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The air fryer is a versatile kitchen appliance that has grown widely popular in the last decade.
Air fryers are considered a healthy alternative to deep-frying because they tend to use significantly less cooking oil than deep fryers or stovetop cooking. This means you can enjoy your favorite fried food for considerably fewer calories.
Air fryers come with a host of other benefits, including a shorter cooking time compared to ovens and a significantly reduced cleanup in comparison to traditional fried cooking. Meal prepping with an air fryer is a game-changer.
Air fryers are versatile too. You won’t be making just fried chicken with it. In fact, there are plenty of healthy air fryer recipes that provide a healthier alternative to all your favorite fried foods.
This list of 46 healthy air fryer recipes is incredibly diverse, with recipes for chicken, seafood, beef, pork, and vegetarian meals. There are even ways to make desserts and breakfasts!
If you’re looking for healthy meal prep recipes that don’t require an air fryer, be sure to check out these lists:
- 40 Healthy Breakfast Meal Prep Ideas to Kickstart your Day
- 54 Healthy Meal Prep Ideas For Weight Loss
- 30 Amazing Salad Meal Prep Ideas
Is the Air Fryer Healthy?
Many people are naturally skeptic of the bold claims made by manufacturers. Are air fryers actually healthy?
The answer is yes – for the most part. One study has proven that air fried foods have significantly less fat than deep fried foods. Fried foods have long been linked to health problems because of their high fat and calorie content.
However, because air fryers reduce the amount of oil being used by 70% to 80%, the fewer the fat and calories absorbed into the food, leaving a relatively healthier product.
Of course, you need to remember that fried foods are still fried at the end of the day. Air fried chicken may be healthier than traditional fried chicken, but it still has more fat than oven-roasted or grilled chicken.
Enjoy your favorite fried foods – in moderation – with these healthy air fryer recipes!
What is the healthiest thing to cook in an air fryer?
If you want another healthy option, you can try recipes with roasted vegetables!
Ever had deep-fried pickles or deep-fried zucchini at a fair? You can make those same delicious, deep-fried veggies at home, but FAR healthier than you’d get out on the town.
But even just a simple roasted veggie, simple like you’d bake in an oven with little more than a light oil drizzle and some seasoning, is possibly and definitely delicious in an air fryer!
Bookmark this page of 46 healthy air fryer recipes for future reference. There seems to be no limit to what these versatile air fryers can do!
Looking to buy an Air Fryer?
Air fryers are one of the coolest kitchen gadgets to hit the market in the last few years, but how do you know which one to buy?
We’re here to help.
We’ve been busy reviewing many of the best (and not so best…) air fryers on the market. Check out each of our buyers guides and reviews to make an educated purchase!
And if you want to check out a few specific brands, we’ve put together a review of the Emerald air fryer and the Copper chef air fryer. Also, my friend recently wrote a whole blog post on air fryer safety that you should read: Can you put aluminum foil in an air fryer?
You’ll also want to make sure you get the right size for the amount of food you plan to cook. Here is a guide that talks through the different air fryer sizes.
Before You Buy — What can you NOT cook in an air fryer?
If you’re looking to make some crazy deep-fried cheese recipe….well, don’t. Not only does that sound tremendously unhealthy, it’ll make a mess of your air fryer.
While you can cook just about anything in your air fryer, avoid things with heavy seasoning, wet batters, soups/stews (just a bad idea for an air fryer!), and overly cheesy foods. You’ll make a massive mess and really regret it.
What are the pros and cons of air fryers?
While there’s an almost endless list depending on your food preferences, we’ll cover the basic pros and cons here:
- Healthier than deep frying foods.
- Quicker than oven-fried foods, and puts less heat into the kitchen.
- Great way to more quickly cook a wide variety of foods.
- May replace many smaller/single-purpose kitchen appliances; space-saving
- Super easy to get started and use.
- You can cook eat directly from frozen, safely, and faster than by other conventional, common cooking methods. Saves considerable time when you’re in a pinch!
- “Deep-fried” foods in an air fryer don’t have the same taste as the original; can be difficult to get the right level of “crisp” to foods via an air fryer.
