From steak to cake, it does way more than fries.
You expect the almighty air fryer to turn out crisp fried chicken, crunchy french fries, and other goodies with that key f-word in their names. But the air fryer is a lot more versatile than you might think—from hard boiled eggs to molten lava cakes and even homemade bagels, there are scores of intriguing air fryer recipes to try.
So if you’ve been waffling on whether you should get yet another kitchen gadget, these easy recipes might be just the thing that finally pushes you over the edge. Take a peek at these air fryer cookbooks too, including options for vegans and keto dieters.
Like the near-universally adored Instant Pot, the air fryer promises faster cooking and a high degree of versatility (so it seems only natural that the Instant Pot people have finally come out with their own air fryer, which one-ups some of its competitors by adding a rotisserie function). Then there’s the Mealthy CrispLid, which can make your pressure cooker function as an air fryer.
The thing that makes any air fryer so good at both crisping foods and cooking them quickly is its hot air circulation—basically, it’s a form of countertop convection oven. While it obviously handles traditionally deep-fried foods with aplomb (and makes them healthier, since far less oil is required), its design makes it great for lots of other things too—from certain baked goods to roasted garlic.
These 21 surprising air fryer recipes are just some of the more intriguing options.
Pasta is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an air fryer, but it happens to make ravishing toasted ravioli with a crisp breadcrumb crust (and air fryer pasta chips are also a thing). Not terribly surprising, maybe, but veering from crunchy to creamy, it can make a comforting, one-pot mac and cheese too! Get the Air Fryer Mac and Cheese recipe.
By now, everyone knows you can make perfect hard cooked eggs in the Instant Pot, but the air fryer can give it a run for its money on that front—and some air fryer models can fit even more eggs at once, which makes it a real boon to meal preppers and any party hosts who plan on serving deviled eggs. Get the Air Fryer Hard Boiled Eggs recipe.
The air fryer can cook all kinds of seafood too, from coconut shrimp to simple salmon, but if you’re feeling flush, go for lobster tails. They only take about 6 minutes, and no waiting for a pot to boil either. Get the Air Fryer Lobster Tails recipe.
If you want surf and turf, air fryer steak also happens to be delicious, according to several sources on the internet. While it might not be quite the same as grilled—or seared in a white-hot cast iron skillet—it’s a great alternative option when you need one. Get the Air Fryer Steak recipe.
It feels like it’s time for a veggie interlude, and there are many air fryer vegetable recipes out there, from oil free air fryer potato chips and air fryer baked potatoes to crispy air fryer brussels sprouts and beyond. But since it is summer, it’s worth noting you can make air fryer corn on the cob—perfect for when you don’t want to fire up the grill for a couple ears but boiled corn just won’t cut it. Get the Air Fryer Corn on the Cob recipe.
We’re talking freshly made, from-scratch, incredibly easy bagels…in the air fryer. Boiled bagel purists may not be satisfied, but for the rest of us, this is what they call a game changer. As bagels go, they’re pretty healthy, too! Better stock up on that Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning. Get the Air Fryer Bagels recipe.
Sure, you can heat up mini personal pizzas from the freezer case in your air fryer, but why not do it all (mostly) from scratch? Use store-bought pizza dough and it’s still super easy (and will taste way better too). Apply the toppings after you put the rolled-out dough in the basket, and then get ready for perfectly crisp crust. Get the Air Fryer Pizza recipe.
Grilled cheese, while easy, can burn and stick to the pan and soak up a lot of butter (not necessarily a bad thing, taste-wise)—but make it in an air fryer for a faster, healthier, foolproof option with the perfect ratio of super crunchy outside to gooey melted cheese innards. It works great with gluten-free bread too, so everyone can get in on the action. (And try it with vegan cheese if you don’t eat dairy.) Get the Air Fryer Grilled Cheese recipe.
When something more decadent than a mere sandwich is called for, air fryer pull-apart garlic bread is the way to go. Stuffed with melty mozzarella is the traditional approach, but for a Korean garlic bread copycat, try filling it with cream cheese. Either way, don’t skimp on the garlic (or butter). Get the Air Fryer Pull-Apart Garlic Bread recipe.
