Cooking for a family is rarely easy, especially when both parents are working. Many parents go through feelings of guilt, trying to decide between bringing home a bag of fast food or cooking something quick. The trouble is, fast food is usually unhealthy and fast meals are often bland and boring. Quite often, these fast to cook meals involve prepared, prepackaged processed food that is just as unhealthy as fast food and not very nice on the palate.
Thanks to technological advances, we now have several small kitchen appliances to make family life a little easier. One of these great appliances is the air fryer. This fantastic piece of kitchen equipment cooks food super-fast using incredibly hot air that is circulated around the food, cooking it to crispy perfection.
Before you rush out to buy an air fryer and start eating healthier, read on to discover the best foods to cook in an air fryer, so you get the most out of your purchase and enjoy your meals.
If you’ve seen an air fryer advertised on TV, one food item stands out. French fries! Let’s face it, we all love them and would eat them every day if we could. Potatoes are quite healthy, making them a great side dish. Not so much, unfortunately, because when it comes to french fries, dumping them in boiling oil to cook them adds an enormous amount of fat and unnecessary calories.
When it comes to cooking french fries in an air fryer, you’re in luck. Thanks to the hot air circulating the cooking drawer, it only takes a light spraying of oil to cook a batch of french fries to crispy supremacy. Now this delicious, but not so healthy treat, is a healthy one. Add your favorite seasoning and you have the best side dish for all of your favorite foods. Don’t just air fry frozen french fries. Grab some potatoes and make them from scratch. Experiment with the thickness of your fries or even try sliced potato fries or even chips.
Meat & Fish
Depending on the size of your air fryer will determine the size of the meat or fish you want to cook. In most air fryers, you can place an entire chicken into the cooking basket and simply turn your air fryer on. A whole chicken can cook in 30 to 45 minutes, complete with a delicious, crispy skin. If you don't want to do a whole chicken, throw in some chicken pieces. When was the last time you had spicy buffalo wings? Make your own in an air fryer and crank up the spiciness.
Fish is another protein that cooks incredibly well in an air fryer. Oily fish like salmon is an ideal dinner. Add some lemon wedges and garlic in the basket and you'll have a meal that's fit for a king or queen.
If your air fryer comes with a grill pan, you will be delighted with the results when you cook things like steaks, chops, burgers and sausages in your air fryer. The hot, circulating air will seal your meat on the outside so all the moisture and tenderness remain on the inside. This will quickly become your favorite way to cook meat, and the fastest too.
The freezer section of your local supermarket is a treasure trove of quick, delicious meals and snacks. They may not all be healthy, but they make a great occasional treat and are a hit for parties.
Almost all of these foods can be cooked in an air fryer. You can go all the way from breakfast to dinner cooking these frozen foods in your air fryer. Things like waffles, English muffins and filled pastries are a breakfast staple in many homes. Then move on to pizzas, burritos, chicken nuggets or even macaroni and cheese for lunch or dinner. These convenience foods are also great for kids who come home after school long before their parents do. Air fryers are easy to use but do teach kids about safety when using them.
You can cook so much more in your air fryer than french fries and frozen premade food. You can use your air fryer to make baked goods from scratch. Many air fryers come with a baking dish and others have them available as an optional extra. You can use this baking dish to make small cakes, quiches, cookies, muffins and more. If you can bake it in the oven, you can bake it in your air fryer.
In the pursuit of eating healthier foods, we want to encourage people to eat more vegetables. Conventional cooking methods often result in overcooked vegetables and this can be avoided in the air fryer. You can roast all of your favorite veggies like potatoes, including sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin and dozens of other combinations. If you don’t feel like roasting them, you can grill or fry them instead. Combine your vegetables with chunks or slices of meat and you’ve got yourself a quick and easy stir-fry.
Roasted Nuts & Seeds
Don’t you just love those roasted nuts at your local bar? Most people do and many cafes, bars and restaurants offer roasted nuts to their patrons. You can make your own roasted nuts in your air fryer and many seeds too. Once they cool, you can eat them as a snack or you can crush them to be used in other dishes like cakes, muffins and cookies.
Battered & Breaded Food
We seem to have an obsession with battered and breaded food and these are usually a massive hit with kids and kids at heart. Chicken wings, nuggets, steaks and various seafoods have an extra layer of flavor when they are coated. These foods are traditionally deep-fried and very tasty. Once again, we find ourselves avoiding these foods because of the high-fat content. Using the pan of your air fryer, you can quickly and easily place battered food in the fryer and cook it fast.
If you love the British tradition of fish ‘n' chips, you'll be able to indulge more frequently when you use your air fryer. Experiment with battering and breading all of your family's favorites and if calories aren’t an issue for you, go for air fried and crumbed cheese.
We’ve just covered the basics of what foods are the best to cook in an air fryer, but why stop there. The whole point of cooking is to be creative. Try some of these weird but wonderful cooked in your air fryer.
Crumbed Chicken Strips – While these fall under the heading of breaded food, you can add a little extra to them by using panko bread crumbs. Go the extra mile and inject the center of your chicken with a piece of mozzarella cheese. If you do this from scratch, it is recommended that you freeze your chicken strips before air frying so the breading doesn’t fall off.
Cheese Ravioli – Instead of boiling cheese ravioli and tossing it in a sauce, why not air fry your ravioli? You'll still need to boil the ravioli, but when it's cooked, lay them in a single layer in your air fryer and sprinkle some seasoned breadcrumbs over them. Serve them with a zesty tomato sauce on the side for a little something different.
Sweet Potato Chips – Before you open yet another bag of unhealthy potato chips to watch your favorite sporting event on TV, try making your own sweet potato chips in your air fryer. Thinly slice your sweet potato, spray with oil and air fry. The combination of sweet and savory is highly addictive and you won’t feel so guilty when you demolish a large bowl of this treat. Sprinkle with some sea salt and enjoy.
Hard-Boiled Eggs - Breakfast, lunch or fancy dinner party are occasions that call for hard-boiled eggs. If you're wondering how you can possibly serve hard-boiled eggs for a fancy dinner party, think devilled eggs. You don't even need water to hard-boil the eggs. Just place them in the air fryer and choose the right setting. Easy.
French Fries Are Just The Beginning
An air fryer is a little on the pricey side if you’re just going to make cook french fries in. This is an appliance that can release the culinary genius in you so don’t be afraid to experiment with different foods and cooking methods.
One thing you should consider when cooking in an air fryer is overcrowding the basket. You may want those extra 5 buffalo wings, but they may slow down your entire cooking process and produce less than crispy wings.
Get acquainted with your air fryer before you start cooking. Some air fryer heat almost instantly, while others need to be preheated. This will make all the difference in the texture of your foods.
Keep your air fryer on your kitchen counter and start making delicious fast food that is healthy and delicious.