It seems like whenever you ask friends (or the Internet) how to eat healthily, one appliance continues to pop up - the humble air fryer. Let’s be honest, if you’ve never heard of one of these, you’re probably thinking “Yeah, that sounds like a load of waffle”.
We love air fryers. They cook food quickly, safely, and healthily and they don’t use oil. They’re also super versatile and will do almost anything - from roasting to baking.
If you’re still not convinced, here are our 20 healthy air fryer recipes you MUST try.
Air Fryers Explained
First thing’s first, we’ll explain what an air fryer is and how it works. An air fryer is a compact kitchen appliance that works similarly to a conventional oven. Above the heating element resides a fan that circulates hot air in the direction of the food, which then cooks the food depending on the setting. Hence the name air fryer!
The main benefit of air fryers is that they require little to no oil to cook food. Instead, they can successfully cook and crisp a variety of foods that would often lack the crispiness in a conventional oven - for example, fries. But don't worry, that's not all they can do. Air fryers are an excellent choice for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snacks, and not just the classic deep-fried items.
In fact, Katie has written two popular cookbooks all about specific diets while air frying. Check them out on Amazon and pick one up to further your cooking skills.
- Mediterranean Air Fryer: 95 Healthy Recipes to Fry, Roast, Bake and Grill
- Clean Eating Air Fryer Cookbook: 70 Healthy Whole Food Recipes
Air Fryer Health Benefits
Of course, the main benefit of air fryers is that they offer the same results as a deep fryer, but without excessive and unnecessary oil. This is why air fryers are so often preferred by those on a diet (whether it’s for health reasons or for weight loss) because there is no need for fattening oil.
Let’s put it this way: a deep fryer requires around 750 ml of oil to cook food. An air fryer requires 75% less of this amount to cook food in the exact same way. This means that air fryers are very beneficial for those looking to lose weight or to lower their cholesterol levels.
However, this doesn’t mean you should limit your air fryer to purely cooking foods that would otherwise require oil. Air fryers are notoriously versatile, like a conventional oven, which means they can roast, grill, fry, broil, bake, and more. Make use of the convenience and versatility of air fryers by baking a cake straight after cooking a pizza!
What is the Best Air Fryer?
While the type of air fryer you choose will depend upon your family size and needs, there is something for everyone that is sure to please. Below are some favorites that we can recommend.
- Dash 2.6 GT Air Fryer - this model is best for a single individual who just wants one to two servings.
- COSORI Air Fryer Max XL 5.8 QT - this is a personal favorite for everyday use with a touch screen and space for 4 servings.
- Power XL 7 QT Air Fryer - this is a popular model that has a digital touch screen and easily prepares 4 to 6 servings.
- Instant Vortex Plus 7-in-1 10 QT Air Fryer & Rotisserie - this is my favorite model since it has both an air fryer and bake setting. It functions as an air fryer, toaster oven, and has a rotisserie attachment.
- Ninja Foodi 6-in-1 8 Quart Air Fryer - this is another popular version with two separate baskets so cooking an entire meal at once is easier to manage.
Before you get started cooking, make sure to grab this ultimate guide to air fryer cooking printable with cook times and more! Start your air fryer experience with these easy air fryer Babybel cheese bites!
20 Healthy Air Fryer Recipes
1. Roasted Salmon
It’s no secret that salmon is one of the best foods for those looking to lose weight through a high-protein and low-carb diet.
Not only that, but salmon is incredibly tasty. However, sometimes you run the risk of overcooking salmon in a conventional oven, which reduces the lovely flavor.
Air fryers, however, are masters of roasting foods without sacrificing their natural flavoring, as they work to keep the inside of the salmon succulent as they gently crisp the outer layer.
Here’s a great recipe for how to cook roasted salmon perfectly every single time.
2. Crispy Buttermilk Parmesan Chicken Tenders
It will surprise you how healthy these crispy buttermilk parmesan chicken tenders are. Well, they’re not deep-fried in gallons of oil, so they’re a much less unhealthy version of the tenders you see at fast-food restaurants. This is an ideal meal for those who are missing take-out meals!
Here’s a helpful recipe for this tasty and satisfying meal. Just make sure not to overcrowd the basket of the air fryer - but this depends on the size of your appliance and its capacity!
3. Crispy Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet potatoes are a brilliant option for those on a low-carb diet, as these tasty potatoes are complex carbohydrates.
