40 Cheap Air Fryer Recipes to Cut Calories Not Flavor

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Air Fryer Magic

There's nothing more frustrating than buying a kitchen gadget, tool or appliance to find that you never use it. Thankfully, that won't be the case for your air fryer, especially once you try some of these highly rated — and creative — recipes. 

Haven't joined the air fryer club yet but would like to? Check out the highly rated Cosori Air Fryer Max, the popular Ninja 9-in-1 Air Fryer and Pressure Cooker or, if you already have an Instant Pot, you can use the Air Fryer Lid to convert your existing multicooker.

Related: 24 Kitchen Accessories You Didn't Know You Needed

Fried Tortellini

Parmesan "Fried" Tortellini

Inexpensive pasta is the heart of this dish billed as "the Italian snack of your dreams."

Recipe: Delish

Fried Chicken
Tatiana Volgutova/istockphoto

Un-Fried Chicken

Fried chicken is a picnic staple, so will Un-Fried Chicken be the next big thing? If you use Trisha Yearwood's recipe, it just might be. One five-star reviewer proclaimed: "One of the best chicken recipes I have ever had."

Recipe: Food Network

Related: 20 Chef Secrets for Crisp, Juicy Fried Chicken


Bob Harper's Air-Fried French Fries

How can you replicate a good french fry? Well, Bob Harper shared his secret with Rachael Ray — and the simplicity will blow you away.

Recipe: Rachael Ray Show


Juicy Air-Fryer Hamburgers

Not only is this a gluten-free recipe, but it also has plenty of enthusiastic tips on preparation, nutrition, and pleasing fussy kids: "I feel like we should drop everything, whip up a batch or two of these juicy burgers and tuck right in. Who's with me?" Um, we are. 

Recipe: Recipes from a Pantry

Related:30 Wild and Wonderful Burger Toppings

Avocado Fries

Crispy Avocado Fries

This air-fried take on traditional fries makes a healthy snack. Even better, these "good-fat" nibbles can be on the table in 15 minutes.

Recipe: Delish

Apple Pies

Fried Apple Pies

Food personality Paula Deen notes that, "As a Southerner, I can't help but love fried foods. Of course, I've had to cut back on them over the past few years — until now! I've got a new way to enjoy my beloved fried foods with less fat and oils: air frying." She shares favorites in her air fryer cookbook, featuring a few on her website including this one, which has our mouths watering.

Recipe: Paula Deen

Related: 20 Essential Baking Tools That Every Aspiring Pastry Chef Needs

Fried Rice
JianGang Wang/istockphoto
Sweet Potato Hash
Fried Turkey Breast
Breakfast Frittata

Breakfast Frittata

Funny how plain old eggs seem special when you give them a fancy name like frittata, right? This version is filled with everyday items you probably already have in your kitchen.

Recipe: Allrecipes

Salmon and Broccoli

5-Ingredient Salmon and Broccoli Stir-Fry

This recipe makes the healthy choice with frozen salmon and reduced-sodium soy sauce. It adds up to a healthy main course at 265 calories and 240mg sodium per serving.

Recipe: Food Network

Mozzarella Sticks

Mozzarella Sticks

The kids will eat only fast-food mozzarella sticks? They'll change their tune once they taste these — and only you will be in on the healthy secret of their prep.

Recipe: Show Me The Yummy

Chicken Tenders

Crumbled Chicken Tenderloins

Forget greasy chicken nuggets from the drive-through window. This recipe offers a healthy (253 calories per serving) alternative that will please the adults, too.

Recipe: Allrecipes

Falafel Burger
Zucchini Parmesan Chips

Zucchini-Parmesan Chips

The crunch and salt factor are high in this snack packed with protein, good fats, vitamin B6, zinc, and calcium — and it takes just five ingredients and around 10-minutes to pull off.

Recipe: Gimme Delicious


Air Fryer Bacon

While this might be the tastiest way to make bacon, the real win has nothing to do with flavor. Instead of getting grease all over the inside of your oven or splattered around your stovetop, this method is not only easy, but makes cleanup a snap. 

