Easy Fast-Food Copycat Recipes You Can Make in an Air Fryer

Copycat Recipes for Your Air Fryer

Cheapism / Spicy Chicken Sandwich by alanagkelly (CC BY-SA) / Crunchwrap by Alpha (CC BY-NC)

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Four spicy air fried chicken thighs in an air fryer
Cavan Images/istockphoto

Countertop Convenience

It seems like everyone has an air fryer these days, whether it's for convenience or health reasons. You can cook practically anything in them, though some things turn out better than others. Since fast food is full of fried goodies, copycat recipes for your favorite drive-thru French fries, chicken sandwiches, and nuggets turn out beautifully in an air fryer or countertop convection oven.  

Image of golden brown, fresh crunchy French fries / chunky chips cooked in air fryer, healthier alternative to snack cooking

Copycat McDonald's French Fries

The fries are arguably the best item at McDonald's, but the cost and calories add up if you eat them often. This recipe brines the uncooked fries in a mix of salt, vinegar, and beef stock, which gives it that throwback flavor when the chain used beef tallow for frying. Make sure you only cook a single layer of fries at a time and shake the basket occasionally so they don't stick together.

Recipe: Fork to Spoon 

Crunchwrap by Alpha (CC BY-NC)

Air Fry Crunchwrap Supreme

Impress your Taco Bell-loving family with homemade Crunchwraps. Most recipes call for crisping them up in a pan or panini press, but you can use an air fryer to get an all-around crispness. Ground beef and beans are the standard filling, but you can use any taco ingredients you like. If your tortillas aren't large enough to cover the whole wrap, use a small tortilla to cover the gap.

Recipe: Hollis Homestead 

Spicy Chicken Sandwich
Spicy Chicken Sandwich by alanagkelly (CC BY-SA)

Air Fryer Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Despite all kinds of newcomers to the chicken sandwich wars, Wendy's spicy chicken is still a top notch sandwich. The chicken in this recipe is double breaded with Frank's Red Hot sauce and a dry mixture that includes pepper, paprika, garlic, and plenty of cayenne for that orange hue. 

Recipe: Fork to Spoon

Related: The Best (and Worst) Fast-Food Spicy Chicken Sandwiches

Spicy Crispy Fried Chicken Burger with  French Fries

Air Fried Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Popeyes took the fast food world by storm when it introduced its fried chicken sandwich. But now that the novelty has worn off, making it at home seems like a better option. The chicken marinade is made with pickle juice and hot sauce, and the breading includes smoked paprika, cayenne, and Old Bay. Spraying the breaded chicken before cooking will ensure it cooks evenly and looks delicious.

Recipe: The Sassy Foodie 

Related: Fast Food Dishes With Downright Obsessive Followings

Chicken Fries
Chicken Fries by theimpulsivebuy (CC BY-SA)

Burger King Chicken Fries

Burger King's thin chicken fries are fun to eat whether you're a kid or adult. If you'd rather avoid processed chicken, try this recipe for air fryer chicken fries. They're essentially breadcrumb-coated chicken fingers, but the chicken is sliced into much thinner fry-like strips. Because they're so skinny, they take no time at all to cook. 

Recipe: The Typical Mom

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Egg muffins ( bites) and spinach leaves  in a plate on a gray background

Air Fryer Starbucks Egg Bites

Sous-vide egg bites are a hit at Starbucks, but most people don't have the equipment to sous-vide themselves at home. With an air fryer, all you need is a silicone egg mold or some small oven-proof cups to cook them in. You can add any fillings you like, and even have your family members create their own in the same batch so everyone's happy.

Recipe: Spend With Pennies

Related: How to Satisfy Your $5 Starbucks Habit at Home

breaded chicken file on airfryer
Leticia Markman/istockphoto

Fried Chicken KFC Copycat

KFC's 11 secret herbs and spices are its trademark, and this copycat fried chicken recipe uses 11 of them as well, including mustard powder and celery salt. A long, 24-hour soak in buttermilk ensures the chicken is nice and juicy. Putting parchment paper on the bottom of the air fryer is a good technique to avoid sticking and makes cleanup easier.

Recipe: Dine Dream Discover

Air frying homemade chicken nuggets

Chick-fil-A Nuggets

It's a well-known secret that Chick-fil-A's fried chicken has a bit of dill pickle flavor. You can get that easily at home by brining the chicken in the liquid from a jar of dill pickles, as this recipe does. Along with buttermilk, it helps tenderize and flavor the breast meat while garlic, pepper, and paprika season the breading. There's even Chick-fil-A sauce included in this recipe to match the whole experience.

Recipe: Sunday Supper Movement

Related: Copycat Recipes You Can Now Make at Home


Air Fryer Taco Bell Taquitos

These Taco Bell-style taquitos are so simple that even the kids can make them. Cooked, shredded chicken is mixed with taco seasoning, then spread out over a flour tortilla. Add some cheese, roll it up, and get it nice and crunchy in the air fryer. Spray the basket with cooking spray so they don't stick.

