Unexpected Foods To Throw In The Air Fryer ASAP

You already made fried chicken, tried potato fries, and found a way to bake cakes in your air fryer. Now it's time to advance past the easy-to-think-of foods. The mighty air fryer can do much more than just cook healthy versions of deep-fried guilty pleasures. From mac and cheese to veggie chips for snacks to orange slices, the list of foods you can put in an air fryer can get pretty creative.


The air fryer at its base is a compact convection oven, so anything fit for the oven can be cooked in it, too. But it has two major advantages — a small size that fits on a countertop and faster cooking time.

An air fryer can cook almost anything, and it can cook in small portions and quickly. Cooking gets easier, faster, and cleaner. You can even try crazy things like making popcorn in it (although the corn can get stuck in the air fryer and burn). So read on and try cooking these foods — you might find yourself a new favorite.

1. Mac and cheese

Macaroni and cheese are among those simple and inexpensive dishes that are easy to cook and fulfilling. You could make it through multiple steps, like this Homeroom's macaroni and cheese recipe. But you can also go the easy way by cooking in an air fryer.


In the air fryer version, you do not need to boil the macaroni first. Total cooking time is much shorter as well — around 20 minutes. Line up dry pasta, cheese, water, heavy cream, salt, and seasonings. Pick a pot that fits into your air fryer (a cake pan works too). Put everything together into a pot and stir. Then put it into your air fryer, and cook for about 18-20 minutes at 360 F.

Once ready, take it out and stir, then let it cool down. You can enhance the dish further and make the flavor richer by adding canned cheddar soup or egg yolks for extra fat and protein.

2. Sausages

Using an air fryer is a hands-free and quick way to cook tasty, browned, delicious sausages that are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. No matter whether fresh or frozen, they turn out amazing. You don't need to watch them or flip them — a lifesaver when multi-tasking. The actual cooking method will differ a bit depending on whether your sausages are frozen or not. For the thicker types, like bratwurst and Italian sausages, you can just go ahead and air fry them frozen. The thinner ones would be better off defrosted first.


Cut the links between pieces and poke a few holes in each sausage with a fork or knife. Then, arrange them in a single layer in the air fryer basket, set the temperature to 400 F, and cook them until they are brown on the outside and cooked through the inside. It takes around 8-12 minutes at 400 F, but the time can differ depending on the sausage.

3. Hard-boiled eggs

If you think cooking eggs in an air fryer is impossible, you are in for a surprise. It is a quick, convenient, and hands-off method that you can do at any time — there is no need to get the water and wait until it boils. The most important thing is that the eggs turn out just as good as boiled.


The method is very simple: Put the eggs into the preheated air fryer and cook them at 250 F for about 15 minutes. Of course, you can make soft-boiled ones the same way. The only thing that changes is the cooking time: Air fry them for 10 minutes instead of 15.

Once the eggs are done, cool them down with cold water. If the shell is hard to remove, use the rolling technique to make peeling easy. You can also try Jaques Pepin's trick for clean peeling: Stick a thumbtack into the air pocket at the bottom of the egg.

4. Dill pickles

Crispy and crunchy, with the acidity of a pickle combined with breading and frying — that's what makes dill pickles a tasty treat. The cooking is simple: Cut the pickles into spears, chips, or slices (they need to be on the thicker side). Dip them in the breading and spray with cooking spray, then put them in a preheated air fryer in a single layer. Fry for 5 minutes per side (or until crisp) at 400 F. The breading is up to your taste — it can be simple panko breadcrumbs and eggs or something like a low-carb version with almond flour and crushed pork rinds. Even with just panko, you can get different tastes by adding seasonings like chili.


Air-fried dill pickles are great as snacks, and a good dipping sauce can make them better. Cajun, remoulade sauce dip, caramelized onion dip, and different ranch dressings are definitely worth trying. Air-fried dills also go well with fried stuffed mushrooms, mozzarella sticks, or margaritas.

5. Steak

Doing a steak in an air fryer seems counter-intuitive, but don't dismiss it just yet. It only takes from 10 to 15 minutes to cook juicy, mouthwatering meat. And just like with pan-fried, the air-fried version can have a crispy crust.


The steps are the same as usual — choose your cut, defrost it, season it, and let it sit on a counter for 2 hours or so until it becomes room temperature. Cook it in a preheated air fryer for 6 minutes, flip, then cook the other side for another 5 or 6 minutes.

The cooking time will also depend on how thick your steak cut is and your preferred doneness. Once the steak is done, put it onto a plate and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Of course, whether it's an air-fried steak or a good old pan-fried, there are a few tricks and know-how to bring it to restaurant-level taste. For example, the timing of salting can make or break your steak's crispy crust.

