Cooking with an air fryer might not be top on any pro chef’s list of things to do, but for everyday home cooks, it’s amazing! Not only is there practically no limit to what people can cook in their air fryers, but using one is way healthier than frying menu items—and it’s usually easier than warming up the oven or washing a skillet afterward, too.
Another great thing about an air fryer is that it can replace a lot of other household appliances. There’s not really a need for a bread machine, an oven, a microwave, a toaster oven, a toaster, a dehydrator, and other common cooking appliances. And many things that are usually best cooked on a stovetop turn out great in the air fryer, too.
But the most loved feature of air fryers? The minimal cleanup! Whether they’re cooking a meal for a dinner party of eight or just prepping a meal for two, people who don’t exactly love cooking (or the cleanup) are happy to prep things simply with their countertop air fryer.
Whether it’s a full meal or just a decadent snack, there’s not a whole lot of scrubbing involved once the food item is done cooking. And with all the add-ons most air fryers have—racks, trays, and even warmer functions—people usually find that the initial cost of the appliance is worth it in the long run.
So, if they finally splurged and are now intimidated by the appliance sitting on their countertop, here are 22 wild things home cooks can make with an air fryer.
22 Poppin’ Jalapenos
Jalapeno poppers are another much-loved microwave food—but what if you could make them at home without the need for blitzing in the microwave? There are a ton of variations on these peppers, some including crispy breading that tastes like traditional fried versions. But other recipes involve a fan-favorite ingredient that makes a crispy and delicious pepper: bacon! Grabbing some peppers and wrapping them with a strip of bacon each (slide a slice of cheese in, too, if you want a gooey pepper), then popping them in the air fryer will result in a snack that’s so good, you won’t ever buy the frozen ones again.
21 Tortilla Chips
If you’ve never made your own tortilla chips, you’re missing out! But fortunately, with an air fryer, you don’t need a vat of oil to make crispy and delicious chips at home. Just like with veggies and fruit, you can pop plain tortillas—either corn or flour—into your air fryer with a little bit of oil (and some salt to taste) for a crispy and crunchy snack that’s quick and healthy. Basically, you’ll never need to purchase store-bought tortilla chips again—and you definitely won’t want to. Now, the next mission is to find a good dip you can make in the air fryer to go with your new favorite chip.
20 Mouthwatering Burgers
Everyone knows you can make a great burger on the grill, but there are a ton of other ways to achieve barbecue bliss without going outdoors and dealing with smoke and charcoal. You can cook a burger in a skillet, although it might wind up a bit greasy, and the oven is an option, too. There are also small grills—like a George Foreman—but the air fryer is one of the most versatile ways to cook all kinds of stuff—including burgers. And it won’t be as greasy as it might otherwise be—especially if you typically use a cooking spray on your grilling surface.
19 Cake, ‘Nuff Said
Cake is always great, right? But what’s not so great is the amount of prep that’s involved. You have to mix the batter (and that can come from a box if you so choose), but you also have to heat up the oven (potentially heating the whole house), grease a pan, and wait half an hour or more. With an air fryer, you still have to mix everything in a bowl—can’t skip that step—but then, you toss the whole thing in the air fryer. You save some time with the air fryer method—potentially half an hour or more—and you don’t have to get the whole house all toasty.
18 Quick Corn On The Cob
If you thought that corn on the cob was only for the grill—or a giant pot of boiling water—we’re happy to report you’re wrong! Corn on the cob is another delicacy you can make in the air fryer with very little effort and less time—no charcoal required. With enough practice, you can even get those slightly charred ends on the corn—just as if it was cooked on an open flame outdoors. Or you can slather it with butter and whatever else your heart desires—without the sogginess that comes from boiling corn on the stove the old-fashioned way.
17 Not-Fried Chicken
This is the whole reason anyone really wants an air fryer, right? To make delicious “fried” chicken without a ton of grease and mess. And while it’s not the most innovative recipe to use in an air fryer, it’s surprising how well the chicken turns out! You’d never know it wasn’t deep-fried, and you can’t really compete with the type of crunch you get from a properly breaded and cooked pile of chicken. You can also do wings—although the procedure varies based on the size of your air fryer and the type of chicken pieces you’re cooking, too.
