On The Table

A collection of knowledge-based articles to inspire overall wellness.

How to Use an Air Fryer & Healthy Air Fryer Recipes

Healthy air fryer recipes can be a healthy way to make use of a new kitchen staple. Find out how to use an air fryer and some of the best air fryer recipes!

How to Use an Air Fryer & Healthy Air Fryer Recipes

Fried foods are famous for their negative health effects, but have air fryer recipes changed the game? Healthy air fryer recipes, such as air fryer appetizers and air fryer snacks, can be a healthy way to make use of a new kitchen staple.

Our team of experts compiled the ultimate health air fryer guide, including how to use an air fryer, the best air fryer recipes, and what to cook in an air fryer!

How to Use an Air Fryer

More than just hot air, the air fryer mimics all the best parts of fried food without the need for unhealthy methods. It is a versatile appliance, although many people find it intimidating.

Since the air fryer is capable of quick recipes and reheating leftovers in a flash, it is worth learning how to use. Here are simple steps to get started using an air fryer:

1. Use oil to prepare the rack or basket (this step may be optional for some recipes). For healthy recipes, healthy oils like olive are the best.

2. Follow air fryer recipe instructions. It is helpful to use a recipe that was designed for an air fryer. Read the whole recipe to be aware of times that shaking the basket or turning food over might be needed.

3. Do not overfill the basket. This is a common air fryer mistake that can leave air-fried food without its signature crunch.

4. Only use accessories and parts designed for the air fryer to cook the recipe. Other pans or cooking vessels may pose a safety hazard.

5. Carefully clean and store the fryer for future use. Be sure to keep all included accessories and instructions in case they are needed for reference.

One key part of using the air fryer for recipes is to pick foods that are healthy starting out. For example, zucchini fries are a common air fryer favorite because they are nutrient-rich. The air fryer helps add variety to vegetables without squashing the nutritional value with unnecessary added ingredients or fattening frying.

Start with a Familiar Favorite

Trying the air fryer out on an unfamiliar recipe can only make the experience more foreign. Instead, pick a recipe with familiar methods and steps. This allows for an easier experience while acclimating to the fryer's ins and outs.

Pick a Purpose

Many air fryers function as all-purpose appliances. They can do any number of the following functions in a fraction of the time it takes using other methods:

• Roast
• Bake
• Grill
• Fry
• Broil

The availability can get overwhelming in an instant if one option is not selected. Focus on one to start, and each successive experience will make it more comfortable to work with the air fryer.

Explore Pre-Set Functions

Especially on newer models, air fryers may come programmed with straightforward settings. These pre-set functions can save time and energy by reducing manual reading and including simple, easy-to-use settings.

Awareness of the Accessories

Most air fryers come with helpful accessory parts to further increase the versatility of the appliance. Be sure to read the companion materials so that the accessories can be put to use.

Potentially helpful added parts include:

• Multipurpose rack
• Skewers for tiered cooking
• Basket(s)
• Grill pan
• Oven insert
• Free app for phones or tablets

Additional accessories, such as a double rack, may be available for purchase on the company's website. Accessories may also be available at a home goods store. This can have the potential to expand the options as well as increase the capacity of the air fryer.

Browse the Brand's Recipe Book

Modern kitchen appliances commonly include an exclusive recipe book. Since companies try to appeal to health-focused audiences, these recipes are generally designed by chefs, nutrition experts, or dietitians. It can be helpful to look into the recipe book for inspiration or ideas.

Understand Safety Risks & First-time Smells

Like most new appliances, when exposed to heat there can be a burnt plastic smell when the air fryer is first used. Generally, after the first few uses, this goes away.

Read all the included safety materials for the best and safest use. Also, do not leave the fryer unattended until all safety measures have been carefully read and understood.

Proper Care & Cleaning Procedures

Generally, most fryers are made easy to clean. Just take some warm and soapy water, a cloth, and gently clean the fryer and appliances. Be sure to read any instructions specific to the air fryer brand. Burns may occur if the air fryer is cleaned when it is still in use.

Understand which parts of the air fryer are dishwasher-safe as well. Some air fryers have parts that can be put in the dishwasher during clean-up, while other parts are required to be washed by hand. Keep instruction manuals accessible to clear up confusion.

Best Air Fryer Recipes Made Healthy

Beyond cooking with hot air instead of typical deep frying methods, the air fryer can inspire some nutrient-packed meals. Air fryer recipes can even cater to those with food sensitivities or certain preferences. The following entrees are excellent examples.

1. Quick Vegetarian Cauliflower Taco Recipe

No meat? No problem.

Air fryer cauliflower tacos to the rescue! With protein and fiber in every bite, these roasted delights are a welcome addition to taco night.

2. Chicken and Broccoli "Stir-Fry"

For a low-carb but delicious dish, try healthy air fryer chicken and broccoli "stir fry". With healthy oils, low sodium sauces, and seasonings like ginger, healthy does not have to be boring.

Air Fryer Appetizers

The air fryer can cook appetizing side dishes in a flash. Plus, it forgoes deep frying and high amounts of oil often used to cook onion rings, mozzarella sticks, and other apps.

The following air fryer appetizers are sure to be a hit, whether at the dinner table or a dinner party.

Healthy Air Fryer Zucchini Fries

French fries can be overloaded with unhealthy fats and oils. Healthy air fryer zucchini fries, on the other hand, are low-fat lifesavers!

With a total time of 30 minutes, these fries have made appetizers easier than ever!

Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts get a bad rap, but these crispy on the outside yet tender on the inside greens should get the spotlight. For an easy weeknight meal or a side dish for weekend celebrations, air fryer Brussel sprouts are perfect.

Air Fryer Snacks

Finding healthy snacks is a struggle but air fryers make healthy snacks a no-fuss process!

Apple Chips

Easy air fryer apple chips make quick snacks even better. Ingredients? An apple, salt, and some cinnamon. It does not get easier than that!

(Oh, and the total prep and cook time is a quick 15 minutes!)

Roasted Chickpeas

Crunchy ranch-roasted chickpeas can be an excellent way to break in a brand new air fryer. With the recipe designed by a dietitian and ready in just minutes, this chickpea dish is quick and healthy.

The best part? It can be made using canned chickpeas, staple spices, and on-hand healthy oils. What's not to love?

Final Thoughts

Rather than deep frying onion rings, chicken wings, potato wedges, and other fat-filled apps, snacks, and meals give an air fryer a chance!

Not only are you bypassing added oils from a deep fryer, but still provided with delicious favorites sporting golden brown and a desirable texture.


Copper E. Air Fryer: A Healthier Alternative to Oil-Filled Frying. Food & Nutrition. Published March 1, 2018. https://foodandnutrition.org/from-the-magazine/air-fryer-healthier-alternative-oil-filled-frying

Graham T. The Air Fryer for Beginners. Food & Nutrition. Published January 18, 2021.https://foodandnutrition.org/kitchen-tools/the-air-fryer-for-beginners/.

Hunt J. A Whole Lot More Than Hot Air. Food & Nutrition. Published November 11, 2019. https://foodandnutrition.org/blogs/stone-soup/a-whole-lot-more-than-hot-air/.

Zelman K. A Dietitian's Dream: Healthy Fried Food. Published February 6, 2018. https://foodandnutrition.org/blogs/stone-soup/dietitians-dream-healthy-fried-food/.