8 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Make in Your Air Fryer

published Jan 10, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Kelli Foster, Joe Lingeman; Food styling: Cyd McDowell; Design: Apartment Therapy

Anyone who knows me well knows that, if given the opportunity, I will bore you to tears about my passion for air frying — these days, I use my air fryer even more than my oven. Air frying is perfect if you aren’t cooking large portions, need an extra oven or “burner,” or you want to cook without needing to supervise your food too much.

As with many people, my love affair with air frying began with french fries. Then I moved on to various veggies, such as Brussels sprouts, Buffalo cauliflower, and shishito peppers (charred in spots after only 6 to 8 minutes at 400℉, these make the perfect quick and easy snack or appetizer). I’ve created a few of my own air fryer recipes, too, including crispy air fryer beets, air fryer summer squash, and air fryer meatballs, and now air frying is my go-to cooking method for anything I can think of.

Here are eight delicious things you might not know you can make in an air fryer, but that you should definitely try.

Credit: Kelli Foster

1. Air-Fried Pickles

This is my teenage daughter’s go-to snack that she can make all by herself. Crispy air fryer pickles are good on their own, but even better with a dipping sauce — try the tangy mayo-ketchup sauce included with this recipe, or any other sauce you love, like ranch dressing, BBQ sauce, or honey mustard. 

Get the recipe: Crispy Air Fryer Pickles

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

2. Air-Fried Grilled Cheese

Air frying is a low-maintenance method for making grilled cheese. It gives you an extra-crispy, golden crust and a melty, cheesy center with minimal fuss. Bonus: You can often make more than one sandwich at the same time, depending on how big your air fryer basket is. 

Credit: Tara Holland

3. Air-Fried French Toast

With air fryer French toast you don’t have to hover over a stove and you are guaranteed evenly and perfectly cooked (custardy, yet crisp) French toast.

Credit: Tara Holland

4. Air-Fried “Grilled” Corn on the Cob

This way of prepping corn on the cob has become one of my favorites. Here’s how to do it: Shuck and rinse the corn and cut the corn cobs in half if they’re too large to fit in your air fryer basket. Rub them lightly with olive oil (don’t use butter, which can easily burn in high heat), season with salt and pepper, and air fry at 400℉ until caramelized in spots, about 10 minutes, flipping halfway. You’ll end up with crisp, flavorful corn on the cob without even having to fire up the grill or a grill pan. Serve with plenty of butter.

Credit: Tara Holland

5. Air-Fried Portobello Mushrooms

Pan-frying can sometimes create disappointingly soggy mushrooms — it’s hard to get them crispy because mushrooms release so much moisture. Enter: the air fryer. The machine’s circulated heat helps draw out any liquid, giving you a crispier cap with a meaty, steak-like texture. Whisk together some olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper; brush it all over on both sides of the mushrooms; then cook at 375°F to 385℉ (depending on how hot your air fryer runs) for 5 minutes; flip over and cook until they’re crispy and cooked through, about 3 minutes more. Serve as is, or add a slice of cheddar for the final few minutes, and serve on burger buns (which you can warm and crisp in the air fryer alongside the mushrooms).  

In addition to whole caps, thickly sliced portobello mushrooms can be cooked the same way using the same timing. Serve with a pat of compound butter on top and lots of fresh crusty bread alongside. 

Credit: Tara Holland

6. Air-Fried “Baked” Brie

This is the perfect appetizer or snack for entertaining. If you buy one of the Brie wheels in the wooden boxes, just remove the plastic wrapping and the wooden lid, then either place the cheese back in the wooden box base, or place it on a large piece of parchment paper, using the parchment as a sling to lower the cheese into the air fryer basket. Cook at 375°F to 385℉ until the cheese is gooey (it should feel slightly soft to the touch), about 8 to 10 minutes. Once it comes out of the air fryer, serve it as is or cut a cross on top and add a spoonful of cranberry relish and some toasted chopped pecans before serving. Serve it with crackers or sliced crusty bread.

Credit: Tara Holland

7. Air-Fried Tofu

Deep-fried tofu is one of my favorite things to eat, but I don’t love the messiness of deep-frying. That’s why, in my opinion, nothing beats this recipe for crispy air fryer tofu — it is crispy, flavorful, and super easy to make, with no splattering oil to worry about. Plus, it has the most delicious dipping sauce.

Get the recipe: Crispy Air Fryer Tofu

Credit: Tara Holland

8. Air-Fried Toasted Nuts

Even though I went to culinary school, I’ve been known to over-toast nuts when I’ve used a dry skillet on the stovetop. Before I know it, it’s a sad, smoky mess, and I have to start again. But since I learned that I could air fry nuts, I haven’t burned a single batch! Just preheat to 325℉ for 10 minutes, then pour the nuts on the heated air fryer basket in an even layer and cook until golden and toasty, about 5 to 7 minutes.

I’ve also discovered that you can make candied nuts in the air fryer at the same temperature. The secret is to make a sugary batter with egg whites — the egg whites help keep the sugar from burning and also create a crisp, glazed exterior. Here’s how to do it.

  • Line the basket of the air fryer with parchment paper that has been lightly greased with cooking spray and preheat to 325℉ for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile whisk together 1 raw egg white, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, and spices (I like to use 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1/2 tablespoon nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt).
  • Toss 2 cups of nuts, such as whole almonds or pecan halves, with the egg white mixture, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the nuts onto the parchment paper in a single layer (cook in batches if necessary), making sure all the excess coating has dripped off before transferring the nuts to the air fryer. 
  • Cook until the coating is caramelized and fragrant, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • While the nuts are still warm, sprinkle them with a pinch of flaky sea salt, and let them cool with the lid open in the air fryer for around 30 minutes, then break up any nut clusters that may have formed.

What are your favorite things to air fry? Let us know in the comments section.