The First 15 Things You Should Cook In Your New Air Fryer

The First 15 Things You Should Cook In Your New Air Fryer
Image: Jimmy Hasse,Photo: Claire Lower

This year felt, in many ways, like a repeat of the one that came before it. Covid is still around, our healthcare system still sucks, and eating inside restaurants still feels like a dangerous and mildly irresponsible activity. Another (happier) thing that didn’t change all that much was the air fryer’s popularity.

She’s the same lil ol’ convection oven that could, and we still love her for it. If you are the lucky recipient of an air fryer this holiday season, go ahead and check out last year’s roundup of our favourite air fryer recipes — then click on through to meet some new friends.

“Hard boiled” eggs

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

Even though “air-fried hard-boiled eggs are a pedant’s nightmare” — for they are “neither fried nor boiled” — they look and taste the part, and that’s all that matters. They’re also a cinch to make:

Like most air fryer “recipes,” this is excessively straightforward. You heat the air fryer to 270℉, you put a few cold eggs in the basket, you let them cook for 10-13 minutes, depending on how firm you like your yolk. The eggs in the photo you see at the top of this blog were cooked for 11 minutes, then plunged into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.

Baked eggs

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

Another 2021 breakfast favourite of mine was this little air fried baked egg dish:

When cooked in an air fryer, a mixture of eggs, half & half, and salt produces a dish somewhere between a soufflé and frittata. The insides are fluffy and tender like the former, and the top is browned like the latter. It’s a simple, satisfying breakfast. You can sprinkle the top with a little cheese towards the end of the cook, or you can turn it out of its ramekin, slice it horizontally, and stack it on a sandwich.

A complete bacon and egg breakfast

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

You can also cook up a complete breakfast in your air fryer, if you absolutely need bacon and toast with your eggs:

If you’ve cooked a fair amount of bacon and eggs (and hash brown patties), you know that these things all cook at different rates, so some staggering is involved, but it all works out quite elegantly. The bacon initially takes up too much room to allow an egg-filled ramekin and a hash brown patty, but after five minutes it loses a good bit of fat, allowing the little basket to accommodate everyone with ease, and five minutes in happens to be the exact moment you’ll want to add the egg.

Tiny tomatoes

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

I love a juicy, fresh summer tomato, but those aren’t available in the winter months. Luckily, you can use your air fryer to obliterate some tiny tomatoes, transforming them into something truly delicious, no matter the season:

Good, fresh tomatoes cannot be forced. Sure, cherry tomatoes are pretty decent any time of year, but they do not compare to a ripe summer tomato. Luckily, we humans learned how to use heat (and salt) to improve our food a long time ago, and the air fryer is the next step in that evolutionary journey. It’s a fairly new device, but an efficient one, and I am delighted to report it does a bang-up job at reducing watery, bland tomatoes into an umami-rich, jammy mass.

Shishito peppers

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

Add these charred peppers to your arsenal of quick and easy air fried appetizers:

Cooking shishito peppers has never been a great culinary challenge. You can broil them, torch them, grill them, or blister them in a hot pan. Once you see little charred bubbles, they’re ready to eat. But while cooking shishito peppers has never been hard, cooking them in an air fryer is almost too easy.

Quick-cured fish

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

The combination of a quick sugar-and-salt brine and an even quicker stint in the air fryer makes this salmon the perfect weeknight protein:

All you have to do is grab a skin-on salmon filet and coat it in a sparkling mixture of two parts salt: one part sugar. Let that hang out for 15 minutes, then rinse the fish under cold running water and pat it dry. Rub a little olive oil on both sides of the fist — just enough to coat — and cook in a 385-degree air fryer for 7-10 minutes, depending on the filet’s size (the end should flake readily and the top should be lightly browned).

Lobster

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

Lobster tails can be a weeknight affair when you have an air fryer:

If you’re worried that the air fryer might be too “aggressive” for the precious sea bug, don’t be. People cook lobster under crazy hot broiling elements all the time, and the little convection oven cooks them so quickly, they don’t have time to dry out. In fact, the air fried lobster I had last night was downright juicy and succulent, which is pretty impressive when you consider the lobster’s incredibly low fat content.

