Air Fryer 101: Tips, Tricks, and Recipes

air fryer wonton
Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook

Been wondering about an air fryer? You can now find this trendy appliance everywhere from bargain stores to high-end culinary shops. Find out what all the hype is about and decide if you should add this hot kitchen appliance to your must-have list.

What the Heck Is an Air Fryer?

This powerful gadget uses the power of convection heat to cook food to crispy perfection with less fat and calories. A steady stream of hot air circulates around the food to allow for even cooking and 360 degrees of crunchy texture.

Contrary to popular statements about air fry cooking, food doesn't taste “just like fried”—it tastes better because instead of grease, you taste the ingredients.

Benefits of Air Frying

Air frying allows for traditionally fried foods to be made with a fraction of the fat and calories. Instead of drowning foods in a vat of oil, most recipes call for only a light coating of cooking spray or a few teaspoons of oil mixed into a breadcrumb coating. You can shave hundreds of calories off an order of chicken wings and make French fries with 75 percent less fat. Air fryer cooking is also super fast, which allows for nutrients to be retained. In addition to cooking the expected list of fried alternatives, the air fryer can also be used to prepare egg dishes, breads, cakes, and even grilled meats. It’s also pretty darn easy to use. Most recipes call for minimal ingredients and swift cooking times.

Does Your Family Need an Air Fryer?

Air fryers typically come in two sizes, standard and a larger “XL” model.

Units are lightweight but still take up a decent amount of counter top real estate. They are about three-quarters the height of a Vitamix and three-quarters the width of a slow cooker. The XL models have more room for making bigger batches of food, but the machine takes up even more counter space. Temperature controls and other widgets are available in manual or touch screen models and vary in price from as little as $50 to $250 for an standard size and just over $300 for a XL model.

Units often come with a wire wrack insert for multi-layered cooking. Accessories such as baking pans and specialized utensils are also available. A separate baking pan is helpful especially for making dips, cakes, egg dishes, and small casseroles.

Are you sold yet? Use this checklist of pros and cons to decide if it’s time for you to get on the air fryer bandwagon.

Pros: Quick cooking, convenient, healthier way to make fried favorites, versatile

Cons: Takes up counter space, some models have a high price point, standard models are on the smaller side, and may require batch cooking.

Easy Air Fryer Recipes

Just about any recipe can be adjusted for preparation in the air fryer. The Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook Features 100 recipes complete with nutritional info and includes everything from chicken wings to breakfast sandwiches to glazed donuts. Here are two sample recipes adapted from the "Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook."

BBQ Wontons

(makes 20 pieces)

  • 2 tbsp grated carrots
  • 2 tbsp grated zucchini
  • ¼ cup diced cooked chicken
  • 1 tbsp pickled jalapenos, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tsp barbecue sauce
  • 20 wonton wrappers
  • 1 tbsp canola oil

Preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees F. Wrap the grated carrots and zucchini in a paper towel and squeeze out excess liquid.

In a large bowl, combine the carrots, zucchini, chicken, jalapenos, cream cheese, and barbecue sauce. Place a tablespoon of the filling in the center of the wonton wrapper. Apply a small amount of water along the edges of the wrapper to help seal it, then fold in a triangle. If the wrappers are coated with flour, place the filling on the floured side). Repeat the process with the remaining wontons and place on a plate, covering with a damp paper towel. Before cooking, brush each with canola oil.
Spray the air fryer baking pan with nonstick cooking spray, then place 5 wontons in the pan and cook for 4 minutes, or until golden brown.

Repeat this process with the remaining wontons. Remove the wontons from the fryer and allow to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before serving.

Strawberry Shortcake
(serves 4)

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1 tbsp plus, 2 tsp. sugar granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp cold unsalted butter, diced
  • ½ cup low fat buttermilk
  • Whipped cream, for serving


Preheat the air fryer to 300 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine strawberries and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Set aside. In a separate medium bowl, whisk remaining sugar, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the butter, then use clean hands or a pastry cutter to combine ingredients and break butter into small pieces. Slowly pour in the buttermilk and mix until dough comes together; it will be sticky! Spray the air fryer baking pan with nonstick cooking spray, then pour the mixture into the pan, spreading and pressing it into an even layer. Cook for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the shortcake from the fryer and allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Add the strawberries and 2 tablespoons of whipped cream on top before cutting and serving.

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