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60 Air Fryer Recipes (Cheap and Easy for Beginners)

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Easy, healthy, and cheap air fryer recipes that are so good, you’ll want to marry them!

Y’all, I’m from the South, and in the South, we fry EVERYTHING! Our motto is, if it’s edible, it’s fry-able!

Unfortunately, frying all of your food in grease and oil can have negative consequences on your long-term health. Who knew?

So…if you’re trying to eat healthier but don’t want to give up all of your favorite foods, an air fryer is the perfect solution. Here are 60 cheap air fryer recipes that are not only easy to make, but are healthy, too!

Psst…if you’re looking to save money on food, check out this list of best cheap foods to buy when broke.

Related: 50 quick ways to save money on groceries (without coupons)

What is an air fryer?

An air fryer is what you’d get if an oven, microwave, and deep fryer had a baby.

Air fryers work in much the same way as the broiler setting on your oven, due to the fact that they cook from the top-down, with the added feature of a fan which circulates the air and helps to cook the food quickly.

The beauty of an air fryer is that it gives you the same results of food cooked in oil (aka, heavenly crunchiness and savory juiciness), without the greasy, fatty, side effects.

Another bonus, air fryers take very little time to preheat and will cook most foods within 15 minutes.

You may even end up ditching your microwave because you can heat most foods quickly in an air fryer without the rubbery consistency.

If you like your food crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, you NEED an air fryer!

Different types of air fryers

A quick search for ‘air fryers’ will yield you a plethora of choices. Allow me to simplify things a bit…

Basket air fryers

Basket-style air fryers are the most popular type of air fryer. They are designed with a basket (similar to deep fryers) to hold the food which slides into the cooking unit.

Air fryers with baskets are usually a bit smaller than ‘oven’ style air fryers, thus, they cook less food at a time.

Best basket air fryer: Dash Deluxe Electric Air Fryer

Dash Deluxe Air Fryer

6 QUART CAPACITY: The PERFECT appliance for picky eaters, large families, entertaining, or those with busy schedules The 6qt basket makes an abundance of appetizers, desserts, chicken wings, french fries, or even baked goods, and all within minutes of setting the timer – it couldn’t be easier

Air fryer [countertop] ovens

Air fryer ovens are alot like a mini convection oven and are designed to cook larger amounts of food in a short period of time.

Most air fryer ovens include bake, air fry, broil, and toast options.

Best countertop oven air fryer: Ninja Foodie 8-in-1

Ninja Foodi 8-in-1

Xl capacity: 45% larger usable pan cooking area vs. The flat surface area of the Cuisinart toa-60 and toa-65 pan. Fits a 13 Pizza, up to 9 slices of toast or 6 chicken breasts (6–8 oz. Each)

Multi-cookers with air fry capabilities

If you don’t currently have a pressure cooker, slow cooker, or air fryer and are not sure which one to get first, opt for a multi-cooker that offers an all-in-one cooking experience.

Best multi-cooker: Instant Pot Duo Crisp Pressure Cooker

Instant Pot Duo Crisp Pressure Cooker

11-In-1 One-Touch Cooking Programs: Put cooking on autopilot with delicious results; Pressure cooks, Sautes, steams, slow cooks, sous vides, warms, air fries, roasts, bakes, broil and dehydrates

Air fryer sizes

Air fryers range in size from 1 quart (perfect for individual portions) all the way up to 26-quart models that cook family-sized meals.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the size of air fryer you may need:

  • 1-person: 1-2 quarts
  • 2-3 people: 2-3.5 quarts
  • 4-6 people: 3.5-6 quarts
  • 6 or more people: 6+ quarts

Trying to decide between an air fryer or pressure cooker? Now, you can have both! With an Instant Pot air fryer conversion lid!

Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid

Turn your instant pot into an air fryer: With one quick switch, unlock a whole new set of cooking techniques that allow you to crisp food right in your IP with the Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid

Air fryer pros and cons

Pros

  • Healthier than frying in oil
  • Quick-cooking
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Take up counter space
  • Learning curve
  • Food must fit in the basket

Air fryers won’t heat up your kitchen like ovens do, are easier to clean, and preheat much faster.

Now, onto the recipes!

Chicken air fryer recipes

The best way to cook chicken in an air fryer is to first coat it in some type of oil [olive oil works best], then rub in any dry seasonings. If you’d like, you can marinate the chicken ahead of time, however, it is not necessary. Add sauce at the end of the cooking time for best results.

Air Fryer Chicken and BroccoliEat Better Recipes

Chick-fil-A Copycat Chicken SandwichStay Snatched

Bang Bang ChickenMunchkin Time

Crispy [air] Fried ChickenGimmie Delicious

Buffalo Chicken WingsFood Network

Garlic Parmesan Chicken WingsDr. Davinah’s Eats

Simple Chicken BreastsSimply Happy Foodie

General Tso’s ChickenKleinworth & Co

BBQ Chicken Wrapped In BaconWalking on Sunshine Recipes

Pineapple ChickenEveryday Family Cooking

Beef air fryer recipes

The key to cooking perfect steaks in an air fryer is to marinade (and drain) or dry rub the steak ahead of time, set the air fryer to the correct temperature necessary to achieve required ‘doneness’, flip the steak halfway through, and use a meat thermometer to avoid overcooking.

