20 Crunchy Air Fryer Recipes That Are Almost Too Good to Be True
The Air Fryer Is the Latest Healthy Kitchen Gadget
There's no denying it: You probably love eating high-fat, oil-laden foods. Why? They're comforting and delicious, and science says your brain is wired to seek them out. Unfortunately, a diet that's high in unhealthy fats (saturated and trans) can slow down your metabolism and lead to weight gain over time. That's where the latest cooking trend—the air fryer—comes in handy. It reduces the amount of oil you need to cook with to still get the same flavor and texture you'd expect from fried food. (As a reminder, there are plenty of healthy fats out there. Looking at you, avocado.)
So, what's an air fryer, exactly? This magical gadget basically "fries" food by using a tiny bit of oil and hot air in order to dehydrate and cook whatever you're using. So those fried mozzarella sticks will get a crisp, breaded texture—but with only half the fat. Is it worth it? And does it taste the same? Here are a few mouthwatering recipes so you can find out for yourself.
Air Fryer Baked Sweet Potato
Apparently, the air fryer doesn't just "fry" foods, but it can mimic the texture of baking them, too. Thanks to the air fryer, you can enjoy a rich, baked sweet potato using no oil whatsoever. Sweet potatoes are high in antioxidants and fiber, which keep you fuller longer and keep your heart and skin healthy, so it's an excellent starchy side or lunch option. (Try stuffing your sweet potato with black beans, cheese, and avocado.) And even if you do use a tablespoon of olive oil, the finished product will only be 153 calories a serving.
Get the recipe: Air Fryer Baked Sweet Potato
Air Fryer Garlic Parmesan Breaded Fried Chicken Wings
Love fried chicken wings but hate all that excess oil and fat? The air fryer is the solution. Breading them with Parmesan helps nix even more calories and fat. Each serving has only 274 calories and 15 grams of fat, which keeps the count especially low without jeopardizing that comfort-food flavor. The best part? You can have a full plate of wings ready in only 30 minutes.
Get the recipe: Air Fryer Garlic Parmesan Breaded Fried Chicken Wings
Air Fryer Vegan Fried Ravioli
Try putting a new twist on classic Italian. Whip up a batch of ravioli, but "fry" it in the air fryer for a crisp texture instead of boiling the pasta. You can use different herbs and spices for a tasty seasoning (like garlic, nutritional yeast, basil, and oregano) and include a sauce for dipping (like marinara). This particular recipe is vegan but will appeal to everyone. (FYI, there are a few more ways to enjoy a lighter pasta night.)
Get the recipe: Vegan Fried Ravioli In the Air Fryer
Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts
Fried Brussels sprouts are so amazing you'll wonder how you ever cooked them differently. That crispy exterior serves up crunchy satisfaction with every bite while still being a low-cal veggie that's high in nutrition. Traditionally, fried sprouts can be drenched in oil. This air-fried Brussels sprouts recipe, however, saves you a ton of calories and fats—but still incorporates a bit of bacon for that oh-so-good fatty flavor. (If you're hooked on this green vegetable, try these other ways to cook with Brussels sprouts at home.)
Air Fryer Tofu Scramble
Have you ever ordered a fried tofu dish from Chinese takeout thinking the tofu automatically made it healthier than a meat dish? Not so fast; that tofu is still fried. The air fryer will give you that crisp outer layer, but without all the greasiness. Try this air fryer scramble for a tofu dish that truly is healthier takeout food you can make at home.
Get the recipe: Air Fryer Tofu Scramble
Air Fryer Gluten-Free Onion Rings
There's nothing like a side of crunchy, flaky onion rings to go alongside (or on) a burger. The only problem with those rings is that they're usually deep-fried in oil with breading just as thick as the onion underneath. These gluten- and dairy-free onion rings are a healthier option and even have a touch of cayenne and paprika for a spicy kick.
Get the recipe: Air Fryer Gluten-Free Onion Rings
Fried Chickpeas In the Air Fryer
Chickpeas make the perfect snack since they’re a good source of fiber and protein, but are poppable like candy. To make them a little more appealing when you’re craving something crunchy, try this air-fried take (or these chickpeas that taste like cinnamon toast crunch).
