I get it. We all want to enjoy texture-rich, flavorful meals without the guilt. In my practice as a dietitian, I constantly meet folks who are looking to savor the joys of crispy, fried foods without straying from their health goals. The air fryer has been a game-changer in this respect, and trust me, it's as awesome as you've heard.
But remember, what you fry is equally important as how you fry it. With that in mind, I've curated 10 delectable air fryer recipes that are not just a treat to the taste buds but also align with the principles of nutritious eating.
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Cooking Techniques and Tips for Air Frying
Using an air fryer can be a bit of a learning curve, but here are a few tips I've come across that lead to the best results:
- Preheat the air fryer: Just like with an oven, you should preheat the air fryer for about 5 minutes.
- Use the right amount of oil: A spritz of cooking spray or brushing with good-quality oil is enough to achieve the desired crispiness.
- Don't overcrowd the basket: The hot air needs room to circulate, so overcrowding can lead to uneven cooking.
- Shake or flip foods: Do this halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning.
- Use parchment paper or a silicone liner: This prevents sticking and makes cleanup easier.
- Maintain your air fryer: Clean the basket, tray, and all removable parts after each use to prevent lingering odors and improve hygiene.
1. Crispy Chicken Wings
These chicken wings have a crunchy exterior with a tender, juicy inside. You can spice them with your preferred seasonings (I like garlic salt and lemon pepper).
Next, brush the wings with a tablespoon of olive oil, and then air fry them at 380°F for about 16 minutes. Make sure to flip them halfway through. Finally, toss them in your favorite barbecue sauce for some extra deliciousness.
Ingredients: Chicken wings (10 pieces), 1 tbsp olive oil, preferred seasonings, barbecue sauce for tossing (optional)
Nutritional Facts: Total Calories 500 | Protein 38g | Total Fat 36g | Total Carbs 1g (per serving of 5 wings without sauce)
Meal Delivery Alternative: HelloFresh offers a few chicken wing dishes, but their "Buffalo Chicken Wings" may be the best match. Simply toss your wings in an air fryer instead of an oven using the temperature and time above.
2. Sweet Potato Fries
With their perfect blend of sweet and savory flavors, air-fried sweet potatoes are a healthier alternative to traditional french fries.
Slice sweet potatoes into fries, and toss with olive oil and your preferred seasonings. I like them best with coarse salt, but you can't go wrong with a bit of paprika and garlic powder. Air fry at 380°F for 12-15 minutes. Shake occasionally to ensure even cooking.
Ingredients: 2 medium sweet potatoes, 1 tbsp olive oil, preferred seasonings
Nutritional Facts: Total Calories 180 | Protein 2g | Total Fat 7g | Total Carbs 26g | Dietary Fiber 4g (per serving, serves 2)
Meal Delivery Alternative: At Martha & Marley Spoon, you can find tons of delicious meal kits served with a side of sweet potato fries. Their "Chicken and Herb Mayo Subs with Sweet Potato Fries" are a personal favorite.
3. Crispy Egg Rolls
There's nothing I hate more than egg rolls that fall apart once they hit a pot of hot oil. With an air fryer, you won't have to deal with that mess.
Start by sautéing your choice of fillings with some crushed garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. You can opt for a veggie slaw, ground pork or chicken, tofu, or green onions. Fill your egg roll wrappers, lightly brush them with oil, and air fry at 400°F for 4-6 minutes on each side.
Ingredients: Your choice of fillings, crushed garlic and ginger, 2 tbsp soy sauce, egg roll wrappers, oil for brushing
Nutritional Facts: Total Calories 150 | Protein 3g | Total Fat 4g | Total Carbs 24g | Dietary Fiber 2g (per egg roll with veggie slaw filling and brushed with oil)
Meal Delivery Alternative: HelloFresh's spring rolls from their "Dumplings and Spring Rolls Board" are a pretty close match for these and don't require any assembly.
» Discover some of the best vegetarian meal delivery services.
4. Stuffed Peppers
This is one of my personal favorites and really aids a balanced diet. To make stuffed peppers, prepare by filling the peppers with a mixture of ground meat, rice, vegetables, and cheese. Air fry at 360°F for about 10 minutes until the filling is cooked and the peppers tender. You can serve them hot with extra cheese on top.
Ingredients: 4 bell peppers (halved and seeds removed), 500g ground meat, 1 cup cooked rice, 1 cup shredded cheese, seasonings to taste
Nutritional Facts: Total Calories 400 | Protein 25g | Total Fat 20g | Total Carbs 30g | Dietary Fiber 5g (per serving of 2 halves)
Meal Delivery Alternative: The "Stuffed Bell Peppers with Ground Turkey and Black Beans" from Sunbasket may be a good match.
Meatballs can be added to gravy, spaghetti, or simply used as appetizers. Air frying your meatballs is a great way to create a nourishing, protein-packed dish.
