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Crunch Time! Bet You Haven’t Tried These 12 Foods in Your Air Fryer

Crunch Time! Bet You Haven’t Tried These 12 Foods in Your Air Fryer

Homemade chips, french fries, chicken wings, fried pickles—these are probably some of the first foods you tried making in your air fryer. But some of the best foods to try in an air fryer may not have even crossed your mind. It’s time to expand your frying horizon! Keep reading for more foods to try in an air fryer, plus a few tips and advice on what not to fry.

But First … To Air Fry or Not to Air Fry

Air fryers are convenient, easy-to-use appliances that simplify cooking at home by minimizing cook time and mess. Contrary to its name, an air fryer doesn’t actually fry. The heating element heats the air, which is blown around at a high speed, cooking your food—similar to a convection oven. The perforated basket allows the air to circulate the food’s total surface area to achieve that crispy exterior you’re looking for in fried fare.

This method means air frying is a healthier alternative to the usual pan frying and deep frying methods that require excess oil. It’s also suitable for cooking meat and making desserts and is an excellent alternative to reheating leftovers in the microwave.

Tips for Successful Air Frying

Want to learn about the best foods to try in an air fryer? Before you get started, here are some do’s and don’ts of air frying for more confidence in the kitchen.

  • Read the manual and follow the instructions. Take advantage of all the inserts and other accessories.
  • Wash your air fryer after every use. Follow directions carefully.
  • Oil your food, not the basket. Non-stick cooking sprays can often reduce the effectiveness of the non-stick coating. Lightly spray the food itself before adding it to the air fryer to promote crispiness. Try using air fryer-safe parchment paper for foods like cookies.
  • Don’t overcrowd the basket. Overlapping causes uneven cooking and can leave parts mushy instead of crispy.
  • Avoid burning or fire hazards. Make sure the food doesn’t sit too close to the heating element.

Air Fryer Recipes

Oh, the foods you can air fry! Try out these recipes, and you may discover your new favorite side dish or dessert.

1. Avocado Fries

What you’ll need:

1 c Panko breadcrumbs
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp salt
1 c all-purpose flour
1 T milk
2 eggs
2 avocados, sliced

Pour flour into a shallow dish and set aside. In a separate shallow dish, whisk eggs and milk. Combine breadcrumbs, garlic powder, paprika, and salt in a third mixing bowl.

Dip each avocado slice first into the flour, then the egg, and then the breadcrumb mixture to coat.

Place in the air fryer basket. Set at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Serve with your choice of dipping sauce.

2. Crab Rangoon

What you’ll need:

8 oz cream cheese, softened
6 oz lump crab meat, well-drained
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp granulated sugar
20 wonton wrappers
Cooking spray

Combine the cream cheese, crab meat, green onion, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and sugar in a mixing bowl.

Lay out a wonton wrapper and drop 2 teaspoons of crab filling in the center. Using your fingertips, wet the edges of the wonton wrapper with a small amount of water. Fold up opposite corners and pinch together.

Lightly spray the wontons with cooking spray. Place them in the basket, making sure they are not touching. Fry at 360 degrees F for about 5 minutes. Serve with sweet and sour sauce.

3. Fried Corn on the Cob

What you’ll need:

2 ears of corn, shucked and silk removed, cut in half
2 T sour cream or plain yogurt
½ T mayonnaise
¼ tsp ancho chili powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 T Cilantro, minced
1 T Cotija cheese
1 lime

Set the air fryer to 370 degrees F. Brush the corn lightly with olive oil and fry for 10 to 12 minutes.

In the meantime, combine the sour cream and mayonnaise in a bowl with just ¼ of the lime. In a separate bowl, combine ancho chili powder, salt, and pepper.

When the corn is done cooking, remove and let cool slightly. Spread on the sour cream mixture, then sprinkle on the spices, cotija cheese, and cilantro to taste. Spritz with extra lime juice.

4. “Twice-Fried” Sweet Potatoes

What you’ll need:

2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and dried
1 T plain Greek yogurt
1 T brown sugar
½ T butter
¼ tsp cinnamon

Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F. Poke several holes in the sweet potatoes with a fork or knife. Rub with olive oil and place in the air fryer for about 45 minutes, turning them halfway through. Add additional time if needed. When tender, remove and let cool.

