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8 Surprising Things You Can Make in an Air Fryer … and 6 You Can’t

It's been touted as the healthiest method to cook fried foods. 'Taste of Home' compiled a list of some recipes that would turn out great … and some that would be kitchen nightmares!

black philips air fryer with food insidevia amazon.com

What’s the big deal with air fryers?

At first, the cooking world’s latest craze of air frying might seem too good to be true. Don’t know what it is? We have a longer explanation here, but it’s essentially a device that gives the texture of deep frying with only a fraction of the oil. With such a device comes the promise that “fried” foods don’t necessarily have to be reserved for state fairs and fast food, especially with this healthier alternative. To find out if this device was all it’s cracked up to be, we decided to figure out which of our favorite recipes worked well in an air fryer … and which definitely did not. Make sure to avoid these 11 cooking mistakes that can make your food toxic.

Toasted Ravioli PuffsTaste of Home

Works well: Ravioli

The crispy coating on ravioli reaches a whole new level when introduced to this machine—we urge every home chef to give it a try! Try this recipe out.

Roasted Salty Pumpkin Seeds Ready to EatBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Works well: Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds, say hello to your new best friend! The air fryer is an easy way to get those yummy little seeds baked to crispy perfection. While traditional methods would take you about an hour to complete, you’ll save plenty of time by using an air fryer. One home chef said it took her only 15 minutes! No air fryer? No problem. We have a guide to making pumpkin seeds the traditional way too.

Air Fryer Chocolate Chip Oatmeal CookiesTaste of Home

Works well: Certain baked goods

Prepare to have your mind blown: You can use an air fryer to make sugar cookies! And lava cakes! And chocolate chip oatmeal cookies! Just make sure you follow a recipe specific to an air fryer, because traditional baked goods might turn into a kitchen fail. We have a list right here of air fryer-friendly recipes if you’re looking.

Everything Bagel Chicken StripsTaste of Home

Works well: Chicken strips

Air fryers work wonders when it comes to frozen foods. One of our favorite recipes includes these crispy chicken fingers—just be sure to freeze the batter onto the meat before throwing it inside the machine. Or take a shortcut and use a frozen chicken tender—we’ve got a favorite brand! Check out these 25 kitchen shortcuts you’ll wish you knew sooner.

Food concept assortment of vegetable chips on black slate plateTYSB/Shutterstock

Works well: Homemade chips

Strangely enough, home cooks have had lots of success making homemade chips in their air fryers. You don’t have to stick only to potatoes, either: Try kale chips, sliced veggies, or pickles too. (Our air fryer pickle-chip recipe is definitely a winner!) Psst: Did you know you can use your spiralizer to get paper-thin slices?

boiled eggsWIN12_ET/Shutterstock

Works well: Hard-boiled eggs

Oddly enough, you can make hard-cooked eggs in this thing! You don’t even need water—you just cook, peel, and they’re ready to eat. Do you have trouble peeling hard-boiled eggs from time to time? We have the perfect kitchen hack to streamline the process for you!

French fries on a dark backgroundGoncharov_Artem/Shutterstock

Works well: Frozen french fries

If you’re a french fry fanatic, this is the machine for you. Frozen french fries were practically made for air fryers (like this one!)—they turn out crunchy, crispy, and baked to perfection. With 75 percent less oil than a deep-fryer, you can eat them guilt-free too.

Electric fryer with basket of frozen spring rollsSmallworm Lighting/Shutterstock

Works well: Egg rolls

It can be difficult to nail the crispy outer coating of egg rolls in an oven without overcooking the inside or ending up with a soggy wafer. With an air fryer, you don’t have to worry. You’ll end up with a firm, fried texture on the outside without ruining the soft interior. Read up on these 10 cooking tricks that are only taught in culinary school.

various fresh raw vegetables on wooden tableMaraZe/Shutterstock

Doesn’t work so well: Raw vegetables

While the air fryer can cook up some delicious fried veggies from the freezer, they don’t have the same superpower with raw produce. Test cooks all over the Internet will tell you how soggy they turn out—definitely not the texture you’re going for! Luckily, if you’re trying to make raw vegetables edible even for the pickiest of eaters, our list of lovable recipes is sure to please.

Single lettuce head over rustic wooden backgroundMelica/Shutterstock

Doesn’t work so well: Most greens

We don’t know why you’d want to put lettuce in your air fryer, but throwing unseasoned spinach or romaine in there will just cause it to fly around and make a mess. However, there is one thing you can do with leafy greens: kale chips! Just be sure to coat your greens in olive oil so they’re weighed down when they go into the air fryer. These are the best air fryers on the market. 

parmesan cubes on olive wooden board, shallow focusGCapture/Shutterstock

Doesn’t work so well: Fresh cheese

Wouldn’t it be great if you could make homemade fried cheese curds with this thing? Unfortunately, you’re out of luck unless you start with something frozen. Just putting cheese in the machine causes it to melt and stick to the air fryer … which only results in a mess. Sigh … looks like you’ll have to stick to deep-frying if you want to make Wisconsin-approved curds.

fish and chips with French fries and pineapple coleslaw on a white plate on a wooden table.mikeledray/Shutterstock

Doesn’t work so well: Battered foods

Liquid batter go flying the minute it hits the air fryer. That means you’ll have some trouble making breaded cod, chicken, or pork chops, unless you follow an air fryer-specific recipe. Fortunately, we have a list of those right here!

A mixture of peppers and salt on shale stone.zefirchik06/Shutterstock

Doesn’t work so well: Foods with loose seasonings

As you can imagine, any herbs or spices that aren’t stuck to your food might not stay put in an air fryer. Hold off on salting, peppering, and seasoning your foods until they come out of the device—otherwise, the little bits could get caught in the air fryer’s nooks and crannies, making it harder to clean. However, if you do make this mistake, it’s not the end of the world: Most air fryer pieces are dishwasher safe! Here are more tips for using one.

The buffet in the hotel full of different foodKELENY/Shutterstock

Doesn’t work so well: Feeding a crowd

While air fryers come in a range of sizes, even the largest model can only fit food for two to four people. If you have a large family or you plan on using your air fryer for a bigger gathering, you’ll have to make your food in batches. You’ll probably be better off using these 50 dinner recipes guaranteed to feed a crowd.

air fryer with foodsROLAND ANCLA LEGASPI/Shutterstock

The verdict

After consulting this list, you might be wondering whether you should purchase an air fryer for yourself. If you’re a big fan of fried fare, we suggest you give it a try—especially if you’re interested in the health benefits of foregoing so much oil. However, if you eat a lot of raw vegetables, bake your food in the oven or cook it on the stove, and generally make meals for a large crowd, an air fryer might not be the ideal device for you. Luckily, you can still get that crispy, crunchy texture by doing an old-fashioned deep fry … we’ll show you how here!

Originally Published on Taste of Home

Emma B. Kumer
Emma Kumer is a marathon-runner, magazine-writer, and graphic design addict. She was a digital editorial intern for Taste of Home Magazine for Summer 2017. She is also a junior in Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.