Here are the recommended air fryer temperature settings for steak:

  • 125o F for rare
  • 135o F for medium-rare
  • 145o F for medium
  • 150o F for medium-well

Steak Bites with MushroomsBest Recipe Box

Loaded Mini Meatloaf Who Needs A Cape

Best Ever MeatloafFood Lovin Family

Roast Beef with Herbed CrustGrumpy’s Honeybunch

Perfect Steak Whole Kitchen Sink

Korean BBQ Beef Air Fryer Fanatics

Taco Stuffed PeppersFoodtastic Mom

Air Fryer BurgersNoshtastic

Country Fried SteakBelly Laugh Living

Steak & Asparagus RollupsBell’alimento

Fish & seafood air fryer recipes

Whether your cooking breaded, frozen, or fresh fish, air fryers make a healthy food even healthier.

Perfect Air Fryer SalmonThe Kitchn

Coconut ShrimpFeel Good Foodie

Bang Bang ShrimpMunchkin Time

Southern Fried CatfishThis Old Gal

Fish and ChipsSpend with Pennies

Whitefish with Garlic and Lemon PepperAir Fryer World

Citrus Soy SalmonJZ Eats

Shrimp TacosTasty Air Fryer Recipes

Keto Fish Sticks – How 2 Do Keto

Tilapia with Garlic and HerbsFinding Zest

Vegetable air fryer recipes

The key to yummy, air fried vegetables is adding just a smidge of oil, and lots of seasonings. You can’t go wrong with garlic and parmesan!

Brussel Sprouts with Bacon Fabulessly Frugal

Cauliflower TotsDelish

Corn on the CobThe Typical Mom

Taco Flavored Chickpeas The Typical Mom

Buffalo Roasted CauliflowerLiving Locurto

Garlic Parmesan Carrot FriesKinda Healthy Recipes

Roasted Vegetable MedleyBrooklyn Active Mama

Garlic Parmesan ZucchiniCooks Well With Others

Air Fryer AsparagusJulie’s Eats and Treats

Sweet Potato ChipsVegan in the Freezer

Dessert air fryer recipes

Not all air fryer desserts are bad for you! Check out the air fryer keto recipes further down in the list if you are trying to cut carbs.

Best Homemade Cannoli Delish

French Toast SticksLove Bakes Good Cakes

5-Minute Cinnamon Sugar DonutsKitchen Fun With My 3 Sons

Churro Apple Pie BombsMiss in the Kitchen

Molten Lava CakeMy Forking Life

Air Fryer OreosCourtney’s Sweets

Deep-Fried SnickersFood is a Four-Letter Word

Fried Ice CreamLittle Cooks Reading Books

Keto Cinnamon Roll BitesKimspired DIY

Keto Fried Cheesecake BitesEasy Keto Dishes

More air fryer recipes

Snacks and appetizers that will satisfy your crunchy, savory, tangy, and sweet tooth!

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno PoppersBerry & Maple

Honey Mesquite Pork ChopsSkinny Southern Recipes

Beef Jerky Snack Girl

Fried PicklesStay Snatched

Toasted RavioliAn Affair From the Heart

Crab RangoonThe Salted Pepper

Keto Fried CheesesticksHip 2 Keto

Blooming OnionUpstate Ramblings

Banana ChipsThe Happier Homemaker

Egg RollsSustainable Cooks

What are the best foods to cook in an air fryer?

The best foods to cook in an air fryer are basically anything you’d normally cook in an oven or deep fryer. You can cook anything from frozen foods to meats, veggies, and even cakes and cookies.

Oh, and if you want anything melted, just pop it in an air fryer real quick.

There’s a bit of a learning curve to mastering the art of air fryer cooking, but with a little practice, and the right cookbook, you’ll be a pro in no time.

Trust me, once you’ve tasted the difference between chicken cooked in an air fryer versus chicken cooked in the oven, you’ll never look back!

Can you cook a full meal in an air fryer?

With a large enough model, you can absolutely cook an entire meal (meat & sides) in an air fryer. When you’re done with that you can even make a sheet of cookies for dessert.

Can you cook frozen meat in an air fryer?

Yes, you can cook frozen meat in an air fryer, although, it will (of course) take a little longer to cook.

BTW: this is terrific news for those of us who find ourselves at 5:00 with nothing defrosted for dinner…

Can you put foil in an air fryer?

Yes, you can put foil in an air fryer, as long as you put it in the correct place.

Here are a few need-to-know tips for using foil in an air fryer:

  • DO-place the foil in the cooking basket
  • DON’T-place the foil in the grease collection tray
  • DO-only place the foil directly underneath food (which will weigh it down)
  • DON’T-allow foil to sit in the cooking basket uncovered. (It can get sucked into the heating element and cause a fire)
  • DO-Poke holes in the foil to ensure proper air/heat circulation
  • DON’T-cook acidic foods (citrus, tomato-based) on foil as this will cause the foil to break down

When in doubt, just pick up some cheap air fryer liners and skip the aluminum foil.

Cheap Air Fryer Recipes Final Thoughts

Air fryers are such a versatile kitchen gadget, I am amazed they took so long to catch on! If you’re looking to prepare cheap, healthy food fast, an air fryer is definitely a worthwhile investment. These cheap air fryer recipes are so easy, you can skip the fast-food drive-thru!

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