18 Uses of Air Fryer | Different Uses for Air Fryer

Different ways of using an air fryer

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Known for being able to “bake” vegetables and fry chips, the air fryer mimics the results of deep-frying food using little to no oil and heated air. This kitchen appliance can also be used to:

  • Heat
  • Bake
  • Dehydrate
  • Broil
  • Crisp
  • Roast
  • Toast

An air fryer can be used to cook food quicker than other appliances. For instance, an oven requires a 10-minute preheating time while an air fryer preheats and cooks food in the same amount of time. This is because an air fryer can reach 400°F (204°C) in 4 minutes to 7 minutes depending on its size.

Using an air fryer is also a great way to cook food using less oil. Air-fried food needs about 15 mL  (1 tablespoon) of oil while deep-fried food will need about 750mL (3 cups) of oil. While deep frying food can lead to the formation of acrylamide, a harmful compound, air frying food instead can reduce acrylamide up to 90%.

Over the last two years, approximately 26 million air fryers have been sold. The most popular air fryers will cost $60 to $130. Smaller air fryers that perform the basics can cost less at around $25 to $30. For those looking for an air fryer within the $30 to $40 range, there are models available which offer more power and are built slightly better. However, there are hybrid models which are countertop ovens that come with air fry functions but will cost you $150 to $300.

This appliance also comes in different sizes where a single person will only need one with a 2-quart capacity. On the other hand, a larger family should purchase an air fryer with at least a 5-quart capacity.

No matter which air fryer you choose, the different foods you can air fry, bake, roast, toast, broil, crisp, dehydrate, and roast include:

1. Vegetables

An air fryer can be used to bake vegetables. For tender vegetables like brussels sprouts, cauliflower, bell pepper, and asparagus you will need to preheat the appliance to 375°F (190°C). Wash and dry your vegetables before chopping them into smaller pieces and drizzle with oil. Place them into the air fryer’s basket in one layer and cook for 10 minutes to 15 minutes shaking the basket halfway for even cooking.

cooking vegetables in air fryer

To bake firm vegetables in the air fryer like squash, parsnip, carrots, and beets preheat and prep the air fryer and vegetables as mentioned above. However, bake firmer vegetables in the air fryer for 20 minutes to 30 minutes.

2. Chips

Another way to use an air fryer is to fry your own chips in it. Preheat your air fryer to 360°F (182°C). Wash your potatoes and use a vegetable peeler or mandolin to get thin slices. Transfer the potato slices to a large bowl and enough ice water to submerge the slices. Leave the potato to soak for 15 minutes before draining. Drain and repeat before transferring the potatoes on kitchen towels and patting them dry. Lightly spritz the slices with cooking oil and season with salt. Place potato slices onto the air fryer rack in a single layer and cook for 15 minutes to 17 minutes or until golden brown.

3. French Fries

Also, air fryers can be used to make french fries. Spray the air fryer basket with a light coating of nonstick cooking oil and preheat the appliance to 380°F (193°C). Cut your potatoes into wedges that are about ¼ inches thick and rinse with cold water. Drain the potatoes and pat them dry. In a medium or large bowl, toss the fries with oil and sprinkle with salt. Place the fries into the air fryer basket in a single layer and cook for 14 minutes to 16 minutes. Make sure to flip the fries halfway into cooking.

As for frozen french fries, spray the air fryer basket with nonstick cooking oil and preheat the appliance to 400°F (204°C). Place your frozen french fries into the basket and cook for 5 minutes to 20 minutes depending on how brown you would like them. If you are cooking frozen french fries for more than 5 minutes, make sure to shake the basket every 5 minutes to cook evenly.

4. Garbanzo Beans

The air fryer can be used to crisp garbanzo beans or chickpeas. Heat up the air fryer to 200°F (93°C). Drain and rinse garbanzo beans before tossing them into a bowl with olive oil and preferred spices. Add garbanzo beans into the air fryer and cook for 12 minutes to 15 minutes. Shake the air fryer basket halfway through cooking to evenly crisp the garbanzo beans.

5. Bacon

Bacon can be cooked in an air fryer too. Heating up the air fryer to 400°F (204°C), place the bacon strips onto the air fryer rack in a single layer. Let the bacon crisp in the air fryer for 5 minutes before using a tong to flip them. Cook for another 5 minutes and transfer to a plate.

6. Steak

An air fryer can be used to grill a steak. Simply preheat the air fryer to 400°F (204°C). While the appliance is heating up, rub your steak with oil followed by your preferred seasoning on each side. Place the steak into the air fryer basket and cook for 12 minutes to 14 minutes. Make sure to flip halfway through cooking. Transfer the steak to a plate and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving with garlic butter.

7. Cookies

Use an air fryer to bake cookies. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (176°C) and line the rack with foil. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. In another bowl, combine your sugar, butter, egg yolk, and vanilla. Combine the flour mixture into the butter mixture until a dough is formed then fold in your chocolate chips.