Cut in half and scoop out the flesh into a mixing bowl, carefully keeping the skins intact. Mix together with yogurt, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Scoop the mixture back into the potato skins. Place back in the air fryer for 5 more minutes. Serve immediately.

5. Fried Ravioli

What you’ll need:

1 c Italian breadcrumbs
¼ c grated Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 c all-purpose flour
1 T milk
2 eggs
1 (20 to 24-oz) package of refrigerated ravioli

Pour flour into a shallow dish and set aside. In a separate shallow dish, whisk eggs and milk. Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan garlic powder, paprika, and salt in a third mixing bowl. Dip ravioli first into the egg, then the breadcrumbs to coat.

Lightly spray the ravioli with cooking spray. Place ravioli in the air fryer basket about ¼ to ½ inch apart. Cook at 400 degrees F for about 8 to 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Serve with marinara sauce and an extra sprinkle of Parmesan.

6. Coconut Shrimp

What you’ll need:

1 lb raw shrimp, cleaned and deveined
¾ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
¼ c all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp paprika
2 eggs

Combine the flour, salt, and paprika in a mixing bowl. In a separate shallow dish, whisk the eggs. In another shallow dish, combine the shredded coconut and breadcrumbs.

Dip each shrimp first in the flour mixture, then in the egg, then in the coconut mixture to coat.

Set air fryer to 360 degrees F. Place the shrimp in the basket, making sure they do not touch. Spray the top of the shrimp lightly with cooking spray. Cook for about 10 to 12 minutes, flipping the shrimp halfway through. Serve with your choice of dipping sauce.

7. Tuna Melt Sandwich

What you’ll need:

½ cup prepared tuna salad
2 slices Provolone cheese
2 slices bread
½ T butter, room temperature

Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread. Place one slice of cheese on one slice of bread (non-buttered side). Scoop tuna salad on top and spread evenly, not quite to the edges. Top with the second slice of cheese and slice of bread (buttered side up). Cook in air fryer set to 370 degrees for about 7 to 8 minutes, flipping halfway through.

8. Fried Pork Chops

What you’ll need:

¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
4 boneless pork chops
Olive oil

Combine all dry ingredients in a shallow dish. Pat the pork chops dry with a paper towel and lightly brush all sides with olive oil. Coat the pork chops with the breadcrumb mixture. Place the pork chops in the air fryer basket, ensuring they do not overlap. Cook at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through (the internal temperature should be 145 degrees F). Serve with aioli or barbecue sauce and your favorite sides.

9. Chicken Parmesan

What you’ll need:

8 oz spaghetti
4 boneless chicken cutlets (or 2 chicken breasts cut in half)
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs + ½ cup Italian breadcrumbs, toasted
1 tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp black pepper
⅓ cup flour
1 egg
¼ cup milk
1 ½ cups marinara sauce
Whole mozzarella, sliced into thin discs
Parsley, finely chopped

Preheat the air fryer to 370 degrees F and set the oven to broil on low. Cover a rimmed baking sheet in parchment paper and set aside.

Combine the flour and half of the salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Whisk milk and egg together in a separate shallow dish. Combine the remaining dry ingredients in a third dish.

Pound out the chicken to about ¼ inch thick and pat dry with a paper towel. Dip the chicken cutlets first in the flour mixture, then the egg mixture, then the breadcrumb mixture to thoroughly coat.

Lightly spray two of the breaded chicken cutlets with cooking spray and place them in the air fryer basket, making sure they do not overlap. Cook for about 12 minutes. When chicken is cooked through (the internal temperature should be 165 degrees F), transfer to the rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining two cutlets.

While chicken is cooking, cook the spaghetti per package instructions and drain. Heat the marinara sauce in a large skillet. Spoon marinara sauce over each cutlet on the rimmed baking sheet, then cover with mozzarella slices. Put in the oven and let broil for about 3 to 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted, slightly browned, and bubbly (keep an eye on it to avoid burning).

Add the spaghetti to the pan with the remaining marinara sauce and stir to coat. Serve the chicken over spaghetti and garnish with parsley.

10. Flameless Bananas Foster

What you’ll need:

2 bananas
2 tsp granulated sugar
¼ cup butter
⅔ cup brown sugar
1 T rum
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Vanilla ice cream

Set the air fryer to 400 degrees. Slice the bananas in half lengthwise, then in half again to quarters. Place in the air fryer tray, cut sides up, and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Cook for about 8 minutes, allowing the sugar to caramelize but be careful not to let it burn.

