8 Surprising Things You Can Make in an Air Fryer…and 6 You Can’t
Air fryers are touted as one of the healthiest methods for frying food. We've compiled a list of air fryer recipes that would turn out great…and some that are kitchen nightmares!
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What’s the big deal with air fryers?
At first, the cooking world’s latest craze of air frying might seem too good to be true. Don’t know what it is? We have a longer explanation here, but it’s essentially a device that gives the texture of deep frying with only a fraction of the oil. With such a device comes the promise that “fried” foods don’t necessarily have to be reserved for state fairs and fast food, especially with this healthier alternative. To find out if this device was all it’s cracked up to be, we asked our Test Kitchen pros, “What can you cook in an air fryer?” They let us know what works and what definitely does not.
Check out our Test Kitchen’s entire guide to air fryers.
Works Well: Ravioli
The crispy coating on ravioli reaches a whole new level when introduced to this machine. Please do yourself (and your friends and family) a favor and try out this recipe!
Works Well: Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds, say hello to your new best friend. The air fryer is an easy way to get those yummy little seeds baked to crispy perfection. While traditional methods would take you around an hour to complete, you’ll save plenty of time by using an air fryer.
No air fryer? No problem. We have a guide to roasting pumpkin seeds the traditional way, too.
Works Well: Certain Baked Goods
Prepare to have your mind blown: you can use an air fryer to make sugar cookies! And lava cakes! And chocolate chip oatmeal cookies! Just make sure you follow a recipe specific to an air fryer because traditional baked goods might turn into a kitchen fail.
Works Well: Homemade Chips
Our Test Kitchen has had lots of success making homemade potato chips in their air fryers. You don’t have to just stick to russet potatoes, either: try sweet potato chips, kale chips, beet chips—even pickle chips. Ready for a healthy crunch? You can make air-fryer tortilla chips with way less oil than deep-fried tortilla chips!
Works Well: Hard-Boiled Eggs
Strangely enough, you can make hard-cooked eggs in this thing! You don’t even need water…you just air-fry, peel and they’re ready to eat.
Do you have trouble peeling hard-boiled eggs? We have the perfect kitchen hack to streamline the process for you.
Works Well: French Fries
If you’re a french fry fanatic, this is the machine for you. Frozen french fries were practically made for air fryers (like our Test Kitchen’s fave model). They turn out crunchy, crispy and baked to perfection, just like air fryer tater tots! With 75% less oil than a deep-fryer, you can eat air-fryer fries without guilt!
Works Well: Egg Rolls
Whether you’re making savory egg rolls for an appetizer or sweet ones for dessert, it can be difficult to nail the balance between a crispy shell and a well-cooked filling. With an air fryer, you don’t have to worry. You’ll end up with a firm, fried texture on the outside without ruining the soft interior.
Doesn’t Work So Well: Raw Vegetables
While the air fryer can cook up some delicious fried veggies from the freezer, it doesn’t have the same superpower with raw produce. We’ve found they turn out soggy—definitely not the texture you’re going for! These eggplant fries are a delicious exception.
Doesn’t Work So Well: Most Greens
We don’t know why you’d want to put lettuce in your air fryer, but throwing unseasoned spinach or romaine in there will just cause it to fly around and make a mess. However, there is one thing you can do with leafy greens…kale chips! Just be sure to coat your greens in olive oil so they’re weighed down when they go into the air fryer.
Doesn’t Work So Well: Fresh Cheese
Wouldn’t it be great if you could make homemade fried cheese curds with this thing? Unfortunately, you’re out of luck unless you start with something frozen. Just putting cheese in the machine causes it to melt and stick to the air fryer…which only results in a mess. (If that happens, here’s how to clean your air fryer.)
Doesn’t Work So Well: Battered Foods
Liquid batter will go flying the minute you close up the air fryer. That means you’ll have some trouble making breaded cod, chicken or pork chops, unless you follow an air fryer-specific recipe. Fortunately, we have a list of those right here!
Doesn’t Work So Well: Foods with Loose Seasonings
As you can imagine, any herbs or spices that aren’t stuck to your food might not stay put in an air fryer. Hold off on salting, peppering and seasoning your foods until they come out of the device—otherwise, the little bits could get caught in the air fryer’s nooks and crannies, making it harder to clean.
However, if you do make this mistake, it’s not the end of the world: most air fryer pieces are dishwasher safe. Here are more tips for using one.
Doesn’t Work So Well: Feeding a Crowd
While air fryers come in a range of sizes, even the largest model can only fit food for a handful of people, which is why finding the best air fryer size for your needs is crucial. If you have a large family or you plan on using your air fryer for a bigger gathering, you’ll have to make your food in batches. You’ll probably be better off using these dinner recipes guaranteed to feed a crowd.
After consulting this list, you might be wondering whether you should purchase an air fryer for yourself. If you’re a big fan of fried chicken, french fries or even dessert, we suggest you give it a try—especially if you’re interested in the health benefits of forgoing so much oil! However, if you make a lot of roasted veggies or tend to make big-batch meals, an air fryer might not be the ideal device for you.