Picture of Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD

Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, the founder of Milk & Honey Nutrition, is a diabetes dietitian (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) renowned for combining her knowledge of diabetes and culinary expertise into easy-to-follow recipes and articles!


What can you cook in an air fryer?

Article Overview


It’s probably one of the hottest cooking trends right now, but you may be wondering, what can you cook in an air fryer? 

Learning what can you cook in an air fryer is the first step to a quick, delicious, and crispy meal, and the possibilities are endless when it comes to cooking with an air fryer. Cook anything in your air fryer from salmon, chicken wings, leftovers, and frozen foods! 

What is an air fryer? 

Think of an air-fryer as a combo between a microwave and toaster oven. You get the speed of the microwave with the dry heat cooking of a toaster oven. Once the cooking starts, the air fryer circulates super-hot air to cook the food. So, it’s basically like a tiny convection oven that produces crispy food. 

Are air fryers healthy? 

The term “air fryer” is a bit misleading. Nothing is actually being fried! Air fryers are a healthy alternative to deep-frying and can be a great tool for cooking. 

What to look for in an air fryer 

There are a few important things to look for when looking for an air fryer. 

  • capacity 
  • footprint (how much space it takes up on the counter)
  • functionality/settings
  • safety
  • easy to clean
  • quality for price

What size air fryer do I need? 

The size of your air fryer is a personal preference. Choosing the ideal size of your air fryer depends on the size of your family or how many people you typically cook for. 

For my family of 4, I use the 4 qt size, and it works perfectly for us! This size is also ideal if you’re cooking for 4 people or less. If you have 5+ people you’re cooking for, I recommend going up in size. 

What can you cook in an air fryer? 

You can cook just about anything in an air fryer! I typically cook meat, fish, vegetables, frozen foods, and even leftovers in my air fryer. Here are a few items I’ve been air frying and tips on how to cook them: 


The amount of time will vary depending on the type of fish you’re cooking. I always recommend spraying the bottom of the basket with cooking oil before adding your fish to the basket. Feel free to drizzle lemon juice or butter on top of your fish. 

Here are my favorite seafood recipes: 


Chicken and pork will need to go a bit longer than salmon, and beef will be dependent on how you like your meat cooked. With higher fat meats, it’s important to line the bottom of the basket with foil before cooking. I always start with thawed meat, though you can start form frozen as well.

If you read any recipe book or brochure put out by the makers of an air-fryer, they will usually tell you to line the basket (the part with the holes) with foil for meats. After having set my smoke alarm off more than once, I would follow this instruction for higher fat meats ?.

Simple No Fuss Air Fryer Drumsticks 

drumsticks in air fryer basket

Fresh veggies

Fresh veggies are pretty simple. Just cook them at 400 degrees for about 7-10 minutes. Some vegetables need more time to cook, such as potato wedges. 

Some of my favorite fresh vegetable recipes: 

carrots cooked in air fryer


Think about the last time you brought home leftovers. How did you reheat them? In the microwave, right? And how did the food turn out? If it was previously crispy, then it probably was a bit soggy.

 If you want your leftovers to be just like they were the first time you cooked them, use an air fryer!! 400 degrees for 3-5 minutes depending on the food.

Here’s an example: If I’ve cooked a big batch of veggies in the air fryer on the weekend and am reheating them a few days later, I’ll do it in the air fryer again and not the microwave. 3 minutes later and they’re perfectly crispy again!

Can you cook frozen food in an air fryer? 

Yes, you can! I’ve found that most frozen foods do great in the air fryer at 400 degrees, and just cut the recommended oven cooking time listed on the package in half.

What’s easier than dumping a bag of frozen veggies in the air fryer?? Nothing is easier. Different veggies require different amounts of time, but in general I’ve found that about 2 cups of frozen veggies will cook up nice and crispy and perfect in 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

Some recipes for veggies in the air fryer will call for the basket to be lined with foil like I mentioned above. If you want really crispy veggies, I would not do this. 

How to preheat air fryer 

Not all air fryers come with a preheat setting. If yours has this setting, simply press the preheat button, and heat for the suggested time in the manual.  

If you would like to preheat your air fryer, but do not have this function, don’t worry! Turn on your air fryer, set the temperature the recipe states, and press “on”! Keep reading for the suggested preheat times. 

How long to preheat air fryer? 

Most preheat settings are anywhere from 3-7 minutes, depending on the recipe and the size of your air fryer.  If you have a small air fryer, I recommend preheating for 3-5 minutes and for larger ones. For a larger air fryer, 7 minutes may be necessary. 

Helpful air fryer guides 

Now that you’ve learned what can you cook in an air fryer, check out these air fryer guides!

knife block with an air fryer on white quartz countertop

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