13 Best Air Fryer Recipes That Are *Almost* Too Good to Be True

Transform dinner with these recipes for air frying anything from broccoli and zucchini to dumplings and meatballs.

air-fryer-recipes: potatoes
Photo: Greg Dupree

Is it possible to fry food using almost no oil...and eat it without needing a nap afterwards? If you've heard anything about the buzziest healthy-cooking appliance, 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). This gives 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 exterior thanks to the maillard reaction. What's that? The maillard reaction is the scientific name for the reaction taking place between amino acids and/or proteins and sugars when they're heated and transformed into something more delicious, usually meaning the food has browned or become crispy. We're big fans. That's why we've rounded up 13 of our best air fryer recipes that are Real Simple favorites.

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. 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.

Air fryer models vary in size, shape, and technology, so cooking times and temperatures will vary, too.Remember: You only need a tablespoon or two of oil when cooking in an air fryer, so adjust recipe amounts accordingly. Happy air frying!

01 of 13

Roasted Broccoli and White Bean Salad With Dijon-Caper Dressing

Roasted Broccoli and White Bean Salad with Dijon-Caper Dressing
Con Poulos

This recipe tastes equally delicious, but it 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 turn the dial on 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 with your homemade mustard dressing.

02 of 13

Ricotta Meatballs

Victor Protasio

Doubling down on the cheese with a combination of 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. Cook them at 375 F for 10 to 15 minutes.

03 of 13

Baked Eggplant Fries

Greg DuPree

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.

04 of 13

Graham-Crusted Chicken Tenders

Caitlin Bensel

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 grown-ups get in on the crunchy chicken tender action? This recipe is pretty much perfect for all ages. Try "frying" them at 400 F for 16 to 18 minutes. Make sure to shake halfway through.

05 of 13

Roasted Cod With Kale Salad

Roasted Cod With Kale Salad
Gentl & Hyers

Here's one incredibly easy way to cook 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.

06 of 13

Garlic-Roasted Potatoes

Garlic-Roasted Potatoes
Greg DuPree

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.

07 of 13

Easy Pork Dumplings

Easy Pork Dumplings
Greg DuPree

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.

08 of 13

Oven-Baked Chicken Tenders

Chicken Tenders
Greg DuPree

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.

09 of 13

Crispy Brussels Sprouts With Pancetta and Lemon

Top View of Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Pancetta Served in a White Bowl on Top of Blue Fabric, with Metal Spoon and Small Metal Bowl of Peppered Oil to the Left
Anna Williams

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.

10 of 13

Cornmeal-Crusted Mozzarella Sticks

Cornmeal-Crusted Mozzarella Sticks
Greg DuPree

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.

11 of 13

Spiced Beef Empanadas With Lime Sour Cream

Super Bowl Snacks: Spiced Beef Empanadas With Lime Sour Cream
Con Poulos

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.

12 of 13

Crispy Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Lime and Cilantro

Crispy Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Lime and Cilantro
Danny Kim

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 to 25 minutes. Give them a toss at least once midway through cooking.

13 of 13

Roasted Zucchini

How to Roast Zucchini
Brett Stevens/Getty Images

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.

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