Skip to main content

A first-timer’s guide: How to use an air fryer to make your favorite dishes

Air fryers are the latest in a long line of trendy, must-have kitchen appliances. And it’s easy to see why so many people love these devices. Air fryers use hot air to cook crispy and delicious foods, all while requiring a fraction of the cooking oil you would need to make similar recipes in a deep fryer. These appliances are praised for providing a healthier way to prepare fried food, but you can actually cook a variety of dishes in your fryer. Here is how to use an air fryer to make some of your favorite dishes healthier and tastier than before.

Fried potato wedges in an air fryer
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Pre-fried frozen food

The air fryer was basically made for the frozen aisle. Pre-made chicken nuggets, pizza rolls, French fries, and fish sticks are perfect for this device. These dishes get beautifully crisp while cooking in the fryer, and they are ready to eat in minutes. The ease of preparation makes an air fryer essential for families with kids, parties, and lazy nights when you just want to indulge yourself. You can even make frozen pizzas in a fryer (small personal-sized ones at least). The crust gets toasty, and the cheese starts to bubble much faster than it would in the oven. However, you aren’t restricted to the frozen section if you want to enjoy junky comfort foods. You can make your own versions of pre-fried frozen foods using healthier recipes that will cook up just as quickly as their frozen counterparts. This could include air-fried chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, or any of your favorite fried recipes.


Air fryers aren’t just for junk food; you can also make nutritious and flavorful vegetables. Any veggie that you can roast in the oven or grill on the BBQ will taste amazing in the fryer. Try seasoning and frying up brussels sprouts, squash, root vegetables, or corn on the cob. Potatoes are especially great in this appliance. You can cook crispy baked potatoes, wedges, or “roasted” taters. Or, if you want to make a healthy snack, use the air fryer to make homemade veggie chips. These appliances use sweltering hot air to cook food and remove excess moisture, making cooking crisp and pleasant chips easy. Toss some kale with coconut oil and sea salt before adding it to the fryer. Or thinly slice some white or sweet potatoes, brush them with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt to make handcrafted potato chips.

Cooked strips of bacon
Image used with permission by copyright holder


Cooking meat in the air fryer is a simple way to create flavorful and healthy dishes. Bacon is one of the types of meat that does the best in the fryer. While cooking, fat drips off the bacon and out of the basket, creating leaner meat. Plus, it doesn’t require as much supervision or clean-up as the stovetop method. Chicken wings are also incredible when made in the air fryer. The skin gets crispier, and the meat cooks faster than oven roasting. Even air-fried chicken breasts and glazed chicken comes out juicier than oven or stovetop cooked alternatives. Hot dogs taste delicious cooked in the fryer too. They come out with a snappy casing and taste just like they would fresh off the barbeque. You can also cook steak in an air fryer! Rub it with olive oil and your preferred seasoning and flip it halfway through frying, so you end up with a flavorful, evenly cooked piece of meat.

Three doughnuts on a cooling rack
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Doughnuts and other desserts

Yes, you can even make desserts in your new air fryer. Fried desserts like doughnuts, churros, beignets, and fried Oreos are a no-brainer. These air-fried desserts contain fewer calories (yay!) than deep-fried versions. To avoid a big mess in your fryer and a chewy treat, refrain from using a wet batter. Instead, use a bread-like batter that will create a more cake-y dessert. In addition to fried treats, you can prepare other “baked” goods too. You can bake chocolate chip cookies, hand pies, lava cakes, brownies, cheesecake, and more in your air fryer.

The air fryer is truly an amazing home cooking innovation. It can cook most of your favorite dishes faster, healthier, and with less mess than other traditional cooking methods. You no longer have to avoid your favorite junk foods. Plus, you can make so many delicious meals using your appliance. Whether you want to cook pre-made frozen appetizers, veggie chips, steak, or pie, an air fryer is the way to go. So, start experimenting with your fryer and discover your next favorite recipe today.

Editors' Recommendations

Shannon Cooper
Freelance writer
Shannon Cooper has written about everything from pet care and travel to finance and plumbing in her seven years as a writer…
5 tools to help you make delicious pizza at home
Flatbread Margherita pizzas and tomatoes

There’s nothing better than a hot, cheesy slice of pizza, but you don’t always want to go out to a restaurant or wait for delivery when you’re craving a slice. When you have the right tools, you can make your own delicious pizza right at home. These five essentials not only make the process of making pizza easier, but also help to ensure that you get some quality results, too. Whether you just enjoy cooking up a personal pizza for yourself or want to be able to host pizza nights for family and friends, consider adding these essentials to your kitchen.

Making pizzas at home can be a great bonding and family experience, but it can also save you money over the cost of eating out at restaurants or ordering pizzas in. When you make them at home, you also have full control over the ingredients and toppings, so you can make them as healthy or as indulgent as you’d like. These five tools make the process easier and faster, so you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy your meal sooner. Whether you make pizza every week or just want to be able to enjoy a special treat at home every once in a while, having these tools in your kitchen can pay off.

Read more
5 serving platters and boards to make hosting easier
Adorable charcuterie boards

Hosting requires a lot of thoughtful planning. There’s so much that you can forget or things you don’t really think about while putting together your menu or the guest list. For example, if you plan on offering your guests a variety of appetizers or a charcuterie board, you’ve likely made plans for prepping all of your food ahead of time, and made a grocery list so that you have all your ingredients on hand, but have you thought about exactly how you plan on serving your scrumptious spread? Don’t let this be one detail that falls through the cracks. With one of these serving platters or boards, your thoughtfully planned menu will be just as visually pleasing as it is tasty. 

Make sure your party food presentation is just as well-thought-out as the actual menu. One of these serving platters can take your buffet from ‘meh’ to marvelous, without really requiring much effort on your part at all. Just pick the perfect option for your decor and personal aesthetic, wait for your new board to arrive, and then assemble your charcuterie board or appetizer spread, for a look that’s sure to impress your guests.

Read more
5 items to level up your at-home cocktail game
Three Aperol Spritz cocktails

Whether you just find it a bit too blustery out this season to hit the streets and head to your favorite bar, or you’re still social distancing away from the crowds, if you’ve been making more cocktails at home, you’ve likely realized something. There’s a big difference between the rum and coke that you stirred together in your pjs and the craft cocktail that you order at the local watering hole. Don’t think that the difference all comes down to talent, though. One big thing that separates you from your fav bartender is all the tools they have at their disposal — tools like these that can help you level up your at-home cocktail game. 

Making your favorite cocktails is easy — so long as your bar cart is stocked with the right tools. After all, you wouldn’t expect yourself to be able to create a killer steak dinner without basic kitchenware, so why are you expecting yourself to make an amazing drink without the very necessary gear? These kits and stand-alone items combine to give you everything you need to impress your friends — and your tastebuds — with your next batch of libations, no matter what your cocktail preferences. 

Read more