Recipe: Kitchen Divas 

Potato wedges inside air fryer. Best way to fry potatoes without oil.
Jogy Abraham/istockphoto

KFC Copycat Potato Wedges

Were you as disappointed as most people when KFC got rid of potato wedges for French fries? Now you can make them in your air fryer to satisfy your craving. The key is to lightly bread them, just like the chain's chicken, to get that crunch on the outside. A hefty dose of seasoned salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika get the flavor pretty close to the original.

Recipe: My Forking Life

grilled chicken fillets on wooden cutting board

Chipotle Chicken Copycat

The ingredients in all of Chipotle's recipes are listed right on its website, so it's easy to reverse engineer home-cooked meals to taste like your favorite burrito bowl. This recipe for the chain's chicken includes garlic, chipotle peppers, cumin, and oregano, and also has instructions for grilling, stovetop, and oven cooking as well.

Recipe: Budget Delicious  

Apple Pie
Apple Pie by Michael Huang (CC BY-NC)

Air Fryer Copycat McDonald's Apple Pie

Who says you can't air fry desserts? Though it may sound complicated, this is one of the easiest recipes on the list. Just use a premade pie crust cut into rectangles, fill it with canned apple pie filling, and seal with egg wash. A sprinkle of cinnamon sugar before cooking turns the sweet addition into a crispy and shimmering topping.

Recipe: Sparkles to Sprinkles

Female hands opening an Egg

Copycat McDonald's Egg McMuffin

Heading to the drive-thru every morning really adds up. Make your egg McMuffins at home instead. They freeze beautifully wrapped in parchment paper and stored in a Ziploc bag and only take a couple minutes in the microwave to get all hot and melty from frozen. The only special tools you'll need are egg rings, but you can often find them at second hand shops.

Recipe: Kudos Kitchen by Renee

crispy chicken sandwich with bacon close up

Air Fryer Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich

If it's a Sunday — or you don't appreciate where the chain's founders stand ideologically — you can make a great version of a Chick-fil-A sandwich in your air fryer. Like many recipes, this one begins with a dill pickle brine, and feel free to soak it overnight for the most flavor. A little powdered sugar in the breading helps it brown since it's not being deep fried.

Recipe: This Old Gal

Orange Chicken
Orange Chicken by jeffreyw (CC BY)

Air Fryer Panda Express Orange Chicken

The signature orange chicken at Panda Express is everyone's favorite dish there, but it's super unhealthy to eat more than occasionally. This air fryer version is really simple and doesn't contain nearly as much sugar, fat, or sodium. The chicken pieces are simply coated in cornstarch before cooking, which helps the homemade sauce of orange juice, soy, and ginger adhere.

Recipe: Everyday Family Cooking

Related: How to Make 24 Fast Food Sauces with Copycat Recipes

Image of golden brown, fresh, crunchy, homemade, battered chicken nuggets cooked in air fryer, Chinese meal, healthier alternative to snack cooking, elevated view

Copycat Popeye's Chicken Strips

Who doesn't love a chicken strip? They're great made in the air fryer, especially when you spray them thoroughly with cooking spray before cooking. A buttermilk and hot sauce marinade makes them extra moist and flavorful, and smoked paprika and chipotle powder gives some heat and smokiness to the breading.

Recipe: Restless Chipotle 

Image of sliced stem of celeriac wedges soak in glass bowl of water on wooden chopping board, celeriac slices, elevated view

Copycat Wingstop Fries

Wingstop's fries are underrated in the fast food world. They're cut from fresh potatoes, and you can do the same at home. This recipe has you soak the potatoes in cold water, which removes some excess starch so they fry up crisp. When they're fresh out of the air fryer, toss them in a large bowl with the fry seasoning so it sticks to the potatoes.

Recipe: Food Lovin' Family 

Nacho Fries
Nacho Fries by NukelarBurrito (CC BY-NC-ND)

Air Fried Taco Bell Nacho Fries

Taco Bell loves to bring back Nacho Fries before taking them away again quickly. This recipe will get you through those off times. The key is a thin coating of potato starch which will help them crisp and the seasoning — which is made with chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika — stick. Though the homemade nacho cheese dipping sauce isn't mandatory, it's definitely recommended.

Recipe: Kitchen Divas

Four spicy air fried chicken thighs in an air fryer
Cavan Images/istockphoto

Copycat Panera BBQ Chicken Salad

You may not expect to find a salad on a list of air fryer recipes, but an air fryer is just a countertop convection oven, so you don't have to cook food that's normally fried in it. This Panera barbecue chicken salad includes Cuban-marinated chicken cooked in an air fryer, plus two dressings made with your favorite barbecue sauce.

Recipe: Food Hussy 

Sweet Fire Chicken
Sweet Fire Chicken by Rore (CC BY-SA)

Panda Express Sweet Fire Chicken Copycat

Unlike the orange chicken recipe, this one for sweet fire chicken at Panda Express uses a heavier breading on the chicken with egg, flour, and cornstarch. (The air fryer directions are under the recipe.) Once it's crunchy, the chicken is bathed in a sweet and slightly spicy sauce with bell peppers, pineapple, and onions.

Recipe: Mama Needs Cake

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