Skip to main content

5 best air fryer recipes for restaurant-quality food

An air fryer basket tipping out waffle fries and chicken nuggets
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Over the past few years, air frying has emerged as one of the most popular, and practical, methods of cooking. Circulating hot air and producing crispy results, the best air fryers cut down on the amount of time needed to prepare your next great meal.

This appliance has immense potential, able to do so much more than just reheat frozen chicken nuggets. It can fry chicken wings, dehydrate fruit, and even bake cookies. If you’re using one of the best toaster ovens, it can do even more. But, if you’re looking for some recipe inspiration, then look no further. Here are five of the best air fryer recipes, curated from our time testing in the kitchen. If you're a keen baker, you may also want to read I made cookies in an air fryer and they tasted even better.

With each model being unique in its capacity, strength, and versatility, it’s important to experiment with times and temperatures as your air fryer may run hotter than others. However, the following recipes should serve for general guidance. Just be sure not to make any of these common air fryer mistakes, and check out our guide on how to use an air fryer to get the best results.

Did you know there is a global, cooking oil shortage? Find out why you should cook with less oil. You'll also need one of the best cutting boards for fuss-free preparation.

Best air fryer recipes

1. Savory fall carrots 

Savory Fall Carrots

(Image credit: Steven Asarch/Tom's Guide)
What you'll need

1 pound carrots

1 tbsp neutral oil

1 tbps honey

1 sprig rosemary

2 sprigs thyme

2 sprigs sage

Salt and pepper to taste

Flake salt (optional)

2 lime wedges (optional)

1. Peel carrots and cut into matchsticks, approximately 3 inches long.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, mix carrots, oil, honey, herbs, salt, and pepper.

3. Preheat the air fryer to 360°F on the “air fry” setting.

4. Add carrots to the basket and cook for 15 minutes, shaking the basket occasionally.

5. Remove the cooked carrots from the basket and place in a serving bowl, making sure to also remove any of the tough stems from the herbs.

6. Garnish with extra herbs, a pinch of flake salt and a squeeze of lime juice if you choose.

Chef’s Notes: If they are in season this dish can be kicked up a notch by using a 50/50 mix of carrots and parsnips. 

2. Crispy chickpeas 

Crispy Chickpeas

(Image credit: Steven Asarch/Tom's Guide)
What you'll need

1 (15.5 oz) can garbanzo beans

1 tsp neutral oil

Olive oil spray

BBQ:

1 ½ tsp paprika

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp light brown sugar

½ tsp garlic

½ tsp celery salt (or kosher salt)

¼ tsp chili powder

Chili Lime:

1 tsp chili powder

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp true lime (or 1/8 tsp citric acid and 1/8 tsp lime zest)

Parmesan Garlic:

½ cup grated parmesan

3 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

½ tsp ground pepper

1. Drain, rinse, and thoroughly dry a whole can of chickpeas.

2. Set the air fryer to 390°F using the “air fry” setting.

3. Toss the chickpeas in the neutral oil and ensure all beans have been lightly coated.

4. Cook beans in the air fryer for 18 minutes, making sure to shake the basket every five or so minutes.

5. While chickpeas are cooking, mix together your chosen spice mixture.

6. Remove cooked chickpeas and place into a medium bowl.

7. Spray lightly with olive oil and add seasoning. The oil will help the seasoning stick to the bean — just be sure not to add too much or it will cause the chickpea to lose some of its crispiness.

Chef’s Notes:

Make sure to eat immediately or store in an open container to prevent chickpeas from softening. Tajin can be used instead of the above chili lime seasoning, lemon pepper would add a nice citrusy kick, and even a Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning packet ($12.98, Amazon (opens in new tab)) could be used for those who love ranch on anything! 

3. Asian influenced Brussels sprouts 

Asian Influenced Brussels Sprouts

(Image credit: Steven Asarch/Tom's Guide)
What you'll need

12 oz brussels sprouts

½ tbsp neutral oil

2 tbsp soy sauce

½ tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp honey

1 tsp crispy chili oil (or sambal olek)

½ tsp garlic powder

1 tsp sesame seeds

1. Wash and thoroughly dry the brussels sprouts before trimming the stems and cutting the sprouts in half. Place halves into a medium mixing bowl. Remember that any small leaves that fall off have a tendency to burn in an air fryer, so remove those.

2. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey, crispy chili oil, and garlic powder. Add more chili oil if you like it very spicy.

