2020 was the year of the air fryer and by now, most of you probably already own one—or are almost done saving up for it. This small, countertop-perfect appliance caught a lot of hype among busybodies in the kitchen for the convenience that it offers. It’s basically a mini oven, but one of the pros we found out about using air fryers is that it heats up really fast—perfect for those who hate waiting when doing kitchen duties.
America’s Test Kitchen executive tasting and testing editor Lisa McManus also says that an air fryer “distributes heat more evenly and suspends food in a perforated basket.” It produces more ideal textures in certain dishes as well, especially those which require a certain level of crispiness.
I’ve seen friends use their air fryers for cooking fried chicken, dumplings and French fries, and some even use it to bake cookies. If you’re an air fryer owner (or a prospective one) looking for some surprising dishes you can make using this device, here’s a list of recipes you can try.
Burnt Basque cheesecake
Who would’ve thought that the delicate-looking burnt Basque cheesecake can be easily made with the use of an air fryer? The recipe stays the same, but instead of an oven, you can bake the cheesecake in an air fryer at 180 degrees Celsius for 18 to 21 minutes or until it turns golden brown.
In traditional Filipino settings, lechon is skewered on bamboo while being roasted over charcoal—a process which usually takes hours before being completed. The result is a satisfyingly flavorful and tender pork dish with crispy skin, which makes the wait worth it. But what if we told you that you can cook lechon quicker using an air fryer? Try it yourself by taking a slab of pork belly and some lemongrass, green onion, bay leaves and rosemary for stuffing.
The crispiness of taco shells can be achieved by an air fryer. Air fryer users even say that the process involves less oil and mess but produces a crunchier result, all done in under an hour of combined preparation and cooking time. Other tortilla-wrapped dishes that you can make in this cooking device are fajitas, turnovers, chimichangas and quesadillas.
If tacos can be cooked in an air fryer, then so can lumpia. These spring rolls, whether ubod or shanghai, are typically deep-fried in a pan or skillet, but it’s doable using air fryers, too. Just make sure not to overcrowd your fry basket and flip the lumpia midway through cooking to ensure that both sides are thoroughly done.
And since we’re also talking about wrapped food that you can cook in an air fryer, why not try the crowd favorite local merienda turon, too?
Char siu is a roasted Chinese dish known for its sweet and salty marinade and enticing appearance made possible by its sticky glaze. Unlike the other food in this list, crispiness is not important for char siu; in fact, keeping the meat tender is. Cooking it in an air fryer achieves that easily, and the process even keeps the meat juicy and the skin charred but not dried out.
As shown by the burnt Basque cheesecake, air fryers are quite handy as a baking tool. Doughnuts are among the popular pastries being “air baked” using this kitchen appliance. You can make one that rivals its baked or deep-fried store bought equivalent from scratch, or you can choose to imitate your favorite coffee or pastry shop’s glazed doughnuts. Do note, however, that doughnuts made using an air fryer may dry out faster than deep-fried ones because it contains less oil.
Humans aren’t the only ones who can enjoy treats cooked in an air fryer—dogs can, too. Make a ground beef patty in your air fryer for your furry friend, just like this one from Air Fryer Guy in one of his viral Instagram videos.
With the variety of dishes that can be made using an air fryer—from breakfast food to snacks and desserts, we can totally see why this handy and versatile tool has become immensely popular. Although quite pricey, it seems to be worth every penny once you figure out how to maximize it. We mean, you can literally put anything in an air fryer and get a delectable dish… except maybe, cotton candy?