When I was 9 years old, there was nothing more magical to me than the workings of my early 2000s, Santa-gifted Easy Bake Oven. Looking back, I should have been more suspicious of whipping up questionably edible baked goods in an electric toy approved for ages eight and up, but let’s be real: that toy oven was my one-way ticket to independently-made cakes, brownies, and cookies that I could use to barter with my siblings in exchange for Nintendo DS games and parting ways with my parent-sanctioned chores. What can I say? I was an entrepreneur.
My Easy Bake Oven and I lost touch over the years, but my fascination for kitchen tools that can seemingly defy gravity has remained. So, when I was introduced to the art of the air fryer, I was one happy camper. I couldn’t wait to make mozzarella sticks, buffalo cauliflower bites, and salmon galore, and once I did, I was addicted. I (unsurprisingly) ended up on air fryer TikTok. I added an air fryer cookbook to my ever-growing collection. I look at innocent foods and think to myself, can I air fry that? Out of all of the air fryer recipes I anticipated creating, these are the ones that have surprised me the most and have absolutely swept me off my feet.
Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs
Meal prepping for salads, breakfasts, and snack time has never been easier. I’ve never been a huge fan of stovetop hard-boiled eggs (something about waiting for water to boil really takes years off of my life) so when I found out that you could “hard boil” eggs in an air fryer, I was elated. For hard-boiled eggs, air fry for 13 minutes. For medium-boiled eggs, set the timer for 11 minutes. If you’re a fan of soft-boiled eggs, pop them in for just nine minutes. They come out perfect every time and are incredibly easy to peel.
Sweets and Treats
Donuts and apple pie and s’mores, oh my! If you’re like me and have a major sweet tooth, you’ll be pumped about this one. Skip the oven or the microwave—your air fryer is here to save the day with quick preheat time, hands-off cooking, and warm, gooey, yet crispy goodness. I can’t tell which I want to make first: these churros which will be eaten in one sitting or these funnel cakes. Or should I opt for these perfectly chocolatey brownies? I truly can’t decide.
Your favorite frozen foods just got an absolute upgrade. I’m talking to you, Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi. Until I tried these in the air fryer, I wasn’t a huge fan. They were mushy AF, collapsed under any sauce, and just didn’t do it for me. But once I crisped them up in the air fryer, I finally understood the hype! When I did, the door for other foods in my freezer busted wide open. Totino’s pizza rolls? 380 degrees for six minutes. Dino nugs? 400 degrees for five minutes. Tater tots? 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Mushy, sad microwave snacks? Never heard of them.
Cooking bacon is always an adventure in my household and, time and time again, I vow to myself that my current attempt will be the last time that I try. If I opt for it stovetop, I end up with enough grease to fill a standard canoe which chars my bacon in my efforts to crisp it (let’s not mention the embarrassing amount of burns I’ve sustained in the process). In the microwave, it just doesn’t get crispy enough. And while a griddle might be a better option, the lack of space in my one-bedroom apartment just does not allow for that.
When I heard I could achieve crispy bacon with a hands-off approach, I was all ears. I threw my last batch of bacon in the air fryer, hoped for the best, and waited anxiously to see if making crispy bacon sans injury and obnoxious cleanup would be a reality. When I pulled them out of the basket I may have shed a singular tear. 10/10 will make again.
You’ve heard of three-ingredient bagels, but have you heard of three-ingredient bagels in the air fryer? Enjoy the perks of minimal ingredients, add the bonus of quicker cook time, and boom. This is by far the easiest way to enjoy fresh bagels in the comfort of your own home.
Spongey, bland tofu, be gone! Disclaimer: before I fell in love with my air fryer, I had beef with tofu (excuse the dad joke, I am who I am). As much as I wished to expand my palate and wanted to like it, I just couldn’t get behind the taste or texture. Once I learned that the air fryer and tofu play nicely together, the game was changed for me. Throwing tofu into the air fryer is the perfect way to crisp it up to achieve a new-and-improved texture that tofu haters won’t even be able to deny. Whether you opt for honey garlic, ginger soy, or sweet sriracha, you’ll be overjoyed to rediscover tofu and add it to the top of your favorite food list.