What is the best thing to fry in an air fryer? Vegetables, hands down. When you air fry veggies, you get the best of both worlds between roasting and frying. Vegetables come out crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, with enhanced flavors that aren’t drowned out by oil. And once you realize how quick and simple it is to cook up savory, crave-able air fryer vegetable recipes right at home, it becomes a lot easier to work veggies—and vegetarian meals—into your weekly menu.
From air fryer French fries to eggplant parm, we’re sharing 15 of our favorite air fryer vegetables recipes and proving once and for all that veggies really are the best thing to come out of this innovative appliance.
Is Cooking Vegetables in an Air Fryer Healthy?
All of us could probably benefit from eating more vegetables. And fortunately, you don’t have to grow your own or eat them raw in order to enjoy all of their healthy benefits.
Air fryers work by circulating air in a heated cooking chamber to crisp up the outside of foods. They also produce something known as a Maillard reaction—the chemical change that browns food and gives it that distinctly caramelized flavor.
Choosing to air fry veggies instead of deep frying or roasting them allows you to get that crunchy caramelization while using significantly less oil (you’ll only need about a tablespoon total, and any extra will drip down into the run-off basket below the cooking chamber). The result is less fat and fewer calories, plus less overall ingestion of vegetable oils, which in high concentrations have been linked to an increased risk of inflammation and heart disease.
When compared to oil-heavy cooking methods, air frying is a healthier alternative that can help you feel like you’re indulging while still cutting out excess fat and calories. To maintain a nutritious balance, pair or alternate air fried vegetables with other clean and green meals, including fresh salads and steamed veg.
Air Fryer Potatoes 3 Ways
We’re kicking off our air fryer vegetable recipes with the king of air fried foods: potatoes. Cooking potatoes in an air fryer is obviously tasty, but it’s also a particularly healthier choice over deep frying. That’s because frying starchy foods like potatoes creates acrylamide, a potentially harmful chemical that the FDA recommends limiting in your diet. By air frying, you can reduce the amount of acrylamide in your fried potatoes by as much as 90%, which is all the more reason to skip the deep fryer and go this route instead.
1. Air Fryer Baked Potato
Take the “baked” out of baked potatoes by making an air fryer baked potato that has all of the greatness of its classic cousin without the need to ever turn on the oven. The skin is subtly salty and expertly crisp, and the toppings are just as endless. What’s not to love?
2. Air Fryer French Fries
If baked fries just aren’t hitting the spot, then it’s time to bring out the air fryer. Season however you’d like, and if you decide to double (or triple) the recipe, be sure to fry in batches so that your French fries come out with just the right texture.
3. Diced Air Fryer Potatoes
Diced potatoes are incredibly versatile and should be a staple of your kitchen if they’re not already. Get them crispy in the air fryer, then top with a runny egg, burrito fixings, or shredded rotisserie chicken and barbecue sauce for a super quick weeknight dinner.
Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts Recipes
Brussels sprouts used to get such a bad rap, but we’ve come a long way from the chewy, boiled Brussels of times past. That aforementioned Maillard reaction does wonderful things for these tiny cabbages, helping you brown Brussels sprouts for a side that’s anything but boring and bland.
4. Brussels Sprouts With Smoky Vegan Mayo
These Brussels sprouts start out frozen before going into the air fryer, making this an ideal dish for those nights when you’re too busy for things like cleaning and chopping vegetables but aren’t in the mood for takeout. Pair them with a tofu-based vegan mayo and vegan “bacon” bits, and you’ve got yourself a healthy side, appetizer, or entrée without any extra fuss.
5. Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts with Garlic, Balsamic, and Soy
You don’t need much more than salt and pepper to make standout Brussels sprouts in the air fryer, but when you want to ramp up the flavor, this recipe is the way to go. Balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and fresh lime juice come together into a syrupy glaze, which is then drizzled over air fried Brussels and garlic. If you’re worried about losing crispness to the sauce, blanch your Brussels sprouts before air frying to keep them firm.
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Air Fryer Broccoli Recipes
Broccoli is another one of the vegetables that can go straight from frozen to air fryer, and that’s a major plus in our book. It’s also especially well-suited to this type of cooking, with the stems getting tender while the broccoli tops get nicely browned. And because you can make them so fast, there really isn’t any excuse anymore not to eat your greens.
6. Air Fryer Broccoli with Spicy Sauce
This Chinese take on air fried broccoli includes a spicy sauce made with Sichuan chili flakes, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. It’s touted as a side dish, but you can turn it into a complete meal by tossing it with some seared tofu or beef when it’s done and serving it over rice.
