Before switching to a relatively healthier air-fried diet, one asks the pertinent question that what can you cook in an air fryer. You must be wondering if your air fryer will dwindle the fried chicken or leafy veggies in your life. Well, you can rest assured that the air fryer is one versatile appliance, and you can eat well.
An air fryer is a remarkable tool to have in your kitchen. It does a splendid job of reheating and preparing crispy, crunchy, and delicious meals. And contrary to the popular leaf, you can prepare crusty vegetables, as well. But the all-round nature of air fryers does not encourage you to toss anything edible in it.
Frozen foods, nuggets, filets, and French fries are the favorites of many, and people trust an air fryer to do the job well. However, you would be undermining this incredible tool if you limit it to frozen and precooked foods. So, here is a guide to help you sort the best foods you can make in an air fryer.
Whether you are looking to replace your (past its prime) air fryer or buying your first, stick till the end to see our top picks for the year.
- 1 Do Air Fryers Make Tasty Food?
- 2 What Can You Cook in An Air Fryer?
- 3 Chicken breasts and legs
- 4 Steaks
- 5 Certain Vegetables
- 6 Noodles
- 7 Fries
- 8 Cookies
- 9 Hard-boiled Eggs
- 10 What you shouldn’t put in an air fryer?
- 11 Whole chicken
- 12 Wet batter (pancakes)
- 13 Cheese
- 14 Green vegetables
- 15 Over-seasoned meat and vegetables
- 16 Our Pick: Top 5 Best Air Fryers for 2021
- 17 1. Cosori Air Fryer, Max Xl 5.8-Quart
- 18 Pros
- 19 Cons
- 20 2. GoWISE USA 7-Quart Air Fryer
- 21 Pros
- 22 Cons
- 23 3. Dash DCAF150GBBK02 Compact Air Fryer
- 24 Pros
- 25 Cons
- 26 4. Philips Air Fryer
- 27 Pros
- 28 Cons
- 29 5. Ninja Air Fryer
- 30 Pros
- 31 Cons
- 32 Conclusion
Do Air Fryers Make Tasty Food?
You cannot answer the question by saying yes or no. In the end, each individual has their taste preference, and whether or not air-fried foods taste better than classic deep-fried is debatable. It is safe to say that the former is healthier to consume than the latter.
Technically, an air fryer doesn’t fry the food as you do with oil in a frying pan. Instead, it utilizes the convection mechanism and uses the hot air inside to prepare the meal, cooking faster, and distributing the heat evenly. So, you get your food quick, perfectly cooked, and with a crunchier texture.
It might not look and taste like oil-fried foods, but if you do it the right way, air-fried meals can get the same flavor and texture. For that to happen, you must appropriately stuff the pot, not more than 3/4th of it, for even heat distribution. Also, preheating can help bring the crispy and crunchy feel to the food.
What Can You Cook in An Air Fryer?
As we said earlier, an air fryer can do much more than cooking frozen foods. Here is a list of yummy oil-free meals that you can prepare using an air fryer.
Chicken breasts and legs
If you yearn for a juicy chicken breast or leg piece without the sogginess of the oil, then an air fryer can serve you better than an oven or a cooktop. An air fryer features a compact design, which does not let the juices escape the meat. So, you are in for a juicy chicken treat!
Glazed chicken is another delicacy that you can prepare, thanks to an air fryer. It provides a high amount of heat while keeping the airflow consistent. That is why glazed chicken that comes out of an air fryer is well-caramelized if you set the right temperature.
Smoke and flames might not be the only ways of making a steak. Although it might take a lot of patience and practice, you can cook delicious steaks using an air fryer. Consider it to be a mini version of an oven, which provides heat to prepare the steak, and that too without leaving a lot of mess.
Let’s bust this myth: an air fryer can do more than reheat frozen nuggets. You can cook some veggies with it, as well. With that said, you can try cooking brussels sprouts and eggplants. You might want to keep the leafy vegetables away from the air fryer.
If you try cooking brussels sprouts, you don’t have to deal with the messiness of oil. Your brussels sprouts will come out crispier and tastier than usual. While you’re at it, you can try out making eggplant fries. You will be getting the best of both worlds, delicious food, void of any guilt of unhealthy eating.
You may find it absurd but using an air fryer is the best way to prepare noodles. It is so because when making noodles, it releases a lot of moisture in the pan, which makes them a soggy pain. However, in an air fryer, the noodle moisture drips out of the basket, serving you perfect chow Mein or zucchini.
If you are a fan of homemade French fries, an air fryer is a must-have machine. Frozen French fries and air fryers go hand in hand with each other. And the best part is, with very little oil, you can enjoy your fries without any worries.
Cookies develop well in an air fryer, and you can have a tray full of them in no time. If you have got cookie-dough balls in the freezer, all you have to do is bake them in an air fryer, without the hassle of preheating.
If you are a gym freak, you will like how you can prepare hard-boiled eggs in an air fryer. It does not get simpler than this; all you need are eggs and an air fryer, and without water, you get ready-to-eat boiled eggs.
What you shouldn’t put in an air fryer?
If a salesperson tells you that you can cook anything in an air fryer, you must take that with a pinch of salt. An air fryer does not thrive for some foods.
