What Can You Cook In An Air Fryer?

As a new user to the air fryer, knowing what to cook with an air fryer is very important and is a dilemma you will most likely be faced with. This topic has been researched in-depth to help you know what to cook in your air fryer. We believe that by the time you finish reading this article, you will be confident enough to know what to cook in your air fryer.

What Can You Cook In An Air Fryer:

  • Meat Dishes
  • Vegetables
  • Baked Food
  • Frozen foods
  • Roasted Nuts
What Can You Cook In An Air Fryer? 1
(CC BY-ND 2.0) by TheBetterDay

Let us first remind ourselves what an air fryer is. An air fryer is a countertop kitchen equipment that uses convection ovens to distribute hot air or oil around the food in a bid to cook the food evenly and crispy. Countertop air fryers are fast becoming a modern kitchen appliance because of its convenience and cooking efficiency. Like an oven, food being prepared in an air fryer should be regularly rotated and stirred to ensure an even browning of the food.

What can you cook in an Air Fryer?

The air fryers can be easy and versatile when it comes to preparing lots of meal. Besides preheating and frying, air fryers have other cooking alternatives like baking, grilling, and pan-searing. Whether it is fried chicken, or french fries, bread, or vegetables, with the help of an air fryer, you can make all that with less fat and more speed. Many people like to turn to the air fryer to cook packaged frozen foods like frozen chicken, spring rolls, and chicken nuggets.

Meals that can be cooked by an air fryer are grouped as follows:

  • Meat Dishes: This consists of beef, chicken in whether grilled or fried form.
  • Vegetables: The air fryer can quickly fix you a nice bowl of steamed and cooked vegetables, e.g., carrots, broccoli, or peas. Healthy veggies like baby carrots, broccoli, and peppers can be air fried.  Most veggies can be ready under 10 mins.
  • Baked Food: When making baked foods, one can purchase an external accessory called the non-stick baking dish. It is optional. Cookies, bread, muffins, and a whole lot more are examples of meals that can be baked with an air fryer.
  • Frozen foods: Examples of frozen foods include fish sticks, nuggets, spring rolls, frozen fries, and much more. These can easily be prepared with your air fryer and should typically take a maximum of 15 minutes to be done. The Air Fryer can also be used to reheat or cook frozen food.  Due to its convection function, the air fryer has a fantastic way of making the food crisp and lovely. The convection function makes hot air get around the food, allowing it to cook more evenly and quickly.
  • Roasted Nuts: Things like peanuts, almonds, and walnuts can quickly be roasted with an air fryer. They typically take about 5-10 minutes to prepare.

The above group of food listed will be explained in a little while. Ensure you keep reading further as the items you can use to cook in your air fryer have been broken down in detail. Please see below:

1. Vegetables

  • Brussels sprout: They are pretty easy to make with an air fryer.
  • Okra and eggplant: Air frying okras and eggplants give them a crunchy feel on the outside and lovely soft feeling on the inside.
  • Corn on the cob
  • Zucchini
  • Stuffed mushrooms
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Green beans
  • Kale leaves
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Baby carrots

2. Baked Dough Filled Meals

  • Cookies: These can quickly be made in an air fryer because it does not have to preheat, and they are quick to prepare. Since the oil-heating process is being skipped, it could take about 10 minutes to have nice, fresh homemade cookies.
  • Banana Bread: Due to the convection function of the air fryer, it is quicker to bake banana bread with even less batter.
  • Bread: Using an air fryer is one of the best ways to make bread without an oven. The inside is light, and the crust comes out golden and crisp.
  • Glazed doughnuts: Air fried doughnuts tend to be glazed and crispy outside but pretty fluffy on the inside.
  • Cinnamon rolls: These usually come out beautifully sticky and worthy of a special occasion.
  • Breakfast burritos: Using the air fryer, one can make and enjoy a crispy burrito for breakfast.

