By Isadora Baum
If you’re already hooked on your air fryer, you’re not alone: With more than 140K hits on Insta, the #airfryer is a certified hit.
Now, if you’re wondering what the heck an air fryer is, or you’ve only used yours for regular fries, your day is about to get a whole lot brighter.
For the newbies: “An air fryer is a container-like kitchen appliance that circulates hot air. The constant air circulation yields a crispy exterior with a soft, moist interior,” says registered dietician Kailey Proctor. “A big reason why the air fryer has become so popular is because you need a fraction of the oil to cook fried favorites, such as fries and chicken.”
A few things to note if you’re just getting started:
- It’s not exactly the same as fried. “It’s important to know that while yes, the air fryer uses less oil, both the taste and texture are not true to fried foods,” Proctor says. “However, the air fryer does a better job at crisping the foods than the oven, due to air circulation within the fryer.”
- The oil matters. You still need some, and it’s important to choose one that can withstand high heat (avocado oil is our fave). “I typically use ½ tbsp. to 1 tbsp of oil, depending on how large my batch is,” Proctor says. “Through trial and error I’ve found that smaller batches yield crispier foods, especially potatoes.”
- Set it up right. For best results, make sure all the food in the air fryer touches the bottom and isn’t piled up, which will steam rather than air-fry it.
Ready to go? Here are a few awesome ways to take your air fryer game way beyond plain old fries.
Season with garlic powder, paprika, and pepper for a super-tasty savory snack. “Cut plantains into coins. Cook at 400ºF for 5 to 6 minutes, flip and cook for an additional 5 to 6 minutes,” Proctor says.
Roasted Root Vegetables
Make hearty, antioxidant-rich carrots, parsnips, and other root vegetables crispy and delicious in the air fryer. Season with dill, garlic, parsley, pepper, and sea salt, and cook the same way as the plantains (above).
Fried Brussels Sprouts
“Brussels sprouts were made for the air fryer,” says registered dietician Dana Angelo White, author of The Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook. “Cut them in half and toss with reduced-sodium soy sauce, maple syrup and a splash of sesame oil. Cook at 330ºF for about 12 minutes.”
Curly vegetable “fries”
“Spiralized veggies like summer squash and carrots are crisp-tender perfection in the air fryer,” White says. “Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook right in the fryer basket for 10 minutes at 360ºF.”
“Season thinly sliced flank steak with ground cumin, salt and pepper and place over a bed of sliced onions and peppers in the air fryer basket,” White says. “Cook for 15 minutes at 390ºF.”