Chances are you’ve heard about air fryers by now. They’re the increasingly popular kitchen gadget that can help you achieve a crispy deep-fried-esque texture, all without having to actually deep-fry anything. But how?
It all comes down to the Maillard reaction. Air fryers work by circulating super-hot air mixed with tiny droplets of oil. The hot air plus oil combo helps quickly crisp up whatever you’re cooking and gives it a nice golden-brown color. This reaction is why foods that are browned often taste better, and it’s one of the reasons air fryers are so useful. To really show that off, we’ve rounded up 12 recipes to show just how versatile the air fryer can be.
1. Crispy Parmesan Buttermilk Chicken Tenders from FoodieCrush
If you’ve never used an air fryer before, chicken strips are the perfect place to start. The outside breading gets perfectly crisp and golden while the inside stays nice and tender — thanks in part here to an overnight soak in buttermilk.
2. Sweet and Spicy Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts from My Forking Life
Everybody knows that crispy Brussels sprouts are delicious. And by cooking them in an air fryer, the outside gets beautifully crisp. This recipe tosses them in a simple sweet and spicy Korean chili sauce to make them even more crave-worthy.
3. Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower from Laura Lea Balanced
Air-frying cauliflower might sound weird, but it totally makes sense. The hot air browns the outside of the florets and makes them super crunchy — and everybody knows that crunchy veggies are the best. Once air-fried, these get tossed in a homemade Buffalo sauce that’s equal parts sweet and spicy.
4. Air Fryer Turkey Breasts from Skinnytaste
Turkey breasts have a tendency to overcook before the skin has time to crisp up, but by air-frying them you assure that the outside gets nice and crispy while the inside stays moist. You can use this technique to cook skin-on chicken breasts too — just make sure to adjust the timing to prevent them from overcooking.
5. Air Fryer Sweet Potato Dessert Fries by Cotter Crunch
Everyone knows that air fryers are absolutely perfect for making crispy french fries, so why not coat air-fried sweet potatoes in cinnamon sugar and pair them with a sweet dipping sauce? It’s the perfect snack that’ll help you sneak some veggies into your diet.
6. Zesty Ranch Air Fryer Fish Fillets from The Kitchen Magpie
These air-fried fish fillets are the perfect recipe to keep in your back pocket. They cook up quickly and are endlessly customizable. Don’t like ranch seasoning? Leave it out of the breading and substitute with whatever spice mix you have on hand. The possibilities are endless.
7. Keto Air Fryer Tandoori Chicken from Two Sleevers
Quickly marinating the chicken in a mixture of yogurt, ginger, garlic, and spices gives this chicken a ton of flavor and helps tenderize it before it goes into the air fryer. Once cooked, serve the chicken over rice and you have a complete dinner that comes together in no time.
8. Crispy Air Fryer Breaded Pork Chops by Skinnytaste
If you’ve ever had breaded pork chops before, chances you may have encountered a soggy coating that barely adheres to the chop. (They can be tricky!) But by cooking them in the air fryer, the coating gets golden and crispy. The only downside is you can only fit about three pork chops in your air fryer at a time, but because they cook so fast you can batch cook them fairly quickly.
9. Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp with Piña Colada Dip by The Every Kitchen
Everyone’s favorite appetizer, made without any oil and completely gluten-free! Pair them with a flavorful dip — made with coconut milk, pineapple, and Greek yogurt —and you’ve just made the world’s most snackable appetizer.
10. Air Fryer Apple Chips by The Belly Rules The Mind
To make these crunchy apple chips, you just need apples, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Just slice some apples as thin as you can (now’s the time to bust out your mandoline), season them with cinnamon and salt, and air fry them for eight minutes. They come out crisp, golden, and ready for snacking.
11. Air Fryer “Baked” Potatoes by A Pinch of Healthy
You may think you don’t need a recipe for air-fried potatoes, but this simple one is worth memorizing. The outside of the spud becomes crisp like a potato skin while the inside remains tender and fluffy. Once you try cooking potatoes in an air fryer, you may never go back to baking them again.
12. Air Fryer Fish Sticks by Lexi’s Clean Kitchen
These Paleo fish sticks are not only perfectly crunchy, but also completely gluten-free, thanks to tapioca starch and almond flour. The tapioca flour (which can be found in the baking section of most grocery stores) replaces the flour and is used to dredge the fish sticks, while the almond flour acts like panko and gives these fish sticks a wonderfully crisp texture.
What’s your favorite thing to cook in your air fryer? Tell us in the comments below!