Use a spoon to scoop the cookie dough and roll it into balls. Place the balls onto the air fryer basket lined with foil and make sure that they are about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies for 5 minutes to 6 minutes and transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Repeat until the dough is finished.

For the frozen cookie dough, thaw the dough in your refrigerator a day before you plan to air fry them. Preheat the air fryer to 320°F (160). Again, use a spoon to scoop out the dough before rolling it into balls.  Arrange the cookie dough into the air fryer basket that has been lined with foil and air fry for 8 minutes to 15 minutes.

8. Chicken Wings

Another food that an air fryer can be used to cook is chicken wings. Heat up the air fryer to 400°F (204°C). Pat down the chicken wings with paper towels. In a mixing bowl, toss chicken wings, 1 tablespoon of oil, 2 teaspoons of garlic salt, and 1 teaspoon of lemon pepper together until evenly coated. Place chicken wings onto the air fryer basket making sure that they do not touch. Cook chicken wings for 8 minutes before flipping and cooking for another 8 minutes.

9. Pumpkin Seeds

Seeds can be roasted in the air fryer. Spread the pumpkin seeds in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Roast the pumpkin seeds at 360°F (182°C) for 10 minutes to 15 minutes. Shake the basket halfway to cook the seeds evenly. Let the seeds cool down afterward and season.

10. Salmon

Another food that can be cooked in the air fryer is salmon. Preheat the air fryer to 400°F (204°C). Rub each salmon fillet with olive oil before seasoning with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Place the fillets in the air fryer and cook for 7 minutes to 9 minutes. If the salmon is on the thicker side, cook for 9 minutes to 11 minutes. Transfer to a plate to serve or let the salmon cool down before transferring to an airtight container. Air-fried salmon should be consumed within 3 days if kept in an airtight container.

11. Shrimp

Also, shrimp can be air-fried. Preheat your appliance to 400°F (204°C). Clean your shrimp by removing the veins and shells before running each shrimp under tap water. Pat dry with paper towels. In a mixing bowl, combine olive oil and your preferred seasoning. Brush each side of every shrimp with the seasoning. Place the shrimp on the air fryer rack in a single layer and cook for 8 minutes before serving.

12. Fruits

The air fryer is also a fruit dehydrator. Preheat the air fryer to 175°F (79°C). Cut your strawberries into slices that are ¼ inches thick. Place them into the air fryer in a single layer using the dehydrator setting for 4 hours. For bananas, dehydrate in the air fryer for 3 hours. If you want to dehydrate apples, they will also need to be in the air fryer for 3 hours.

13. Cinnamon Rolls

An air fryer can bake cinnamon rolls. Spray the air fryer basket with a thin layer of nonstick cooking oil. Using a can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, place the pastries into the air fryer basket. Make sure they are not touching and bake the cinnamon rolls for 8 minutes at 360°F (182°C). Let the cinnamon rolls cool before topping them with icing.

14. Falafels

Also, an air fryer can be used to cook falafels. In a food processor, pulse garbanzo beans, cilantro, parsley, flour, shallots, cumin, paprika, salt, and lemon until it is a paste. Use a tablespoon to scoop the falafel batter into a ball and flatten slightly to form a dish that is around 1 inch in diameter.

Coat the air fryer with a thin layer of nonstick cooking spray and place falafels onto the rack. Make sure that the falafels are evenly spaced and cook in the air fryer for 8 minutes at 350°F (176°C). Flip the falafels over and cook for another 6 minutes. If you have extra falafels, store them in an airtight container and consume them within 5 days.

15. Ravioli

An alternative way to use an air fryer is to cook ravioli in it. Preheat your appliance to 350°F (176°C). In a mixing bowl, mix the Parmesan cheese, basil, and bread crumbs together. Place flour into another bowl and eggs in a separate one. Dip each ravioli in flour before dipping them in the egg mixture. Then, dip the ravioli into the crumb mixture and pat the coating in.

Spray the air fryer with a light layer of cooking oil and arrange the ravioli onto the rack. Cook the ravioli for 3 minutes to 4 minutes before transferring it to a plate. Serve with marinara sauce.

16. Eggs

Eggs can be cooked in the air fryer. Preheat the air fryer to 270°F (132°C). For soft-boiled eggs, place the eggs onto the air fryer rack and cook for 10 minutes before removing the eggs and transferring them into an ice bath. Medium-boiled eggs should be air-fried for 12 minutes. Hard-boiled eggs will need to be cooked for 15 minutes before being transferred into an ice bath and peeled when cool.

17. Zucchini Noodles

Another food an air fryer can be used to make is zucchini noodles. To make zoodles, cut the ends off of the zucchini you are going to use. Use a spiraliser to shape your zucchini noodles then use a kitchen towel to absorb water out of the vegetable noodles. Transfer your zoodles into a colander and let it rest to remove excess water.

Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (176°C). In a mixing bowl, add your noodles, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer the zoodles into the air fryer basket and cook for 7 minutes to 10 minutes. Serve with pasta sauce.