3. Potatoes

  • Baked Potatoes: When air fried, they become lighter and moister than when baked in the oven. Just poke some holes with a fork and air fry for 30-40 minutes.
  • Sweet potato tots: Air fried sweet potato tots usually turn out with soft insides while leaving the outer parts slightly crispy.
  • Potato wedges

4. Meat Dishes

  • Chicken wings: Air fried chicken wings tend to be really juicy and crispy especially when cooked twice.
  • Mini Swedish Meatball: Meatballs are quick and easy appetizers that take less than 10 minutes when cooked in an air fryer.
  • Turkey: Air frying turkey, especially for thanksgiving, does not require brining, and it comes out with golden and crisp skin.
  • Steak: Air fried steak tends to come out perfectly cooked and delicious.
  • Bacon: Air fried bacon is cleaner, leaner, and the bacon can become crispy without getting too oily. The fat drips out of the basket in a bid to produce a leaner result; plus, it does not need much supervision, and it is less messy when compared to other cooking methods.
  • Drumsticks
  • Chicken tenders
  • Pork chops
  • Meatballs

5. Fish And Seafood

  • Coconut Shrimp:  Air fried coconut shrimps are a perfect blend of spicy and sweet. It can be served with sweet chili sauce
  • Garlic shrimp
  • Salmon
  • Calamari
  • Tuna steak
  • Scallops
  • Air fryer tilapia fillets

6. Frozen And Fried Foods

  • Frozen Chicken breast: The air fryer has ease and swift nature, making cooking firm chicken breasts turn out golden and juicy. Just ensure to put two at a time and try not to stack them.
  • Onion rings: With the air fryer, deep frying is not required to achieve a crunchy set of onion rings.
  • Buttermilk fried chicken: This is usually a significant reason for owning an air fryer.
  • French fries: Air fried homemade French fries tend to turn out crisp and perfectly golden. Remember to use just one teaspoon of oil.
  • Fried pickles: Air fried pickles tend to be crunchy and crispy with little or no oil.
  • Avocado fries: Experts recommend that one of the best ways to have perfectly air-fried avocado fries is to select avocados ripe but firm enough to retain their shape during the cooking process.
  • Mexican style air-fried corn: Select small ears of corn to ensure they fit into the air fryer basket. It would turn out crispy, especially if given a quick turn halfway through.
  • Pizza: Air fryers are great for reheating frozen pizzas, making it crispier. Mini pizzas can also definitely fit into the air fryer. Frozen individual pizzas can also be heated up.
  • Mozzarella sticks: These never get greasy, especially if they are kept in the freezer, which helps keep the cheese from melting away in the air fryer.
  • Crispy fish fillets: Using any semi-firm and flaky white fish with little oil to get a tasty and crisp feel.
  • Potato fries
  • Spring rolls and samosa
  • Air fryer churros
  • French fries
  • Pretzels
  • Corn dogs
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Sausage balls
  • Fish sticks
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Crab cakes

7. Roasted Food And Nuts

  • Roast chicken: When roasting chicken with an air fryer, the skin turns out perfectly crisp while the inside of the chicken remains deliciously moist and flavorful.
  • Roasted Salmon
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Corn nuts: The air fryer tends to produce crunchy, delicious, and healthier corn nuts.
  • Walnuts
  • Groundnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Cashew nuts
  • Hazelnuts

8.   Desserts

  • Cinnamon Biscuits bites: Try not to get the air fryer basket overcrowded so that they don’t stick together
  • Fried Oreos
  • Muffins
  • Fruit pies
  • Fruit cakes
  • Air fried peach hand pies
  • Brownies

9. Other Easy Meals

  • Mac ‘n’ cheese: Air fried mac ‘n’ cheese is so easy to make, especially as you do not have to cook the pasta separately. Just use a parchment paper to cover the pasta while it bakes in the air fryer to get a delightful top layer.
  • Fried rice:  After combining all the ingredients, put into a safe oven bowl, place it in the air fryer, and leave for about 15 minutes.
  • Popcorn:  Using aluminum foil to line the sides of the tray will help prevent the popcorn from leaving the basket and flying around in the air.
  • Apple chips: Cut out thin slices of apple, season with cinnamon and salt, then air fry for about 8 minutes. The final result tends to be crisp, golden, and ready to be smacked on.

Tips to Air frying different meals

1. Vegetables

  • Tender veggies: Examples of tender veggies are cauliflower, Brussels sprout, bell pepper, tomato. Air fryers should be set 375 degrees (F).  Veggies should be cut to the desired size, put in the air fryer, and make it as flat as possible. Cook for 10-15 minutes, while shaking the pan once or twice to ensure even cooking.
  • Firm veggies: These take a bit more time to cook. E.g. beets, carrots, potatoes, pumpkin. Air fryers should be set 375 degrees (F). Veggies should be cut to the desired size (the smaller the size, the faster it cooks), put in the air fryer, and make it as flat as possible. You can sprinkle little oil, but it’s optional. Leave to cook for 20-30 minutes, while shaking the pan a couple of times during cooking to ensure even cooking.
  • Frozen Veggies: When air frying frozen veggies, it is essential to create space between them so that the water can evaporate and the veggies can roast properly and perfectly.

