7 foods you never knew you could cook in an air fryer

A white air fryer with the basket opened by hand on a table with surrounding ingredients, including eggs and oil
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The best air fryers are a common feature in most kitchens nowadays. We use these appliances to quickly cook and crisp our recipes, producing tender results in a matter of minutes. And while of course there are some things you should never put in an air fryer, these machines are incredibly versatile, and can do much more than you’d think. 

Whether you’re using an air fryer or one of the best toaster ovens, these appliances can be used to cook all kinds of ingredients from savory snacks to sweet desserts. In fact, to showcase our point, we’ve pulled together 7 foods you never knew you could cook in an air fryer. Once you’ve given these ingredients a try, you will appreciate your air fryer all the more and open up a new world of recipe possibilities.

Ever wondered which is cheaper: air fryer vs oven, we've found the answer. Also, if you're planning on buying, be sure to check out these five pros and five cons of cooking with an air fryer.

1. Eggs 

Whole eggs in an air fryer basket on a blue wooden table

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You can do all sorts with eggs in an air fryer, from scrambled to fried, but here, we’re referring to hard boiled eggs. That’s right, the whole egg, shell and all can go straight into the basket. Don’t worry about adding water — this won’t do the air fryer much good. 

Simply set your air fryer to 250°F, and once preheated, add your eggs to the basket. Cook for about 15 minutes — add or subtract a couple of minutes depending on how well done you like them. Once time is up, move the eggs to an ice water bath. Now that they’ve cooled, they’re ready to peel and eat.

2. Brussels Sprouts 

Asian Influenced Brussels Sprouts

(Image credit: Steven Asarch/Tom's Guide)

Air fried Brussels sprouts are definitely catching on in popularity, but many are still unaware of this ingredient’s potential. Sprouts, of course, aren’t at the top of everyone’s favorite foods list, but throw them in an air fryer and you’ve got a whole other ball game. The exterior crisps up while the interior remains tender, which gives it a delicious consistency. In fact, it’s such a go-to recipe that we incorporated it into our air fryer testing methods. 

To cook Brussels sprouts in an air fryer, set the air fryer to 400°F. Once preheated, add your sprouts (which are coated with oil and seasoning), and cook for 20 minutes, shaking the basket periodically. Once time is up, your sprouts are ready to serve with whichever dressing you choose. If you want to try something different, check out how to make Asian influenced Brussels sprouts, from our best air fryer recipes

3. Bacon 

Several crispy rashers of bacon

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Moving on from the healthy-ish to the not-so-healthy, you can cook bacon in an air fryer as well. The good news is that while it will still be crispy, the fat will render off during cooking, which makes this a healthier method versus using the stove or oven. It’s quick to cook as well, which is a bonus. 

Set your air fryer to 350°F and let it preheat. Your bacon will need to be laid out in streaks across the basket, without touching one another, so be prepared to cook more than one batch if you want lots of bacon. Only 7 minutes will be needed to cook your bacon, but you can adjust this by a couple of minutes depending on how crispy you want it, or how thick it is.

4. Chickpeas 

Looking down on a bowl of chickpeas on a white table

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Chickpeas are another ingredient you may never have thought to air fry before. But, we can tell you that it makes for a surprisingly delicious snack. So much so that we devoted a recipe to it in our best air fryer recipes. The results are so crispy and crunchy, that you will never resort to the stove again. 

To air fry this ingredient, first you need to drain, rinse and dry the chickpeas. Preheat your air fryer to 390°F, and while that’s heating up lightly coat the chickpeas in oil. Once your air fryer is up to temp, cook the beans directly in the basket for 18 minutes. Remember to shake the basket every 5 minutes so that the chickpeas are evenly crisped. Once cooked, add seasoning to taste.

5. Well-done burgers 

A cooked burger next to chilli and garlic

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While burgers are one of the ingredients we would usually recommend avoiding in the air fryer, it’s fine if you're happy with a well-done consistency. Essentially the outside of the meat will cook at a similar rate to the inside, so a raw or medium-well finish isn’t achievable with an air fryer. 

To broil a burger in an air fryer, use the broil setting if available, or if not set to 400°F. Preheating may not be necessary for this; refer to the cooking charts in your manual for clarification. Lay your burgers flat in the basket and cook for 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway — keep an eye on your burgers during the process as the time it takes to cook will depend on the thickness. Once cooked, season to taste.

6. Homemade potato chips 

A pile of homemade potato chips on paper on a table next to seasoning in a wooden spoon

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Just because you’re using an air fryer doesn’t mean there’s no prep work involved. In fact, you can cook your own homemade potato chips using an air fryer and the method is pretty simple. Plus, you’ll know exactly what goes into this recipe, so you can make it as healthy as you want. 

First, you’ll need to cut a potato finely into thin slices or 'chips' — a vegetable peeler can help with this. You’ll then want to soak your slices in cold water for about 15 minutes, then drain and dry. Lightly coat your chips with cooking oil and season with salt to taste. Your air fryer should be set to 360°F for this task. Lay the chips out across the basket; don’t be tempted to stack them. Then cook for about 15 minutes, being sure to rotate them every 5 minutes or so. There you have it — fresh, homemade potato chips.

7. Cookies 

Cookies on a towel

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Sweet things can go in an air fryer as well. And one of our favorite recipes has to be cookies. Cookies are simple to make and quick to bake in an air fryer, plus you can customize the recipe to make some amazing sweet treats. Be sure to check out the Molasses ginger cookies recipe in our best air fryer recipes. My colleague also made cookies in an air fryer — and they tasted even better than the oven.

To bake cookies, preheat your air fryer to 350°F. Once your dough is ready and sliced, line the basket with parchment paper and place your raw cookies inside, being sure to leave ample space between each to spread. Air fry for 8 minutes, flip and then air fry for a final 2 minutes for great results.

For more air fryer tips, tricks and how tos, check out 11 Air fryer mistakes you’re probably making, 9 things you should never put in an air fryer, how to use an air fryer and are air fryers actually healthy? Here’s what you need to know.   

Katie Mortram
Homes Editor

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be air purifiers, as the information provided and the difference between performances is extensive.