8 Surprising Things You Can Make in an Air Fryer—and 6 You Can’t
It's been touted as the healthiest method to cook fried foods. Our sister site Taste of Home compiled a list of some recipes that would turn out great…and some that would be 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 decided to figure out which of our favorite recipes worked well in an air fryer…and which definitely did not. If you’re looking to pull the trigger and get one, we found the best air fryer you can buy.
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 about an hour to complete, you’ll save plenty of time by using an air fryer. One home chef said it took her only 15 minutes!
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. This is the difference between air frying and baking.
Works well: Chicken strips
Air fryers work wonders when it comes to frozen foods. One of our favorite recipes includes these crispy chicken fingers—just be sure to freeze the batter onto the meat before throwing it inside the machine. Or take a shortcut and use a frozen chicken tender. We have a list right here of every way to cook chicken in an air fryer.
Works well: Homemade chips
Strangely enough, home cooks have had lots of success making homemade chips in their air fryers. You don’t have to stick only to potatoes, either: Try kale chips, sliced veggies, or pickles too.
Works well: Hard-boiled eggs
Oddly enough, you can make hard-cooked eggs in this thing! You don’t even need water—you just cook, peel, and they’re ready to eat. Do you have trouble peeling hard-boiled eggs from time to time? We have the perfect kitchen hack to streamline the process for you!
Works well: Frozen 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 this one!)—they turn out crunchy, crispy, and baked to perfection. With 75 percent less oil than a deep-fryer, you can eat them guilt-free too. This is what an air fryer actually does to your food.
Works well: Egg rolls
It can be difficult to nail the crispy outer coating of egg rolls in an oven without overcooking the inside or ending up with a soggy wafer. 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. Read up on these 10 cooking tricks that are only taught in culinary school.
Doesn’t work so well: Raw vegetables
While the air fryer can cook up some delicious fried veggies from the freezer, they don’t have the same superpower with raw produce. Test cooks all over the Internet will tell you how soggy they turn out—definitely not the texture you’re going for! Check out these 25 kitchen shortcuts you’ll wish you knew sooner.
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. Learn about more mistakes everyone makes with their air fryer.
Doesn’t work so well: Battered foods
Liquid batter goes flying the minute it hits 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.
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!
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 two to four people. 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. This is how to properly clean an air fryer between uses.
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 fare, we suggest you give it a try—especially if you’re interested in the health benefits of foregoing so much oil. However, if you eat a lot of raw vegetables, bake your food in the oven or cook it on the stove, and generally make meals for a large crowd, an air fryer might not be the ideal device for you. Next, find out the air fryer tip that’ll give you perfectly golden food every time.