Do you know the secret to making fried foods *super* healthy?
It has to do with one of the most popular kitchen gadgets to date…
The air fryer!
Healthy air fryer recipes are all the rage this year, as air fryers pop off shelves, especially for gift-giving during the holiday season.
They’re truly magical.
And how does it work?
And more importantly, what are some of the best air fryer recipes to try?
Let’s take a trip down air fryer lane.
Table of Contents:
- Breaking Down the Air Fryer in an Easy, Fun, Non-Sciency Way
- The Ultimate Battle of the Fryers: Deep Frying vs. Air Frying
- Make This, Not That: Air Fryer Edition– The Food List You Need
- Top 7 Air Fryers to Purchase (Ranked Most Expensive to Least)
- The 20 Best Air Fryer Recipes to Try STAT (All Gluten-Free!)
Breaking Down the Air Fryer In an Easy, Fun, Non-Sciency Way
If you’re not “in” with the air fryer news, here’s the rundown:
An air fryer is basically a powerful countertop convection oven, and it’s designed to mimic deep frying without submerging the food in flaming hot, unhealthy oils.
How the heck does it do that so well?
A fan circulates hot air of up to 450°F at crazy high speeds (up to 2100 watts) around the food in the fryer basket, which results in a perfectly crisp, brown layer.
And since air fryers are pretty compact, it also facilitates an extremely fast cooking experience.
To top it all off, most air fryer parts are dishwasher safe, or at the very least, easy to clean.
The Ultimate Battle of the Fryers: Deep Frying Vs. Air Frying
Torn between the two?
Let’s settle this once and for all.Here are some important differences:
- While deep fryers need enough oil to submerge the entire piece of food, air fryers only need a tablespoon or none at all to create a crisp crust.
- Because air fryers use less oil, you sacrifice a little bit of flavor along the way with savory foods like fries. Deep fryers typically offer a more satisfying bite because there’s more fat.
- While you lose some taste, the air fryer quickly makes up for it in health benefits. You use up to 80% less oil with the air fryer, which cuts down on calories and the chemicals/inflammation that come from eating deep-fried foods.
- Lastly, an air fryer is much easier to clean, since it uses less oil. Deep fryers are notorious for being time-consuming to wash because oil solidifies.
At the end of the day, an air fryer is a more economical, better choice for those wanting to eat healthier but still enjoy not-so-healthy foods.
Make This, Not That: Air Fryer Edition– The Food List You Need
Air fryers are absolutely amazing, but–
They also have limits.What you can’t make in an air fryer:
- Foods with loose seasonings: think herbs and spices that need to stick to the food
- Battered foods: the liquid batter will fly E-V-E-R-Ywhere as soon as you pop it in. However, you can make air fryer-specific battered foods. (See the recipes below)
- Fresh cheese: unless it’s frozen, it’ll just melt, stick, and burn
- Most greens: because spinach is so light, it just flies around the fryer. However, you can weigh it down with olive oil as a solution. See this air fryer kale chip recipe.
- Raw veggies: sometimes they turn out soggy. But if they’re frozen? Completely different story.
Lastly, take note that air fryer recipes typically aren’t for feeding a crowd. Since the compartment is small, you have to cook in batches, which can take a while if you’re feeding 6 or more people.
Thankfully, you can buy air fryers in different sizes to meet your needs.Now, to what you can make in an air fryer:
- Any frozen food meant to be deep-fried: think mozzarella sticks, french fries, tater tots, etc.
- Hard-boiled eggs: just air-fry, peel, and eat!
- Ravioli: the crunch is *chefs kiss*
- Homemade chips
- Egg rolls
- Pork chops
- Certain baked goods: oh yes, it can bake cookies, cheesecake, cupcakes, brownies, and more!
- Pumpkin seeds: baking them can take hours, but when you air-fry, you cut the time down by half.
And this list is just the beginning!
Make sure you check your air fryer’s instruction manual for extra deets on what other foods to avoid.
