Air fryers have become an increasingly popular kitchen appliance in recent years, and for good reason. These compact countertop convection ovens use rapid air circulation technology to “fry” foods with little to no oil, resulting in quick, crispy, and delicious meals and snacks with up to 75% less fat than traditional deep frying. With some creativity, these appliances can churn out everything from crispy Brussels sprouts to fluffy cinnamon rolls.
If you’re looking to cook quick, delicious meals for yourself or your family without all the added fat and calories of deep frying, then it’s time to explore all the possibilities with an air fryer. Keep reading for air fryer recipe inspiration!
1. Crispy Air Fried Eggplant Fries
Eggplant slices dredged in breadcrumbs and air-fried make a delicious vegetarian appetizer or side. The air fryer yields crispy, golden eggplant fries without the mess and unhealthiness of deep frying.
The circulating hot air quickly browns and crisps the breaded eggplant slices while cooking the interior until tender. Using breadcrumbs creates a light, crunchy coating. For extra crunch, use panko breadcrumbs or a combo of panko and traditional breadcrumbs. Adding Italian seasoning blend to the breadcrumbs will give it a flavor boost. You can also season the eggplant slices directly with garlic powder, paprika, or red pepper flakes before breading.
For dripping, serve with marinara sauce. The rich, tomatoey marinara complements the mild flavor of the eggplant fries. You can also try dipping in tzatziki, ranch dressing, or hummus for dripping. To make these eggplant fries a heartier meal, serve over pasta dressed in marinara sauce or on sandwich rolls topped with melted mozzarella cheese. They also pair well with roasted vegetables or a fresh side salad.
For those who prefer a twist to this method, you might consider trying eggplant in the air fryer in cube form, inspired by Aysegul Sanford’s recipe. Cubed eggplant provides a slightly different texture and bite compared to the slices, offering another delightful way to enjoy this versatile vegetable.
2. Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
Cauliflower florets coated in a spicy buffalo sauce, then air-fried, is a delicious meatless appetizer or snack. The air fryer crisps the cauliflower beautifully on the outside while keeping it tender on the inside. The circulating hot air quickly browns and crisps the cauliflower without overcooking the interior.
Feel free to toss the cooked cauliflower bites in more buffalo sauce after air frying if you like things extra spicy. The tangy, buttery flavor of the buffalo sauce pairs perfectly with the mild cauliflower. For even more flavor, try mixing ranch seasoning into the buffalo sauce before tossing the cauliflower.
Serve these bites on their own or with celery sticks and ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping. The cool, creamy dips contrast nicely with the heat of the buffalo cauliflower. For a fun twist, stuff the celery sticks with a blend of cream cheese and blue cheese before using them for dipping.
3. Juicy Air Fried Chicken Wings
Forget ordering takeout – you can make crispy, juicy chicken wings at home in your air fryer. The circulating hot air cooks the wings evenly, crisping up the skin while keeping the interior juicy and tender.
Season the wings with your favorite spices, rubs, or sauces and air fry until the skin is perfectly browned and the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. Try a sweet and spicy rub, or keep it simple with salt, pepper, and paprika.
Air frying locks in the natural juices for finger-licking results. The wings come out much less greasy than deep-fried yet still have a satisfying crunch. Toss the cooked wings in more sauce for extra flavor. Tossing the wings while they’re hot allows the sauce to penetrate for maximum taste.
4. Crunchy Air Fried Fish Sticks
Kid-friendly fish sticks come out perfectly golden and crunchy when cooked in an air fryer. The circulating hot air crisps up the breading while steaming the fish interior.
Coat cod or other white fish fillets in breadcrumbs or panko, then mist with oil spray before air frying. The oil helps the breading adhere and brown. Breadcrumbs give a classic crunch, while panko results in an extra crispy exterior.
These homemade fish sticks are healthier than the frozen kind and ready in under 15 minutes. Made with real fish rather than processed seafood blends, they have less preservatives and sodium. The quick air fryer method makes fresh fish sticks a breeze on busy weeknights.
Serve with tartar sauce for dipping. The creamy, tangy tartar sauce complements the crunchy fish sticks perfectly. For variety, also try serving with ketchup, lemon wedges, or even marinara sauce.
5. Quick Air Fried Potato Wedges
Forget waiting over an hour for oven-baked potatoes – make crispy potato wedges in your air fryer in about 30 minutes. The rapidly circulating air quickly browns and crisps the potato exterior while steaming the inside.
Cut potatoes into wedges, toss with oil and seasonings, and air fry until browned. Leaving the skin on adds texture and nutrients. Coating the wedges in oil helps the seasonings stick and promotes even browning.
Enjoy these wedges as a side or on their own for a simple snack. They make a great game-day appetizer or accompaniment to burgers or chicken. Change up the seasoning to give them a kick, or keep it classic with salt and pepper.
For a creamy potato wedge, top air-fried wedges with cheese, bacon, and ranch dressing. You can also smother them with chili and cheddar cheese for loaded potato wedges.
6. Crispy Air Fried Okra
Okra lovers, rejoice! Air frying keeps okra extra crispy outside while maintaining its signature tender interior. The hot circulating air quickly browns the exterior while steaming the insides.
Toss okra pieces with cornmeal, then air fry until golden brown. The cornmeal gives the okra a crispy coating and absorbs any moisture. Season the cornmeal with spices like paprika, garlic powder, or cayenne for extra flavor.
Enjoy as an appetizer or side dish. The crispy okra provides a nice crunch and pairs well with dipping sauces like ranch, honey mustard, or barbecue sauce. For extra flavor, season the cornmeal with Cajun spices before coating the okra.
For a heartier dish, add cooked andouille sausage, bell peppers, and onion to the air fryer along with the breaded okra. The smoky sausage and crisp vegetables complement the fried okra perfectly.
Air fryers open up a whole new world of quick, delicious, and healthy meals that you can easily make at home. From crispy veggies and juicy proteins to sweet baked treats, the options are truly endless. Hopefully, this article has inspired you to experiment with recipes and ingredients to take full advantage of this versatile kitchen gadget. With a little creativity, your air fryer can be used morning, noon, and night to cook up fabulous family meals and snacks.