Not only are they high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, but they also taste really great as fries. Whilst the flavor is naturally quite sweet, it’s easy to make savory sweet potato fries in an air fryer. Complete with a crispy outer layer, you can’t go wrong.
Here’s our favorite recipe for air-fried crispy sweet potato fries.
4. Baked Sweet Potatoes
If you’re not bothered about making sweet potato fries, why not make the healthy equivalent to a jacket potato by baking whole sweet potatoes?
The beauty of baked sweet potatoes is that they are naturally creamy on the inside, so butter is purely optional. We love to pair our baked sweet potatoes with sweet chili sauce, so get creative with flavors!
Here is a great baked sweet potato recipe that requires minimal effort, ingredients, and time in an air fryer.
5. Cauliflower Bites
Cauliflower bites are here to prove that healthy snacks can taste as good as they benefit your health. Air fryers are the ideal appliance for making crispy cauliflower without drizzling them in oil.
This particular recipe consists of a tasty, cheesy bread crumb coating that compliments the flavor of cauliflower whilst providing a satisfying crisp. These bites go wonderfully as a side dish or a healthy lunch snack. Pair them with any sauce of your liking!
6. Crispy Toasted Tofu
Tofu is a popular soy-based food that is a great source of protein favored by vegans and vegetarians. It can be temperamental to cook with if you’re a beginner, especially if you’re trying to achieve a toasted outer layer. Air-fried tofu, however, sufficiently toasts and crisps tofu without drying the chunks out.
Here’s a quick and easy air-fried crispy toasted tofu recipe that goes wonderfully with a salad, in a stir-fry, or on a bed of rice.
7. Apple Chips
Something that people often miss on a diet is a sweet snack. Whilst you can’t reach for the candy, you should try air-fried apple chips!
The crispy texture is similar to regular potato chips, whilst receiving a sweet and satisfying flavor from the apple. We love eating these as an afternoon snack or chucking them in the kid’s lunch boxes.
Here’s a great recipe for this snack. You can also get creative by sprinkling cinnamon on the apples!
8. Banana Bread
You read that right - air fryers can bake banana bread. Banana bread is a wonderful sweet treat for those looking to eat healthily - but only if you follow the right recipe that doesn’t overdo it with sugar.
The bananas carry the sweetness throughout the bread/cake, so you won’t need the added sugar.
Here’s a delicious recipe for baking banana bread in an air fryer! Enjoy the occasional slice as a healthy mid-meal snack or a dessert.
9. Mexican Street Corn
If you’re fancying Mexican food but you’re worried about disrupting your diet, don’t fret, because air fryers are legends when it comes to making healthy Mexican food.
We love air-fried Mexican Street Corn for its simplicity and ability to transport you to a Mexican street vendor. What a tasty way to tick off one of your five-a-day!
Here’s a brilliant air-fried Mexican Street Corn recipe that only takes 16 minutes to cook. They make a great side dish for barbecues, lunches, and alongside burritos and tacos.
10. Zucchini Fries
So you’re not meant to eat white potato fries on your low-carb diet, and you’re not convinced by sweet potato fries. Enter zucchini fries - the easiest and tastiest way to consume one of your five-a-day whilst satisfying your cravings for fries!
Here’s a quick and simple recipe for air-fried zucchini fries within 10-12 minutes. Make sure not to overcrowd the basket and instead make the fries in batches.
Pair these fries with a sauce of your choice (we love a sweet chili sauce or another type of hot sauce) and you’ve got yourself a healthy side dish.
Omelets are a filling way to receive all of the healthy proteins from eggs, plus their versatility makes omelets a wonderful option for virtually everyone.
Simply add your favorite veggies or meats to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a customizable and easy-to-make omelet. And yes - you can cook an omelet in an air fryer.
Here’s an easy recipe for an air-fried omelet that is a great breakfast or lunch option. It’s also done within 8 minutes, which is much faster than in a saucepan or oven!
12. Air Fryer Fried Chicken
So, you want to satiate your fried chicken cravings without breaking your healthy diet. Enter the air fryer! Air fryers are masters when it comes to cooking succulent chicken with a crispy outer layer - and some are even big enough to hold a rotisserie function so you can have a roast chicken without the unnecessary fat!
Here’s a basic recipe on how to cook low-fat chicken in an air fryer that can be easily customized to suit your taste cravings.
13. Turkey Burgers
It’s no secret that everyone loves burgers - which can be a struggle when you’re trying to eat healthily. You can opt for either beef or turkey for the burger patty, but most dieticians would recommend organic turkey burgers instead.
