Today, we’ve gathered our go-to air fryer dinner recipes featuring simple ingredients from tender chicken to moist salmon to crisp vegetables.
An air fryer is an amazing appliance that makes quick appetizers and fried food less greasy, but it is also great for making main dishes for dinner. The same benefits remain: it’s straightforward and effortless, and the food cooks with less fat but still turns out delicious.
Is Air-Frying Healthy?
The air fryer is a game-changer for foods that typically get fried or stir-fried in oil. You can quickly cook them to that same crisp finish without all the added oil. This certainly reduces the fat and calorie totals compared to the same food’s deep-fried counterparts.
What Can You Cook in an Air Fryer?
You may be surprised to learn that air fryers don’t technically fry food. Instead, they cook the food by circulating hot air around it, quite similar to the oven. As a result, the food turns out crispy on the outside and cooked through tenderly on the inside with little or no added oil.
So technically, any oven-baked food can be easily adapted to the air fryer. Proteins, vegetables, and even pastries work surprisingly well. This device is not only used for convenient meals, but it’s also versatile and effortless.
Air Fryer Dinner Recipes with Chicken
Air Fryer Chicken Breast: Our air fryer chicken breast recipe resembles the typical oven-baked chicken but finishes in a matter of minutes. These tender and flavorful chicken breasts taste like they are sent straight from heaven.
Air Fryer Chicken Parmesan: This recipe retains everything you love about the original Italian comfort dish. Plus, air-frying the chicken in the coating mixture of breadcrumbs and parmesan creates an excellent crunchy exterior with a juicy interior. We love to pair it with pasta and steamed vegetables for an easy and fulfilling dinner.
Air Fryer Chicken Fajitas: This Mexican-inspired classic lends a unique taste from the spice blend of pepper, cumin, and cayenne. The secret is to flip the chicken and veggies one or two times, ensuring they are coated in the flavorful rub and cooked evenly.
The chicken ends up succulent and bursting with flavors, while the onions and peppers are crunchy and delicious.
Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets: These perfect little bite-sized chicken pieces come with a crunchy coating thanks to the flavorful batter and the air fryer. If you have a smaller air fryer, we recommend dividing your chicken into several batches so that the air has plenty of room to circulate and crisp up the chicken.
Air Fryer Chicken Tenders: With simple ingredients and just one cooking tool — the air fryer — you can make healthier chicken tenders at home. They turn out moist, succulent with an irresistible crispy coat in just 15 minutes. This recipe is deceptively simple but is still one of the best chicken tenders recipes in our rotation!
Air Fryer Fried Chicken: If you’re fighting the temptation of fried chicken and trying to stick to a healthy diet, the good news is that you can finally indulge guilt-free with our air fryer recipe. This fried chicken emerges from the air fryer with all the crunch, deliciousness, and satisfaction you’ve come to expect.
Air Fryer Chicken Wings: Chicken wings are a smart choice for the air fryer since they’re small and you don’t have to spend all day cooking endless batches of chicken. Our chicken wings are loaded with a sweet-savory flavor and an exquisite spiciness from the homemade buffalo sauce. Game night snacks are a breeze with this recipe!
Air Fryer Chicken Legs: Traditional fried chicken legs often require tons of oil to ensure maximum crispness, but our recipe gets the job done beautifully with just half a tablespoon of olive oil. With juicy meat coated in crunchy skin, these chicken legs are addicting and may have your family fighting over the last piece.
Air Fryer Chicken Thighs: This mouth-watering chicken recipe is relatively easy to make. The chicken is rubbed with your seasoning mixture of choice — garlic and onion powder for depth flavor, or paprika and cayenne for added heat — before being air-fried until golden brown and full of flavor.
Air Fryer Chicken Cordon Bleu: This air fryer twist on the Swiss classic saves the day with just half of the saturated fat and sodium of the restaurant dish. In this version, the tender chicken is wrapped in cheese and ham, breaded, and then air fried to perfection instead of deep-fried.
The homemade coat adds tremendous flavor and can be easily customized to your liking, making the Cordon Bleu a special treat even if you’ve got unique preferences.
Air Fryer Buttermilk Fried Chicken: Why order buttermilk fried chicken from restaurants when you can recreate the dish at home — except healthier and even better-tasting.
Seasoned and coated in buttermilk batter before being baked to perfection, this recipe is sure to be a staple in your household. The secret is the Italian-inspired mix that takes the chicken to a whole new level.
Air Fryer Marinated Chicken: Various dried herbs and seasonings blend to create the flavorful marinade for this chicken recipe. Lime juice is our key ingredient for the juiciness and dynamic flavor, making the dish a star on the menu.