- Can be difficult to clean.
- They use a lot of electricity, not very energy efficient in that respect; may take longer than some other appliances depending on the recipe.
- Often expensive for the larger, family-sizes air fryers.
- May not last as long as comparable appliances, depending on the frequency of use and how well it’s cared for and maintained.
- Must be used on a heat-resistant surface (not ideal direction on Formica counters, for example)
Healthy Air Fryer Chicken Recipes
Chicken is a classic fried food that’s popular worldwide. Using an air fryer makes it easier to make this culinary classic at home as well as healthier!
This juicy buttermilk “fried” chicken has to be among my favorite healthy air-fried chicken recipes. It’s a must-try sandwich to satisfy your fried chicken craving!
The chicken and breading are well-seasoned and easy to put together. The recipe also gives you a chance to make use of any leftover coleslaw you may have in your fridge. Win-win!
These chicken tenders can be served as a game day appetizer or as an easy weeknight dinner. Tortilla chips are used to give the breading a great taste on its own. The dip is both healthy and delicious, featuring avocados that provide healthy fats and greek yogurt, which is a great source of protein.
This chicken nuggets recipe is sure to be a favorite amongst you and your family! They’re also freezer-friendly and can be reheated if you have extra nuggets leftover (which is doubtful because they’re so good!).
Leftovers don’t have to be boring. Cook up these chicken taquitos next time you have some chicken left in the fridge! The tortilla shells crisp up nicely in the air fryer. These are also freezer friendly; just place them in an air-tight container and you can air-fry them another time.
Chicken thighs are commonly “favored by cooks because of their superior flavor, and this recipe will have you seeing why! Cooked to sizzling perfection, with crispy skin on the outside, and tender and flavorful on the inside, this is hard to resist! The thighs have a cajun dry rub on it, as well as BBQ sauce (which you can omit to reduce carb content).
This unique recipe consists of rolled up chicken seasoned like an everything bagel. There’s no actual bread in this recipe! This meal is high in protein and also an excellent source of healthy fats thanks to the seeds.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a chicken parm recipe that managed to stay low in carbs and fat. In order to do that, the chicken breast is stuffed with skim-milk mozzarella and topped with a light marinara sauce and grated parmesan. Not only is it delicious, it’s also a great protein source!
Wonton wrappers crisp up nicely in the air fryer, so it’s only natural these types of recipes are included. These wontons with chicken make for great appetizers. They’re made so quickly and can be whipped up last minute when you have a lot of guests to feed!
Cooking wings in the air fryer is convenient since its faster than an oven and not as messy as a traditional fryer. These wings are breaded with egg whites and potato starch to keep the calorie content down, then tossed in a flavorful sweet chili Bang Bang sauce that has quite the kick!
Air Fryer Vegetarian Recipes
Looking for vegetarian air fryer recipes? Here are 13 of them – Some are stand-alone main dishes, while others are sides.
There are many ways to enjoy zucchini, but these fritters have to be one of my favorite! The recipe takes just 15 minutes in the air fryer, and makes for a great snack or appetizer.
Grated parmesan is great both on top or in the batter of these delicious zucchini fritters.
Air fried brussel sprouts are pretty popular, and for good reason. This vegetable gets that crispy, golden finish in the air fryer, and they’re super simple to cook. You’ll definitely want to make the dijon aioli – it only takes a minute to whip up and it complements the sprouts nicely. This is one of our favorite healthy air fryer recipes!
These cauli-bombs are simply air fried rice balls made with cauliflower rice. The creamy pesto dip is excellent and the two combined make for a tasty party dish.
Just to give you an idea of how much faster using the air fryer is: the air-fried version has a ten minute cooking time, while the oven-baked version takes 30 minutes!
Tofu gets a lot of hate, but I have to admit that it comes out with a great texture when using the air fryer. The recipe itself is for a crispy tofu with orange sauce, which is great both on its own or plated with rice. Looking to make this vegan? Sub out the honey for maple syrup!
Asparagus is another veggie that works great in the air fryer. As with other air-fried veggies, less is more; these are seasoned only with olive oil and salt.
