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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.
Read More on CNET: We Tested 8 Leading Air Fryers To Find the Best
What Are the Benefits of an Air Fryer?
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).
Instant Pot Vortex Plus 7-in-1 Air Fryer Oven, $119 at Walmart
This 7-quart model from the makers of the Instant Pot is just one of many air fryer models to choose from.
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.
Related Reading: Is Getting an Air Fryer Worth the Investment?
Air Fryer Recipes
These 15 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.
Read More: 8 Ways to Make Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs
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.
Read More: 7 Costco Food Splurges That Are So Worth It
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.
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.
Read More: The Best Vegan Cheese You Can Buy
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Header image courtesy of Natasha Breen / Moment / Getty Images