6. Homemade bagels

According to food blogger Gina Homolka, you can make this tasty treat with only five ingredients and have as little as 152 calories in the finished dish. She tested it with three different types of flour — white, whole wheat, and gluten-free flour, and found that the bagels tasted great with each.


In addition to the flour, the recipe has Greek yogurt, egg whites, baking powder, and salt. You'll need a cup of flour, a cup of Greek yogurt, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, ¾ kosher salt, and 1 egg white or a whole egg, beaten. Combine dry ingredients, then add yogurt and mix.

The result should have a thick consistency. Next, you'll need to take it out of the bowl and knead it a bit until it's tacky but not sticky. Form four bagels from the dough and brush them with the egg, then sprinkle with toppings like sesame and poppy seeds, minced dried onion or garlic, or ready-made bagel mix. Bake in an air fryer preheated to 280 F for about 15 minutes or until they look golden brown.

7. S'mores

S'mores are a popular dessert during camping trips, but there is no need to wait if you crave some now. Make that irresistible, toasted marshmallow, chocolate, and cracker treat indoors in an air fryer — it will only take about 5 minutes. Split the crackers into two or three, put the pieces in an air fryer's basket, and add a marshmallow piece on top of each. Air fry for three to five minutes at 360 F, depending on how toasty you want your marshmallows. Take everything out, and put chocolate bits on top of the hot marshmallow. Add another cracker on top, and serve. 


You can upgrade this basic recipe by switching out graham crackers, using butter, and adding fruits. Here are some ideas: stroopwafels, ginger snaps, and chocolate chip cookies for cookies; Nutella, caramel, or peanut butter instead of chocolate; banana, strawberries, or orange slices as toppings and fruits. 

8. Crispy tofu

It's super crispy, and clean-up is easy and fast. According to Laura Wright, author of "The First Mess Cookbook: Vibrant Plant-Based Recipes to Eat Well Through the Seasons," you can make crispy tofu in the air fryer in about 30 minutes.


Prepare the tofu: Cut or tear firm or extra firm type into small 2-inch pieces, put them into a bowl, and pour boiling salted water over them. Leave it to soak for 5 minutes, then drain the water and blot the tofu dry with paper towels. Toss it with avocado oil, Tamari, and pepper. Add garlic and onion powder, starch, and paprika to the mix, and toss more until all tofu bits are covered.

Preheat an air fryer to 375 F, spay the basket with oil, and put tofu pieces in. Air fry them for 15 minutes while giving the basket a shake every 5 minutes or so.

9. Strawberry pop tarts

If you are feeling nostalgic or want to cook something fun, try making strawberry Pop-Tarts in an air fryer. Thanks to pre-made pie crusts, these Pop-Tarts are fast and easy to make, so you can cook fresh ones whenever the craving sets. You can make them at home with just three ingredients — a pre-made refrigerated pie crust, strawberry jam, and a simple glaze from powdered sugar, heavy cream, butter, and vanilla extract.


Cut the crust into pieces. Put the jam between two pieces of crust, then press their ends together to close off the insides. Place the Pop-Tarts in a single layer into the basket, and fry them in a preheated air fryer for 11 minutes at 350 F. Cool them down completely before drizzling the glaze and adding colorful sprinkles on top. These strawberry Pop-Tarts last for about a week in a fridge in an air-tight container.

10. Toasted pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are delicious, healthy, and if you've got an air fryer, easy to roast. You can get them done as fast as five minutes for peeled, or 10-25 minutes for unshelled. You'll need three things for the roast: pumpkin seeds, seasonings, and oil. Out of these three, seasonings are a very personal choice, but you can't go wrong with chili-roasted pumpkin seeds, or maple syrup with spices.


Make sure your seeds are dry. Put the seasoning and some oil into a bowl and mix; add the seeds and mix everything thoroughly. Put the seeds into an air fryer basket and spread them evenly there. Air fry peeled seeds for about five minutes and unshelled for ten minutes. Err on the side of caution — you can always roast them again if the seeds are still raw, but going for too long straight from the beginning might burn your snacks. Let the seeds rest after you are done with frying.

11. Kale chips

If you are craving something to snack on, and have kale leaves on hand, try making healthy, crispy kale chips. They are easy and quick to cook, and the chips are crunchy and flavorful. They are also gluten-free, vegan, keto, paleo, and Whole30 compliant.


You'll need kale, oil, and seasonings (for seasonings, you can keep to basic salt and pepper, add garlic or onion powder, or go all out with various spice mixes). Chop up the leaves, spray them with oil, then add seasonings and toss. Put it all into the basket, and fry in a preheated air fryer at 375 F.

The duration can differ, depending on your air fryer. Kale leaves are very thin and fry fast, so watch them yourself instead of relying on a timer. Take the basket out every few minutes to shake it and check on the leaves. Stop the frying once it looks done.

