How the Air Fryer Makes Every Vegetable Taste Better

published May 27, 2020
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Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Want to make every single vegetable taste better? An air fryer is the not-so-secret tool for doing just that without heating up the whole house or spending extra time in the kitchen making sauces from scratch. About a year ago, I started experimenting with the air fryer for frozen foods, and then for making my favorite snack foods from scratch. Recently, I’ve been cooking every single vegetable in the thing to delicious results.

Air fryer Brussels sprouts get crispy and golden, sweet potato chips take minutes (not hours) and taste oh-so-sweet, green beans are snappier, and even baked potatoes get extra crispy and fluffy in my countertop machine. If air frying has eluded you because you don’t really eat fried food, let me tell you now: The air fryer makes every vegetable it touches taste better. Here is the why and how.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

The Air Fryer Is Your Vegetable BFF

To fully appreciate how much tastier an air fryer makes vegetables, it is helpful to understand how it works. Air fryers use convection to move hot air around food. Most have vented pans that allow practically every side of cubed vegetables, as an example, to get blasted with even, dry heat. Toss those vegetables with a little oil (seriously, you need just teaspoons — even for a big batch of veg) and the convection helps caramelize the outside of the food, making every single vegetable sweeter. Even better, this convection means that every vegetable cooks faster, retaining more of their natural flavor.

Of all the ways to make vegetables tastier, the air fryer is also the most efficient. You barely have to preheat it (10 minutes for most models) and it won’t heat up your whole kitchen or dirty a multitude of pans in the process. You can use the air fryer to quickly cook a bunch of green beans as a dinner side or to slowly roast tomatoes in the peak of summer for a quick tomato toast for lunch. Crisp zucchini before tossing it in pasta salad. Roast beets, bake potatoes, and caramelize a whole head of cauliflower in less time than it would take to boil water or heat a conventional oven.

Here’s How to Air Fry Most Vegetables

You can use the recommended preparations and temperatures for roasting vegetables as a guide for air frying almost any vegetable. Almost every vegetable I’ve cooked in the air fryer does well at 375°F and can be cooked as you would oven-roast it — cutting the cooking time and oil called for in half. For example, beets can either be wrapped in foil and roasted whole or you can cube them, toss with a little oil, and roast in an air fryer. Green beans can be tossed with your favorite spice and roasted whole, or you can coat them with panko breadcrumbs and turn them into crispy fries. Fresh tomatoes can be halved, sprinkled with minced garlic, and slowly roasted to almost candy-like sweetness.

Our Favorite Air-Fried Vegetable Recipes