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What Are The Best Things To Cook In Air Fryer

french fries being cooked in an air fryer

With the air fryer becoming more and more popular, people are discovering all sorts of delicious foods that can be cooked in it. Everything from frozen foods to fresh vegetables and homemade treats are just some of the best things to cook in an air fryer. Here are some of our favorite dishes that you can make in your air fryer!

Are you scratching your head, thinking, “What’s the big deal with air fryers?”

People get fired up about this kitchen appliance for a good reason.

Who wouldn’t enjoy delicious deep-fried food without all the mess or heating up the entire house (like an oven)? Plus, getting “fried” food without using oil or consuming extra fat and calories is a huge win!

With an air fryer, your favorite meals just got easier (and a lot cleaner) because it uses a fan to circulate hot air and give your favorite foods that “fried” look and taste without all the downsides of actually frying them.

15 best foods for the air fryer

The air fryer may just become your new favorite kitchen appliance, but first, you need to know which foods are the best air fried.

Buckle up because we’re about to turn your kitchen into a culinary carnival. Ready to find out what your air fryer can do? Here are some of the best foods in the air fryer – dare to air fry, and your taste buds will thank you!

1. Leftovers

Leftovers can be tricky. You know that delicious meal you had at the restaurant last night? Well, it’s quite different when you heat it up the next day. Nine times out of ten, you end up with an unappealing mushy lump of food out of the microwave.

Why not use your air fryer instead? It’s the answer to your leftover blues, transforming your food into a recognizable and tasty reminder of that restaurant meal! Plus, it’s even faster than using the oven. Depending on what you’re cooking, it’ll only take a few minutes to achieve that perfectly crisp texture (without the dreaded wait time).

Think of your air fryer as a quick and convenient way to maximize your takeout leftovers.

2. Brussels Sprouts

Love them or hate them, Brussels sprouts are having their moment! Whether you’re a die-hard fan or someone trying to get a little more greens in your diet, air-frying these oft-criticized veggies is sure to bring out their best qualities.

Instead of steaming or microwaving them (which gives them a soft, mushy texture and intense taste), air-frying brings out a combination of sweet and bitter flavors with an incredible texture.

Halve the Brussels sprouts for the best flavor and texture. Or you can go with shaved sprouts – just be careful. They cook quickly and can easily burn if you’re not keeping a close eye on them!

3. Bacon

If you love bacon but hate the hassle of cooking it up on the stove, here’s some good news: you can toss it in your air fryer! This is a quick and easy way to prepare your morning breakfast in no time and with less mess and no grease splatters.

But be mindful as you cook your bacon this way because air fryers can quickly turn it into charred strips, so keep an eye on it to ensure you get it just the way you like it.

And don’t forget, bacon is greasy, so no matter how you cook it, you’ll need to wipe down your air fryer afterward to avoid any smokey complications. But imagine a crispy batch of bacon, ready in a jiffy – that’s air fryer gold!

4. Bananas

Get creative when you’re wondering what to do with those overripe bananas in your fruit basket! Turn bland old bananas into a mouth-watering caramelized delight by putting them in the air fryer.

Air-fried bananas are sweeter and develop more complex flavors that can’t be found in a fresh banana. Keep an eye on them, though. Since they’re high in sugar, they may burn quicker than a more savory food.

Keep the cooking time to around 4 minutes, depending on the fryer, and get ready for a sweet treat that’s WAY better than just grabbing a banana on the go. Bonus points if you can cook it up with some pancake or ice cream toppings like cinnamon and honey, syrup, or even agave!

5. Steak

You can get that delectable steak dinner you’ve been craving in your home using an air fryer! No need to wait in long lines, cough up a hefty bill, or endure unruly dinner-goers.

Of course, there are a few things to factor in as you put your steak in the air fryer. Consider the power of your air fryer, the steak’s thickness, and how you like your steak to be cooked. Your mouth-watering steak will be ready to serve in around 9 to 14 minutes.

Wrap your steak with bacon for an even more indulgent treat!

6. Crispy Chickpeas

Chickpeas are simply the best! You can stay healthy, lose weight, and even ward off diseases – all from a single delicious legume. Not to mention, chickpeas can replace other animal-based products as a protein source to ensure you never go hungry.

Even better, you can get these amazing legumes for a really affordable price – dry chickpeas provide cost savings over canned.

But the best thing about chickpeas is their incredible versatility! Crispy, crunchy seasonings make them the perfect snack – but you don’t need to break a sweat trying to make them. Just pop them into your air fryer with some salt, spices, and your favorite seasonings, and you’re done in no time (about 15 minutes!).

Who knew something so delicious could be this easy? With hardly any cleanup, crispy chickpeas may become your new favorite snack to take on the go.

7. Doughnuts

Doughnuts are just one of those foods that most people don’t make because oven-baked versions can’t compare to the deliciousness of fried doughnuts. However, instead of running to your favorite doughnut shop, you can make irresistible shop-quality equivalents with your air fryer.

The key to success is to make your batter slightly less liquid and more cake-like by using more flour than eggs. With your air fryer, you can skip the fat and mess from frying in oil while still enjoying the one dessert approved for morning consumption.

