A common question I get in my Instagram direct messages is about air fryers. Are they worth the money and the kitchen space? One more appliance?!
I’m a rather minimalist cook myself, so I wasn’t going to get an air-fryer. My small kitchen is already too full of appliances. My sweet mom, though read an article about them and sent me one as a surprise. We are continuously surprised by how much we use it!
We have this 7-quart Power XL air-fryer which is one of the largest. My only complaint about air fryers in general is they can’t cook a ton of food at once quickly. If you load the fryer basket, the food in the middle doesn’t get cooked well, so you have to shake the food every 10 minutes or so and cook it much longer. For a single layer of food, though, it only takes 10-15 minutes to get hot and crispy food, depending on what it is. So for small amounts, it’s way faster than the oven!
The main things we use our air fryer for are:
- crispy chickpeas
- asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms, brussel sprouts
- homemade frozen food like veggie burgers, chickpea nuggets, bean “meatballs”
- corn tortilla strips for oil-free tortilla chips
- crispy tofu
- “bacon” made out of tofu, carrots, mushrooms, etc.
- re-heating leftover roasted vegetables
- kale chips (they cook in 5 minutes and my kids love them!)
- air-fryer meals (I dump a bunch of random things in and various seasonings and we eat it for lunch or dinner. My main one is potatoes, zucchini, and tofu with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, italian seasoning)
Air-fryer chickpeas and potatoes with sauteed squash for dinner. So easy!
Air-fryer tofu bacon. Yum!
Our favorite zucchini-season meal: chopped raw potatoes, zucchini, tofu, seasonings, and a spritz of grapeseed oil in the air fryer for 20 minutes.
I love having homemade veggie burgers in the freezer (here’s my favorite black bean burger recipe right now, this is my favorite sweet potato one) and then just popping them into the air fryer. It’s way faster than heating up the oven, and they cook quickly and are much more crispy!
We also love chickpea nuggets or tofu nuggets. They are coated in bread crumbs, and between the bread crumbs and the air-fryer, they are so crispy and good! It feels like biting into a crispy piece of fried chicken, haha! But way better because it’s not chicken. 😉 Dipped in healthy ketchup or BBQ, honey mustard, or hot sauce….so yummy!
Tofu in the air fryer is incredible! It is crispy and makes a great taco filling, salad topper, or just by itself for a quick lunch for kids. I season it with salt, peper, lemon pepper, or italian seasoning. Or soy sauce, garlic and ginger powder. Or taco seasoning for tacos. For adults, I cook it plain and then toss in hot sauce for a “spicy chicken” equivalent.
Have you ever had the veggie balls at Ikea? They are made of chickpeas, corn, peas, carrots, etc. I replicate them at home and freeze some raw balls. Then they go straight from the freezer to the air fryer for a fast lunch. Kids like to dip them in ketchup. Here is a recipe for them that we like from High Carb Hannah.
I share on my Instagram stories frequently how much I love to put a bunch of asparagus in my air fryer–with nothing on it-and eat crispy asparagus sticks. I can eat a whole bunch by myself if no one else makes me share!
Do you use any oil?
Most of the time, no! None! I really prefer not to use any, but sometimes, however, a little tiny bit really helps the food cook all the way through. You can avoid oil 100% by steaming hard vegetables first.
Brussel Sprouts, for example, are very hard. A scant teaspoon of oil on a big batch of them helps them get soft on the inside and even crispier on the outside. A spritz of oil with a sprayer would also be sufficient. OR, steam them lightly first.
Raw potatoes also get crispy on the outside but stay hard and raw on the inside without a little bit of oil. For oil-free fries, I cook the potatoes first. This is easy, since we often steam a huge batch of potatoes in the instant pot and keep them in the fridge. I’ll cut some up into fry shapes, toss them with garlic powder, salt and pepper, and be eating crispy fries 15 minutes later.
If you forget to cook potatoes first, you can cut raw potatoes into fries, then soak them in hot water for 15 minutes. This will help them cook better without oil. I cook them at 400 for 20-25 min, shaking the basket every 10 min or so.
What seasonings do you use?
All you need is veggies and seasonings for a delicious air-fryer meal! Add beans or tofu if you’d like.
We love this Braggs 24 Herbs and Spices Seasoning.
I’ve also heard of these other delicious ones:
All the Flavor God seasonings are non-GMO, low-sodium, and free of fillers and chemicals. I haven’t tried them, but I want to. This buffalo seasoning looks so good, as well as the ranch, nacho cheese, and garlic and herb.
Spiceology also looks like delicious salt-free seasonings!
From the spice cabinet:
Soy sauce + garlic powder +ginger powder
So, should you get an air-fryer?
Do you really like crispy food?
Do you want to avoid oil?
Is it important for you to cook quickly?
If you have plenty of time for food to cook in an oven, and you don’t mind soft non-crispy food, then you might as well save your money and kitchen space.
Still not sure? This article “Air Fyers 101” by Forks Over Knives might help.
Which one should I get?
Like I said, we have this 7-quart Power XL Air-fryer that works great!
Here is an 8.5 qt Ultrean air-fryer that also seems like a great choice.
There is a toaster-oven style that doesn’t use a fryer basket, but racks, which seems like it might cook larger quantities more evenly. This Cuisineart one is highly-rated.
These are all affiliate links.
Do you want air-fryer recipes? Let me know!