12. Avocado fries

You need fresh avocado and breading to make these, but they are worth every minute of effort you put into them. This crispy snack is good on its own, with a dipping sauce, as a topping for a burger, or alongside your favorite hearty stew.


Remove the skin and the pit of a few avocados (choose ripe but firm ones, or they will turn mushy), and cut them into not-too-thick slices. Prepare the breading — mix a bag of crushed pork rings, salt, pepper, onion, and garlic powder in one bowl, and beat two eggs into another. Preheat your air fryer, spray the basket with oil, load breaded avocado slices in a single layer, and fry for five minutes at 400 F.

Jennifer Banz, the author of "Live Life Keto," has a low-carb, keto-, and paleo-compliant version of the dish. The difference between Jennifer Banz's version and "normal" is in the breading, so you can ditch it for your favorite or use simple panko breadcrumbs and eggs for your avocado fries.


13. Crispy roasted chickpeas

Roasted chickpeas are an ultimate snack, but it is so filling that it can replace lunch or dinner. You can make them sweet, spicy, or salty (go great with a beer). They are easy to cook, too — all you need is canned chickpeas, oil, and seasonings. Plus, there are many seasonings for different tastes, from the ones used for these spicy roasted garbanzo beans to mixes used for frying chicken to a tangy and sweet maple and za'atar recipe.


Preheat your air fryer. Drain and rinse canned chickpeas, and toss them with oil and spices until they are covered. Put the whole batch into the air fryer, and fry for 12-15 minutes at 390 F. Serve these crispy chickpeas hot or at room temperature for a healthy snack, or add them to your lunchbox. They also make great croutons over soup or salad — instead of bread or in addition to it.

14. Grilled cheese

Delicious goodness in the form of gooey melted cheese and crispy toast — it's a classic comfort food. Grilled cheese sandwiches have been America's favorite for decades because it's a food that's easy and quick to do.


The basic recipe is to take a piece of bread, top it with a slice of cheese, and fry it in an air fryer for five minutes at 350 F. Cheddar is the safe choice, but you can try other cheeses, too. And then, when you are tired of the usual taste, go for a twist. Add scrambled eggs or broccoli rabe, combine two different cheeses, or make it into a different dish with additions like bacon, pesto, and cranberry sauce.

If you are not into sandwiches and would rather have something crispy, try this viral snack recipe from Air Fryer Guy. All you need is to lay some shredded cheese in the basket on parchment paper and fry it for roughly six minutes at 400 F.

15. Corn on the cob

Air fryer is a perfect solution when you don't feel like dealing with oil splatters but don't want to run an oven over two or three pieces of corn. Just like with kale and chickpeas, you'll need the veggies, seasonings, and oil for the dish. Dab dry your cobs, sprinkle salt and spices onto them, and put them in the preheated air fryer. Fry for 10-15 minutes at 390 F. The size matters a lot when cooking corn on a cob, so check on them periodically and turn from side to side.


When it comes to the seasonings, cook it with garlic butter, make an air fried version of elotes (Mexican street corn), or try Middle Eastern spices. To serve, sprinkle cobs with lime juice or offer them with chili mayonnaise. Corn also goes well as a side dish to potatoes and pork ribs, savory pudding, and barbecued steak.

16. Oatmeal cake (aka blended baked oats)

The "lazy" baked oat recipe, aka cake for breakfast, can be made in an air fryer. It takes half the time there compared to baking it in the oven. Baked Oats was a viral TikTok recipe a couple of years ago, so there are plenty of different variations — which means you can cook them for months and won't get bored.


One of the recipes calls for oats, an egg, a banana, blueberries, brown sugar, and baking powder. Combine all of those and run through the blender, then put the mix into ramekins or oven-safe bowls. Put the bowls into a preheated air fryer and fry for 12-15 minutes at 300 F. The cake is ready when the toothpick inserted in the center comes away with just a few crumbs.

If you want to make the cake more filling, add nuts like ground cashews, peanuts, walnuts, or others. Peanut butter is another way to make oat cake more substantial, and it can also be used for a tasty frothing.

17. Orange slices

Oranges are delicious no matter the dish you add them to — they are refreshing in ice creams, yummy with cereals, and delightful in mulled wine. Orange slices are just as great when cooked in an air fryer, and they make for a great breakfast, too.


Cut the oranges into slices and remove the peel. Drizzle the slices with maple syrup and cinnamon and put them in the basket in a single layer. Cook the oranges in an air fryer for four minutes at 400 F. Then, take them out, layer hot slices with yogurt and granola, and voilà — you have a quick, sunny, and delicious breakfast done.

Dehydrated orange slices are another great idea. These are great decorations for cakes and Christmas cocktails, spice for marinades, stews or roasted chicken, flavoring for tea, and toppings for desserts. Depending on the recipe, you wouldn't need a dehydrator, although drying orange slices in an air fryer would take from one to four hours.