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It’s a Wednesday night – you’re tired from work, the evenings are getting shorter and darker, and you simply don’t have the time or energy to cook.
But you don’t want something unhealthy, or to reach for the usual ready-meal options, or even dip into your bank account by ordering a mid-week takeaway.
Every option seems like a lost cause. That’s where an air fryer comes in. Are you stuck on what to cook for a healthy, midweek meal that’s also quick and easy to do? Just chuck it all into one pot and let it cook away.
Can An Air Fryer Be Healthy?
Generally speaking, in comparison to other deep frying methods, the air fryer is definitely the healthier option. This is because cooking with an air fryer results in your food having fewer calories.
In turn, less inflammation is caused to the body, which could potentially decrease the risk of chronic health conditions.
Compared to an oven, the results on whether the air fryer is the healthier option aren’t as straightforward.
The main benefit of using an air fryer instead of an oven is that you can cook the same food in a shorter space of time, which is obviously helpful after a long day at work when you’re simply too tired to cook anything fancy!
Whether or not cooking your food in an air fryer can be healthy depends on what other cooking method you’re comparing it to.
There are also plenty of other benefits other than health and nutrition when it comes to an air fryer. This includes quicker cooking times, which saves on electricity, and fewer pots and pans to clean up after your cooking adventures.
Good Stuff To Put In Air Fryer
Of course, the main thing that dictates a healthy air fryer meal is the kind of food you put in it. There are endless options when it comes to an air fryer, and the handy machine can cook more types of food than you might first expect.
In terms of healthy options, an air fryer can cook fish such as salmon, meat, veggies, and more.
Make these delicious homemade air fryer chicken nuggets. Coat the chicken in breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Crispy recipes are great in an air fryer as they’ll turn out golden and delicious every time. They are rich in protein and fun to eat!
Each serving has: 188 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 8 grams of carbs, 0.5 grams of sugar, 427 mg sodium, 0 grams of fiber and 25 grams of protein
Why not pair your whole-wheat chicken nuggets with a side of sweet potato fries? In fact, these could be used as a side dish for any meal. What’s more – compared to the oven version, air frying this delicious treat is less in fat. It’s a win-win!
Each serving contains 221 calories, 5 grams of fat, 42 grams of carbs, 7 grams of sugar, 302 mg of sodium, 5 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein.
This delicious vegan recipe is packed with protein – enjoy them in a wrap, with rice, or as a side to the main dish. There are plenty of options when it comes to serving these. You can even have them on their own as a snack throughout the day!
Want to make crispy pork chops without the stress of deep frying? The air fryer can come to your rescue here. You can achieve similar crisped-up results without the stress of frying them in oil. Needless to say, this option is also healthier!
Ever thought about making eggs in the air fryer? It probably hasn’t crossed your mind, so you’ll be surprised to find out they turn out perfectly in an air fryer – so there’s no pan required. This particular recipe uses egg whites, chopped spinach, tomatoes, and onion.
Again, you can achieve crispy results in half the effort and time of deep frying these chicken cutlets. Using whole-wheat or gluten-free panko breadcrumbs is another good way to add balance to your meal.
Once you get the hang of crisping up panko-breadcrumbed chicken cutlets, you can pretty much apply this method to any kind of meat that takes you fancy.
Forget the meat talk, what about fish?
You can get crispy-on-the-outside but soft-on-the-inside salmon in no time at all using the air fryer. Whip up this healthy meal in 35 minutes and sit back to enjoy the rest of your evening after a hectic day at work, while knowing you had a healthy meal.
Nutritionally, this is a dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free, and gluten-free recipe. It’s high in protein, low in carbohydrates, and has plenty of Omega-3.
Stuffed peppers are a classic quick meal – and you guessed it, it’s even quicker in an air fryer. This recipe includes red bell peppers, ground turkey, brown rice, breadcrumbs, marinara sauce, and more seasonings to create a delicious and hearty mid-week meal.
A great way to practice the air fryer’s ability to crispen up just about anything, even if you’re vegan or vegetarian! This recipe can be served with rice or noodles alongside a vegetable or side of your choice.
Again with the crispy theme, this air fryer onion ring recipe is another great option for veggies and vegans.
It’s also keto – so if that’s something you’re trying to stick to, this is a great option. If you’re not veggie or vegan, it would make a great side to one of the meat options mentioned earlier!
Again, sticking to the meatless theme going on, have you ever thought about crisping up your cauliflower in buffalo sauce?
Like the tofu and onion rings, this can be enjoyed as a side to the main dish or as a meat replacement. Try it with rice or with some sweet potato fries on the side!
For the meat lovers out there, you’ll be pleased to know you can make meatballs in an air fryer, too. All you need to do is prepare the meatballs and stick ‘em in the air fryer – simple, quick, and delicious! This recipe uses the healthier turkey mince option, meaning they are also keto.
Using chicken tenderloins, these air-fried chicken tenders would go perfectly with sweet potato fries. Simply coat the tenderloins in a mixture of milk, flour, breadcrumbs, and seasonings. You guessed it, toss it in the air fryer and watch the magic happen!
14. Air Fryer Bagels
You read that right… you can even make bagels in the air fryer! This simple recipe using just two ingredients comes together in 15 minutes. All you need is rising flour and greek yogurt to create a dough. Shape these into a bagel form, and brush each one with an egg wash.
Then, sprinkle with bagel seasoning or sesame seeds before popping them in the air fryer. A delicious treat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
This recipe uses a flour and breadcrumb mixture to coat the mozzarella sticks. Air frying them takes the fuss out of conventional deep frying methods. Simply wiz them up in 8 minutes total for a quick and delicious treat!
