Did Santa bring you an air fryer this year? Lucky you! If you're wondering what the heck to do with it, keep on reading! We've got air fryer ideas, GALORE.

salmon and veggies, from Shelf Cooking

When you think air fryer, you probably picture french fries, chicken nuggets, and the like. But there's SO much more you can make with that bad boy! Breakfast, lunch, dinner, even desserts are a breeze to cook in this magical little device.

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Let's put that gift to good use! The possibilities are pretty much endless, but we've rounded up dozens of our favorite air fryer ideas. Get ready to take notes and press that bookmark button!


If you're curious to know how air fryers work their magic, then we don't blame you! Inquiring minds, right? You might be surprised to learn that air fryers don't actually fry at all.

Remember that Easy Bake Oven you had as a kid? The technology behind air fryers is pretty similar! Essentially, an air fryer is a countertop, compact convection oven.

Because you can cook things in the air fryer with less oil than you would when frying, it's an amazing way to make crispy, tasty foods SO much healthier. The hot, circulating air in the fryer helps give your foods the perfect consistency without all the added calories. Pretty cool, huh? Now, before we start cooking, let's go over a few quick tips!


cooking green beans in an air fryer, from Shelf Cooking

Don't be intimated by the air fryer! Once you get the hang of it, you'll never know how you lived without it before. Try these tips to cook with your air fryer like a pro:

  • Always Preheat Before Cooking – Think of your air fryer like a little oven. If yours doesn't have a preheat feature, allow it to warm up for 3-5 minutes before you begin cooking.
  • Spray the Basket – Even if your recipe doesn't call for oil, be sure to spray the basket's bottom for best results! You can use cooking spray, butter, or grease it with a little olive oil.
  • Don't Overfill the Basket – Cook in batches if you need to! It's important not to let your food overlap. If you try to squeeze too much in, you may end up with a soggy, undercooked mess. Easy does it!
  • Flip or Shake Foods You Want Crispy – If you're cooking french fries or chicken wings, flip them halfway through or remove the basket and shake. This helps them crisp evenly.
  • Invest in Baking Pans & Accessories – These air fryer accessories will make life so much easier and cleaning a breeze!
  • Have Fun & Experiment – We think this tip is the most important! Once you get the hang of cooking with your air fryer, have some fun with it. Branch out and try new things! You'll get used to the cooking times, breading methods, and more, so use your knowledge to create new recipes.

Okay, now that you're up to speed on the science of air frying, are you ready to start cooking? We've got ideas for every meal of the day, plus appetizer and dessert recipes to try. We're already hungry just thinking about it! Let's do this, you guys.


ziplock bags with egg cups inside, from Shelf Cooking

We're all about make-ahead freezer breakfasts around here, but sometimes you can't beat a fresh-made meal in the morning, and these are so quick and easy in the air fryer:

  • Bacon – Get ready for your new favorite way to make bacon! All the grease drips right off, leaving you with the crispiest, most perfect bacon. Just cook for around 10 minutes at 400°F, flipping halfway through with tongs.
  • Baked Egg Cups – Looking for a low-carb dish? Try these super easy egg cups from Simply Low Cal. Make a bunch and freeze some for later!
  • Breakfast Potatoes – Here's an easy-peasy one! Dice a few potatoes, drizzle with olive oil and fresh herbs, then place them in a single layer in your air fryer basket and cook at 400°F for 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  • Cinnamon Rolls – These cinnamon rolls are delicious and cook in under 10-minutes. Sweet! Grab the recipe from Happy Foods Tube.
  • Donut Holes – Who doesn't love donuts?! For a healthier take, try making them in your air fryer. Missin the Kitchen has a maple donut recipe that's ready in 15-minutes.
  • Omelet – Mix up your omelet, pour it into a 6×3 baking dish, then cook for 8-10-minutes on medium heat.

Don't those all sound yummy? We're drooling over the cinnamon rolls already! Now, if it's dinnertime, and if you're looking for your next weeknight meal, keep on reading.


sliced meatloaf and mashed potatoes, from Shelf Cooking

You really can air fry just about any meat or veggie, but here are some of our favorite air fryer dinner recipe ideas:

  • Salmon – We love cooking salmon in the air fryer because the skin gets nice and crispy, and the inside stays nice and moist. Plus, it cooks in no-time with minimal cleanup. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then cook at 390°F for about 7 minutes.
  • Ground Beef Tacos – Season ground beef with taco seasoning, then break up and place in a pan before adding to basket. Cook at 400°F for 5-7 minutes.
  • Crispy Coconut Shrimp – 3-minute dinner?! Heck yes! Grab this coconut shrimp recipe from AllRecipes and serve it with white rice and veggies.
  • Meatloaf – Grab our favorite meatloaf recipe and modify it for the air fryer. Just cook in batches at 370°F for around 15 minutes.
  • Stuffed Peppers – Fill your peppers with anything you'd like, then cook them in the air fryer at 355°F for about 10 minutes. Top with cheese, then cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Pizza – See, we told you that you make just about anything in the air fryer! Try this 10-minute pizza from My Forking Life.