3. Mix half of the sauce into the brussels sprouts along with the neutral oil.

4. Preheat your air fryer on the “air fry” setting to 375°F.

5. Add sprouts to the basket, making sure to use the included rack, and cook for six minutes. Shake occasionally. Adjust the time by a minute depending on the sprout size.

6. Once cooked, return sprouts to the medium bowl and toss with some of the remaining sauce. 

7. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and enjoy!

Chef’s Notes: Crispy chili oil is a life changing condiment and can be found in Asian markets or online. Mr. Bing ($12.99, Amazon (opens in new tab)) has a great mild option for those who can’t tolerate too much heat while not compromising on any of the flavor. 

4. Chicken wings two ways 

Chicken Wings Two Ways

(Image credit: Steven Asarch/Tom's Guide)
What you'll need

1 pound chicken wings

1 tbsp neutral oil

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground black pepper

Buffalo sauce:

½ cup hot sauce

4 tbsp butter

½ tsp garlic powder

Cilantro Lime:

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp palm sugar or granulated sugar

1 garlic clove

½ fresh Thai green chili (add more or less depending on your preferred spice level)

½ tbsp cilantro

½ tbsp mint

1. Rinse and dry wings on a paper towel

2. In a large bowl, combine baking powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add dry wings, mixing to make sure the seasoning covers.

3. Add oil to the bowl, tossing again to ensure complete coverage.

4. Using the “air fry” setting, set your air fryer to 380°F and allow it to preheat.

5. Add wings to the fryer in a single layer and cook for 20 minutes. They will shrink so you don’t need to leave too much room between each wing.

6. Shake the basket every five or so minutes during the cooking process and flip the wings halfway through the cycle.

7. To make the buffalo sauce: Melt butter in a small saucepan. Once melted remove from the heat and add the hot sauce and garlic. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.

8. To make the cilantro lime sauce: Combine the vegetable oil, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar in a small bowl. Mince the garlic and Thai chili and add it to the sauce. Roughly chop the cilantro and mint together, reserve for later.

9. After cooking, remove the wings from the fryer and add to a bowl. If using Cilantro Lime sauce, add the sauce to the bowl, toss to fully cover the wings, put the wings back in the fryer basket, and cook for an additional two minutes at 380°F. Remove from the basket and garnish with cilantro and mint. If using Buffalo sauce, simply toss the wings in the sauce and serve. 

Chef’s Notes: Frank’s RedHot ($2.74, Amazon (opens in new tab)) is the go-to for homemade buffalo sauce, but for something extra vinegary, try Crystal’s Louisiana style sauce ($11.26, Amazon (opens in new tab)). Some hot sauces will taste best with a couple extra tablespoons of butter so have a spoon, or a few wings, on hand to test the sauce until it’s perfect!

5. Molasses ginger cookies 

Molasses Ginger Cookies

(Image credit: Steven Asarch/Tom's Guide)
What you'll need

¾ cup oil

1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for coating

¼ cup molasses

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp salt

1.  In a large bowl combine the oil, one cup sugar, molasses, and egg. Using a hand mixer, beat on medium until combined.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt.

3.  Add flour mixture to wet ingredients until combined. Don’t over mix the dough because it can cause it to fall in the air fryer.

4.  Using either parchment paper or plastic wrap, roll the dough into a tube shape about 2” in diameter and set in the refrigerator to cool for 30 minutes.

5.  On the “air fry” setting, preheat the fryer to 350°F. Be sure to preheat your air fryer with an empty basket — parchment paper could be sucked up into the fan and heating element, causing a fire risk.

6.  Slice chilled dough about ¼” thick and roll each piece in a small amount of sugar.

7.  Cut a piece of parchment slightly wider than your basket. Place it on the air fryer rack and add four to five cookie slices to the basket, depending on the size of your air fryer, allowing ample room for spreading. Cook for six minutes.

8.  Remove the cookies from the air fryer using the piece of parchment paper and let them harden for about five minutes.

Chef’s Notes: Flip your cookies at the last two or three minutes of the cooking cycle to make sure the bottoms cook as much as the rest of the cookie. Uncooked dough will last in the fridge for one week.

Hope Glendon is a chef and writer who reviews air purifiers for Tom's Guide. She used a number of models in her home for more than three months, evaluating their ease of use, noise levels, and how good they are at eliminating impurities from the air — which comes in very handy for her, as her kitchen is often in need of deodorizing after cooking any number of dishes. When she's not testing air purifiers, Hope works for some of New York City's most prestigious catering companies, and has carved out a niche in the world of high-end events. She's also available as a private chef for when an event needs a special touch.