3 Healthy, Tasty Air Fryer Recipes

These widely popular appliances can do a lot more than just make french fries

When you shop through retailer links on our site, we may earn affiliate commissions. 100% of the fees we collect are used to support our nonprofit mission. Learn more.

Snacking-time chickpeas (see recipe, below)

The word fried means cooked in hot fat or oil, and it has become synonymous with “bad for you." Fried fish, fried chicken, fried potatoes—all favorite American foods, all dishes that people who are trying to eat healthy attempt to keep to a minimum.

Enter the air fryer. Sales of this trendy kitchen gadget reached 4 million last year in the U.S., according to market research from NPD Group, a 10-fold increase over the last two years.

Touted as a healthier alternative to deep frying, air frying turns out crispy food, using very little, if any, oil. Technically, air fryers don’t fry— they’re countertop convection ovens, so you put your food in the fryer’s basket and a fan circulates very hot air to cook the food quickly, from the outside in.

More on Healthy Cooking

“In the beginning, I used to just use my air fryer for tater tots and french fries,” says author Roxanne Wyss, who co-wrote, with Kathy Moore, the new cookbook, “The Easy Air Fryer Cookbook” (The American Diabetes Association, 2019). “But I became the biggest convert once I started trying foods like fish and vegetables. It opened up a whole new world.”

Wyss says that air frying vegetables intensifies their flavor, much like roasting does, and makes them appealingly crunchy, like snack foods. “In some of our recipes we suggest you just very lightly spritz the food with a vegetable oil spray. But in many of our recipes, we found that we could get great flavor even without that step.”

The appliance has other potential advantages, too. “Air frying is much quicker than traditional cooking, and you don't have to preheat the oven,” says Wyss. Cleanup is also easier.

To get started using your air fryer to cook healthier foods, try the recipes from “The Easy Air Fryer Cookbook” below. And for tips on finding the best air fryer for you, check CR’s air fryer ratings and buying guide.

Snacking-Time Chickpeas

(shown above)

1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

Nonstick cooking spray

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves

½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

Pour the chickpeas into a medium bowl. Using a paper towel, pat the chickpeas dry. Spray the chickpeas with the nonstick cooking spray for 2 seconds and toss to coat the chickpeas evenly. Pour the chickpeas into the air fryer basket.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the garlic powder, thyme leaves, pepper, and cayenne; set aside.

3. Set the temperature to 375°F and air fry for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the chickpeas are golden brown and crisp, shaking the air fryer basket every 5 minutes. Midway through the cooking, spray the chickpeas with nonstick cooking spray for 1 second.

4. Pour the hot chickpeas into a bowl. Immediately toss the chickpeas with the seasoning. (Doing so when the chickpeas are hot helps the seasonings adhere.) Serve warm, or allow the crisp chickpeas to cool and dry completely, then store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 80 calories, 1.5 g fat, 0.2 g sat. fat, 13 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 4 g protein, 0 mg sodium

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

3 cups bite-size cauliflower florets

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

3 tablespoons whole-wheat panko bread crumbs

2 tablespoons wing sauce

In a medium bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with the olive oil, garlic powder, and panko bread crumbs.

2. Place the cauliflower in the air fryer basket. Set the temperature to 400°F and air fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Shake the basket. Air fry for 2 to 4 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender and the edges are crisp.

3. Transfer the cauliflower to a serving bowl and toss with the wing sauce. Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 70 calories, 4 g fat, 0.6 g sat. fat, 9 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 3 g sugars, 3 g protein, 130 mg sodium.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

1⁄3 cup low-fat buttermilk

1⁄4 teaspoon hot sauce

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, all fat discarded, cut in half lengthwise

6 tablespoons cornflakes

3 tablespoons stone-ground cornmeal

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Nonstick cooking spray

In a deep bowl, stir together the buttermilk and hot sauce. Place the chicken in the buttermilk mixture. Allow to stand 15 minutes.

2. Place the cornflakes into the work bowl of a food processor. Process until coarse crumbs form. Add the cornmeal, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper and pulse until evenly mixed. Pour the crumbs into a shallow bowl.

3. Drain the chicken, allowing the excess buttermilk to drip back into the bowl. Coat the chicken pieces evenly in the cornflake mixture. Place the coated chicken pieces on a wire rack.

4. Place the chicken in the air fryer basket. Do not crowd the chicken. Many air fryer baskets can comfortably hold this chicken, but others cannot. If your air fryer basket is smaller, it is better to cook half of the chicken, then repeat with the remaining chicken.

5. Spray the chicken with nonstick cooking spray for 2 seconds. Set the temperature to 375°F and air fry for 7 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces. Air fry for an additional 7–10 minutes or until the chicken is done and a meat thermometer inserted in the center registers 165°F.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 160 calories, 3.5 g fat, 0.8 g sat. fat, 7 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugars, 24 g protein, 190 mg sodium

Editor's Note: These recipes are from The Easy Air Fryer Cookbook by Kathy Moore and Roxanne Wyss, ©2019. Published by the American Diabetes Association.

3 Impressive Air Fryers From CR's Tests

Our tests of two dozen air fryers found that all can turn out nicely cooked food (though it doesn't taste deep-fried). The real differences among air fryers comes down to convenience, and that's how we test them. These three high-scoring air fryers differ in several ways, which you'll see in our air fryer ratings.

Cooking With Countertop Appliances

Countertop appliances have come a long way over the years. On the "Consumer 101" TV show, Consumer Reports expert Sara Morrow shows host Jack Rico how it's possible to cook an entire meal without using your oven or range.