13 Air Fryer Recipes That Are *Almost* Too Good to Be True
Is it possible to fry food using almost no oil...and eat it without needing a nap immediately afterwards? If you've heard anything about the buzziest healthy-cooking appliance of the past few years, the air fryer, then you know the answer is yes.
Technically, air fryers are mini convection ovens, meaning they use convection fans to circulate hot air around foods (think: french fries, chicken wings, crispy Brussels sprouts) to give them an irresistible fried-like texture with almost no oil. Air fried foods won't taste exactly like their deep-fried counterparts, but they'll have a crispy-crunchy exterior (thanks to the maillard reaction) and tender interior. We're big fans. That's why we chose to round up 13 of our favorite air fryer-friendly Real Simple recipes.
You'll find modified cooking instructions on each slide, but part of the beauty of this appliance is that you can easily pull out the fryer basket at any time to check on your food's cooking process, so don't hesitate to keep a watchful eye on those mozzarella sticks and meatballs. (And air fryer models vary tremendously in size, shape, and technology, so cook times and temps will vary, too.) Most foods will brown more evenly if you give them a gentle shake at least once during the cooking process, so keep that in mind too. And finally, remember that you won't need more than a tablespoon or two of oil when cooking in an air fryer, so adjust recipe amounts accordingly.
Roasted Broccoli and White Bean Salad With Dijon-Caper Dressing
This recipe tastes equally delicious—but can be made so much faster—when you roast the broccoli in your air fryer. Rather than waiting ages for your full-size oven to preheat, simply the dial on turn your air fryer to 425°F and cook the broccoli for 20 minutes, tossing halfway through. When the spears are lightly golden brown and crisp on the outside, toss them with the beans, greens, and fresh herbs before mixing in with your homemade mustard dressing.
Here, doubling down on the cheese with a combination creamy ricotta and salty pecorino allows these delicious homemade meatballs to walk the fine line between rich and intensely savory. Air frying will help them stay on the "lighter" side—to do so, cook them at 375°F for 10 to 15 minutes.
Baked Eggplant Fries
The key to the coating on these crispy-yet-tender eggplant fries is a bath in frothy egg whites and then a toss in panko, or Japanese breadcrumbs. To air fry, cook the eggplant fries at 400°F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they're evenly browned and crisp. Shake the fryer basket halfway through cooking.
Graham-Crusted Chicken Tenders
Let's be honest: Adults and children are allowed to have the same taste in food. Some kids love brie cheese and tuna crudo, so why can't the grown-ups get in on the crunchy chicken tender action? This recipe is pretty much perfect for people of all ages. To make it in your air fryer, simply "fry" at 400°F, then cook for 16 to 18 minutes and shake halfway through.
Roasted Cod With Kale Salad
Here's one incredibly easy way of cooking fish fillets: Season them with salt and pepper, top with crispy Panko bread crumbs and aromatic garlic, then bake in your air fryer at 400°F for about 10 minutes. Serve alongside sautéed kale and fresh-sliced tomatoes with a generous squeeze of lemon.
After just 15 minutes of chopping and prep work, you'll toss these delicious garlic-scented spuds in your air fryer basket at 350°F for 18 to 25 minutes. How easy is that? Just make sure not to forget to give them a shake halfway through the cooking process to ensure even browning.
Easy Pork Dumplings
To make these better-than-takeout pork dumplings in an air fryer, cook them at 375°F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they're lightly browned and crispy. Turn halfway through.
Oven-Baked Chicken Tenders
Cooking these chicken strips in the air fryer instead of the deep fryer gives the finger food staple a healthy twist, and using panko bread crumbs makes for an extra crispy exterior that won’t get soggy when sitting out. To air fry, cook at 400°F for 10 to 15 minutes and shake halfway through.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts With Pancetta and Lemon
We couldn't give you a roundup of air fryer recipes without a little browned Brussels sprouts number. This delicious side dish packs an umami-rich punch, thanks to a generous portion of pancetta, which also helps the Brussels caramelize. Air fry at 375°F for 8 to 12 minutes, and be sure to shake halfway through to help them brown evenly.
Cornmeal-Crusted Mozzarella Sticks
These crispy, melty mozzarella sticks were made for air frying. Cook them at 400°F for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the outside is nicely crisp. Shake the fryer basket halfway through.
Spiced Beef Empanadas With Lime Sour Cream
A slightly tart creamy dip balances out handheld empanadas filled with a delicious mixture of ground beef, raisins, onion, and cinnamon. Cook these in your air fryer at 375°F for 12 to 20 minutes, or until the outsides are golden brown and crisp.
Crispy Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Lime and Cilantro
We promise that these air-fried sweet potato fries—dusted with lime zest and fresh cilantro—will outshine any basic French fry recipe. Cook in your air fryer at 375°F for 18-25 minutes; give them a toss at least once midway through cooking.
With just two ingredients—zucchini and olive oil—you can have a healthy, seasonal side dish on the table in less than 15 minutes. Air fry the diced zucchini at 350°F for 8 to 12 minutes, tossing halfway through. To add some extra flavor, feel free to shower it with fresh herbs, parmesan cheese, or toasted bread crumbs.