Get the recipe: Fried Chickpeas In the Air Fryer
Air Fryer Potato Chips
There’s nothing like that salty, greasy scent wafting from a freshly-opened bag of potato chips. But if you want an option lower in calories and fat, try this convincing imposter. They're still addictively crunchy—but only 74 calories and 0 grams of fat per serving, compared to about 150 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving for your usual chips.
Get the recipe: Air Fryer Potato Chips
Buttermilk-Battered and Air-Fried Tofu
Let's just take a moment to appreciate that gorgeous patty. Nope, it’s not breaded chicken, but vegan ‘buttermilk’-battered tofu. After air-frying the tofu, you’ll serve it slathered with vegan mayo and topped with shredded veg on toasted buns. Drool.
Get the recipe: Buttermilk-Battered and Air-Fried Tofu
Air-Fried Banana Split
It’s not easy to improve upon the banana split, but frying your banana in a crispy coating definitely makes a difference. Once you try out these fried cinnamon bananas, you’ll never look at raw banana splits the same way again.
Get the recipe: Air-Fried Banana Split
Crispy Cauliflower Buffalo Wings With Sour Cashew Cream Sauce
If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you probably know all about cauliflower 'wings.' But the crispy bits they form in an air fryer will change everything. In this version, you’ll fry a whole head of cauliflower with just a teaspoon of oil, then dip the wings in a high-protein faux ranch sauce for a vegan wings alternative that's crazy good.
Get the recipe: Crispy Cauliflower Buffalo Wings With Sour Cashew Cream Sauce
Air-Fried Cheesy Spinach Wontons
If steamed wontons always feel like a let-down, you need this recipe. Thanks to the air fryer, healthier fried wontons are possible. You’ll wrap cream cheese and spinach in pre-made wontons, air fry for six minutes, and, bam! A takeout-worthy fried wonton.
Get the recipe: Air-Fried Cheesy Spinach Wontons
Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks
The best meals include gooey cheese, am I right?! This healthified version of the classic app incorporates whole wheat flour and is oil-free. And since the recipe conveniently uses string cheese sticks, you can have them ready in minutes.
Get the recipe: Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks
Air Fryer Falafel Burger
Falafel is loaded with healthy ingredients—chickpeas, garlic, herbs—but it’s also usually deep fried. This air-fried version cuts out the oil but still maintains a crispy outer coating. (Related: 7 Healthy Ways to Bring Middle Eastern Cooking Into Your Kitchen)
Get the recipe: Air Fryer Falafel Burger
Air-Fried Green Beans with Shawarma Spice
Green beans are a fab source of fiber and iron, but they’re not always served in the healthiest way (looking at you, green bean casserole). You don’t have to resort to eating them raw, though. Consider this recipe for air-fried green beans with shawarma spices (a mix of oregano, cinnamon, allspice, pepper, cumin, and coriander) a delicious middle ground. Since it’s vegan, paleo, and gluten-free, no one will want to skip.
Get the recipe: Air-Fried Green Beans with Shawarma Spice
Air-Fried Doughnut Puffs
Baked donuts can come out a little bit dense. Air frying will get you closer to the real thing. This donut ‘puff’ recipe is oil-free but gets the light and fluffy texture just right.
Get the recipe: Air-Fried Doughnut Puffs
Killer Air Fryer Garlic Fries with Rosemary
Air Fryer BBQ Lentil Meatballs
These vegan lentil meatballs make a cute hors d'oeuvre, but would also come in handy for meal prepping. Add them to your pasta of choice or add slaw and assemble a wicked barbecue meatless meatball sub.
Get the recipe: Air Fryer BBQ Lentil Meatballs
Air Fryer Parmesan Dill Fried Pickle Chips
Admittedly, fried pickles are an odd concept—but don’t knock them until you try them. The combination of crisp pickles, a crunchy coating, and a cool dip is a total win. They’re usually deep fried, but this version is completely oil-free.
Get the recipe: Air Fryer Parmesan Dill Fried Pickle Chips