Air frying burgers works the same as a grill, except you don’t have to worry about peeling off stuck pieces of meat!
Here’s a great recipe for making turkey burgers in an air fryer. If you’re on a strict diet, try to substitute the white bread for wholemeal.
14. Cajun Shrimp
There’s nothing quite like well-seasoned shrimp. These air-fried cajun shrimps are the ideal meal for a warm summer evening, plus you’re not sacrificing taste for unhealthy food because shrimps are a great source of lean protein.
We love these cajun shrimps as a side dish at a barbecue, in a huge salad, or just for lunch.
Here’s a simple recipe for air-fried cajun shrimps. They only take five minutes to cook, so your cravings can be quenched very quickly.
15. Crispy Onion Rings
Onion rings are a staple in Western dining, but their deep-fried battered exterior means that they aren’t the healthiest option in fast food restaurants.
What people don’t realize is that you can make healthy onion rings without unnecessary flour in an air fryer. This means you can still gain the satisfying crunch of an onion ring without sacrificing your diet!
Here is a great recipe for flourless onion rings in an air fryer.
Who said that you need to avoid pizza if you want to eat healthily? That’s right, you can make a low-fat pizza in an air fryer that only contains 5 grams of fat per slice.
It’s easy to make a low-fat pizza dough if you know where to find a good recipe. Plus, you can get creative with toppings by chucking every vegetable imaginable on there to get your five-a-day.
Here is our favorite low-fat pizza recipe in an air fryer.
Just because you want to eat healthily doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself every once in a while. Yup, you can cook sausages in an air fryer.
The main difference between cooking sausages in an oven or frying pan compared to an air fryer means that an air fryer requires little to no oil at all, so technically these appliances make the healthiest sausages.
Here is a recipe for the easiest and quickest way to cook sausages in an air fryer.
18. Stuffed Mushrooms
This is a great meal for mushroom and cheese lovers. Cooking stuffed mushrooms in an air fryer is a real game-changer because they take less time to cook plus they require no oil. It’s a win-win!
Here’s our favorite air-fried stuffed mushrooms recipe.
19. Fried Potatoes
If you’ve ever tried to mimic the fried potatoes they serve at breakfast in diners, you’ll know how much oil you use to try and achieve the crisp. Air fryers don’t require that oil, which means this is the healthiest and easiest way to achieve crispy fried potatoes!
Here’s a tasty and easy recipe for air-fried fried potatoes.
Hey, who said you can’t treat yourself to a sweet treat if you’re eating healthily? Air-fried donuts are certainly much healthier to make and eat than shop-bought ones.
They also take 5 minutes to make, which is much more convenient than driving to a store. Plus, the kids go mad for them.
Here’s our favorite five-minute recipe for air-fried donuts.
- 4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
- ¼ cup barbecue sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¼ cup apple juice
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- Preheat the air fryer to 380°F.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the barbecue sauce, apple juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, and brown sugar.
- Pat the chicken thighs dry, then brush both sides of the chicken thighs with the sauce.
- Place the chicken, skin side down, in a single layer into the air fryer basket, and cook for 10 minutes.
- Turn over, and brush with sauce again on both sides then continue cooking for 8 to 10 minutes, until cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
For easier cleanup, line the air fryer basket with parchment paper.
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Clean Eating Air Fryer Cookbook: 70 Healthy Whole-Food Recipes
Mediterranean Air Fryer: 95 Healthy Recipes to Fry, Roast, Bake, and Grill
COSORI Air Fryer Max XL(100 Recipes) Digital Hot Oven Cooker, One Touch Screen with 13 Cooking Functions, Preheat and Shake Reminder, 5.8 QT, Black
PowerXL Air Fryer7 QT Maxx Classic , Special Edition 2021, Extra Hot Air Fry, Cook, Crisp, Broil, Roast, Bake,, High Gloss Finish, Black (7 Quart)
Instant Vortex Plus 7-in-1 Air Fryer Oven with built-in Smart Cooking Programs, Digital Touchscreen, Easy to Clean Basket, 10 Quart Capacity, and a Stainless Finish
Ninja DZ201 Foodi 6-in-1 2-Basket Air Fryer with DualZone Technology, 8-Quart Capacity, and a Dark Grey Stainless Finish
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 162Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 822mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 0gSugar: 13gProtein: 8g