It’s time to give this appliance the attention it deserves.
We already know air fryers are fantastic instruments for generating crispy, crunchy fried-like dishes in minutes. With nearly zero labour, you can have a full fryer basket of French fries, wings, or meatballs on the party plate without dealing with the filth of a deep fryer or heating up your oven. Yet air-fryer meal prep will be a huge game changer for your regular cooking too.
Air fryers put a crispy coating on dishes using less oil by virtue of convection. This type of cooking employs fans to circulate hot air over your food, which initiates the Maillard reaction (a word that refers to the delightful browning of protein you taste when you bite into a just-seared steak or fresh-baked cookie) (a term that refers to the delicious browning of protein you taste as you bite into a just-seared steak or fresh-baked biscuit). Air-fried food won’t necessarily taste like it’s been deep-fried, but it will have a crispy coating and only requires around a tablespoon of oil. I like to use oven fries as an example—they aren’t French fries, but they’re great in their own way.
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Though air fryers are generally hailed for their capacity to generate fried-like party dishes, such as onion rings or fish sticks, we often forget that convection cooking is really a lot closer to the cooking you perform in your full-size oven (i.e., roasting and baking) vs your deep fryer. Translation: Let’s start using the air fryer as a mini-oven that sits on the tabletop. When you think of it this way, the number of dishes you’ll realise you can cook rapidly in an air fryer multiplies tenfold.
Next time you’re blasting through a Sunday cooking session, don’t bother preheating your oven. Your air fryer may be little, but this gadget is formidable when it comes to meal-prep possibilities. Here are seven ways to prepare nutritious dishes in your air fryer you can eat all week long (buffalo wings not included) (buffalo wings not included).
1. Roast Vegetables
Just like you would with a sheet pan in the oven, you can roast many servings of broccoli, brussels sprouts, asparagus, or any other vegetable in your air fryer. Just chop them into bite-sized pieces and toss in a dish with a short splash of olive oil before putting to the fryer basket. We like to jiggle them every five minutes or so to achieve equal browning. The cook time and temperature may vary dependent on the vegetable, but plan on cooking them at 375 degrees F for roughly 20 minutes. (Bonus: This is less than half the time it’ll take you in the oven!) You can also air-fry frozen vegetables.
2. Cook Fish
If you’re frightened about frying fish, this air-fryer approach couldn’t be simpler. Cover a couple of 6-ounce fillets of salmon, halibut, or tilapia (or any other species) with a touch of butter and lemon juice, or dredge them with eggs, flour, and panko crumbs before cooking in the air fryer at 375 degrees F for approximately 8 minutes.
3. Crisp Up Chickpeas
Dried, roasted chickpeas are a meal-prep powerhouse. They’re ideal for topping salads, putting into trail mix, or eating on as-is. And if you’re looking for some quick air-fryer meal prep, it can’t get much easier than this. Drain a can of chickpeas and sprinkle them with a little of oil, salt, and pepper before air frying. Toss the basket every 5-10 minutes at 400 degrees F until crisp. Add spicy spices like cumin, curry, or paprika if you want some more taste, or make them sweet with cinnamon and honey and serve over yoghurt.
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4. Prepare Baked Potatoes
Use a fork to poke many holes in a Russet or sweet potato and air-fry for 30 to 40 minutes. Air-fried potatoes come out lighter and juicier than those cooked potatoes in the oven. (And you can still use our amazing air-fryer french fry recipe if you’d rather eat fries!)
5. Crisp Up Chicken Tenders
Instead of selecting a store-bought rotisserie chicken for your nightly salads, sandwiches, and stir-fries, we adore crisping up pieces of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs in the air fryer. The convection heat will give your nuggets a wonderfully browned surface, but leaving their insides moist and juicy (wish we could say the same about that pre-made rotisserie chicken) (wish we could say the same about that pre-made rotisserie chicken).
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6. Cook Tofu \sGone are the days of pulling sticky tofu off the surface of your pan. For a quick (and nutritious) air-fryer meal prep tip, you can just dice a block of extra-firm tofu and combine the pieces with a touch of oil, salt, and pepper. Air-fry for 15 to 20 minutes, and be delicate with shaking to not break up the chunks. Mix with soy sauce, ginger, and sesame seeds after cooking.
7. Prepare 5-Minute Pizza
Seriously! Top pieces of pita bread with marinara sauce, vegetables, and cheese. Fry one pita pizza at a time in the air-fryer basket at 350 degrees F until cheese is melted and pita is crisp, 4 to 5 minutes.
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