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Chefs share 10 of the best easy meals to make in an air fryer

Summary List PlacementUsing little-to-no oil, air fryers are beloved for their ability to cook foods faster than a traditional oven — which makes them the perfect kitchen ally for whipping up a quick, no-fuss meal.  Here are the best easy dishes to make in an air fryer, according to professional...

air fryer chicken

Summary List Placement

Using little-to-no oil, air fryers are beloved for their ability to cook foods faster than a traditional oven — which makes them the perfect kitchen ally for whipping up a quick, no-fuss meal

Here are the best easy dishes to make in an air fryer, according to professional chefs:

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French-toast sticks make for a sweet air-fried breakfast.

Certified master chef Sean Andrade of AWG Private Chefs told Insider that he loves making French-toast sticks in the air fryer

“These sticks are a great easy meal for adults or kids, and they’re just as fast as making them the old-fashioned way,” Andrade said. 

After lightly soaking strips of thick bread in a whisked mixture of sweetened milk, egg, and cinnamon, generously spray the air-fryer basket with nonstick oil and cook the pieces at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, flipping once halfway through.  

You can serve this breakfast dish with maple syrup or jam for extra sweetness. 

Patatas bravas are a spicy air-fried meal or side.

Patatas bravas are Spanish-style fried potatoes

“Air fryers do an amazing job at crisping and give the patatas bravas that soft, creamy inside with great crunch on the outside,” Andrade said. 

Simply toss chopped waxy potatoes in a little oil, garlic powder, and smoked paprika before frying them at 385 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 to 20 minutes. 

Make sure to shake the basket every five minutes during the cooking process to ensure the potatoes are evenly crispy. 

Salmon and vegetables can be cooked together in the air fryer.

Air-fried salmon and vegetables is an easy, low-mess meal that can be customized to your liking. 

“I love making salmon and veggies in the air fryer because it’s quick, healthy, and delicious,” Andrade said. “Plus the only thing you need to clean afterward is the fryer basket.”

Add a selection of seasoned vegetables like broccoli, carrots, or brussels sprouts to the air-fryer basket, then place your marinated salmon skin-side down on top of the veggies and air fry for 20 minutes at 415 degrees Fahrenheit.

Air-fried crusted pork tenderloin is a quick family meal.

Try air-fried pork tenderloin if you’re looking for a quick weeknight meal that can feed a crowd. 

“Crusted pork tenderloin done in the air fryer is a perfect easy meal for busy families,” Andrade said. “It takes just a few minutes but tastes gourmet.”

After rubbing a pork tenderloin with a mix of Dijon mustard, garlic, onion powder, salt, pepper, thyme, and 2 tablespoons of light-brown sugar, place the meat in the air-fryer basket and cook it at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. 

Make sure the basket has been coated with oil or cooking spray to prevent sticking.

Crispy pea falafel is a vegetarian-friendly meal.

Chef Jason Lloyd, founder of LessMeat, told Insider that crispy pea falafel is a breeze to make in the air fryer

“I love using marrowfat peas instead of chickpeas for a twist on traditional falafel,” Lloyd said. “These go really crispy and golden in the air fryer, too.”

To make falafel, blend or mash marrowfat peas with chopped garlic, onion, and fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, and dill. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator and form it into patties before air-frying until golden.

Then serve the falafel in a toasted pita with greens and a generous dollop of tartar sauce, which you can easily make at home by combining mayonnaise with finely chopped capers, shallots, gherkins, and flat-leaf parsley.

Make crunchy potato-and-lentil samosas in the air fryer.

Samosas are ideally suited for air frying, as the high heat keeps the filling soft and tender while the pastry develops a satisfying crunch.

“Potato-and-lentil samosas are delicious and can be customized with whatever spices you want,” Lloyd said. “They’re also an ideal party food for a crowd.”

To make simple samosas, fill pastry-dough triangles with curry-spiced potatoes, chopped onions, and cooked lentils, then air fry until the edges are lightly browned. 

Lloyd also recommended making a quick dipping or drizzling sauce by combining equal parts mango chutney and cranberry sauce with a pinch of nigella seeds. 

Vegan popcorn “chicken” is a plant-based air-fryer meal.

One of the air fryer’s superpowers is its ability to draw out excess moisture, which can turn tofu cubes into chewy and crunchy faux popcorn “chicken.”

“Vegan popcorn ‘chicken’ is actually firm, cubed tofu dipped in batter made with flour and plant milk, tossed in breadcrumbs, and fried until golden,” Lloyd said. 

Serve the tofu with sweet chili sauce and fresh greens for a light, protein-packed meal. 

Cheese empanadas cook perfectly in the air fryer.

Chef and Food Network personality Monti Carlo told Insider that this appliance is ideal for making cheese empanadas. 

“The air fryer is perfect for small batches of crispy homemade cheese empanadas,” Carlo said. “They’re vegetarian-friendly and can be on the table in less than 10 minutes.”

To make this dish, add 2 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella cheese to 6-inch empanada-dough rounds. Then fold the circles in half, seal the edges by pressing them with a fork’s tines, and cook the savory pastries at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until golden. 

Crispy mozzarella sticks are easy to make in the air fryer.

Aubrey Babb, chef and founder of Aubrey’s Kitchen, told Insider that mozzarella sticks are one of her favorite easy meals to make in the air fryer

“Air frying is the perfect way to crisp up frozen mozzarella sticks in small batches, or you can cook homemade sticks using cut mozzarella and breadcrumbs,” Babb said. 

Serve the sticks on a bed of fresh greens, basil, and sliced tomatoes for a delicious twist on a Caprese salad. 

Air-fried chicken wings turn out extra crispy.

Making chicken wings in the air fryer lets you take advantage of the appliance’s crisping power. 

“The air fryer is the way to go for extra-crispy and delicious chicken wings,” Babb said. “They’re super easy and way-less mess than deep frying.”

To make this meal in an air fryer, season the wings with a blend of spices or sauce and pop them in to cook until they’re golden.

If you prefer a crispier wing, toss the meat in breadcrumbs before cooking and serve the sauce on the side. 

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