Use these top tips and recipes to make the most of your air fryer.

By Carl Hanson

If you love fried foods but aren't thrilled about the mess and the fatty calories, you'll love the air fryer. Air fried recipes use only about one-quarter as much oil as regular fried food. It's your ticket to healthier fried foods that still taste crispy-crunchy delicious — and leaves you with a lot less mess at clean-up time. Plus, this versatile machine does more than "fry" — use your air fryer to make meat loaf, roast veggies, bake potatoes, and more. Before you get started, check out quick tips for air frying, including these 7 common air fryer mistakes to avoid. Then you can move on to trying recipes with confidence.

How Does an Air Fryer Work?

An air fryer doesn't actually fry your food in oil. Instead, it works by circulated super-heated air around food so it crisps up the outside and cooks the inside.

Cook in batches. For best results, you'll want to give your food enough space for air to circulate, and that can mean cooking a few pieces of food at a time instead of piling them all in there at once.

Shake and flip. Halfway through cooking, shake the basket a bit so food cooks and crisps evenly, and flip the food over so it gets evenly browned. For delicate foods with delicate coatings, gently re-position the food midway through cooking without shaking the basket.

Keep it clean. Of course, you'll want to know how to clean your air fryer. To keep from scratching and damaging the air fryer's non-stick surface, use a sponge or plastic scrubber (never a metal scrubber) to clean your cooled air fryer after every use. Leaving crumbs and other residue at the bottom of your air fryer can cause it to smoke the next time you use it.

Use your presets. If your air fryer has preset times and temperatures for different kinds of foods, go ahead and use them. They'll take the guesswork out of using your air fryer, and you'll probably use it more often.

Air Fryer Main Dish Recipes

This quick-and-easy dinner is perfect for busy weeknights. "Just over 10 minutes in the air fryer gives you juicy, tender chicken breasts filled with spicy veggies," says Buckwheat Queen. "Serve with fresh pico de gallo and tortillas."

Photo by Buckwheat Queen

Crispy, crunchy chicken tenders. "These beat chicken nuggets any day and the recipe is so simple," says Launa. "I tend to use chicken tenderloins but you can use sliced chicken breasts if easier." Great for making chicken sandwiches, too!"

Top Tip: "Do not over-fill your basket," recommends Soup Loving Nicole. "The chicken pieces should not be touching each other if you want that crispness on all sides. Also, plan on 20 minutes for your air fryer to preheat."

"These easy-to-make air fryer shrimp can be served with a salad or on top of rice or pasta," says bd.weld. "Also great as a cold appetizer."

Photo by bd.weld

"Crumbed fish is one of my favorite fried items," says Launa, "and this air-fried version gives me great flavor without the fat." White fish flakes easily with a fork after about 12 minutes.

Top Tip: Jenels recommends using the fish pre-set option on the air fryer.

Photo by Allrecipes

Meatloaf in under an hour! "So good and so easy," raves Susan. "The loaf was moist & tender, held its shape & tasted yummy. I'll be repeating this experience again."

Photo by aigerekairfryer

"This is my take on a popular dish from a restaurant chain," says Soup Loving Nicole. "My version is made in an air fryer instead of the deep-fryer. The end result was perfectly crispy sweet and spicy shrimp."

Photo by Soup Loving Nicole

Air Fryer Side Dish Recipes

Enjoy crispy, cheesy zucchini chips without the guilt of deep frying. It's the best way to use up those mounds of summer zucchini from the garden. Enjoy with marinara sauce, ranch dressing, or Sun-Dried Tomato Dip. "These were crispy, crunchy good, and the Parmesan flavor in the breading really shines through," says lutzflcat. "I think I may have sliced my zucchini too thinly. Next time, I'll aim for about 1/8" thickness, so I'll get more of the zucchini taste."

Photo by lutzflcat

Traditional ratatouille vegetables combine with Italian herbs in this air-fried side dish. It's quick and easy, nutritious, and delicious. Buckwheat Queen says, "Using an air fryer keeps the vegetables from getting soggy without using too much oil."

Top Tip: Buckwheat Queen recommends using the baking accessory or an adaptable baking dish inside the air-fryer basket.

Photo by Buckwheat Queen

Make rosemary potato wedges in your air fryer. "They are quicker and just as tasty as roasting them in your oven," says Bibi, "and you don't need to heat up the whole house to do them! I used the recipe for Papa's Seasoning Salt. Serve with your favorite aioli or dipping sauce."

Top Tip: Air-fried French fries and potato wedges come out crispy and golden on the outside, tender on the inside without being dried out, which can happen when "frying" in conventional ovens.

Photo by Bibi

"Beer-battered green beans are a healthier version of the deep-fried ones," says bd.weld. "Serve with the spicy version of dipping sauce or your favorite dipping sauce."

Photo by bd.weld

You only need 1 tablespoon of oil to make these crispy fries. "Excellent recipe," says Buckwheat Queen. "The timing was perfect. At 13 minutes the potatoes were crispy outside and soft inside. I left the skins on."

Top Tip: Use a spiralizer (with the medium grating attachment) to cut the potatoes into long curlies, cutting them with kitchen shears after 4 or 5 turns.

Photo by Buckwheat Queen
Buckwheat Queen

"A great, easy side dish that pairs well with any protein," says Bren. "I've used smoked paprika, a favorite of mine, but feel free to add your favorite flavors. Enjoy!"

Photo by Soup Loving Nicole

"Beautifully crusty on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside," says Bren, "just like a great baked potato should be! Serve them with your favorite topping, like sour cream, butter, or chives."

Top Tip: Unlike oven-baked potatoes, these taters don't need to be pricked with a fork before cooking or turned while cooking.

Photo by Soup Loving Nicole

Here's a roasted veggie recipe that doesn't require a hot oven! "It's fast, easy, and perfectly roasted broccoli and cauliflower made in your air fryer," says Soup Loving Nicole. "Garnish with a squeeze of lemon or Parmesan cheese, if desired."

Photo by Soup Loving Nicole

These sweet potato tots are lighter when made in the air fryer, and they come with a spicy kick. Enjoy with ketchup or your favorite dipping sauces. "The sweet and spicy were a nice contrast," says Buckwheat Queen. "They go very well with hamburgers. My kids liked these a lot."

Photo by fabeveryday

Check out our collection of Air Fryer Recipes.