What Can You Cook in an Air Fryer? Check out These Guilt-Free Treats

Last Updated On June 10th, 2020

Did you just get a new air fryer for the holidays? Maybe you picked it up at one of the New Year sales, or you just decided that it was time to eat healthier. Either way, you’re probably wondering “what can you cook in an air fryer?”

This popular small appliance helps people achieve that delightful “just fried” texture, without the excess oil. It works by circulating hot air combined with fine droplets of oil around your food to produce a delightfully crunchy exterior while maintaining a moist and juicy interior. Not only do you get a better-looking meal, but because it isn’t submerged in oil, you get less fat in your diet too.

So, what are the possibilities with your new air fryer?

What Can Air Fryers Do?

close-up of a digital air fryerThere are many different models available on the market today, each with their own unique benefits and features. Most of the time, they are great when you want your meal to be evenly cooked. The system doesn’t use as much oil as a deep fat fryer. Instead, it constantly circulates hot air around your food thereby lesser risk of burned or raw patches. Before we talk about recipes you can prepare, let’s start with some points that you need to remember.

Some Basic Reminders

  • You won’t feed a crowd: Most models are generally quite small, which means that you won’t be able to feed a lot of people at once.
  • Give yourself time: If you’re cooking raw vegetables, you’ll need at least 20 minutes for most thicker, root-based ones.
  • Thicker pieces work better: Thicker slices of food generally get better results in the air fryer if you want a soft middle and a crispy exterior.
  • Most things will cook at 375 degrees: Even if you do not have any recipes with you, you can watch your food fry at 375 degrees and you should get the right crispiness.

What to Cook: Air Fryer for Vegetables, Meats and More

If you always thought that your new kitchen appliance was just for chips and fried dishes like air-fried chicken nuggets to air-fried tofu, then think again.

You’d be surprised how well something that is generally sold for “frying” can replicate roasting and baking. With the air fryer, you can pretty much do any recipe that you would make in an oven. This makes it useful for preparing a wide variety of meals.

Our Favourite Air Fryer Meals

  • spicy pork ribs marinated in garlic.jpgPork ribs: You may think that you must be careful with air fryer meat recipes, but the truth is that most frozen cuts cook well in it. Pork ribs only take around 35 minutes to come out deliciously baked and melt-in-your-mouth tender.
  • Chicken wings: Just like pork ribs, chicken wings are a family favourite for most, but they can be difficult to make using a standard oven. Throw them in the frying basket for 20 minutes, and don’t forget to rub them with spices for a mouth-watering result.
  • Tofu: If you’re looking for something less meat-based to add to your recipes, tofu is a healthy choice. With an air fryer, you don’t have to worry about your strips sticking to the side of the pan. Just cube some extra-firm tofu, throw it in with a little salt and pepper and wait for 15 to 20 minutes. You can also add some sauce after you are finished frying.
  • Sweet potatoes: These spuds are an incredibly versatile part of any diet, which is why they’ve grown increasingly popular in recent years. With the right air fryer in hand, you’ll be able to achieve the perfect crisp on everything from baked potatoes to wedges.
  • Chips: No discussion of delectable fried dishes would be complete without a mention of chips. However you like it, thick or thin, your air fryer can cook them perfectly. Here’s a quick tip for you – remember to soak the potatoes before you fry them to get the best results.

Surprising Food You Can Try to Cook in Your Air Fryer

There are plenty of obvious dishes that seem to go together with air fryers, from potatoes to popular types of meat. However, the versatility of this appliance might be much greater than you think. After scouring the internet and performing a little bit of at-home experimentation, we’ve found the best things to cook in an air fryer, and a few surprising meals that you can make. The possibilities are endless when you’re looking for an easier way to prepare meals.

Air Fryers Hacks

  • bacon strips on a plateBacon: Bacon is a delicious part of any Juicy BLT or English breakfast, but it’s not a lot of fun to fry strips in a pan. Cooking bacon is usually a headache for most because it means battling with grease splatter. Fortunately, you can avoid the problem by throwing your bacon in the air fryer instead.
  • Omelettes: Looking for a fluffy and delicious omelette to start your day? You can try to follow an air fryer omelette recipe that only takes 6 minutes to make and can be prepared the night before.
  • Pumpkin seeds: Get the ultimate healthy snack in minutes. Rather than baking your pumpkin seeds on oven trays, use your air fryer to heat them to crispy perfection. You’ll replace an often exhausting and time-consuming job with a simple way to make quick snacks.
  • Grilled sandwiches: You may be surprised to learn that you can throw out your old sandwich press or panini maker if you have an air fryer at home. Whip up the ultimate grilled snack in a matter of minutes – no grill required.
  • Brownies: Desserts often seem like the last thing you would put into the high-heat environment of a fryer. The good news is that heat works well where brownies are involved. Get the batter recipe right, and you’ll have the ideal texture which is crunchy on the outside, and deliciously gooey on the inside!

Cooking Frozen Food in an Airfryer

close-up of frozen vegetablesLike anything else in your kitchen, your new cooking appliance can take some getting used to. You’ll need to experiment for a while before you find that sweet spot where you feel like you know how to prepare absolutely everything. Since frozen food is a go-to for most busy people who don’t have time to prepare everything from scratch, it pays to know how frozen items work when frying.

Whether you’re cooking frozen vegetables in an airfryer, or creating an entire meal, the most important thing to remember is that your meal will take less time to fry. The heat in an air fryer is more intense and more compact, which means that a chicken breast that would have previously taken 40 minutes in the oven might only take 20 minutes here.

Most frozen food won’t come with the instructions for air frying printed on them, so you’ll have to keep a close eye on whatever you’re making. A good rule of thumb is to check your meal in about half the time it would take when cooking in an oven.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if what you are cooking isn’t in some way wrapped or covered in batter, then you might notice a change in their texture. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something that you’ll need to consider. You might want to add some sauce to your frozen food as its cooking. This will make sure your dish retains plenty of moisture and stop it from having that “dried out” taste.

What Doesn’t Work Well in an Air Fryer?

As we mentioned above, the easiest answer to “What can you cook in an air fryer?” is “practically anything.” If you have the right timing, then most meals will technically get cooked. However, some types of food might not give you the best results.

While your air fryer can cook deliciously fried veggies if you’re using smaller frozen produce like carrots and peas, it rarely works as well as when vegetables are fresh. It’s often difficult to find the right balance between over and under-cooking some dishes. Think twice and try to watch the time carefully when preparing certain types of food in an air fryer.

Food That Should be Cooked with Care in an Air Fryer

  • Fresh cheese: Adding a small amount of cheese as an ingredient to your dish is fine, but if what you’re making is largely cheese-based, you’re likely to end up with a burnt meal that simply sticks to the sides of your air fryer.
  • Liquid batter: If you were going to fry something the traditional way – by immersing it in oil – liquid batter would be just the thing. Unfortunately, the same ingredient may not work as well in an air fryer as it sticks to the sides and can burn very quickly.
  • Food with loose seasoning: Make sure that if your recipe calls for adding seasoning, you’re also including plenty of moisture. Little bits of herbs and spices often get stuck, making it harder to clean.

Bon Appetit!

Ultimately, if you’re willing to show off your creative side, and spend some time experimenting, then there’s no end to the healthy meals and treats that you can create in your latest kitchen appliance. Just remember, various factors can affect the quality of your meal, from the size of the food to the amount of heat you use. A little bit of trial and error with a lot of patience is all it takes to make your new air fryer the most exciting thing in your kitchen.

What can you cook in an air fryer? Let us know your favourite recipes and ideas in the comments below!

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