7. Garlic Lemon Air Fryer Broccoli
Lemon brings out the natural sweetness of broccoli, so it makes sense that they’re such a mouthwatering combination. There are just a handful of simple ingredients in this recipe, including some freshly grated parmesan at the end because of course there is.
Air Fryer Eggplant Recipes
Eggplant can be a tricky vegetable to cook correctly. Do it wrong, and it basically turns to mush on the plate. Do it right, though, and you get a flavor and texture bomb that may be able to convert even the staunchest of eggplant haters. And while deep frying is normally the go-to way to achieve that, air frying is a fantastic alternative—and a beginner-friendly one, too.
8. Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan
Neither eating vegetables nor cooking in the air fryer means giving up on indulgent meals. Case in point: air fryer eggplant parmesan, a start-to-finish air fried meal that can hold its own on any Italian menu.
9. Air Fryer Eggplant Fries
Hear us out: French fries, but make them from eggplant instead of potatoes. It might sound strange, but eggplant fries made in the air fryer are just as crunchy and dippable as air fried potato fries, and they’re a creative way to sneak more healthy veggies into your (or your kids’) day.
Air Fryer Squash Recipes
Squash is one of those vegetables that usually requires a good amount of time in a searing hot oven. We’ve got nothing against that, but sometimes you just want a quick and easy side without the long wait. Enter the air fryer, which allows you to make succulent squash in half the time and without ever having to sacrifice on flavor.
10. Air Fryer Butternut Squash
What’s better than a versatile side dish that you can serve with pretty much any entrée? A versatile side dish that’s ready in just 20 minutes. Air fryer butternut squash does both, and while it’s touted as a fall recipe, we think it deserves a place on your table all year round.
11. Southern Air Fried Yellow Squash
Fried squash is a staple of the South, where it’s often served alongside hearty mains like pork chops or meatloaf. This air fryer version works just as well, and features a seasoned cornmeal and breadcrumb (or Panko) breading that adds a welcome punch to the delicate rounds of yellow squash.
12. Air Fryer Roasted Maple Delicata Squash
Delicata squash, also known as a sweet potato squash or peanut squash, is similar to a butternut squash in flavor but with an edible rind that caramelizes in the air fryer. This recipe elevates its sweetness with maple syrup and cinnamon, then roasts it to perfection in under 15 minutes.
Air Fryer Carrots
Just like with squash, air frying carrots gets them cooked and tender without the need for a long roasting time. Large or baby carrots will both work great, though you could also air fry frozen carrots and get lunch or dinner on the table even quicker.
13. Air Fryer Balsamic Carrots
Sweet meets savory, with air fried carrots roasted in honey and balsamic. This recipe will work with any type of root vegetable—just air fry in a bit of honey and seasoning and toss with the buttery balsamic glaze when your veggies are cooked through.
14. Cumin and Coriander Carrots
Cumin and coriander are rich and fragrant spices that deepen in flavor when roasted in the air fryer. Serve these carrots with curry, naan, and a dollop of yogurt sauce for an easy Indian meal that surely won’t disappoint.
Air Fryer Roasted Vegetables
Roasting solves the problem of what to do with those veggies that are going old in the fridge, and air frying solves the problem of roasting when you don’t feel like waiting 40 minutes to an hour to eat. You’ve probably realized by now that any vegetables can fare well in the air fryer, so try out the recipe below, but also don’t be afraid to mix it up and roast whatever veg you have on hand.
15. Air Fryer Roasted Vegetable Mix
Cauliflower, bell peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini make for a delightful mix of vegetables to roast in your air fryer. If you’re roasting from frozen, air fry for a few minutes to thaw your vegetables and then add your seasoning mix and finish cooking. That will help the seasoning adhere so you get the best end result.
Helpful Tips for Air Frying Vegetables
Here are some extra tips for ensuring your veggies come out exactly how you want them to.
- Adjust your cooking time based on size. How you chop your vegetables will impact how fast they cook. The smaller the pieces you’re air frying, the shorter the cook time.
- Cook in batches. Be careful not to overcrowd your air fryer basket, since that will prevent your vegetables from browning and crisping. If you have to, cook in batches and transfer cooked veg to a warm oven as you go.
- Fully preheat before adding in your ingredients. Filling up the basket too soon will lengthen the cooking time and could lead to improperly cooked vegetables.
Follow these tips and recipes and discover the joys of air fried vegetables! You may never want to cook them any other way again.
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