If your kitchen countertop space is precious, then adding another gadget to the mix might sound frivolous. But for all its trendy hype, the air fryer is admittedly a powerful and versatile cooking companion. “Fryer” is a bit of misnomer; it’s really just a small, high-powered convection oven that circulates heat all the way around the food inside its basket, cooking items quickly to achieve a crispy exterior without the added calories and fat in actual fried foods (which are prepared in hot oil). So, while the air fryer will never create dead-ringer fried chicken, it can turn just about any food into a crispy, more appetizing version of itself—and these recipes will show you how.
© Graphic: Libby McGuire Sichuan Cumin Asparagus
Putting vegetables in an air fryer will make you want to eat them all the time. It will put an end to your struggles of figuring out what to do with vegetables at dinnertime. Even when they’re simply prepared, the air fryer makes them into something worth eating. This recipe, which takes its cues from cumin beef, is so simple that once you gather your ingredients, it takes less than 90 seconds to prepare. Get the recipe for Sichuan Cumin Asparagus here.
© Graphic: Karl Gustafson Cheddar Bay Shrimp Croquettes
Anyone who’s been to Red Lobster understands that the Cheddar Bay Biscuits are the best part of the meal. So we’ve taken that winning appetizer and turned it into the main event. These croquettes are golden, crispy, and buttery on the outside, and they’re creamy, oozy, and irresistible on the inside. Best of all, the recipe has a high yield so you can store extra in the freezer to be quickly air fried for future meals. Read more about Cheddar Bay Shrimp Croquettes here.
© Graphic: Karl Gustafson Crispy Gnocchi and Raw Tomato Sauce
Here’s something you probably hadn’t thought to air fry: pasta. The convection heat does something wonderful to gnocchi, which is to say, it transforms each piece into crispy little potato nuggets.” These crunchy bits can be combined with fresh vegetables for a unique textural contrast that no one typically expects from a pasta dish. Get the recipe for Crispy Gnocchi and Raw Tomato Sauce here.
© Graphic: Allison Corr Garlic Bread Fries
This recipe is technically two recipes: one for homemade focaccia and one for air fried focaccia. You’re welcome! Focaccia is the bread for bakers who would rather curl up into a ball than tend to a sourdough starter. It’s simple, delicious, and transforms into “fries” when you slice it up and air fry it with oil and spices. It’s a dunkable appetizer that goes great with tomato sauce. Get the recipe for Homemade Focaccia and Garlic Bread Fries here.
© Graphic: Libby McGuire City Chicken
City Chicken is the most delicious lie we’ll ever tell you. This “chicken” is, in fact, fried breaded pork nuggets. The name comes from the Great Depression, when immigrants living in the Rust Belt could more easily afford pork than chicken and so cooked the former to resemble the latter. It’s typically made on long skewers, but to fit inside the air fryer, individual portions are doled out on toothpicks and served alongside a sweet dipping sauce. Once you drop these into the air fryer, they’re done in under 15 minutes. Get the recipe for City Chicken Nuggets here.
© Graphic: Allison Corr Air Fryer Bomboloni Doughnuts
It’s rare that our craving for doughnuts overlaps with our desire to haul a bunch of frying oil onto the stove and hover over its hot surface with a metal spider. So here’s a recipe for air fryer bomboloni, tiny yeast-risen doughnut holes that come out of the convection heat after 5 minutes all sweet and puffy, ready to be slathered in cinnamon sugar, cocoa powder, and Nutella. Learn how to make Air Fryer Bomboloni Doughnuts here.
© Graphic: Karl Gustafson Cream-Ceese-Stuffed “Fried” Plantains
This is one of those recipes designed for you to whip up a batch at the start of the week, freeze it, and then drop a portion into the air fryer each morning for a quick breakfast. It’s a play on rellenitos de plátano (stuffed plantain balls) filled with cream cheese and encrusted with sweet, cinnamon-y cornflake crumbs. Traditionally, rellenitos de plátano are fried, but this version lets high convection heat do all the work, leaving you free to enjoy your morning. Get the recipe for Cream-Cheese-Stuffed “Fried” Plantains here.