16 Perfectly Done Pancakes
Pancakes aren’t so complicated, right? But if you’re trying out keto living or you’re just using some unconventional ingredients (bananas or gluten-free flour, anyone?), an air fryer can make a seriously delicious pancake super simple. And you won’t need as much oil or butter to get them nice and crispy at the edges if that’s your thing. Since you’re not using a skillet, this is a recipe you could even make in a dorm room or small apartment—making the air fryer a do-it-all type of appliance. Of course, one pancake at a time might not be ideal—but dollar cakes would work great!
15 Avocado Fries
Sure, French fries are a staple when you’ve got an air fryer, but we’re talking about a bit less conventional type of fry here: the avocado fry! With the keto craze lately, avocados have become even more popular than ever before. So, it makes sense that foodies everywhere decided they needed to be battered (with a keto-approved coating, of course) and “deep fried.” These are just the ticket when you’re craving something savory yet crispy—without requiring a vat of unhealthy oil. Of course, these can also be a backup for when you’ve overdone it and run out of potatoes…
14 Un-Grilled Cheese
It’s not the most difficult recipe to master, right? But stovetop grilled cheese can be a thing of the past with an air fryer. The cheese will be perfectly melty, the bread will be at an ideal crispness, and you don’t have to worry about overdoing it. No one wants a charred grilled cheese, right? With the air fryer, the humble grilled cheese goes to a next level, and you can add some sides to the meal, too, if your fryer has a rack or other accessories. And it only takes about eight minutes (depending on your model and heat settings), which sure beats hovering over the stove for twice as long while you're making sure you get the ideal crispness without burning your bread.
13 An Entire Turkey
Clearly, to cook an entire turkey in an air fryer, you’ll need a larger model. But according to the user manuals of most air fryers, it’s totally feasible to cook a full turkey for Thanksgiving or any other dinner. Plenty of air fryer models come with a rotisserie, which is what you’ll need to fit the whole turkey in and have it thoroughly cooked. But you can also cook turkey legs or other smaller pieces on the tray. Either way, this frees up the oven if you’re making a festive spread with multiple dishes for the holidays. Or really, any other time of year, too.
12 Fruit Chips
Trying to eat healthier? If that’s the reason you bought an air fryer in the first place, this next wild recipe is for you! Okay, maybe it’s not so wild in terms of being surprising, but it’s definitely something most people wouldn’t think to try with their air fryer. You can dehydrate any kind of fruit to make fruit chips—like banana chips—using the rack in your air fryer. Oil and sweetener are optional, so you can skip the additives in store-bought stuff, but with the air fryer, you avoid keeping the oven on at a low temperature for hours upon hours to get crunchy fruit chips (or veggies, if you’re really brave).
11 Perfect Sugar Cookies
Sugar cookies are another challenge for novice home chefs. If you can make them perfectly every time, kudos to you. But if you’d rather make a smaller batch—or not have to keep the oven on for the entire day—try out an air-fryer-friendly recipe for sugar cookies instead. The air fryer will bake them quickly and perfectly—once you do all the work of mixing and rolling them out, of course. But who can beat a single-serving of any type of cookie on demand? Having an air fryer is almost like having a tiny and efficient oven on your countertop—like your childhood easy-bake oven come to life!
10 Microwave-Free Taquitos
If you claim not to enjoy greasy, straight-from-the-freezer-aisle taquitos, we’ll assume you’re lying. Because after all, what’s better than a crunchy tortilla wrapped around some delicious pulled pork? Of course, when you microwave them, they’re usually a bit soggy in the middle, while the ends get super crispy. And you run the risk of either burning your taste buds off or having a frozen chunk of meat to gnaw on, so it’s hit or miss as far as overall enjoyment. But with an air fryer? Non-greasy perfection every time—especially if you DIY instead of hitting up the freezer aisle.
9 Countertop Takeout
If you love fried rice (who doesn’t?!), you’ll love this next recipe. Did you know you can make fried rice in your air fryer? There’s a bit of prep involved, but not a whole bunch of stirring and hovering over your pot. Leave the meat out of it, and you can cut some prep time, too—but who’s really going to do that when you can also cook the meat beforehand in the air fryer? Most home chefs use pre-cooked white rice and then toss the mixture in their air fryer—and the last step is to crack an egg over the top during the last few minutes of cook time.