Regardless of whether your air fryer can contain whole roasts or not, a full chicken won’t cook uniformly. The part closest to the heat source will burn out. So, it’s better to cut up the chicken beforehand.
Wet batter (pancakes)
Wet batter sets the best in oil. No matter how you put it in an air fryer, the batter will end up sticking to the bottom, and it won’t taste the way you remember.
Much like the wet batter, you will find a cheesy mess in your air fryer after your little experiment with mozzarella or any other cheese.
Except for brussels sprouts, eggplants, and frozen vegetables, green and leafy veggies won’t turn out as you hope. If they don’t fly around in the pot, what you will get is a soggy texture instead of a crisp one.
Over-seasoned meat and vegetables
You wouldn’t want to over-season your meal before putting it into an air fryer. The reason is that the airflow can blow away the seasonings, and all your labor will go to waste.
Our Pick: Top 5 Best Air Fryers for 2021
Here are the best air fryers that you can find on the market.
1. Cosori Air Fryer, Max Xl 5.8-Quart
Coming from a renowned brand, Cosori Max XL 5.8-Quart is a beast. This one has 11 preset buttons and a preheat button. By pressing a few buttons, you are good to cook. A fascinating feature of the presets is that it reminds you to shake the food when required, as per the recipe.
This air fryer comprises a large pot, which is enough for you to host family dinners. Another reason you’ll often organize parties is the nonstick basket, which is safe to clean using a dishwasher. This one does its job well and safely. The auto-shutoff function will keep your food from burning.
Overall, Cosori Air Fryer is an exceptional tool, and it is going to be a great addition to your kitchen. You get complete control over the cooking process, thanks to the LED touchscreen, and the display allows you to monitor the progress of your food.
- Auto-shutoff feature
- Shake reminder
- 11 presets and preheat buttons
- Too large for small kitchens
2. GoWISE USA 7-Quart Air Fryer
If you don’t have much space on the countertop, but you have to prepare a meal for a large group, GoWISE USA GW22956 is here to the rescue. Don’t let its compact size fool you. This one has a 7-quart space and all the bells and whistles of larger air fryers.
You get 8 cooking presets, which help you prepare dishes with no hassle. Plus, there’s a dehydrating button to help you prepare dried herbs, beef jerky, and much more. If you plan on dehydrating several food items at once, the three stackable racks will make the task possible.
Cooking is easy with this one, and so is cleaning after preparing your meal. The pan and the tray are nonstick and removable. So, using this one is going to be a painless experience. GoWISE USA 7-Quart Air fryer is going to last for long, that is for sure.
- Compact yet spacious interior
- Dehydrating function
- Easy use and cleaning
- Some users complained of overheating
3. Dash DCAF150GBBK02 Compact Air Fryer
This air fryer is for single people who live solo and love to cook their food. The Dash Compact Air Fryer sits well in a small kitchen. It is a compact and lightweight air fryer, but it doesn’t trade it off for a good meal. With a 2-quart capacity, you can make a pound of fries in one go.
Using this one is safe, thanks to the auto-shutoff feature and cool-touch housing function. The former doesn’t let the fryer overcook your food, while the latter keeps your hand from burning. Also, you can use the 30-minute timer to keep your food from burning.
If you are someone young who moved into their first apartment, this machine will help you get started in the kitchen. Dash Compact Air fryer is easy to use, and it works like a charm. Also, you get to choose from 5 lively colors to match your kitchen.
- Lightweight and compact
- Autos-shutoff feature
- Outer housing doesn’t get hot
- Cleaning is difficult
4. Philips Air Fryer
Philips HD9641/96 might not give other air fryers a run for their money, but it does well for an entry-level gadget. This one can prepare almost any food with aplomb. The food that comes out of Philips Air Fryer is evenly cooked and crispy.
It includes 5 cooking presets, which are lesser in comparison to other models, but it’s not like you’re going to use them all. Some users didn’t find the temperature gauge to be accurate, and it might not do a job well-done with chicken.
As it is an entry-level air fryer, it is almost effortless to use Philips Air Fryer, thanks to the central QuickControl dial, with a digital display. It has a 2.75-quart capacity, but it takes less space than other Philips models.
- Entry-level air fryer
- Easy to use
- Even cooking for small food items
- Difficult to clean
5. Ninja Air Fryer
The Ninja Foodi Deluxe XL is one versatile air fryer. This one has 8 functions in a single machine, including a yogurt feature to make some at home. The capacity of Ninja Air Fryer is massive at 8 quarts, allowing you to throw lavish parties.
This air fryer features a stainless-steel finish and a nonstick pot. You won’t have much trouble getting used to this machine, owing to the LCD touchscreen control, and since the pot is nonstick, cleaning the air fryer is painless.
Problems only arise when you want to move it from one place to another because Ninja Air Fryer is bulkier than other models. Considering the build quality and spacious capacity, that’s one compromise that you will have to make. Other than that, this air fryer is an absolute powerhouse!
- Large capacity
- All-round product
- Yogurt function
- Heavier than most air fryers
Coming this far, you might be considering whether you should get yourself an air fryer or not. If you calculate the amount of oil you would forgo in your meals and the variety of foods that you can prepare, we say that the investment is worth the money. But if you plan on switching to a green diet, you can do without an air fryer.