This recipe works great as a side dish, especially if you’re on a Whole 30, Paleo, or Keto diet.
I find baked sweet potatoes to be more flavorful than their non-sweet counterparts. With this recipe, you can make baked sweet potatoes very easily using your air fryer. Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside!
Turnip fries are a low-carb twist on the traditional potato french fries. They are also lower in fat too, thanks to the air fryer. The texture and taste of turnips is fairly similar to potatoes, especially when they’re fried. Just look at the photo in the link – it’s shocking that those aren’t “real” fries!
This is a clever way to repurpose your leftovers into a delicious new meal! This recipe uses leftover risotto to make arancini (Italian rice balls). Risotto works great here but you could get away with using any leftover rice – it just won’t be as creamy on the inside.
These wonton poppers are sure to be a hit next time you’re hosting an event at your place. They make for a delicious appetizer and require just ten minutes of prep time. They also require only two ingredients (minus the cooking oil)!
These apple crisps are a delicious snack and a great alternative to potato chips. Also, the prep couldn’t possibly get much easier. Just thinly slice the apples and toss the slices in the air fryer! One serving of these crisps is only 95 calories.
I’ve been baking sweet potatoes in the oven and find they get soggy from all the oil. That isn’t the case with these air fryer sweet potato fries!These are quick to whip up, requiring less than 10 minutes of cooking time. The recipe even includes instructions on making two different condiments: a fry sauce and garlic aioli.
Baked potatoes come out great in the air fryer and take much less time than they would in the oven. It’s a win-win combination! Serve with your favorite toppings like bacon, avocado, salsa, or chilli – baked potatoes are so versatile, there’s no need to stick to just plain old sour cream.
This recipe goes to show just how versatile an air fryer truly is. You can actually use it to make a pizza from scratch! The base recipe is vegetarian (sauce and cheese) while the toppings are up to you. Be mindful if you add raw meat as a topping that it’s cooked through. It should be cooked by the time the pizza is done, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure.
Air Fryer Seafood Recipes
Nothing beats fried seafood! Here are some alternatives to classic seafood dishes that use an air fryer.
Fish and chips is a classic pub food both in the U.K. and worldwide, consisting of fried fish and french fries! This is a healthy air fryer recipe for classic beer battered cod fillets. The “chips” in this recipe are store-bought frozen fries cooked to perfection in the air fryer.
You have to give these crab cake poppers with lemon aioli a try. This recipe is grain-free (gluten-free) since it uses almond flour in the breading. The breading on these crab cakes are light and puffy as they should be!
Fried shrimp always makes for a great shareable dish. These air-fried shrimp are just as flavorful as the real thing, but with a fraction of the fat and without that greasy finish.
This recipe calls for 20 minutes of prep-time, but you can speed it up by buying your shrimp already peeled and deveined!
This juicy and spicy shrimp cooks well in the air fryer and is best served with veggies and rice or noodles. The beauty about dishes like these is that they are highly customizable. Feel free to use whatever leftover veggies you have on hand, like broccoli, carrots, peppers or zucchini!
Air Fryer Beef, Pork, and Turkey Recipes
Chicken and shrimp aren’t the only stars of the show. You can also make great dishes with beef, pork, and turkey.
I was impressed at how easy this dough is to make, and even more so when I took my first bite! These air fried hot pockets are a great alternative to regular hot pockets, with just a fraction of the fat content. These taste great reheated. I recommend doubling the recipe since it’ll hardly increase your prep time and you can freeze some for later.
I was so impressed at how tender these pork chops are, and all thanks to the air fryer! Pork chops are an excellent protein source and they pair deliciously with this honey mustard dressing. This recipe includes two delicious sides; brussel sprouts and mini potatoes.
I love turkey burgers because they’re a much leaner alternative to beef burgers. With 28 grams of protein and only three grams of fat per patty, these air fried turkey burgers are a great way to boost your protein intake.
This recipe is also great for making larger batches since they freeze so well. You can reheat them from frozen to the air fryer on a busy day!
This roast beef recipe really showcases the power of air fryers. You can air fry a big piece of roast beef in just 35 minutes!