18. Popcorn

The air fryer also doubles as a popcorn machine. Preheat the appliance to 400°F (204°C). Line the air fryer basket with foil before tossing in ¼ cup of popcorn kernels in a single layer and ¼ tablespoon of oil. Air fry popcorn for 5 minutes and transfer popped popcorn into a bowl. If you have unpopped kernels, return the basket and cook them in the air fryer for another 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt.

Common Mistakes for Air Fryer Usage

When learning how to use an air fryer correctly, avoid the following mistakes:

  • Forgetting to preheat the appliance. As seen in the use cases above, preheating the appliance is necessary. This is so that the air fryer is the correct temperature to cook food once you put ingredients into the basket.
  • Not using any oil. While you do not need to use as much oil as you would to deep fry food, ingredients still require some fat to be cooked in.
  • Using too much oil. Adding more oil does not mean that your food will be more crispy. In fact, adding too much oil can make your food soggy.
  • Skipping checking on your food. Checking on your food halfway through cooking is good practice because you may have to adjust the time and temperature.
  • Using the wrong air fryer. Some models have more functions that can be more useful to you. Additionally, you may be using an air fryer that is way too big or too small for the cooking you want to do.
  • Only using the air fryer function. As seen in the use cases above, an air fryer can bake, roast, dehydrate, broil, toast, crisp, and heat up food. Do not limit yourself and your appliance to simply air frying food.
  • Adding too much food into the air fryer. When the basket is overcrowded, the food will not be able to cook properly because the air cannot circulate well. Work in batches if you have to.
  • Not flipping or shaking food. Most foods need to be flipped over halfway through cooking to cook evenly. Smaller food items will need a shake to cook well.
  • Cooking wet food. Unlike a deep fryer, an air fryer cannot cook batter well. When you place wet and battered food onto the air fryer rack, the coating will simply slip through the rack.
  • Not cleaning the air fryer properly. Leftover oil and crumbs can burn the next time you use your air fryer. This can affect the flavor of your food and cause your appliance to smoke.
  • Not leaving space around the air fryer. This appliance also needs space for proper ventilation so never put it in a corner or cupboard. Place it on a heatproof and stable surface while making sure it is not too close to other appliances in your kitchen.
  • Air frying ingredients that are too light. When there are loose herbs and spices, they can get blown off your food and around the appliance. They can also get stuck and burn.

By avoiding these mistakes for the use cases above, you can take advantage of the different functions of your appliance and maintain its quality.

cooking chicken and potatoes in air fryer

History of Usage of Air Fryers

So, what is an air fryer and where did it come from? 11 years ago, the air fryer debuted on the market but the technology that this appliance uses was invented in the 1940s. The air fryer was designed with the convection oven in mind. Similar to the convection oven, the air fryer uses a fan so that hot air can circulate around food and cook it.

The first air fryer was invented in 1945 by William L. Maxson. Maxson invented the first air fryer out of steel and aluminum and intended the Whirlwind Oven for home and airplane use. In 2010, Philips introduced their own version based on Maxon’s invention which used hot air circulated by a fan. This air fryer was introduced at the Internationale Funkausstelung (IFA) and is why the egg shape of the appliance is familiar to homeowners today.  Modern air fryers have multiple functions and can heat up to temperatures of 400°F (204°C).

Do the Use Cases of an Air Fryer Change Based on Type?

Yes, the use cases of an air fryer change based on the type of air fryer you have. Basket, cylindrical basket, and paddle air fryer models have a drawer that has removable paddles, baskets, or pans. This is where you would place your food and remove it. There are also air fryer ovens available that look and work similar to oven toasters. However, air fryer ovens typically have more functions and are able to bake, crisp, broil, and toast food.

Air Fryer is Best for Cooking Chicken

The best air fryer for cooking chicken is the Cosori Air Fryer. While you can cook chicken wings, tenders, or breasts in this air fryer, what sets the Cosori Air Fryer apart is that it is also big enough to cook whole chickens. Unlike other air fryers, the Cosori is designed with a square basket for bigger batches.

What Has More Use Cases: A Wall Oven or an Air Fryer?

For the air fryer vs. wall oven debate, a wall oven has more use cases. Unlike an air fryer, a wall oven has more space and can cook bigger batches of food. A wall oven can also be used to dry herbs while an air fryer cannot because of the hot air that circulates and will blow herbs around instead. A wall oven is also capable of steaming and slow cooking food which an air fryer is not designed to do.

Other Kitchen Tools with Various Use Cases Similar to Air Fryer

Other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to air fryers include:

  • Multi-cooker: A multi-cooker has different settings so that it can bake, grill, roast, steam, and grill food.
  • Toaster Oven: This appliance can reheat food, bake, toast, and broil ingredients like a convection oven.
  • Microwave Oven: Electromagnetic waves will heat up food molecules to cook food.
  • Slow Cooker: A slow cooker uses moist heat to cook food over long periods of time.

While these kitchen appliances have similar use cases to an air fryer, they have use cases specific to themselves. Learn more about these 4 kitchen tools and their 5 other uses here.