Now, let's make that meal complete! We've got side dish options we guarantee you'll love.


a plate of buffalo cauliflower, from Shelf Cooking

Yep! You can cook your veggies in the air fryer, too. Everything's better when it's fried, right? Trick your pickiest eaters into eating their veggies with one of these sides:

  • Buffalo Cauliflower – This buffalo cauliflower tastes almost as good as wings! And since it's a veggie, we're totally counting it as a side dish. Cook in batches at 350°F for 15 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through.
  • Broccoli – Doctor up that frozen bag of broccoli in the air fryer! Just toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic salt. Cook at 350°F for about 8 minutes, then serve and enjoy!
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes – This baked sweet potato recipe from The Chunky Chef is delish!
  • Brussels Sprouts – Air fryer Brussels sprouts are crispy on the outside and tender in the center. Perfection! Season to taste, then cook at 375ºF for 15 minutes, shaking halfway through.
  • Carrot Fries – Here's a super healthy french fry alternative! Just peel and slice your carrots in the shape of fries, then toss with olive oil and salt. Cook at 400°F for about 20 minutes, or until crispy.
  • Crispy Green Beans – This copycat restaurant recipe is way cheaper and much healthier! Try this garlic and parmesan green beans recipe from Adventures of a Nurse.
  • Squash – We like this twist on a summer favorite! Just slice, then toss with olive oil and fresh garlic. Cook for around 8-10 minutes at 400°F. You'll know the squash are ready when they turn slightly brown on the outside.

We'll have one of each, please! Save these ideas for your next meatless-Monday, you guys. Now, on to snacks and appetizers!


closeup shot of fried green tomatoes on a plate, from Shelf Cooking

Okay, who's hungry?! If you need a snack to serve at your next party, try one of these irresistible air fryer apps:

  • Fried Pickle Chips – Guilty pleasure alert: we love some fried pickles dipped in ranch! Grab your leftover pickle juice and get ready to make this fried pickle chip recipe from Domestic Superhero.
  • Fried Green Tomatoes – Try this fried green tomato recipe from AllRecipes, and you'll feel just like you're on a weekend getaway in Charleston.
  • Egg Rolls – Grab some frozen egg rolls and cook them in batches. Start them out at 340°F for 10 minutes, flip, then increase the temperature to 400°F and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Wings – Here's your gameday go-to! You can save on calories without sacrificing flavor. Try this chicken wing recipe from the Food Network. It's legit!
  • Onion Petals – For a whole heck of a lot fewer calories than the restaurant appetizer, you can enjoy all that flavor right at home. Try this Outback copycat recipe from Domestic Superhero.
  • Stuffed Mushrooms – We love a use-what-you've-got recipe, and this one fits that bill. Grab some cheese, breadcrumbs, other veggies, or whatever else you've got. Stuff your mushrooms and cook for 8-10 minutes at 370°F.

Alright, guys! We know these apps all sound good, but guess what? We've saved the best for last. That's right. It's dessert time!


a plate of donut holes and chocolate sauce, from Shelf Cooking

We're always down to try a new dessert, so when we found out you could cook these treats in the air fryer, we decided to take one for the team and try them all. You're welcome! Here are a few faves we think you should try:

  • Churros – Sign us up for all the 20-minute churros, please! You'll want to throw a fiesta just to serve these air fryer churros from Plated Cravings.
  • Apple Fritters – A License to Grill has an AWESOME air fryer apple fritter recipe to try! Top it with a scoop of our homemade vanilla ice cream.
  • Roasted Bananas – Want to stick to that diet but still have a sweet tooth? Here ya go! Just slice a few bananas, drizzle with olive oil, cinnamon, and honey, then pop them in the air fryer at 375° for around 8 minutes.
  • Cupcakes – Whip up a batch of boxed mix cupcakes, pour into cups, bake at 320°F for around 10 minutes, then cool and frost. Super simple, right?!
  • Cookies – Pop that store-bought refrigerated cookie dough right in your air fryer! Place on parchment paper for easy cleanup, then cook at 400°F for about 5 minutes.

If you decide to make those churros, we want an invite! Well, who are we kidding?! We want in on all these desserts!


As you can see, air fryers are one of the most versatile appliances you can own. If you got one for a holiday gift, enjoy it! If you want to gift yourself an air fryer, check Amazon! They usually have tons of deals.

We're dying to know! Which of these recipes will you try first? Drop us a comment or head over to our Shelf Cooking Facebook community to join the conversation!

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Looking for more yumminess to try?

It's fry time!