Crispy AF shallots

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

Air fried shallots are not my fastest air-fried recipe, but they are very hands-off, and certainly far less labour- and oil-intensive than traditionally fried shallots:

The procedure simple: Slice some shallots about 1/8th of an inch thick, toss them with a drizzle of oil, and cook them in your air fryer at 250℉ until they are golden and crispy. Salt them. Eat them. Repeat if you like (and you probably will).

Capers

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

Great news: You just found your new favourite drinking snack:

Fried capers (whether really fried, or “fake” fried in a turbo convection oven), are a crunchy, salty, piquant joy. You can eat them as a snack — they’re very good with a martini — or you can sprinkle them over a salad, pasta, or a nice piece of fish. I usually end up eating them like tiny popcorn.

A can of chickpeas

Photo: Svetlana Monyakova, ShutterstockPhoto: Svetlana Monyakova, Shutterstock

Much like popcorn, these crispy garbanzo beans are the perfect canvas for experimenting with exciting spice blends:

Like almost anything cooked in the air fryer, air fried chickpeas are not difficult to prepare; the most difficult part is choosing your seasoning. Once that’s sorted, all you have to do is dump a 439.42 g can of garbanzo bean in a colander, let them drain for a few minutes, then toss them directly into the basket of your air fryer so they can dry while it preheats to 400℉. Letting the excess liquid evaporate in the hot, swirling heat will make your little chickpeas more receptive to oil, which will make them crispier (and more delicious).

Tofu

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

If nothing else, the air fryer helped me recreate The Golden Bowl I devoured at Michael Stipe’s restaurant in Athens, Georgia, and for that I am incredibly grateful:

Crispy baked tofu is one of those things that’s perfectly suited for the air fryer. Though I have a full-sized oven with a convection setting, waiting 15 minutes for that thing to preheat, only to make six or so ounces of tofu (at the most) seems like a waste of both my time and energy (bill). My small tabletop oven gets hot in about four minutes, then takes another 10 to transform the tofu into savoury little cubes, which is the amount of time I have to make lunch during the week.

Scallions

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

These air fried scallions are, in a three words, a perfect garnish:

I like to chop up the crispy green parts and mix them into dips, or mash them up with some cream cheese to make roasted scallion cream cheese. The lighter coloured ends are good all on their own, as a side or garnish, but they’re pretty stellar in sandwiches, wraps, and tacos.

Maple candied broccoli

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

This broccoli is the perfect combination of sweet, savoury, and good for you:

Could you make this in a regular oven? Yes, but I like the air fryer here because you can toss the broccoli with the maple bacon fat right in the little basket, instead of a bowl. (Tossing it in a cold mixing bowl leads to the syrup mixture solidifying and sticking to the bowl, and I don’t want that!) Plus, shaking the broccoli in a basket is a little easier than stirring it with a spoon inside a hot oven, and I am all about ease.

Beer-brined pumpkin seeds

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

I’m not good at carving pumpkins, but I’m very good at cooking their seeds, and this method is my new favourite:

Roasted pumpkin seeds are usually just fine. At their best, they’re crispy little bits of heavily seasoned fibre. At their worst, they’re tough, chewy, and bland. Most people mitigate toughness and blandness with a simple, 10-minute, salt water soak, but I like to take things a tad further and brine them overnight in a tangy, hoppy mixture of vinegar and beer. The air fryer takes care of the texture.

An emergency cookie

Photo: Claire LowerPhoto: Claire Lower

This cookie is there for you when you need it most:

This genre of cookie is chewy and crispy, with a soft, doughy centre. You eat it with a spoon. It is perfect. You can make them at home by smashing dough into a small cast iron pan and baking it in the oven, but you can also make a smaller, ramekin-sized version in your air fryer.

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