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

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

Just a few of the appetizers, entrees, and desserts you can make with an air fryer.
Just a few of the appetizers, entrees, and desserts you can make with an air fryer.
Graphic: Karl Gustafson, Allison Corr

If your kitchen countertop space is precious, then adding another gadget to the mix might sound 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). So, while the air fryer will never create dead-ringer fried chicken, it 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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Sichuan Cumin Asparagus

Sichuan Cumin Asparagus

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

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. Read more about Cheddar Bay Shrimp Croquettes here.

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Crispy Gnocchi and Raw Tomato Sauce

Crispy Gnocchi and Raw Tomato Sauce

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

Baltimore Coddies

Baltimore Coddies
Baltimore Coddies
Graphic: Rebecca Fassola

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

Garlic Bread Fries

Garlic Bread Fries
Garlic Bread Fries
Graphic: Allison Corr

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

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

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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Bomboloni Doughnuts

Bomboloni Doughnuts

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. Learn how to make Air Fryer Bomboloni Doughnuts here.

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Cream-Cheese-Stuffed “Fried” Plantains

Cream-Cheese-Stuffed “Fried” Plantains

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

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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