Chef Shares All the Best Things to Make in Your Air Fryer
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Chef Shares All the Best Things to Make in Your Air Fryer

Jun 27, 2023

When everyone else was buying air fryers, I held out. I still hauled out my deep-fat fryer and gallons of oil or wrestled with an array of frying pans and griddles.

When I finally gave in and bought a Gourmia 7-quart digital air fryer, I was astounded and delighted by how easy it was to use, how little oil was needed, and how few cooking smells lingered in the kitchen.

Now I love cooking with the appliance, and I've even bought a second air fryer (a Kalorik Maxx 26-quart digital fryer oven). For more reviews, read our guide to the best air fryers.

Here are some of my favorite things to make in my air fryer.

There are tons of recipes out there for air-fried breaded shrimp.

I prefer mine served with a hint of heat, like the "bang bang" shrimp recipe from the blog Stay Snatched. I also like the shrimp paired with lemon aioli.

Setting up a three-bowl dipping station is the bread shrimp quickly and efficiently — one bowl for flour, one for egg (or egg and mustard or mayo), and one for panko. But I've also made them by simply dipping lightly oiled shrimp in panko before tossing them in the air fryer.

There's no end to the list of things you can pile on a portobello cap and pop in the air fryer.

A recipe from the blog Spend With Pennies pairs them with cheddar and bacon. But I know some people swear by spinach and cream cheese or garlic and Parmesan.

Brit + Co has some great variation inspiration, including crab-stuffed mushrooms with Gouda or even a play on French-onion soup.

I make mine with whatever I have on hand, but I particularly liked the batch I made with feta, cheddar, spinach, artichokes, bread crumbs, and lemon.

I pop the caps in the air fryer for a few minutes gill-side down to let any water drain out before flipping and adding toppings.

Air-fried nut-crusted chicken comes out moist, delicious, and with a perfect crust in just 20 minutes.

Depending on what kind of air fryer you have, it might take a little more or less — I've found my basket air fryer cooks faster and my convection-oven air fryer takes slightly longer.

The blog Where Is My Spoon has a delicious, easy recipe for panko-breaded chicken. I adapted it by using half crushed nuts and half panko and adding smoked paprika and Parmesan to the breading for extra flavor.

Crab cakes are one of the tastiest things I've cooked since getting an air fryer.

I followed a Food Network recipe, substituting a can of fire-roasted green chiles and chipotle powder for the chipotle chiles and adobo sauce, just for convenience.

The creamy, lemony chipotle sauce is the perfect accompaniment. It's so tangy and delicious that I could drink it.

You can air-fry quartered corn cobs like in the recipe I found from the blog Plant Based Folk, or you can add more of a Mexican-inspired flair with a Food Network Canada recipe.

I could also see them working with masala spice for an Indian-inspired take on the trend.

Pro tip: Microwave the cobs for seven to nine minutes before cutting them to make quartering easier. But lower the air-fryer temperature if you microwave first.

There's a simple recipe for cornstarch-free garlic-and-soy sauce tofu on the blog Live Eat Learn that I like. It reminded me how much better the texture is after pressing the moisture out of the tofu before cooking (I used a heavy Dutch oven to squash the block).

I've also made crispy fried tofu with ginger, tamari, and garlic marinade that's finished with sesame seeds for extra crunch. The resulting tangy saltiness makes it a good bacon substitute for vegetarians and a delicious addition to Buddha bowls.

I've also had luck just adding sauce at the end, which I found in a recipe from the blog Nora Cooks.

Buffalo cauliflower "wings" are a top choice any night of the week — it takes just 15 minutes to make crispy, spicy florets.

Simply whisk hot sauce, oil, garlic powder, and salt, and use the mixture to coat the cauliflower before tossing it into a single layer in the air fryer. I found the recipe I follow on Live Eat Learn.

Serve with blue cheese or another creamy dip.

Air-fried grilled cheese makes for a quick lunch. You can easily fit a few sandwiches in the larger air-fryer ovens or chop them into half-sized sandwiches to cram more in a smaller basket.

My favorite grilled cheese is a take on a recipe from Kitchn but with added apple slices — and of course, air fried.

I love rustling up any cheese and jam, jelly, or fruit combination, a current favorite is ham, cheddar, and banana.

Pro tip: Cook at a lower temperature until the cheese melts (three to five minutes) and then turn the heat up to toast the bread for an extra few minutes.

Cooking garlic in the air fryer takes half the time as doing it in a regular oven.

Kristina from the blog Tasty Oven suggests slicing off the bottom of each head of garlic, cooking a big batch, and freezing the extras.

I like cooking the heads alongside roasted vegetables such as honeyed parsnips or carrots and then crushing the cloves to make garlic bread.

I didn't believe you could bake cakes in an air fryer, but I was proven wrong.

I've made some excellent cheesecakes in my basket air fryer, but the one I keep going back to is a simple coffee cake. I like a recipe from the blog Fork to Spoon.

I'll be working my way through the other recipes on the site, too, especially the air-fryer banana-walnut pound cake and banana-nut bread.

Empanada-sized pies are a breeze to make if you have store-bought apple filling and pie dough. But making your own allows you to choose how much sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon you want to add.

The blog BellyFull has a great recipe, whether you're making a premade or homemade version. Both turn out crisp and delicious in a basket air fryer or an oven air fryer. I tried both and couldn't tell the difference.

According to the recipe, the pies last in the fridge for three days and in the freezer for up to two months.

I followed food writer Chelsea Davis's technique for making air-fried French toast with a delicious, crispy exterior. I also added ground cardamom pods to the cinnamon and nutmeg in the egg batter.

Cutting the bread into fingers is a great tip for fitting more toast into basket fryers with curved corners. Preheating is also a good idea, particularly with convection-oven air fryers.

Oozing with liquid chocolate, molten lava cakes are irresistible.

I liked a small-batch recipe I found on the blog Essential Omnivore, but I used orange chocolate for even more flavor.

Pro tip: Only fill your ramekins around 2/3 of the way or the gooey middles might bubble up all over the bottom of your air fryer.

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