2.   Baked meals

Be sure to reduce the suggested temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit or 4 degrees Celsius. Baking time should be reduced by 20%. Keep a close eye and continuously check to see if it is done. Always preheat before using it. Try not to overcrowd the basket (essential). Ensure the air fryer is cleaned after every use and use oil or butter only where necessary.

3.    Meaty Foods

The air fryer should preheat for 5 minutes. Meats should be seasoned and coated well, and then spread along the bottom of the air fryer. When one side is cooked, turn the other side, take out when done.

The air fryer basket should not be overcrowded during the cooking process. Space is needed to allow hot air to circulate correctly, giving it a nice crust. Finally, ensure any form of fat on the meat is taken out.

4.   Fish and Seafood

When fish is placed in the air fryer basket, cook it at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-12 minutes and ensure that you do not overcrowd the air fryer basket.

5. Frozen and Fried Food

The method of cooking frozen foods varies from meal to meal. Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray the air fryer’s basket with cooking oil. Remember, do not overcrowd the air fryer basket.

6. Roasted nuts

No preheating is required. The temperature should be set to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Timings are dependent on the type of nut being roasted; (Almonds- 6 minutes, Hazelnut-6 minutes, Cashew nuts-8 minutes, and Peanuts-10 minutes). Ensure nuts are tossed halfway through cooking for even browning

Some foods to avoid cooking with an air fryer

  1. Broccoli: Broccoli isn’t particularly air fryer friendly as it gets very dry. So it’s best to keep it out of the air fryer.
  2. Entire chicken: Avoid putting entire chickens in the air fryer because it won’t fit in the air fryer basket and will not evenly cook.
  3. Wet batter: Avoid putting any food that has a wet batter in the air fryer because the batter can cause a huge mess. E.g. corndogs.
  4. Cheese: Cheese should not be put in the air fryer as it can bring about an enormous mess.
  5. Medium-rare: Avoid air frying a burger to perfect medium-rare.
  6. Fresh greens: Attempting to put fresh greens like kale or spinach in the air fryer will produce an unevenly cooked result.
  7. Over-seasoned food: Avoid putting over-seasoned food items and any other food that can create a mess. Generally, when food items with dry surfaces and seasonings are placed in the air fryer, the herbs tend to get blown off.

How healthy is cooking food with an air fryer?

Air fryers are usually a healthier alternative to deep fryers. Air frying involves eating fresh and healthy foods, especially as one does not need much oil. The extra hot distribution of heat ensures that the food is cooked beautifully without the need for so much oil. It can, therefore, be said that foods being cooked with an air fryer are pretty healthy.

Why should I cook with an air fryer instead of a deep fryer?

 Even though both appliances cook food quickly, air fryers do not need preheating before being used while deep fryers require up to 10 minutes or more to preheat before use. Air fryers operate at a high temperature with well-powered fans, while deep fryers have to be heated up to a specific temperature.

Also, little or no oil is required when using an air fryer, but when using a deep fryer, a vast amount of oil is needed, which gets absorbed into the food; and we all know that too much oil is not good for our health. Furthermore, air fryers are much easier to operate when compared to deep fryers, and they can cook more kinds of food than a deep fryer.

Other accessories that can be used in combination with the air fryer

Although most standard air fryers do not require additional accessories, however, depending on the type of meal to be prepared, if the user wants, there are a few accessories that he or she can purchase. These include:

– Grill pan

The grill pan should be one that is designed for your air fryer. The grill pan will make things like grilling meat, fish, and vegetables easier. It will also ensure the food is ready at a faster time.

– Baking dish

Certain foods must be cooked in a casserole dish. Any dish that can fit into the air fryer can be used. When using a baking dish, it should be placed in the air fryer basket. This allows for ideal airflow in the air fryer.

– Flame Distributor

This accessory helps prevent splashes of oil against the heating component, which can be found above the basket.

– Grill mat

A grill mat is used to keep the basket clean, and it is usually easier to clean than the air fryer basket. It can also serve the same purpose as the flame distributor; however, the grill mat should not be close to and not touch the heating component.