Prepare these air fryer chicken wings in just five minutes, and watch them cook in 35!
This easy recipe is perfect as a meal on its own or as a snack. All you’ll need are chicken wings, cooking oil, and the seasoning of your choice to create this classic recipe. It’ll be a hit with the family!
17. Air-Fried Fries
We’ve established the air fryer is a great tool for making crispy recipes, and this classic potato method is no exception!
You’ll just need large potatoes to chop up into chip shapes and cooking oil to coat them. Toss them in the air fryer along with your chosen seasonings – garlic, paprika, or rosemary! Whatever you please. Why not serve them with those air fryer chicken wings?
Not got a lot of time to prepare food? The prep time for this recipe is an impressive two minutes. These delicious chicken thighs take 25 minutes to cook in the air fryer.
Per serving, these chicken thighs contain 88 calories, 5 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbs, 0 grams of sugar, 0.3 grams of fiber, 11 grams of protein, and 0.7 grams of salt.
Ever wondered how to get the crispiest roast potatoes? The air fryer can easily help you out here! Simply take the time to steam the potatoes for five minutes after cutting them into roast-potato shapes. Then drain them and tip them into the bottom of the air fryer.
Add oil and any seasoning you’d like, cooking them for at least 30 minutes. Check they’re cooked through and add on another five to 10 minutes of cooking time if they’re not to your liking!
A delicious meal by themselves, the classic baked potato is a great lunch or dinner. These work exceptionally well using the air fryer method to crisp them up into golden skin.
Simply scrub the potatoes, move them onto a plate, drizzle cooking oil so they’re well-coated, and add seasoning. Salt and pepper work well, as does garlic seasoning for extra flavor.
You’ll need some time to wait for these to work their magic – they take 50 minutes to cook, but it’ll be worth the wait.
21. Zucchini Chips
If you’re not a potato fan, you can always recreate these zucchini fritters! This recipe uses two medium-sized zucchini to serve four people.
The zucchini is livened up by using a large, lightly-beaten egg, half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese, a third cup of whole-wheat flour, a teaspoon of garlic powder, a teaspoon of onion powder, a teaspoon of ground pepper, a teaspoon of sour cream and two tablespoons of chopped fresh mint.
Why not pair your Zucchini chips with these delicious air-fried cheeseburgers? You can help yourself out by preparing the burgers two days in advance to save time. Simply pop them in the air fryer and wait 30 minutes for them to cook up! This classic recipe is sure to be a hit with the family.
It doesn’t stop there! You can even make shrimp in the air fryer. This is another quick recipe, taking just five minutes to prep and a total cooking time of 30 minutes. Whip up this dish and pair it with a salad or stir it into pasta.
Not in the mood for shrimp? Try this healthy white fish with lemon and garlic. The total time it takes for this recipe to come together is 17 minutes, and it serves two portions.
If you’re cooking for one, simply half the recipe, or double it for a family of four. Serve with chips, Zucchini fritters, or onion rings!
What about crispy fish? If you’re in the mood for fish and chips but don’t want to pay restaurant money, simply make it at home instead. Using fresh fish fillets, this recipe is also quick and easy, taking just 12 to 15 minutes to cook. Serve this with chips or sweet potato fries.
Put these brussels sprouts together in 30 minutes to serve four people.
The perfect side dish to any meat or fish recipe, these can also be served for Thanksgiving! Each ¾ cup serving contains 164 calories, 11 grams of fat, 0 cholesterol, 342mg of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, and 5 grams of protein.
You read that right… you can even make homemade pizza in an air fryer! This recipe calls for frozen bread dough that’s been thawed from the freezer.
It also uses sausage as a topping, but if you’re willing to experiment, you can add any toppings you like! That’s the perk of homemade pizza, after all.
Back with the sides, these air fryer asparagus could be the perfect companion to any of the fish or meat options.
They could even be a good side for the sausage pizza if you want to find a way to add some extra veggies. They only take four to six minutes to cook, too, so you can whip them up in no time.
Each serving contains 156 calories, 15 grams of fat, 3mg of cholesterol, 214mg of sodium, 3 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of protein.
This spiced cod is perfect for fish tacos or in a wrap served with veggies. You could even add it to rice or pasta, making this recipe a very versatile one for whatever you’ve got in the cupboards.
Add shredded red or green cabbage, tomatillo salsa, avocado sauce or sour cream to dress the tacos up.
Another vegetarian-friendly dish, this cauliflower steak is great as a meat replacement or as a side. Marinate them with seasonings – this recipe uses olive oil, turmeric powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, pepper powder, lime juice, and salt to taste – and air fry away!
Each serving has 103 calories, 9.5 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein, 7.3 grams of fat, 118mg of sodium, 445mg of potassium, 3.9 grams of fiber, 3.6 grams of sugar, 36mg of calcium, and 1mg of iron.
This is a super easy low-carb meal you can make in under 20 minutes! Simply chop up the chicken and your favorite veggies into bite-sized pieces, put them in a large bowl, and season them with oil and seasonings in the air fryer. Watch them cook away!
Give them a shake in between cooking and you should be good to tuck in and enjoy.
To summarise, that’s 31 healthy, nutritious, and easy recipes for you to follow! Hopefully, they give you some inspiration on what to pair up for a perfect mid-week meal.
While the air fryer is perfect for quick meals after a long day, these recipes can be enjoyed whenever you fancy!