What to cook in an air fryer? 7 things that are better air-fried

From crispy bacon to sweet potato fries, this is what to cook in an air fryer for a mouthwatering treat...

What to cook in an air fryer
(Image credit: Instant)

Learning what to cook in an air fryer is a must-do, as it's the healthiest way to enjoy an indulgent fried treat. Many opt for one of the best air fryers because they want to enjoy a low-fat way of eating their favorite foods, but air fryers can do a lot more than just cook frozen food and French fries. 

'There are plenty of things you can air fry,' says Adele Brennan, Home Electrics buyer at VonHaus. 'From healthier snacks, such as sweet potato or peppers, to more indulgent treats like fried bacon or frozen chicken strips – air fryers are completely versatile. 

'When it comes to the best foods for air frying, it all comes down to food preferences, although bacon, doughnuts and homemade chips are known to be popular choices.'

What to cook in an air fryer

Below, you can see our top suggestions for what to cook in an air fryer, plus tips on getting the best results for tasty food.

1. Delicious burgers and patties

'Burgers and fast-food all cook and crisp up in minimal time whilst retaining flavor and color in an air fryer,' says Zoe McClean, Senior Home Economist at Breville.

'Homemade burgers take about 10to 15 mins at a medium to high heat. Place these directly into the basket or rack, (no oil needed) season and cook. As air fryers get hot really quickly there is no need to preheat as you would with a regular oven or grill. I like to turn mine half way through cooking to encourage even browning but this isn’t necessary.

'Tip: If you're building a cheeseburger, assemble the burger on the bun, add the cheese and any relish etc, pop the complete burger into the now turned off air fryer and let this sit in the warm oven for a few minutes. This melts the cheese and warms the bread. Delicious!'

 She adds: 'Frozen shop bought burgers can be cooked from frozen, but reduce the temperature a little to a medium temp, these take around 15 minutes to cook. Always ensure burgers are cooked through.'

2. French fries

What to cook in an air fryer breaded chicken and chips by VonHaus

(Image credit: VonHaus)

One of the best things about an air fryer is the ability to indulge in the odd 'guilty pleasure' – with a lower fat intake.

Homemade French fries are crispy and delicious when made in an air fryer, with less calories than deep fat frying. Simply cut them all to a similar size and place them in your air fryer basket in a single layer (you can do batches if you need a large amount).

Air fry for around 12 to 15 minutes, tossing half way through. You can check the cooking process to see how they are coming along by simply pulling the air fryer basket out to look.

Want a healthier option? Make sweet potato fries instead, and season with a little paprika, salt and pepper for extra taste before air frying.

3. Reheated leftovers

We're not ones to waste food, and an air fryer can ensure you make the most of your takeaways and indulgent fast-food dinners.

Zoe McClean suggests: 'Use the air fryer for re-crisping or reheating takeaway leftovers, like fried chicken or pizza, and enjoy your meal for a second time.

 'Why air fry left over pizza when you can microwave it? Air frying still keeps the base of your pizza nice and crisp, whereas microwaving tends to soften the base. 

'I like to wrap leftover pizza in aluminum foil before air frying as this helps to prevent the topping from drying out. Place in a single layer direct into the basket or rack and cook on high for 5 to 7 minutes.'

4. Frozen chicken goujons

what to cook in an air fryer chicken goujons by Von Haus

(Image credit: VonHaus)

An air fryer is a versatile investment, and is great for cooking frozen food quickly on days when you're particularly time-poor.

Chicken goujons or tenders are a lovely option, and should take around eight to 12 minutes to get nice and crisp from frozen at around 400°F/205°C. 

Put them in a single layer in the air fryer basket; flip them at around 10 minutes and cook for another two minutes, or until crisp.

Zoe McClean comments: 'Frozen fast food items like chicken goujons, fish fingers, breaded or battered vegetables can all be air fried from frozen and like all the other foods: no waiting time for your oven to pre-heat. 

'Simply place direct into the basket or on the rack and cook for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on food type. Medium to high heat.'

5. Crispy bacon

Vegetarians look away now... bacon is said to be a delicious option for air frying. 

Breville's Zoe McClean says: 'To air fry bacon (this is the best!) place the bacon in a single layer in the basket or rack and cook on high for 5 to 8 minutes. The bacon will be browned and beautifully crisp.'

You can also prepare bacon in a fraction of the time you'd need to cook on the stove, and it won't be swimming in its own fat as it cooks, which gives you a crispier and slightly healthier result. 

6. A succulent roast chicken

What to cook in an air fryer roast chicken by Breville

(Image credit: Breville)

A moist yet crispy chicken is easy to achieve in an air fryer with a rotisserie function, and you can also do this in some of the best toaster ovens

Cooking it couldn't be simpler: 'A small whole chicken can roast beautifully in 60 minutes,' says Zoe McClean. You'll be left with a delicious roast chicken that's got a crispy skin. Our top tip? Use the juices that gather at the bottom of the oven to prepare a gravy. 

7. Crispy roast potatoes

Is there anything more palate-pleasing than a crispy roast potato? We think not.

'We love to make our Sunday dinner roast potatoes in the air fryer,' says Zoe. 'Simply parboil the potatoes first, allow to drain and dry out. Then, fluff with a fork, season and place in a small tin or tray in the air fryer with a spoonful of duck fat (or vegetarian alternative). 

'Roast on 390ºF/200ºC for 30 minutes, turning/shaking occasionally to encourage even browning.'

What's best to cook in an air fryer?

Our experts agree that the best thing to cook in an air fryer is bacon because it comes out crispy, perfectly cooked and less fatty than when cooked under a grill or in a pan.

That said, we think fruit is wonderful cooked in an air fryer – particularly bananas, which caramelize beautifully if put into the air fryer sliced or whole and brushed lightly with oil or melted butter. 

Ruth Doherty

Ruth Doherty is an experienced digital writer and editor specializing in interiors, travel and lifestyle. With 20 years of writing for national sites under her belt, she’s worked for the likes of Livingetc.com, Standard, Ideal Home, Stylist and Marie Claire as well as Homes & Gardens.