Cleaning Your Air Fryer

It is imperative that you clean your air fryer immediately after every use. Some air fryer models are easier to clean than others. Cleaning your air fryer after every use is needed to avoid any buildup of grease in the drawer and on the heating element and prevent the smell of odors or rise of smoke while the food cooks.

– Step 1: Clean as soon as possible

Avoid any delay in cleaning your air fryer. After cooking, unplug the air fryer; allow cooling, and then emptying the oil from the pull out drawer.

– Step 2: Warm soapy water

Use warm, soapy water to clean the food basket and drawer. Also, make use of a soft sponge or cloth. If the food basket and drawer have food stuck on them, soak them in hot water and dish detergent. This will help to loosen the food. After this is done, you can proceed to wash them.

– Step 3: Use a wooden skewer

To poke out foods that are stuck in the basket holes, ensure to use a wooden skewer or toothpick, after which you dry the air fryer basket and drawer.

– Step 4: Use a damp cloth

When attempting to clean the inside of your air fryer, use a damp cloth dipped in warm water. Ensure that the air fryer basket and drawers are removed. Look around the heating element for grease and food fragments and wipe clean. Then reassemble your air fryer.

– Step 5: Wipe exterior

Use a damp sponge or cloth to wipe the exterior clean.

Frequently Asked Questions

– Can aluminum foil be used in an air fryer?

It is possible to put and use aluminum foil in an air fryer so long as you keep it small, ensure air is allowed to flow by not covering the whole basket, and do not ever use it without food on it.

– How about putting paper in my air fryer?

Putting paper towels in your air fryer is not a good idea and is not recommended.

– How much oil do I need when coking with the air fryer?

You can use little or no oil to prepare your foods.

– Adding water while air frying

Water can be added to the air fryer, especially when preparing fatty foods. The water should be added to the drawer underneath the basket, as this helps to stop grease from getting too hot.

– Is it possible to use my air fryer without the basket?

It is possible to do that if you have to; just be careful not to block the airflow around your air fryer.

– How to prevent food from sticking to the air fryer

The air fryer basket should be sprayed lightly with vegetable oil spray.

– What is the eventual taste of air fried foods?

Air fried meals taste mostly crispy.

– Can I open the air fryer while cooking?

 For fryers that have their opening at the top by lifting the lid off, it is not recommended to open it while cooking. For other fryers, as long as it slides open from the side or front, it should be okay to open while cooking. Always remember to consult the manual to be sure.

– How much food can be cooked at once in an air fryer?

Most times, a ‘maximum’ sign is stated on the basket of the air fryer, which usually means they should not fill the air fryer more than 2/3 full.

– What happens to the smell of the food when it is cooking?

The air fryer has a filtering option that ensures no food or cooking odor is spread to the home.

Final Remarks

In trying to figure out what to cook with an air fryer, the possibilities are endless. The air fryer can be used to make a lot of your favorite comfort foods. A Lot of people like to turn to the air fryer to cook packaged frozen foods like French fries and chicken nuggets as well as making cookies. Parents especially enjoy the fact that their children can return from school and safely fix up a snack for themselves with the air fryer. The air fryer is not only for preheating meals but can also make meals from scratch. Air fryers are a modern kitchen appliance that requires little or no oil in cooking. It can be seen to offer a healthier way to eat, a time saver, and has the ability to allow one to enjoy their favorite food without feeling guilty or worried about adding unnecessary weight. It is rapidly growing, and soon, it just might become essential equipment in any home. Some foods become crispy and juicy in an air fryer, while others can get messy and dry. Air fryers are perfect for reheating frozen foods and also great for from-scratch foods. It is important to note that, as easy and versatile as the air fryer can be when preparing lots of meals, it is not every food that should be thrown into this kitchen appliance.

General tips for cooking with an air dryer are to ensure the air fryer basket is not overcrowded. This is to give rise to an evenly cooked food. Depending on the kind of food being prepared with the air fryer, the methods differ. Always adjust the cooking temperature to suit each meal; foods with oil should be put in the air fryer carefully and check for doneness early. It is worthy to note and remember that as much as air fryers provide a healthier way to consume fried foods than deep fryers, it is still fried food, and people should continue to ensure they limit their fried food intake all in all as this is highly beneficial to a person’s health. For better health, people should concentrate on diets that include vegetables, fruits, and lean protein. Remember to always clean your air fryer immediately after every use.

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