To make, shape your meatballs from lean ground beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, and seasonings of your choice. Air fry at 350°F for about 8-10 minutes. Make sure to turn them occasionally until they're browned and cooked through.
Ingredients: 1 pound lean ground beef, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, 2 beaten eggs, preferred seasonings
Nutritional Facts: Total Calories 220 | Protein 20g | Total Fat 12g | Total Carbs 6g | Dietary Fiber 1g (per serving of 3 meatballs)
Meal Delivery Alternative: Home Chef's oven-ready "BBQ Beef Meatballs" would make a great alternative.
6. Air Fried Donuts
A delightful twist on the classic favorite, air-fried donuts offer all the sweet satisfaction of traditional donuts with a healthier and guilt-free edge.
To make the dough, combine self-rising flour and Greek yogurt. Knead the dough until smooth and divide into equal portions. Shape your donuts and then air fry at 400°F for around 8 minutes. Roll the hot donuts in some cinnamon sugar, or allow to cool and drizzle with frosting or glaze.
Ingredients: 2 cups self-rising flour, 1 cup Greek yogurt, cinnamon sugar for coating (optional)
Nutritional Facts: Total Calories 120 | Protein 5g | Total Fat 0.5g | Total Carbs 25g | Dietary Fiber 1g (per donut)
Meal Delivery Alternative: You can get delicious Israeli-style donuts (Sufganiyot) from Martha & Marley Spoon.
7. Crispy Vegetable Tempura
You can enjoy this versatile dish as a snack or side and make it with different veggies and dipping sauces.
Lightly batter your favorite vegetables (mine are broccoli and cauliflower) in a mixture of flour, egg, and ice water and air fry them at 400°F for 5-6 minutes. Cook until they're golden and crispy. Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice.
Ingredients: 2 cups vegetables, 1 cup flour, 1 egg, 1/2 cup ice water, preferred dipping sauce
Nutritional Facts: Total Calories 140 | Protein 5g | Total Fat 1g | Total Carbs 27g | Dietary Fiber 3g
Meal Delivery Alternative: HelloFresh has an impressive variety of meal kits. Their "Mushroom & Zucchini Tempura Bowls" are the perfect match for this dish.
8. Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
These spicy and crispy cauliflower bites are the perfect appetizer. Coat cauliflower florets in buffalo sauce and breadcrumbs and then air fry until crisp at 350°F for 15 minutes. Serve them with some ranch dressing for a flavorful contrast.
Ingredients: 4 cups cauliflower florets, 1/2 cup buffalo sauce, 1 cup breadcrumbs
Nutritional Facts: Total Calories 150 | Protein 4g | Total Fat 3g | Total Carbs 27g | Dietary Fiber 3g
Meal Delivery Alternative: Sunbasket's "Buffalo Cauliflower and Chickpeas over Kale-Cucumber Salad" is a near-identical alternative.
9. Golden Brown Coconut Shrimp
Golden brown and crunchy, this shrimp appetizer carries a hint of coconut sweetness that you can enjoy with a chili dipping sauce. To make this dish, season the shrimp, dredge it into beaten eggs, and then into a mixture of panko breadcrumbs and shredded coconut. Spray with oil and air fry at 360°F for 10-12 minutes.
Ingredients: 1 pound shrimp, 2 beaten eggs, 1 cup panko breadcrumbs, 1 cup shredded coconut, oil for spraying
Nutritional Facts: Total Calories 280 | Protein 25g | Total Fat 9g | Total Carbs 22g | Dietary Fiber 2g
Meal Delivery Alternative: Home Chef's convenient oven-ready "Sweet Chili Coconut Shrimp with Pepper and Edamame Rice" may be a good match.
10. Mini Apple Pies
If you're looking for a guilt-free dessert, these mini apple pies will do the trick. Combine diced apples, cinnamon, and sugar and spoon onto small circles of pastry dough. Fold them over to seal the edges and air fry at 350°F for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.
Ingredients: 2 cups diced apples, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup sugar, pastry dough (1 package or homemade equivalent)
Nutritional Facts: Total Calories 200 | Protein 2g | Total Fat 10g | Total Carbs 27g | Dietary Fiber 2g (per mini pie)
Meal Delivery Alternative: The best match for this dish may be HelloFresh's "Cinnamon Apple Crumble."
Expand Your Culinary Horizons
From mouthwatering sweet potato fries to the fiery tang of buffalo cauliflower bites and beyond, an air fryer can turn your meals into a fusion of health and flavor. The best part is you can enjoy your favorite crispy foods without drowning them in oil.
However, not every recipe will seamlessly transition to air fryer perfection. So, be ready for a little kitchen experimentation to nail down your favorites. Once you've tried these 10 delectable air fryer recipes, don't hesitate to explore new flavor horizons with help from a prepared meal delivery service.
» Try these gluten-free Home Chef recipes next.