If you just got your first air fryer, you’re probably wondering what you should cook in it first. With this handy kitchen appliance, the possibilities are endless! Air fryers use hot air and convection to circulate heat and “fry” foods with little to no oil. This makes them a great healthy cooking option. There are so many great recipes to try in an air fryer from breakfast to dinner, appetizers, sides, and more. Here is a guide to some of the best and easiest foods to cook first in your new air fryer.
Air fryers are great for cooking up quick and easy breakfasts. Here are some of the best breakfast options for your first air fryer meals:
- Eggs – Fry up eggs just like you would in a skillet. Cook scrambled eggs, over easy eggs, hard boiled eggs, mini egg bites and more.
- Bacon – Get crispy bacon without the greasy splatters of frying in a pan.
- Breakfast potatoes – Roast cubed potatoes in the air fryer for tender, browned spuds.
- Hash browns – Get perfectly crispy diner-style hash browns.
- Pancakes and waffles – For fun shaped pancakes and waffles, cook up a batch in the air fryer.
- Breakfast sandwiches – Toast bread, fry eggs and meat, melt cheese and pile it all into a breakfast sandwich.
- Burritos and breakfast bowls – Fill a tortilla or bowl with eggs, potatoes, cheese, bacon and veggies and air fry it all up.
For easy morning meals, the air fryer has you covered. Try out a few different breakfast items to start your day off right.
Appetizers and Side Dishes
Having friends over? The air fryer can quickly cook up crispy appetizers and sides. Here are some top contenders for air fried apps and sides:
- French fries – Make classic French fries without all the oil and mess of deep frying.
- Onion rings – Get crunchy, golden onion rings in just minutes.
- Mozzarella sticks – Ooey, gooey cheese sticks with a crispy coating.
- Vegetable fritters – Try zucchini, carrot or broccoli fritters coated in crispy crumbs.
- Potato skins – Fill crispy potato skin halves with cheese, bacon and scallions.
- Nachos – Top crispy tortilla chips with cheese, beans, salsa and more.
- Potato wedges – Season and air fry potato wedges for a tasty side dish.
- Brussels sprouts – Toss halved Brussels sprouts in oil and spices and roast in the air fryer.
- Sweet potato fries – The crispiest and tastiest sweet potato fries you’ll ever make.
Appetizers and sides are simple to make in the air fryer. Try out a combination of veggies, cheeses, meats and more.
For easy weeknight dinners, the air fryer can cook up full main dishes in a flash. Here are the best air fryer mains for beginners:
- Chicken tenders – Juicy, crunchy chicken tenders in just 15 minutes.
- Chicken wings – Crispy wings with your favorite sauces and rubs.
- Chicken breasts – Simple seasoned chicken breasts come out tender and juicy.
- Chicken parmesan – Bread chicken in crumbs, cook, then top with sauce and cheese.
- Meatloaf – Mini meatloaves come out with a nice crust and tender center.
- Burgers – For juicy burgers with that backyard grill taste.
- Sausages – Get plump, juicy sausages with crispy skins.
- Fish – Cook fish fillets, shrimp, scallops and more under 10 minutes.
- Pork chops – Tender and juicy pork chops develop a nice sear.
- Steak – For quick and easy steak dinners, the air fryer delivers.
- Meatballs – Cook frozen or homemade meatballs until browned and crisp.
- Shakshuka – Cook eggs poached in a tasty tomato sauce.
The options are endless when it comes to main dishes. The air fryer is great for cooking proteins like chicken, beef, pork and fish to crispy perfection.
Meatless eaters can also enjoy the air fryer. It’s a great way to cook up vegetarian and vegan dishes:
- Cauliflower wings – Toss cauliflower in buffalo sauce and “fry” for hot wings without the chicken.
- Falafels – Crisp up falafel patties or fritters for healthy veggie burgers or snacks.
- Tofu – For crispy tofu cubes to top salads and bowls.
- Seitan – Get that nice texture and crunch on seitan “meats”.
- Veggie fritters – Shredded veggies like carrots, zucchini and beets make great veggie fritters.
- Eggplant – Slices of breaded eggplant cook up crispy and delicious.
- Portobello caps – Stuff and bread portobello caps for hearty veggie “burgers”.
- Quesadillas – Load tortillas with beans, cheese, veggies and more.
- Stuffed peppers – Fill peppers with rice, veggies, beans and cheese.
- Vegetable skewers – Skewer chopped veggies for quick roasted veggie side dishes.
With just a little creativity, the air fryer can be a vegetarian’s new best friend.
Your air fryer isn’t just for savory dishes, it can also cook up sweet treats! Here are air fryer dessert ideas to try:
- Fried Oreos – Coat Oreo cookies in a crispy batter and “fry” for an indulgent dessert.
- Fried apples – Slices of apples coated in crumbs create apple pie fritters.
- Churros – Quick churros come out perfectly crispy and tender.
- Cookies – For baking up perfect crispy edges on cookies.
- Cakes – Use a small cake pan to bake muffins, cupcakes and cakes.
- Pies – Make single serving fruit and nut pies.
- Cheesecake cups – Bake individual cheesecakes for a sweet finish.
- S’mores – Toast marshmallows and melt chocolate for indoor s’mores.
- Fruit chips – Thin slices of pineapple, apple, banana and other fruits turn crispy.
- Donuts – Enjoy homemade cake donuts without deep frying.
The air fryer lets you cook up desserts that are crunchy, crispy, warm and ooey-gooey. It’s great for single servings.
Use your air fryer to get ahead on meal prep for the week. Here’s how:
- Cook proteins – Roast chicken breasts, meat chops, fish fillets, etc. Refrigerate to add to salads and bowls.
- Batch prep veggies – Roast vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and carrots in big batches.
- Make servings of sides – Cook up individual servings of roasted potatoes or Brussels sprouts.
- Hard boil eggs – Perfect hard boiled eggs for breakfasts and snacks.
- Cook bacon – Fry up a bunch of bacon to crumble on salads and sandwiches.
- Roast nuts – Toss almonds, walnuts or pepitas with spices and roast.
- Meal prep bowls – Assemble grain bowls and bake all at once.
Save yourself time during the week by tackling some easy air fryer meal prep over the weekend.
Tips and Tricks
To get the most out of your air fryer, keep these tips in mind:
- Brush or spray a small amount of oil – This helps foods get crispy.
- Flip and rotate – Halfway through, open basket and flip or rotate food for even cooking.
- Use a meat thermometer – This ensures meats are always cooked through.
- Adjust cook times – Cooking may take a little longer or shorter than recipes state.
- Separate pieces – Avoid overcrowding for optimal cooking. Work in batches if needed.
- Toast bread – The air fryer also makes perfect toast.
- Reheat leftovers – The air fryer is great for reheating fried foods without getting greasy.
With some trial and error, you’ll get the hang of air frying in no time. Have fun with all of the delicious possibilities!
Air fryers open up a whole new world of quick, delicious and healthier cooking options. From crispy fried favorites to perfectly cooked proteins and tender roasted veggies, the air fryer can tackle just about any recipe. Best of all, foods cook up quickly with little to no oil needed. So for your first air fryer meal, try out a fun breakfast, appetizer, entree, side, or dessert. Once you realize how handy this appliance is, you’ll want to use it every day!