Gonna fry now: The Takeout’s best air fryer recipes

Gonna fry now: The Takeout’s best air fryer recipes

From tofu to donuts, these are the best foods to make in your air fryer.

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Baltimore Coddies and Saltine Crackers on gray plate with greenery in background
Backyard Baltimore Coddie, anyone?
Photo: Allison Robicelli

We know your kitchen countertop space is precious, and adding another gadget to the mix might seem frivolous. But for all its trendy hype, the air fryer is admittedly a powerful and versatile cooking companion. “Fryer” is a bit of misnomer; it’s really just a small, high-powered convection oven that circulates heat all the way around the food inside its basket, cooking items quickly to achieve a crispy exterior without the added calories and fat in actual fried foods (which are prepared in hot oil). It’s best to think of the air fryer as a tool that can turn just about any food into a crispy, more appetizing version of itself—and these recipes will show you how.

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Ultimate Air Fried Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Ultimate Air Fried Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Ultimate Air-Fried Spicy Chicken Sandwich on white plate against black background
Ultimate Air Fried Spicy Chicken Sandwich
Photo: Allison Robicelli, Graphic: Allison Corr

While it’s true that chicken sandwiches have taken the fast food world by storm, all of the major chains are using breast meat, not thigh meat—and you can do way better. This recipe for the Ultimate Air Fried Spicy Chicken Sandwich starts with juicy, succulent chicken thighs and a marinade of buttermilk and pickle juice. For the breading, we jazz up regular panko bread crumbs by adding in crushed-up sour cream and onion potato chips. After a few minutes in the air fryer, plop each thigh on a brioche bun with the right condiments, and you’ll have a sandwich that rivals anything you can get at Popeyes or Chick-fil-A. Get the recipe for the Ultimate Air Fried Spicy Chicken Sandwich here.

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Air Fried Harissa Mushrooms with Toasted Couscous

Air Fried Harissa Mushrooms with Toasted Couscous

Air Fried Harissa Mushrooms with Toasted Couscous on white plate against colorful background
Air Fried Harissa Mushrooms with Toasted Couscous
Graphic: Allison Corr, Photo: Allison Robicelli

If you’re waffling on whether to get an air fryer, let this recipe be all the convincing you need. While a lot has been written about the crispy, snackable vegetables you can achieve with air frying, it turns out mushrooms are an unexpected power player in the fryer basket, too. After 12-15 minutes of cooking time, these spicy harissa mushrooms are combined with bright lemon juice, toasty couscous, and (of course) garlic for surprisingly satisfying—and photogenic—results. Get the recipe for Air Fried Harissa Mushrooms with Toasted Couscous here.

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Air Fried Corn with Scallions & Miso Butter

Air Fried Corn with Scallions & Miso Butter

Air Fried Corn with Scallions & Miso Butter on white plate against orange confetti background
Air Fried Corn with Scallions & Miso Butter
Graphic: Karl Gustafson, Photo: Allison Robicelli

Corn, when it’s not fresh off the cob during peak season, doesn’t exactly feel like a sexy vegetable. Frozen corn can feel like an afterthought, steamed in the microwave and maybe tossed in some butter. So why not use this simple recipe to turn frozen corn into the best thing you eat today? You can whip this dish up in less than 90 seconds, and your trusty air fryer will turn it into something that borders on miraculous. Get the recipe for Air Fried Corn with Scallions & Miso Butter here.

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Potato-Crusted Air Fried Peas

Potato-Crusted Air Fried Peas

Potato-Crusted Air Fried Peas on white plate against sky-blue background
Potato-Crusted Air Fried Peas
Graphic: Natalie Peeples, Photo: Allison Robicelli

This recipe is the perfect dinnertime solution if you suddenly realize you’ve forgotten to buy groceries—and it’ll actually make you feel grateful for your absentmindedness. The secret ingredient to these peas is instant mashed potatoes, which have the power to turn your greens into the star of the show. Not only can you apply just about any spices to the mix, but you can also apply this technique to lots of other frozen vegetables, such as broccoli, green beans, or okra. What are you waiting for? Get the recipe for Potato-Crusted Air Fried Peas here.

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Air Fried Brussels Sprouts

Air Fried Brussels Sprouts

Air Fried Brussels Sprouts on white plate against green, leafy background
Air Fried Brussels Sprouts
Graphic: Karl Gustafson, Photo: Allison Robicelli

Cooking with frozen Brussels sprouts often results in... well, mush. That’s because they’re waterlogged from the process of being steamed, blanched, flash-frozen, and thawed. But if you cook them with the fast, intense heat of an air fryer, you’ll get sprouts with a nice crispy shell and tender interior. Add some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and these sprouts will be the best thing you eat all year. Get the recipe for Air Fried Brussels Sprouts here.

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Sichuan Cumin Asparagus
Sichuan Cumin Asparagus
Graphic: Libby McGuire

Putting vegetables in an air fryer will make you want to eat them all the time. It will put an end to your struggles of figuring out what to do with vegetables at dinnertime. Even when they’re simply prepared, the air fryer makes them into something worth eating. This recipe, which takes its cues from cumin beef, is so simple that once you gather your ingredients, it takes less than 90 seconds to prepare. Get the recipe for Sichuan Cumin Asparagus here.