Ulrean Air Fryer ($79.99) on Amazon.com
Top 7 Air Fryers To Purchase (Ranked Most Expensive to Least)
Now that we’ve covered the ins & outs of air fryers, it’s time to purchase!
But there are so many different models out there, which one should you choose?
It all depends on your lifestyle budget, how many people you’re feeding, space available in your kitchen, and of course, quality!
Here are the top air fryers, ranked most expensive to least.5.8 qts
Color options: Silver, burgundy red, creamy white, and black
Extra features: 11 One-Touch Presets: Steak, Poultry, Seafood, Shrimp, Bacon, Frozen Foods, French Fries, Vegetables, Root Vegetables, Bread, and Desserts. Just choose your preset and you're ready to cook!
The nonstick coated basket is dishwasher safe, PFOA-free, and BPA-free. Comes with 100 original, delicious & easy recipes for every meal.
Reviews: 4.5 stars 4 qts
Color options: black
Extra features: Has a wide range of temperature options and includes dehydration capabilities, thanks to the combination of low fan speed and low temperature.
Also, it comes with a 4 quart ceramic coated nonstick basket and crisper plate that can fit up to 2 pounds of french fries!
Reviews: 5 stars 4.2 qts
Color options: black, blue, red
Extra features: Has a contemporary design with an LCD display and a bonus recipe book with fried food, snacks, grilled, and baked foods! The basket is nonstick with a heat-resistant handle and also dishwasher safe.
Reviews: 5 stars 3.7 qts or 5.8 qts
Color options: silver ( 3.7 qts) and black ( 5.8 qts)
Extra features: There’s 8 preset functions for air fry, toast, roast, broil, bake, dehydrate, reheat and frozen food, and it has a shake reminder that notifies you to flip the food.
The 5.8 qt nonstick coated basket is BPA and PFOA-Free and fits a 5-6 pound whole chicken; serves a family of 3-5 people!
Reviews: 4.5 stars 2.6 qts
Color options: aqua, black, grey, red, teal, and white
Extra features: Is extremely compact and lightweight! It’s half the weight of a standard fryer– perfect for that first apartment, smaller kitchen, college dorm life, or camper/RV traveling.
Basket is nonstick and dishwasher-safe.
Reviews: 4.5 stars 2.6 qts
Color options: black or stainless steel
Extra features: Dishwasher safe basket! Also includes safe handling via cool-touch parts & an automatic shut off for safety.
Reviews: 4.5 stars 2 qts
Color options: black and grey
Extra features: Basket is BPA-free, non-stick, and dishwasher safe. It’s just small and compact enough for personal use/to save space. Chefman also gives you a 1-year warranty!
Reviews: 4.5 stars
The 20 Best Air Fryer Recipes to Try STAT (All Gluten-Free!)
Is there anything more exciting than a new, delicious recipe?
I think not!
Well, you’re about to get 20 of ‘em, specifically devoted to your new air fryer.
Plus, they’re all gluten-free.
Air fry away!
I couldn’t NOT start off with one of the most delicious sides of all time:
Typically they’re dunked in yucky oils to reach that crispy texture.
But these guys are all-natural...and still just as crispy!
Another classic incoming!
Except yep, you guessed it:
These bad boys are gluten-free, air-friend, and 100% more healthy than typical chicken tenders.
It’s a fried food dream come true!
Coconut Shrimp with Sweet Chili Sauce from Nancylynn of Confessions of a Fit Foodie
Want to take a trip to a tropical island?
Why not let vacation come to you on your very own kitchen island? (pun intended)
Just whip up a batch of coconut shrimp with this sweet chili sauce, and your mouth will be swimming in tropical vibes in no time.
Beach life take two!
Except this time, let’s head to the Mediterannean, where these easy air fryer falafels eagerly await your arrival.
They’re incredibly simple and delish, while clean-up is a cinch.
I mean, who doesn’t love a falafel?
Tater tots are okay.
Air fried tater tots are better.
But these air fried zucchini tots?
They reach a whole other level of healthy goodness.
And compared to baking, the air fryer cuts the cooking time in half– not to mention you can totally omit the parmesan cheese for nutritional yeast to make these dairy-free!