8 Sort-Of Baked Potatoes
Cooking baked potatoes in the oven takes forever, but doing them in the microwave usually winds up with a small explosion or potatoes that aren’t cooked thoroughly. Fortunately, French fries aren’t the only type of potato you can cook and enjoy with an air fryer—you can also make “baked” potatoes. You keep the same flavor as oven-baked, but again, you don’t have to keep the oven on for hours. You also don’t have to play the microwave guessing game to get the potatoes cooked properly. If you’ve got some extra time, though, twice-baked potatoes are even more delicious in the air fryer.
7 Crust-Free Pasta
While it’s possible to make a few different types of pasta in the air fryer—like tortellini or ravioli—if you bread them, what’s with all the breading and crust? Fortunately, it’s possible to make a savory and gooey pasta dish in the air fryer, too—no breading necessary. Lasagna is a perfect example—with the layers of cheese, noodles, and sauce, you really can’t go wrong—and it’s another recipe that you won’t have to turn the oven on for. It can still feed a family, though, if you’ve got a big enough air fryer to handle a full pan of lasagna!
6 Designer Donuts
They might not be as pretty as the ones you make in a perfectly donut-shaped pan or the ones you get at the donut shop downtown, but we can guarantee they’ll be just as delicious. Besides, part of the fun of making donuts at home is seeing how wonky you can get the shapes—it’s more interesting eating that way, too. And when you think about the last time you ate a donut from a donut shop, it probably tasted pretty greasy—if not like a mouthful of lard. With an air fryer, your donuts are healthier but with just as much flavor as any other baked good. Just drizzle some icing on after baking, and you’ll be in donut heaven.
5 Elegantly Presented S’Mores
While most of us think of snacking on s’mores while sitting around a campfire, one chef has taken the traditional chocolate-graham-cracker-marshmallow combination and made it super fancy—and fit for an air fryer. The recipe requires bananas—which act as the base for the s’mores—and then all the ingredients are plopped inside. So, not only are you fulfilling your s’mores craving, but you’re also having a serving of fruit, too. And while it’s not the same as gathering around the campfire, who can say no to a melty and delicious s’more straight from the air fryer? It’s even more fun when you use graham squares cereal, tiny marshmallows, and chocolate chips—the whole thing is mess-free in the banana boat.
4 Crispy Eggy Bread
Does your stovetop French toast always turn out soggy? I have to admit, mine often does—and if you crank the heat up too much, it just burns! Of course, maybe you’re a master chef (unlike me) and have it all figured it. You still have to use oil or butter to cook your bread in, though, and that makes it greasy in the end. With an air fryer, you can make traditional French toast that’s crispy and thoroughly cooked without all the grease or the mess of tossing butter into the skillet or flipping the bread over. Of course, this style of French toast is also great for making strips out of that you can dip with, making this an even bigger win.
3 Prompt Pies
Making pie is hard work—which is why so many people will pay a pretty penny for a whole pie in the store! But with your air fryer, you can make miniature pies (or even a full-size one) quickly and easily—in about 15 minutes or so. The idea is that you roll out the dough, put in your filling, and cover the top of the pie with another crust—making little pie pockets. Just crimp the edges together, and you have a handheld pie that will cook quickly and come out perfectly browned every time. You could also go the empanada route and make your pies in different shapes and with different fillings.
2 Flavorful Tofu
Yes, we know, the words “flavorful tofu” are basically an oxymoron, but hear us out! With an air fryer, you can cook tofu to perfection—avoiding the gummy and watery flavor that comes with marinating and baking it, no matter how hard you try to get the texture just right. And if you’re a fan of takeout, even better—there’s no end to the sauces and flavorings you can add to the tofu to make it the perfect addition to the fried-rice recipe above. Or you can do a bit of breading and make it crispy—but the sweet and savory sauces are a must-try.
1 Hard-Boiled Eggs (Without The Boiling)
Hardboiled eggs are another seemingly simple kitchen staple that hardly anyone can actually get right. There are plenty of tricks, of course, but let’s just say that boiling eggs isn't as simple as boiling water, and you won’t know your efforts were for naught until you peel the eggs afterward. Whether they’re too soft in the middle or turning green from being overcooked, hardboiled eggs are a conundrum. But with your air fryer, it’s easier—the timing is consistent and there’s no water to boil—and you can “boil” a bunch of eggs at once. Or you can crack them open and make an omelet instead.