While bananas are cooking, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat, then gradually whisk in the sugar, rum, vanilla, and cinnamon. Stir constantly and allow to thicken, careful not to reach boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the walnuts. Let cool slightly.

Transfer the bananas into two bowls. Top each with 1 to 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream. Pour over the warm rum sauce. Serve immediately.

11. Super Simple Chocolate Chip Cookies

What you’ll need:

½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Line the air fryer with air fryer-safe parchment paper and preheat to 325 degrees F.

Combine butter and sugars in a stand mixer until creamy. Add in the egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Mix the dry ingredients except the chocolate chips in a mixing bowl, then add by ¼ cup to the stand mixer.

Drop tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper and flatten slightly. Transfer each to the tray, placing the dough 1 inch apart. Cook until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Enjoy!

12. Devil’s Food Cake Cookies

What you’ll need:

1 box Devil’s Food cake mix
2 eggs
⅓ cup vegetable oil
¾ tsp vanilla
¼ cup powdered sugar

Line the air fryer with air fryer-safe parchment paper and preheat to 330 degrees F.

Put the powdered sugar in a mixing bowl and set aside. Combine all remaining ingredients with a stand or hand mixer. Refrigerate dough for 10 to 20 minutes. Scoop refrigerated dough by tablespoonfuls and roll into balls. Coat each ball with powdered sugar.

Cook in batches of 4 or 5, placing the covered dough balls onto the parchment paper-lined tray about 1 inch apart. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm.

Other easy air fryer recipes you might like: Crispy Chickpeas, Falafel, Italian Meatballs, Chicken Taquitos, Fried Fish with Homemade Tartar Sauce, Steak with Garlic Butter Sauce, Apple Hand Pies, Blueberry Crisp

What NOT to Cook in an Air Fryer

1. Battered or Saucy Foods

A wet batter or sauce will drip off the food and through the basket before it can get cooked and crispy. Instead, try breaded fried foods (a combination of flour, egg, and breadcrumbs) and dry seasoning.

2. Foods with Heavy Seasoning

When seasoning your food, keep it to a minimum and ensure it sticks to the surface. Any excess seasoning will blow off the food, messing with your menu and making a mess of the air fryer.

3. Large Bone-In Proteins

Whole chickens, bone-in pork chops, and other bone-in proteins will cook unevenly in an air fryer. Instead, choose the boneless option.

4. Leafy Greens

With the exception of kale, leafy greens are too light to withstand the high-speed winds of an air fryer and will cook unevenly. Stick with heavy-duty vegetables like zucchini or mushrooms.

5. Raw Grains

Raw grains will cook unevenly. Instead, use the air fryer to reheat cooked grains or make dishes like fried rice. Stick with the stovetop or an Instant Pot for cooking raw grains like rice, bulgar, and quinoa.

6. Popcorn

Popcorn most likely won’t fully pop in an air fryer (the temperature doesn’t get high enough). Plus, the kernels can get stuck in the heating element, a fire hazard you want to avoid. Use the microwave or opt for stovetop popcorn.

7. Cheesy Dishes

While some meals work, like the tuna melt, dishes with lots of cheese or cheese that isn’t contained will become an oozing mess.

8. Eggs

You may have luck with hard-boiled eggs, but more often than not, they will end up with a rubbery texture. It’s best to cook your eggs on the stovetop or in an Instant Pot.

9. Bacon

In theory, air fryer bacon sounds crispy and delicious. In reality, the high-speed air causes the bacon grease to splatter all over your air fryer—yuck. Try cooking your bacon in the oven (on a butcher paper-lined baking sheet at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes) to minimize the grease and mess.

Air-Fry the Right Way with Help from Rent-A-Center

If you’re not one of the almost 60 percent of Americans with an air fryer, it may be time to jump on the bandwagon. At Rent-A-Center, you can find top-of-the-line air fryers like Breville, Ninja, and Cuisinart. Better yet, you don’t have to pay for a new air fryer all up-front. Make small flexible payments on a schedule that works for you. Check out your nearest store to learn about all the ways Rent-A-Center makes renting-to-own a cinch.

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