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Cheddar Bay Shrimp Croquettes
Cheddar Bay Shrimp Croquettes
Graphic: Karl Gustafson

Anyone who’s been to Red Lobster understands that the Cheddar Bay Biscuits are the best part of the meal. So we’ve taken that winning appetizer and turned it into the main event. These croquettes are golden, crispy, and buttery on the outside, and they’re creamy, oozy, and irresistible on the inside. Best of all, the recipe has a high yield so you can store extra in the freezer to be quickly air fried for future meals. Get the recipe for Cheddar Bay Shrimp Croquettes here.

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Crispy Gnocchi and Raw Tomato Sauce
Crispy Gnocchi and Raw Tomato Sauce
Graphic: Karl Gustafson

Here’s something you probably hadn’t thought to air fry: pasta. The convection heat does something wonderful to gnocchi, which is to say, it transforms each piece into crispy little potato nuggets.” These crunchy bits can be combined with fresh vegetables for a unique textural contrast that no one typically expects from a pasta dish. Get the recipe for Crispy Gnocchi and Raw Tomato Sauce here.

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Baltimore Coddies, served up with Saltine Crackers on gray plate
Baltimore Coddies
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Coddies are something of a budget crab cake. Locals associate the Baltimore Coddie with memories of yesteryear, when you could grab yourself a fresh fried coddie with yellow mustard on a saltine cracker at any corner drugstore, or gorge on big platters of them at weekly church suppers. This version cooks up the cakes in the air fryer, which not only prevents the splattering of hot oil but will also keep your kitchen from smelling like fried fish, if that’s something you’re looking to avoid. Get the recipe for Baltimore Coddies here.

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Garlic Bread Fries on white plate beside bowl of dipping sauce
Garlic Bread Fries
Photo: Allison Robicelli

This recipe is technically two recipes: one for homemade focaccia and one for air fried focaccia. You’re welcome! Focaccia is the bread for bakers who would rather curl up into a ball than tend to a sourdough starter. It’s simple, delicious, and transforms into “fries” when you slice it up and air fry it with oil and spices. It’s a dunkable appetizer that goes great with tomato sauce. Get the recipe for Homemade Focaccia and Garlic Bread Fries here.

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Lemon Pepper Tofu
Lemon Pepper Tofu
Graphic: Karl Gustafson

An air fryer is a great way to make meatless dishes more delectable, and eating less meat is a great way we can all do our part to protect the planet. So, this recipe swaps out chicken for tofu in order to satisfy a craving for wings. How could tofu possibly accomplish this? By starting with the microwave to lend the tofu a meatier, McNugget-y texture and then dredging it in a flavorful breading. Once the tofu’s been fried, it’s covered in melted butter, because we said this recipe was vegetarian, not boring. Get the recipe for Lemon Pepper Tofu here.

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City Chicken
City Chicken
Graphic: Libby McGuire

City Chicken is the most delicious lie we’ll ever tell you. This “chicken” is, in fact, fried breaded pork nuggets. The name comes from the Great Depression, when immigrants living in the Rust Belt could more easily afford pork than chicken and so cooked the former to resemble the latter. It’s typically made on long skewers, but to fit inside the air fryer, individual portions are doled out on toothpicks and served alongside a sweet dipping sauce. Once you drop these into the air fryer, they’re done in under 15 minutes. Get the recipe for City Chicken Nuggets here.

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Air Fryer Bomboloni Doughnuts
Air Fryer Bomboloni Doughnuts
Graphic: Allison Corr

It’s rare that our craving for doughnuts overlaps with our desire to haul a bunch of frying oil onto the stove and hover over its hot surface with a metal spider. So here’s a recipe for air fryer bomboloni, tiny yeast-risen doughnut holes that come out of the convection heat after 5 minutes all sweet and puffy, ready to be slathered in cinnamon sugar, cocoa powder, and Nutella. Get the recipe for Air Fryer Bomboloni Doughnuts here.

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Cream-Ceese-Stuffed “Fried” Plantains
Cream-Ceese-Stuffed “Fried” Plantains
Graphic: Karl Gustafson

This is one of those recipes designed for you to whip up a batch at the start of the week, freeze it, and then drop a portion into the air fryer each morning for a quick breakfast. It’s a play on rellenitos de plátano (stuffed plantain balls) filled with cream cheese and encrusted with sweet, cinnamon-y cornflake crumbs. Traditionally, rellenitos de plátano are fried, but this version lets high convection heat do all the work, leaving you free to enjoy your morning. Get the recipe for Cream-Cheese-Stuffed “Fried” Plantains here.

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Fried Pickled Red Onions
Fried Pickled Red Onions
Graphic: Libby McGuire

Frying pickled red onions is one of those “Why the hell didn’t I think of this before?” revelations, and an air fryer makes it simple enough that you’ll want to cook them again and again. It’s a snack or party appetizer you can serve speared on a toothpick, along with some cilantro ranch dressing on the side. And for those who pride themselves on being thrifty and/or resourceful in the kitchen, the pickling brine can be saved and repurposed, either to make more pickles or to use in salad dressings and marinades. Get the recipe for Fried Pickled Red Onions here.

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