10 Groceries You Should Buy for Your Air Fryer, According to Chefs

published Jan 30, 2022
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Credit: Products, Left to Right Top to Bottom: Blue Circle Foods, Target, Instacart, Thrive Market, Walmart; Design: Kitchn

Five years after Oprah declared the air fryer one of her “Favorite Things,” America still can’t get enough of this foolproof, convenient way to make fried foods at home. Everyone seems to have one — that goes for chefs, too! (They’re just like us!) We wanted to know what the pros are using their air fryers for at home. So we asked them!

We spoke with chefs across the country to see what grocery items they’re using with their air fryers. Yes, frozen french fries made the list … twice! Unsurprisingly, frozen foods are the standout category — although one chef specifically calls out a fresh item over the frozen kind. There are also two less-expected picks. Let’s take a look!

Credit: Walmart

1. Frozen French Fries

“You would be doing your air fryer a disservice if you don’t use it to fry french fries. I grew up with Ore-Ida and they carry a classic golden french fry and a Golden Crisper french fry that has a breaded exterior, similar to a mozzarella stick. You can take the Golden Crispers  to the next level by adding your own seasoning: a simple sprinkle of sugar and salt or a fragrant blend of white pepper, salt, and five spice. The Golden Crispers have more texture, so your special seasoning will stick well to them.” — Belinda Wei, co-founder and ice cream chef of Dear Bella Creamery

Buy: Ore-Ida Golden Crispers! Crispy French Fried Potatoes, $2.69 for 20 ounces at Walmart

Credit: Instacart

2. Frozen Sweet Potato Fries

“I was super resistant to getting an air fryer, but after smelling up the whole house one day while making fries, my wife convinced me — and I haven’t looked back! My go-to lately is McCain’s Sweet Potato Fries, which I have been making non-stop during R+D for my new sandwich shop. These babies come out perfect. And I have to admit that the air fryer is great for warming up day-old fries, too.” — Brian Tsao, chef-owner of Mission Sandwich Social (opening this spring in Brooklyn)

Buy: McCain Sweet Potato Crinkle Fries, $4.99 for 19 ounces at Instacart

Credit: Target

3. Frozen Brazilian Cheese Bread

“These are crispy on the outside, fluffy inside, and taste like heaven. I love the fact they are made with simple, wholesome ingredients and are naturally gluten-free. I have three daughters ranging from ages one to 12 years old and they are huge fans too. We always have a few bags in the freezer for a quick snack. My favorite Brazi Bites products are their cheddar & Parmesan cheese bread and their new pizza bites.” — Mahsa Darabi, finalist on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen

Buy: Brazi Bites Cheddar & Parmesan Brazilian Cheese Bread, $5.99 for 11.5 ounces at Target

4. Fresh Ravioli

“There is a huge array of delicious air fryer ravioli recipes available! Most recipes involve a delicious crispy breading that adds a satisfying texture. While you can use frozen or refrigerated ravioli, I’ve had the best success with refrigerated. Pair with marinara and some fresh Parmesan for an easy appetizer or entrée.” — Kat Marris, recipe developer, Green Chef

Buy: Giovanni Rana Mushroom Ravioli, $5.49 for 10 ounces at Instacart

Credit: Instacart

5. Blackened Seasoning Blend

“Duck is certainly my go-to for the air fryer, but twice a week we do a rotisserie chicken, loaded up with garden vegetables, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and mushrooms. I recommend covering chicken or duck aggressively with one cup Prudhomme’s blackened seasoning and accompanying it with hearty root vegetables tossed with herbs, garlic salt, and pepper in the catch pan. Set it and forget it really; we typically set the air fryer and then we all jump in the pool with the kids. Serve with a nice salad and bottle of wine.” — Patrick Rebholz, corporate executive chef, 50 Eggs Hospitality Group

Credit: Thrive Market

6. MCT Oil

“I love using a Misto aluminum oil sprayer for my air fryer! It’s perfect because you can make your own infused oils, [then] spray your air fryer and anything you put in [it] to help food not stick and also flavor it to your liking. I hate using nonstick sprays from the store because they often have extra chemicals in them. I like to add MCT oil with the olive oil.” — Tony Nguyen, chef and founder of Official Drip Sauce

Buy: Thrive Market Organic MCT Oil, $26.99 for 32 ounces at Thrive Market

Credit: Blue Circle Foods

7. Frozen Salmon

“Seafood is a great protein for the air fryer; it creates a beautiful outer crisp without drying out the fish. I use it to cook up Blue Circle’s Happy Fish for my granddaughters; it’s sustainable, quick, and delicious — they can’t get enough!” — Nora Pouillon, James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award Winner and chef of Nora in Washington, D.C.

Buy: Blue Circle Foods Happy Fish Salmon, $7.99 for 7.5 ounces at Blue Circle Foods

Credit: Walmart

8. Frozen Plant-Based Shrimp

Sophie’s Kitchen breaded vegan shrimp, crab cakes, and fish fillets are especially delicious straight from the air fryer. The fillets and crab cakes come out crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside. The shrimp’s seasoning and firm bite comes out just right. My favorite recipes are bang bang shrimp tacos, crispy crab cakes with roasted peppers, and fish fillets with garlic aioli.” — Heather Heath, owner and CEO of Vegas Vegan Culinary School & Eatery

Buy: Sophie’s Kitchen Breaded Vegan Shrimp, $5.48 for 8.8 ounces at Walmart

Credit: Goldbelly

9. Frozen Empanadas

“No need to thaw! Frozen empanadas make for a great on-the-go snack, or make it a meal by whipping up a chimichurri or guasacaca and a fresh salad. Simply heat your air fryer to 350 degrees, place frozen empanadas in a single layer, and heat for 8 to 10 minutes, or until browned and fully cooked. For an extra shine, brush your empanadas with an egg wash before cooking.” — Sara Heilman, Culinary Development Manager, EveryPlate

Buy: Nuchas Empanadas, $89 for 12 at Goldbelly

Credit: Applegate

10. Grass-Fed Beef Hot Dogs

“I love my air fryer! I think hot dogs are amazing in the air fryer,” says Jing Gao. When asked if she has a specific dog of choice, he recommended Applegate Organics. And she didn’t stop there: “I also make personal pizzas in the air fryer with a cauliflower pita, Brooklyn Delhi Tomato achaar, cheese, and whatever toppings I have in the fridge.” — Jing Gao, chef and founder of Fly By Jing

Buy: Applegate The Great Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dog, $7.59 for 10 ounces at Instacart

We want to know your favorite groceries for your air fryer. Tell us about it in the comments!