A guide to air fryer recipes for beginners! We cover what air fryers are, how to use an air fryer, what you can / can’t cook, and share over 85 recipes perfect for those new to air fryers!

There’s no question that air fryers are everywhere right now. People seem to either love them or feel a bit unclear about why they’re such a big deal. If you’ve been debating an air fryer purchase, or bought one but have no idea what to do with it, this guide has all the answers you’ve been searching for.

What is an air fryer?

Said to imitate the effect of deep-frying with much less oil, air fryers are basically a convection oven that lives on your counter. Convection is a type of current (aka chemical energy) that transfers heat via air, and that air is then circulated by fans in the cooking process.

However, the method of convection used in air fryers differs from your typical convection oven. While a convection oven slowly produces heat from gas or electric power, air fryers contain a special type of “rapid air technology” that does not stem from a specific source, which allows food to heat up rapidly and with a more even, crispy result.

Plus, air fryers are typically much smaller than your average convection oven, another reason why foods cook so much faster.

How to use an air fryer

This will be different depending on the type of air fryer you have, but the general instructions remain the same. You can place your food in the basket or on the tray, set the time and temp, and let the gadget do its work! Of course, these steps will also depend on the food.

If you’re cooking a chicken breast, some recipes will suggest flipping it halfway through, and some won’t. Sometimes you’ll want to shake the basket up a little bit, similarly to how you shuffle veggies around on the roasting tray to make sure all sides get equally crispy.

step by step air fryer sweet potato fries

Which air fryer is best?

I consulted a lot of my culinary colleagues before making an air fryer purchase and went with the one that came most recommended – the Phillips XXL Air Fryer (affiliate link – if you purchase I receive a small commission).

What can you cook in an air fryer?

That’s the best part. You can cook pretty much anything you’d cook on a regular oven or stovetop. However, it’s best to start simple to figure out what you like and the ins and outs of your specific air fryer.

First, think about anything you might typically deep-fry. We’re talking french fries, chips, donuts, chicken fingers, onion rings, you name it. Beyond that, the options truly continue to be endless. It’s great for frozen foods, hearty veggies, proteins, and even some breakfast and dessert options.

It actually might be more helpful to name what you CAN’T cook. Namely, anything with too much liquid, like batter or too much drippy cheese. Raw grains are also a no-go, as well as your less sturdy leafy greens. Other than that, it’s basically a choose your own adventure!

Is air frying healthier than other cooking methods?

You can talk about less oil – I would make this factual vs. morality. 

Personally, I didn’t purchase my air fryer because I wanted to cook with less oil. I purchased it because I love crispy, crunchy food and the air fryer produces that in a fraction of the time it takes to bake in the oven (and even then you can’t get food that crispy.)

Like I talk about with my clients, it’s all about intentionality when it comes to food choices. Buying an air fryer doesn’t necessarily collude with diet culture if your intention is rooted in taste and satisfaction.

Do I need to preheat my air fryer?

It depends on the type of air fryer you have and the specific recipe you’re making. Check the manufacturer’s manual and the recipe for more guidance! I typically do not preheat my air fryer unless the recipe I’m making specifically tells me to.

Air Fryer Recipes Perfect for Beginners


Easy Air Fryer Carrot Fries via Milk & Honey Nutrition

Air Fryer Frozen Brussels Sprouts via Kelsey P. RD

Perfectly Crispy Air Fryer Eggplant Bites via Chelsea Dishes

Air Fryer Broccolini via Lara Clevenger

Air Fryer Kale Chips via Carrots & Cookies

Air Fryer Carrots via Colleen Christensen Nutrition

Air Fryer Cauliflower via The Foodie Dietitian

air fryer cauliflower on grey plate, marble background, side of aioli in wooden bowl

Air Fryer Frozen Brussels Sprouts with Miso Dressing via Shaw’s Simple Swaps

Air Fryer Frozen Green Beans via Bucket List Tummy

Air Fryer Roasted Tomatoes via Lara Clevenger

3-Ingredient Air Fryer Okra via Milk & Honey Nutrition

Air Fryer Okra Fries via Dinner <3 Mom

Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower Bites via Simple and Savory

