscuit dough.
Similarly, you can use Pillsbury’s crescent roll dough to make fried Oreos. You literally only need the Oreos and the dough, so this is a delicious and delightful dessert to fry up for fun, any time.
Making apple chips usually requires a long amount of time baking the apple slices in the oven at a low temperature. However, if you use your air fryer, you’ll get the same result in a fraction of the time. This air fryer sweet treat recipe only calls for about 10 minutes in the fryer for a healthful dessert that’s quick and easy.
Prefer your apples whole? If so, go with this “baked” apple recipe that produces deliciously caramelized apples with a soft inside. It’s just the thing for fall. Top the apples with ice cream, granola, brown sugar and anything else your heart desires.
Who doesn’t love candied nuts around the holidays? Whip up an easy batch of these delicious, fragrant sugared pecans, all in your air fryer. You’ll need to babysit the fryer a bit, shaking the basket every so often, but otherwise, you get a scrumptious treat in fewer than 10 minutes.
Surprising Things You Can Make in Your Air Fryer
Some of the best air fryer recipes will absolutely surprise you — like these options!
While, most of the time, you shouldn’t really put anything melt-y in your air fryer, this grilled cheese sandwich holds up enough that it shouldn’t be a problem. You make your grilled cheese like you normally would, with bread, butter and a slice of cheese, but the result is a crispier exterior that won’t burn as easily as it might when cooking it the old-fashioned way.
Something else you might be too intimidated to make at home, but that really comes together easily with the help of an air fryer, these chimichangas are an awesome addition to your Taco Tuesday. All you really need to master is your burrito-rolling.
With just some English muffins, cheese and pepperoni (or any of your favorite pizza toppings, really), you can put together some delicious miniature pizzas perfect for a workday lunch or treat for the kids.
Okay, so this one is likely the most surprising of all. Fried rice? In your air fryer? Won’t the rice just fall through the basket’s little holes and make a giant mess in the bottom of the fryer? Well, with this recipe, you use an oven-safe bowl and plop it right down in your air fryer before adding your ingredients. Fried rice has never been easier.
Air Fryer Copycat Recipes
Who doesn’t love a great copycat recipe? Here are a few things you can make in your air fryer that will replicate the restaurant experience as closely as possible.
Love Taco Bell? Love the Taco Bell Crunchwrap? You can get that delicious crunchy Crunchwrap texture at home with your Air Fryer and a few simple steps.
If you’re a fan of Outback Steakhouse’s Bloomin’ Onion, you definitely don’t want to miss this copycat appetizer recipe. Make it the next time you’d normally make onion rings in your air fryer for a delicious copycat treat.
Chick-Fil-A likely boasts the biggest chicken nugget cult following out of all the fast-food brands. But if you’re craving those delicious crispy chicken nuggets on a Sunday, you’re out of luck — unless you make your own at home using the above copycat recipe.
To go along with your expertly fried rice above, try out this copycat recipe for Panda Express’s orange chicken. It takes just 30 minutes and, while you will need a few more ingredients than you might for some of the other easy recipes on this list, the effort is well worth it and will be no problem for the average home cook.
Get to Frying!
So, are you convinced? Converted? Ready to break out that air fryer that Aunt Sue bought you for Christmas last year? Eager to rush out to the store to buy an air fryer of your own? Think beyond your average fried foods like french fries and fried chicken, and you’ll quickly see just how much an air fryer can do. It might just become your new favorite countertop appliance.
You might also be interested in: 36 Easy Recipes To Make-Ahead & Freeze For Busy [Or Lazy] Nights
Best Air Fryer Recipes:
- Air Fryer Baked Potatoes
- Air Fryer Twice-Baked Potatoes
- Air Fryer Hasselback Potatoes
- Air Fryer Potato Chips
- Air Fryer Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
- Air Fryer Hot Dogs
- Air Fryer Chicken Wings
- Air Fryer Hamburgers
- Air Fryer Hen
- Air Fryer Scallops
- Air Fryer Steak
- Air Fryer Turkey
- Air Fryer Bananas
- Air Fryer Donut Holes
- Air Fryer Oreos
- Air Fryer Apple Chips
- Air Fryer “Baked” Apples
- Air Fryer Pecans
- Air Fryer Grilled Cheese Sandwich
- Air Fryer Chimichangas
- Air Fryer Pizza
- Air Fryer Fried Rice
- Air Fryer Copycat Crunchwrap
- Air Fryer Copycat Bloomin’ Onion
- Air Fryer Copycat Chick-Fil-A Nuggets
- Air Fryer Panda Express Orange Chicken