Recipe: A Pinch of Healthy

Related:26 Amazing Bacon Dishes Across America

Steak-Lover's Meatloaf
Fried Pickles

Air-Fryer Pickles

Your waistline won't get into a pickle with this snack. This Test Kitchen-approved recipe is a clever at-home alternative to the popular restaurant (and state fair) splurge.

Recipe: Taste of Home

Pork Chops

Pork Chops & Broccoli

Numerous readers have shared this recipe on social media, so it must be pretty tasty. Remember, it's a dish just "cooked all at once for juicy pork chops and toasty roasted broccoli."

Recipe: That Low Carb Life

Rotissiere Chicken
Fried Tofu

Tofu Rancheros With Veggies

Pump up the Mexican flavors with this spin on tofu. Cumin and chili powder give it a kick, and salsa adds even more heat.

Recipe: Healthy Slow Cooking

Fried Catfish

Southern Style Catfish With Green Beans

Wondering if an air fryer can turn out crispy fish? This recipe makes a strong case — and you can have fish with a side of green beans on the table in less than half an hour.

Recipe: Cooking Light 

Related: 45 Comfort Foods for a Cozy Fall Meal

Party Meatballs

Party Meatballs

Surprise your next gathering's guests with this fun and thrifty take on the meatball. Inexpensive ground beef's at the heart of the recipe, but it gets a jolt of flavor from a surprise ingredient – gingersnaps.

Recipe: Recipe This

French Toast Sticks
Eggplant Parmesan

Crispy Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan

Forget deep-frying then baking your eggplant. This air-fryer version of the restaurant favorite uses whole wheat flour and breadcrumbs for an even healthier turn.

Recipe: Watch What U Eat

Steak Bites

Steak Bites and Garlic Mushrooms

Steak cubes, mushrooms, butter … what's not to love? If you cook this popular recipe, remember you have to let the steak rest a few minutes before digging in.

Recipe: Best Recipe Box

Fried Shrimp

Bang Bang Panko Breaded Fried Shrimp

This version of the dish was inspired by a take on bang bang shrimp served at Bonefish Grill, but this keeps things lighter. The spicy chili sauce is served on the side, and the air fryer reduces oil for only 1 gram of fat per serving.

Recipe: Stay Snatched

Egg Rolls

New York Style Egg Rolls (Shrimp & Pork)

Forget the oil leaking through the paper on the way home from the local restaurant. Here's a homemade version of the restaurant favorite has been shared by more than 18,000 Chinese food fans.

Recipe: This Old Gal

Related: 21 Takeout Meals Made Cheaper at Home

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Who knew that the air fryer would work for desserts? Try the old-fashioned charm of this crowd-pleasing dish from Food Network Kitchen, with wheat germ or whole-wheat flour adding a healthy kick.

Recipe: Food Network

Bartosz Luczak/istockphoto

Churros With Chocolate Sauce

A lighter version of the classic churro, this treat features a cinnamon-sugar mixture that delivers the classic crunch. This recipe might take a bit of effort, but results are said to be well worth it. Dieters can skip the chocolate sauce. 

Recipe: Cooking Light

Related:The Best Fried Foods Around the World

Air Fried Vegetables

Air Fried Vegetables

This is a one-size-fits-all recipe for vegetables in the air fryer. It's incredibly straightforward — choose the veggie you prefer, from Brussels sprouts to carrots, cauliflower to broccoli.

Recipe: CookSmarts

Fried Artichoke Hearts

Crispy Artichoke Hearts With Horseradish Sauce

This appetizer or side dish dubbed "seriously delicious" uses frozen artichoke hearts, an easy and inexpensive ingredient that is readily available and easy to find.

Recipe: Health Starts In The Kitchen

Sugar Donuts
Personal Pizzas
Hot Dogs
Snack Mix

Sweet and Salty Snack Mix

You're never going to say you made those Cheez Doodles yourself — but you can impress the afterschool crowd or those at your next cocktail party with this easy snack recipe.

Recipe: Blue Jean Chef

Fried Chickpeas
Apple Chips
Grilled Pineapple

Brazilian Grilled Pineapple

Yes, this dessert contains brown sugar and butter, but its main ingredient is healthy, naturally sweet pineapple. This grill-free dish is said to be "melt-in-your-mouth delicious" by fans, and pineapple is a sweet ending to any meal.

Recipe: Two Sleevers