8. Chicken

Many people may know frozen chicken nuggets are a breeze in the air fryer. Just pop them in and enjoy hot crispy nuggets (or chicken tenders) in minutes without the time and hassle of heating the oven.

However, making a whole roast chicken and perfectly tender chicken breasts are equally easy to cook in the air fryer.

With your air fryer, you can skip buying a rotisserie chicken and make it yourself by seasoning a whole roasting chicken and cooking it for 50-60 minutes at 375 degrees to get crispy skin and juicy, tender flesh.

9. Fish and shrimp

Shrimp dish

Forget the days of dry, overcooked, or chewy seafood and bake fish and shrimp because these are some of the best foods in the air fryer! The hot air makes the outside of your fish crispy while keeping the inside tender and flaky. Try it with tilapia, salmon, or any other fish you enjoy.

It’s easy to overcook shrimp any way you do it. But in the air fryer, just cook them until they turn pink or have a slight golden brown color.

10. Pizza

Most people make their pizza in the oven, which takes time to wait for the oven to preheat. Or they reheat leftover or frozen pizza in the microwave and end up with a soggy, mushy mess.

The air fryer doesn’t need preheating and will deliver a crispy crust with delicious ooey, gooey melted cheese. Whether you’re making pizza or reheating it, your air fryer will make quick work of it and give superior results to make your taste buds dance.

11. Baby Carrots

Here’s an easy side dish that’s ready in minutes with an air fryer. Toss your baby carrots in olive oil, salt and pepper, and your favorite spices (ex: thyme). Then pop them into the air fryer and cook them at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or so.

You’ll have perfectly caramelized carrots for any meal that tastes better than baking them in the oven!

12. Kale Chips

Air fryers don’t just work with leftovers and meats! They also work wonders on veggies and greens like kale.

If you’ve ever tried to make crispy kale chips in an oven, you know it can be challenging. Juggling the moisture levels, temperature, and fatty goodness leave you with less-than-desirable results. Swap out your oven for an air fryer, and you’ll be happily munching on some delicious kale chips in no time!

The secret is to use enough oil to protect your kale from the air fryer’s intense heat (without drowning it). Then, sprinkle on plenty of seasonings, and voila! You’ll have a perfectly crisp, healthy snack to enjoy in around 10 minutes.

13. Crispy Potatoes

Whether you crave French fries, homemade potato chips, crispy tater tots, or roasted potatoes, turn to your air fryer for the best results. Not only is it faster and easier than using the oven, but you can skip the fat and calories the cooking oil delivers to enjoy a guilt-free side. Plus, this easy method works with both white potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Baked potatoes are ready in less than half the time (just 30 minutes) when you cook them at 400 degrees in the air fryer. And fries cook faster, too – often ready in about 15 minutes when you spread them out into a single layer.

14. Chicken Wings

Chicken is on the list, but chicken wings are a food group of their own!

Cooking up a batch of chicken wings in the air fryer is about as simple as it gets. Perfect for any sports gatherings (or just when you’re feeling indulgent), throw a batch of wings in the fryer for the crispiest, crunchiest wings around.

If you really want to get the most out of the flavors, marinate them for a few hours to make the wings taste fantastic. And skip the extra oil (and calories) for that coveted crispy skin because all you need is a pinch of baking powder and your trusty air fryer.

15. Pre-made foods

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls

When you need something ultra-quick, turn to your freezer (or your refrigerator) and then your air fryer. Frozen egg rolls, taquitos, fish sticks, corn dogs, and refrigerated biscuits are just a few examples of the cooking magic you can do on your countertop. And don’t forget about cinnamon rolls!

All of these foods will be ready in less time than it would take in the oven, plus you will enjoy a crispy outside with a soft and tender inside – yum.


If you’re new to using an air fryer, here are some common questions readers ask about using this handy, ultra-convenient kitchen appliance.

What is the most popular food to make in an air fryer?

Gotto go with French fries on this one. The air fryer’s intense heat replaces the need to fry them in oil, so you get guilt-free crispy fries with a soft fluffy inside and no grease.

Frozen prepared foods are probably a close second to French fries.

What frozen foods are good in the air fryer?

The air fryer works wonders on nearly any prepared frozen food. Try it for making chicken nuggets, eggrolls, taquitos or flautas, corn dogs, frozen pizzas, and more! In fact, try using your air fryer for any frozen food that you would put in the oven.

Can you put raw meat in the air fryer?

Yes, you can! Although you can put frozen, fully cooked foods (ex: chicken tenders) in the air fryer while they’re still frozen, you’ll get better results if you let raw meats thaw before putting them into the air fryer.

Can you put a paper towel in an air fryer?

Using a paper towel in an air fryer is not recommended. Air fryers work by circulating hot air around the food to cook it evenly and quickly. A paper towel could obstruct the airflow or be sucked into the heating element, posing a fire risk. Instead, to prevent food from sticking to the basket, you can lightly coat it with cooking oil or use parchment paper that is specifically designed for use in air fryers, ensuring it’s placed under the food so it doesn’t move around when the air starts circulating. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific air fryer model.

Once you try this list of the best foods for the air fryer yourself, you may hardly use your oven again!

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