Buffalo Cauliflower Wings via The Foodie Dietitian

buffalo cauliflower bites on grey plate, grey background, cilantro garnish

Air Fryer Kale Chips via I Heart Air Frying

Air Fryer Cauliflower Steak via The Typical Mom

Air Fryer Green Beans via Art From My Table

Air Fryer Mushrooms via Culinary Shades

Air Fryer Curried Acorn Squash Slices via The Short Order Cook

Air Fryer Roasted Vegetables via Bite on the Side

Air Fryer Zucchini Chips via The Foodie Dietitian

crispy zucchini chips on a plate next to a bowl of dip

Air Fryer Spaghetti Squash via Lara Clevenger

Air Fryer Butternut Squash via Kinda Healthy Recipes

Vegan Air Fryer Cauliflower Wings via From the Comfort of My Bowl

Apps, Sides, and Snacks 

Air Fryer Pita Chips via Crumb Top Baking

Air Fryer Frozen Dumplings via Aubrey’s Kitchen

Frozen Garlic Bread In Air Fryer via Culinary Shades

Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries via The Foodie Dietitian

crispy sweet potato fries next to bowl of ketchup, cilantro garnish

Air Fryer Pizza Crescent Rolls via Holley Grainger

Garlicky Air Fryer Baby Potatoes via Chelsea Dishes

Air Fryer Tortilla Chips via Carrots & Cookies

Perfectly Roasted Air Fryer Sweet Potato Chunks via Carrots & Cookies

Air Fryer Potato Chips via Simple and Savory

Crispy Homemade Air Fryer Onion Rings via Simplify Create Inspire

Air Fryer Turnip Fries via Crumb Top Baking

Air Fryer Baked Potatoes via The Foodie Dietitian

air fried white potato, cut in half, two pats of butter melting

Air Fryer Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar Cinnamon Butter via Swirls of Flavor

Air Fryer Frozen Crinkle French Fries via The Short Order Cook

Air Fryer Mashed Potatoes via Katy Kicker

Air Fryer Banana Chips via Kinda Healthy Recipes

Air Fryer Apple Chips via Craving Something Healthy

Air Fryer Corn on the Cob via Flavor the Moments

Air Fryer Garlic Bread via The Foodie Dietitian

cheesy garlic bread stacked on grey plate

Air Fryer Cheese Biscuits via Katy Kicker

Air Fryer Chickpeas via This Farm Girl Cooks


Crispy Air Fryer Salmon Patties via Milk & Honey Nutrition

Southern-Style Crispy Air Fryer Fish via Marisa Moore RDN

Air Fryer Ranch Chicken Thighs via Create Kids Club

Air Fryer Tofu (4 Ways) via Colleen Christensen Nutrition

Air Fryer Chicken Wings via The Forked Spoon

Air Fryer Turkey Cutlets via Family Spice

Air Fryer Salmon (Fresh or Frozen) via The Foodie Dietitian

air fryer salmon on plate, small side salad, bite taken out of salmon

Air Fryer Frozen Pizza via Aubrey’s Kitchen

Air Fryer Chicken and Potatoes via Budget Delicious

Air Fryer Shrimp via Little Sunny Kitchen

Air Fryer Cajun Shrimp via Rachna Cooks

Air Fryer Hamburgers via Crayons and Cravings

Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Nuggets via Aubrey’s Kitchen

Tender Air Fryer Chicken Breast via A Pinch of Healthy

Air Fryer Whole Chicken via The Foodie Dietitian

crispy air fryer whole chicken in air fryer basket

Air Fryer Salmon in Coconut Milk with Lentils via The Petite Cook

Quick and Easy Air Fryer Cod via Fearless Dining

Air Fryer Ravioli via The Fresh Cooky

Air Fryer Pizza via Katy Kicker

Air Fryer Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings via Sweet Tea and Thyme

Air Fryer Chicken Fajitas via Little Sunny Kitchen

Air Fryer Roasted Chicken Legs via Dr. Davinah’s Eats

Air Fryer Breaded Chicken Breast via Little Sunny Kitchen

Buffalo Chicken Air Fryer Stuffed Peppers via Budget Delicious

stuffed bell peppers in air fryer basket

Honey Garlic Air Fryer Salmon via Fearless Dining

Air Fryer Grilled Cheese via Nourish Plate

Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan via End of the Fork

Easy Sweet Spicy Air Fryer Salmon via Savory Spin

Air Fryer Frozen Meatballs with Spicy Glaze via Went Here 8 This

Air Fryer Baby Back Ribs via Sandra’s Easy Cooking

Air Fryer Kofta Wraps via Amee’s Savory Dish


Easy Air Fryer Banana Bread via Dani’s Cookings

two slices of banana bread on plates, bananas and chocolate chips on the side

Air Fryer Tater Tots via Little Sunny Kitchen

Crispy Air Fryer French Toast via Champagne Nutrition

Air Fryer Poptarts via Well If She Can Do It

Air Fryer Bacon via Lara Clevenger  

Air Fryer Hard Boiled Eggs via Lara Clevenger

Air Fryer Breakfast Potatoes via Carmy

Air Fryer Toast via Organically Addison


Air Fryer Salty Pistachio Brownies via Spa Bettie

Air Fryer Chocolate Chip Cookies via The Foodie Dietitian

chocolate chip cookie torn in half, gooey chocolate, sea salt

Air Fryer Brownies via Colleen Christensen Nutrition

Air Fryer Cookies via Katy Kicker

Air Fryer Oreos via Well If She Can Do It

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