Less is more when it comes to seasoning this roast beef. It has a dry rub of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and thyme. Give this recipe a try if you want to cook up some healthy roast beef in half the regular time.
These tender meatballs are good to serve at dinner, either as an appetizer or part of a main course. You can also add it to your list of healthy meal prep recipes since they’re easy to make, freeze well, and they’re keto-friendly!
Jalapeno poppers are a classic finger-food for parties, especially game day! This version is non-breaded and keto-friendly. These are quick to put together and are a relatively healthy side dish.
Next time you want to make jalapeno poppers, give it a try using the air fryer!
Beef and broccoli is a healthy asian dish, great for both meal prepping and cooking at home. I love the crispy finish the beef and broccoli get from the air fryer! Tip: use a pan from your air fryer accessory kit to prevent the sauce from dripping out and to keep the food juicy.
A grill with an open flame is, without a doubt, the best way to cook a ribeye steak. When you don’t have access to one, or you want to mix things up, it’s good to have other recipes up your sleeve. The air fryer can cook a 1-inch thick ribeye to medium rare in just nine minutes! Also, the blue cheese butter makes for both a delicious and keto-friendly topping.
Cooking burgers in the air fryer is a breeze – they take just ten minutes and cleanup is minimal! The best part of this is that you can make the raw patties in large batches and freeze them. You can cook the raw patties any time from their frozen state in just six minutes!
With this recipe you can cook steak and mushrooms all at once in the air fryer! Veggies are great in the air fryer since the edges get all crispy, and mushrooms are no exception. I like to keep the dish low-carb by adding oven roasted asparagus as a side.
This air fried beef and pineapple makes for an excellent taco filling. Each taco has an impressive 19 grams of protein. The seasoning on the meat is so flavorful and the pico de gallo with fresh lime is the perfect topping. Add this recipe to your list for your next taco night!
Air Fryer Dessert Recipes
Believe it or not, the air fryer is a great tool for making dessert! Here are a few dessert recipes that utilize your air fryer.
Did you know you can effectively “bake” brownies in an air fryer? It is ultra convenient, especially since you may want to have something else cooking in the oven. You will need to use a smaller, 7-inch baking pan, or a purpose-made pan from an air fryer accessory kit.
This recipe is pretty standard, and yet they come out moist and gooey – even using the air fryer.
This is a simple recipe for donuts with just four ingredients. They take just 15 minutes to cook from start to finish. If you save the center pieces of all the donuts, you can fry up some donut holes once you’re done making the donuts!
Deep fried desserts have been a rising trend, especially at fairs and food festivals. This savory dessert consists of a chocolate cookie wrapped in a crescent roll, which is then air fried to perfection. Give this a try if you want an easy and delicious “fried” dessert!
This is another decadent dessert that can be made with the air fryer. It goes to show how the air fryer can replace not only the deep fryer, but the oven as well. This recipe uses store-bought crescent roll dough to save you time, but it tastes as good as homemade – and it is delicious!
Apple fritters are a delicious dessert, and this recipe gives you a healthier alternative to the normal version. Each fritter has just one gram of fat!
I recommend doubling up this recipe. Prep time is roughly the same, but you’ll have to cook them in two batches.
Air Fryer Breakfast Recipes
Finally, cooking with an air fryer can be useful for making breakfast. Here are four healthy air fryer breakfast recipes!
Who would’ve thought fried egg rolls went so well with breakfast?This bacon-and-egg breakfast is wrapped inside an egg roll and cooked in an air fryer. You might find wrapping the rolls a little tricky at first, but it’s so worth it once you figure out the technique.
These french toast sticks make for a great snack, either before school or as a quick breakfast for those on the run. It also works well as a side plate for a full breakfast. This french toast is crispy on the outside but soft and flavorful on the inside, and takes just ten minutes to put together!
I love breakfast potatoes, and this recipe offers a very convenient way to make them. This is a great side to accompany your eggs and bacon on a Sunday morning, and it doesn’t make a mess – unlike cooking potatoes on the stovetop!
You can even use your air fryer to cook hard boiled eggs! This is actually more practical than boiling a pot of water just to cook a few eggs. You can eat them on their own or use them in any recipe that requires them.