Fried food that’s actually healthy? It sounds too good to be true. But you can make it happen with an air fryer—a kitchen appliance that crisps foods to a golden crunch with only a tiny amount of oil.
Like a convection oven, the air fryer uses a stream of circulating, very hot air to work its magic. You spray food with as little as a tablespoon of oil (or even none at all), then pop it in this simple-to-operate machine, which heats up quickly and cooks food fast. The resulting delicacies feature a similar crunchy texture to traditional fried food, with fewer calories than when food is cooked in oil. Bonus: The air fryer is safer than deep-frying, because you’re not heating up lots of hot oil on the stove.
And faux-frying is only part of what air fryers can do. These 6 recipes show just how versatile these machines are.
Sweet Potato Fries
Tiffany McCauley, of the blog the Gracious Pantry, once needed to whip up a quick snack for her son but had only a few ingredients in her fridge. Her recipe for garlic sweet potato fries was born—and became an instant hit. Cooking time: a mere seven minutes.
Dr. Nandita Iyer, of the vegetarian food blog Saffron Trail, swaps traditional pizza dough for naan—a thick Indian flatbread—in this easy recipe for naan pizza with caramelized onions and black olives. “For us home cooks, store-bought naan is the quickest way to make a pizza for an after-school snack or a weeknight dinner,” she says.
Fiber- and protein-rich roasted chickpeas are easy to make in a conventional oven—but going from can to crispy requires some time. This recipe for roasted chickpeas from the Gracious Pantry adds plenty of warming spices and clocks in at a cooking time of just 20 minutes. Sprinkle the finished product on salads or enjoy as an anytime snack.
Chocolate Chip Muffins
When you don’t necessarily need a big batch of muffins—or you have only a few minutes to make them—fire up the air fryer and bake these vegetarian chocolate chip muffins from Saffron Trail. This low-sugar version substitutes yogurt and coconut oil for eggs, with a dollop of honey for sweetness.
Fish And Chips
Battered fish and french fries make for a crowd-pleasing combo, but cooking them in oil leaves a big mess. The Gracious Pantry‘s healthier (and less messy) take on fish and chips uses gluten-free breading; the fish stays crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside.
Amy Katz of Veggies Save the Day was looking for ways to cut down on the processed oils in her diet, so she came up with an oil-free version of a favorite stir-fry dish, orange tofu. Cook the tofu in just 10 minutes, then toss it with an easily made orange sauce. It’s quicker than delivery.
By Ellise Pierce