Homemade Pop Tarts (or hand pies, if you prefer) are dangerously easy in the air fryer. All it takes is refrigerated pie crust plus your favorite jam or jelly (or Nutella), and a simple glaze to top it off. A similar shortcut involves using pre-made bread dough for easy air fryer cinnamon rolls, but I can’t resist the pull of ’90s nostalgia—or sprinkles, for that matter. Get the Air Fryer Strawberry Pop Tarts recipe.
Don’t want to make (or eat) an entire baker’s dozen of blueberry muffins? This recipe results in just three—but you can always double it and bake in two batches if you want a few more for the week. To dress them up, try gently pressing a little streusel or a sprinkle of granola on top before baking, or go in a different direction and add a lemon glaze once cooled. Get the Air Fryer Blueberry Muffin recipe.
Sometimes your s’mores craving strikes when there’s no campfire around. Most times, that means quick microwave s’mores, but the air fryer is just as easy and it actually toasts the outside of your marshmallow. Nuking’s got nothing on that. Get the Air Fryer S’mores recipe.
Love the crispy tofu you get from takeout joints but hate all the grease (and/or just not up for deep-frying at home)? Same. The air fryer will give you ultra-crisp tofu cubes in no time at all, with hardly any oil to speak of. Meatless Monday just got a lot easier—and more delicious. Get the Crispy Air Fryer Tofu recipe.
Sushi in an air fryer might sound like a stunt, but when you’re talking tempura rolls, it makes perfect sense. These vegan sushi rolls are coated in panko before being crisped up, but you can use the same trick for any sushi you’re craving. Get the Air Fryer Sushi Rolls recipe.
Roasted garlic is one of those quietly magical ingredients that improves almost anything it touches. It’s easy to make in the oven, but if you’d rather not turn it on, the air fryer’s got you. It takes far less time, too, which means you’re never more than 30 minutes away from mellow umami goodness to spread on bread, mash into potatoes, or mix into mayo for a quick aioli. Get the Air Fryer Roasted Garlic recipe.
Stuffed peppers are an ideal way to celebrate the summer crop, but if it’s too hot to turn on the oven, you can make them in your air fryer instead. Also perfect if you only need one or two servings! Feel free to adapt the method to whatever fillings you like, but don’t forget the critical ingredient for the best stuffed peppers ever. Get the Air Fryer Stuffed Pepper recipe.
Whether you’re on a gluten-free or keto diet or just love finding new ways to eat bacon, these bacon-wrapped onion rings are just what your burger/life has been missing. They only take 9 minutes to make, so they’re also a perfect last-minute party appetizer…or midnight snack. Get the Air Fryer Bacon Onion Rings recipe.
Thought we were done with pasta? Never. This air fryer lasagna is ready in well under an hour and is made in a mini loaf pan, so it’s the perfect serving for one (but larger air fryers can fit two at a time). It’s vegan, but you can adapt it to use whatever ingredients you like. It also freezes well, so it’s another fantastic meal prep option. Get the Air Fryer Lasagna recipe.
If you like to keep relatively healthy homemade snacks on hand, the air fryer can turn out plenty, from crunchy air fryer chickpeas to shattering-crisp air fryer kale chips. But come fall, these easy pumpkin seeds are roasted in just 15 minutes, and perfect with any seasoning you like, savory or sweet. Get the Air Fryer Pumpkin Seeds recipe.
With all the savory cheese magic the air fryer can perform, is it any surprise it can produce a rich, sweet cheesecake as well? This one is speckled with cinnamon and cardamom, and is the perfect size for two. You’ll just need a mini springform pan to make it. Get the Air Fryer Cinnamon Cheesecake recipe.
By now, you’re probably thinking an air fryer sounds pretty sweet…but if you need one final nudge, here it is: you can bake molten chocolate cakes in it. (You can also make them gluten-free!) Really, what more do you need to know? Get the Air Fryer Molten Chocolate Lava Cake recipe. OK, and try small-batch air fryer brownies too.