For best results, be sure to marinate the chicken as instructed in your recipe. In fact, if you have time, go for 6 – 12 hours in the refrigerator. The results are worth it.
Air Fryer Meatballs: These meatballs are healthier alternatives to the traditional pan-fried version. With the air fryer, the dish will turn out super tender, juicy, and flavorful with a similar ingredient list but minimal added oil.
Meatballs are great to make in advance. Freezing them doesn’t harm their flavor, so they’re perfect additions to your weeknight meals.
Air Fryer Dinner Recipes with Pork
Air Fryer Pork Tenderloin: Our air fryer pork tenderloin is super easy to make and you can’t go wrong with the homemade honey mustard glaze. Roast your favorite veggies alongside the pork for a side dish. This can all be done for a wholesome weeknight dinner in less than 30 minutes.
Air Fryer Pork Loin: You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how quickly your dinner comes together with our air fryer pork loin recipe. And the result is impressive, the well-seasoned, juicy meat gets locked inside a golden crust for a satisfying meal.
Air Fryer Pork Chops: Our air fryer pork chops recipe guarantees some of the yummiest pork you’ve ever had: the tender, flavorful meat is sealed inside a golden, crunchy crust. Pair the dish with creamy mashed potatoes and a green salad for a delicious meal that won’t leave you feeling heavy.
Air Fryer Dinner Recipes with Seafood
Air Fryer Tilapia: Cooking tilapia in an air fryer results in the most tender and delicious pieces of fish. It’s quick and easy, too; all you have to do is season and bread the fish in a coating of breadcrumbs and cheese and pop them into the basket.
The air fryer browns the fish beautifully, and the finished product is like restaurant-quality seafood.
Air Fryer Fish Sticks: Classic deep-fried fish sticks can be a real grease-fest, but not when your air fryer joins the party. The breaded fish sticks cook up golden brown and crispy.
Whether you serve them as appetizers or pair them with rice for a light dinner, don’t skip the sweet-sour mayonnaise dipping sauce. It brings a lot of flavor without much prep time.
Air Fryer Shrimp: When we think about a tropical dinner, shrimp always come to mind. This recipe makes juicy, plump shrimp with just a few pantry staples. You can serve them on top of a salad or a bed of steamed rice or pasta; the shrimp are sure to be a big hit on the plate.
Air Fryer Cod: Once baked until golden and tender in the air fryer, the cod is coated with lemon and dill for an extra refreshing note. The dish is delightful, healthy, and mess-free since no breading is needed.
Air Fryer Tuna Steak: The tuna in this recipe is placed in a light sauce and cooked to perfection with the help of the air fryer. You can even make the dish raw, medium-rare, or well done by adjusting the cooking time. We recommend serving the fish with a dipping sauce for an extra flavor boost.
Air Fryer Salmon: Your air fryer offers more than just crispy tricks; it’s also an excellent oven for baking fish fillets like salmon. The salmon fillets are rubbed in your favorite seasoning blend before being cooked to perfection on all sides in a matter of minutes.
The result is flavorful, crisp salmon with a juicy, melt-in-your-mouth interior despite the short marinating time.
Air Fryer Dinner Recipes with Vegetable
Air Fryer Potato Wedges: Say goodbye to the greasy and calorie-dense potato dish and hello to our lighter air fryer potato wedges. The air fryer helps cut down most of the added oil but still gives you crispy potato skin.
Meanwhile, the potatoes are still golden and delicious. That’s what we call a win-win recipe.
Air Fryer Tater Tots: The air fryer helps take your homemade tater tots to the next level. These bite-sized spuds are crispy and tasty but mess-free and healthier than the deep-fried restaurant version.
Air Fryer Cauliflower: This recipe requires only 5 minutes of preparation and a few more minutes in the air fryer. The cauliflower is delectable with a buttery coat and a savory blend for flavors.
You can liven up the dish with additional dried herbs and a generous sprinkling of cheese for a quick and easy appetizer.
Air Fryer Onion Rings: If you like your onion rings healthier, try them in the air fryer instead of the oven. The appliance is famous for its ability to turn thin onion slices into crispy snacks with very little added oil.
Air Fryer French Fries: The staple French fries get an upgrade with our air fryer version. They maintain all the classic flavor and texture — the creaminess from the inside paired with the crunchy exterior is a match made in heaven, but with fewer calories and added salt.
Air Fryer Baked Potato: Your favorite comfort food can be made quicker and easier with an air fryer. And the result is no different from the classic oven-baked version: the creamy, fluffy potatoes are loaded with crispy bacon and melted cheese, making for an ideal side dish for just about any protein.
Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower: In this recipe, the cauliflower florets are coated in homemade buffalo-flavored batter and cooked until golden crisp. They make for a finger-licking appetizer and are a perfect sidekick for any protein-rich main dish.
Air Fryer Hash Browns: This air fryer hash brown is made from scratch with easy-to-buy ingredients and will be ready to serve in 25 minutes. These crunchy hash brown patties can be paired with cottage cheese on the side for a great breakfast or dinner combo.
Air Fryer Carrots: The intense heat of the air fryer produces the perfect caramelized sweet carrots in the same way as the traditional oven. For a flavor boost, you can sprinkle fresh thyme or grated cheese when they are just out of the basket.
Air Fryer Mushrooms: This recipe is a great way to turn a mushroom hater into a mushroom lover. The mushrooms are seasoned and coated with a bit of oil, and cooked until tender. They are then tossed in butter or your favorite sauce, making them your new meatless staple.
Air Fryer Corn: Air fryer corn is an easy side dish that requires simple ingredients and comes together effortlessly. A key technique is to flip the corn halfway through cooking, yielding crispy corn that soaks up the tasty liquid smoke like a champ.
Air Fryer Zucchini: A crunchy coating of breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese makes these healthy fried zucchini slices irresistible. They are a delicious snack that you’re sure to munch on until every last one is gone.
Air Fryer Asparagus: This recipe creates the best asparagus dish in just minutes. They are perfectly tender on the inside while still retaining the delicate crunch on the outside. And best of all, the recipe is like a blank canvas that can be seasoned any way you wish.
Air Fryer Appetizers and Snacks
Air Fryer Spring Rolls: Just like their deep-fried relatives, the air-fried spring rolls hold the veggies’ texture beautifully and gain a wonderful meaty flavor from the shrimp. Serve them at a party, game night, or snack time, along with your favorite dipping sauce. They are super crispy, irresistible, and kid-approved too.
Air Fryer Tofu: Even if you aren’t a tofu lover, this recipe will inspire you. Transcendently crispy on the outside, pleasantly soft on the inside, and infused with the savory marinade, the air-fried tofu will become a go-to dish with even the harshest tofu critics.
You can snack on these tofu chunks when craving a vegetarian protein boost or simply toss them in salad, stew, or curry. There are a thousand ways to enjoy these delicious pieces!
Air Fryer Hand Pie: The air fryer isn’t just meant for meals; you can make desserts and snacks with it too. Take this palatable mini apple pie as an example. The perfectly flaky crust seals in seasonal fruits for an ideal after-dinner treat.
Air Fryer Mini Calzones: These mini calzones use pizza dough to make crunchy pockets filled with meat, vegetables, and cheese. Warm, crispy, and delightful, mini calzones are perfect for parties, snacks, or simply satisfying your craving for pizza at home.
Air Fryer Chocolate Chips: The function of the air fryer — with high fan speed and concentrated heat — makes these chocolate chips taste like heaven in your mouth. Crispy on the outside and perfectly melted on the inside, they make for happy snack time or dessert.
Air Fryer Chickpeas: Using the main ingredient of hummus, this air fryer chickpeas recipe makes the raw peas into crispy little nuggets in minutes. Low in calories and loaded with fiber and nutrition, they make a great snack to substitute for calorie-laden chips or nuts.
1. Can You Cook Bacon in an Air Fryer?
The air fryer can make fried food a little quicker and healthier, and it has the same effect on bacon. But spoiler alert: you need to pay it close attention!
The most likely problem when cooking bacon in the air fryer is that if you set the heat too high and for too long, the air fryer will fill up with rendered bacon fat which can then burn up and release white smoke.
The right method to cook bacon is to preheat the oven at the proper temperature — usually about 350 ℉ — before spreading the bacon out in the basket without any overlap. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes and open the air fryer basket to check for any grease that needs to be discarded. Flip and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes. The baked bacon should turn out just as uniform and crispy as with other methods.
2. Can You Put Foil in an Air Fryer?
Technically, the answer is yes. However, when lining your basket in aluminum foil, ensure it doesn’t go over the edges or touch the heating elements. That can cause your food to burn.
3. How to Preheat an Air Fryer
Though coming in different styles and sizes, most air fryers need to be preheated for the best results.
In terms of flavors, the truth is that your food can still turn out tasty and crispy without preheating the appliance. However, preheating helps the air fryer get hot even before you place the food in the basket. This way, the cooking process will start immediately. In other words, this step shortens your cook time.
It usually takes less than 2 minutes to preheat the air fryer, and many machines have a ‘preheat’ mode. If your model doesn’t have this option as standard, we recommend heating the unit to 350 – 400 ℉ before cooking. Also, please refer to the instructions and safety manual to ensure you use your specific air fryer as it was intended.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.