It never hurts to have a solid BBQ chicken recipe on hand.
And since we’re talkin’ air fryer business, here’s an amazing gluten-free BBQ chicken wing recipe that will leave the entire table SHOCKED:
“Are you sure this wasn’t deep fried?”
Air Fryer Salmon Patties from Bintu of Recipes From a Pantry
Salmon patties, anyone?
The air fryer gives these patties a crispness like none else.
And they’re only a mere 5 ingredients:
Salmon, cilantro, eggs, green onions, and paprika.
Oh, and salt of course.
Once you start air frying your potatoes, you’ll never be able to go back.
Something about the perfectly toasted skin above the fluffy potato cloud insides–
I’m drooling already!
Feel free to top these off with your fav potato toppings, like sour cream, cheese, bacon, and green onions!
Hello, finger food!
Fish sticks are usually on the no-go healthy, gluten-free list.
But thanks to the air fryer and almond flour, low and behold!
You can absolutely devour these amazing fish sticks stomach-ache-free.
It’s a sweet potato twist!
For those who prefer sweet potato fries over regular fries, this recipe is for you!
Take a peek at the instructions, and you’ll find these only take 8 minutes, too.
Say no more!
Mexican Air Fryer Corn on the Cob from Bintu of Recipes From a Pantry
Corn on the cob? In the air fryer?
Oh, let me tell you.
It’s as good as it sounds, and this recipe amps up the flavor notches by 10,000 because of the cilantro and lemon zest.
An entire chicken?
Ready in an hour?
If you’re feeding a larger family, this air fryer whole chicken recipe is the way to go. All you need to do is season, fry, and flip!
Then serve with your favorite sides.
With gameday season upon us, having a delicious buffalo recipe is a super idea.
And these air fryer buffalo cauliflower bites will be your new go-to!
They’re super crispy, gluten-free, and packed with all the flavor you need to wow a crowd.
You would think oil-free chips would taste yuck, right?
The air fryer once again saves the day with these crunchy garlic parmesan chips.
They’re perfectly crunchy without any mushy softness.
You’re in for a treat!
Since the air fryer is a wondrous kitchen gadget capable of whipping up desserts, you’ll find the last 5 recipes of this list are devoted to sweet treats.
Starting with this chocolate lava cake!
Gluten-free, warm, gooey, chocolate goodness coming your way!
Air-Fried Spiced Apples from Robin of MamaShire
‘Tis the season for apples, spice, and everything nice.
Not only will they make your home smell warm and cozy, but they have a rich, caramel texture, too.
Sign me up!
You had me at s’mores.
But air fryer s’mores?
You get crispy graham crackers, perfectly toasted marshmallows, and smooth chocolate melting your mouth all at once.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
P.S. Just be sure to use gluten-free graham crackers! Pamela’s gluten-free honey grahams are a great choice!
Soft and Chewy Air Fryer Cookies from Cindy Gordon of Vegetarian Mama
Picture soft, chewy chocolate cookies done in under 25 minutes.
The air fryer, of course!
It creates a yummy texture you just can’t get with baking.
As a bonus, you can’t beat the easy clean-up!
If you’re down with the low-carb jam, this crustless air fryer cheesecake needs to become a regular addition to your dessert rotation.
It’s so simple and produces the cutest little personal cheesecakes.
It also calls for zero calorie sweetener, so here’s a conversion chart if you need it!
20. Air Fryer Donuts
Sometimes you just gotta have dessert for breakfast.
Which is where these cinnamon sugar air fryer donuts come in!
They have way less fat in them thanks to you know, NOT deep-frying them in a vat of oil.
Instead, you just roll the donut dough into balls, place them in the air fryer, dunk them in cinnamon sugar, and enjoy guilt-free!
Who Knew Gluten-Free Fried Food Could Taste So Good?
Gluten-free fried food isn’t exactly accessible when you deep fry…
unless, of course, you use your own deep fryer.
But now, you have an even healthier option, thanks to the air fryer, and so many delicious recipes to devour.
Cheers to new kitchen gadgets!