The 7 surprising foods you won’t believe you can cook in an air fryer!

boiled eggs in air fryer

by Claire Tapley |
Published on

Over the last few years air fryers have become a must-have kitchen gadget in our homes.

Not only are they much cheaper to run than a large gas or electric oven, but they can also cook foods much quicker and make many recipes healthier.
Air fryers are also extremely versatile and can cook a huge range of surprising dishes from cakes, toasties and bagels, to steak and even boiled eggs.

The truth is you should be able use your best air fryer to cook anything you can cook in your conventional oven, but certain dishes work better than others. In order to cook some recipes you may need to invest in a few air fryer accessories to take your air frying cooking to the next level. Editor Claire Tapley, who has spent eight years editing and writing recipes for Yours Magazine, has tried and tested all the foods that you can cook in an air fryer listed below. She says, “When it comes to air-frying it's good to remember that almost any dish that is suitable for cooking in the oven is also suitable for cooking in your air fryer. Just make sure it fits properly into your air fryer and doesn’t obstruct the air flow or touch the heating element.”

Here, Claire shares seven foods that not only cook perfectly in an air fryer, but often cook better, faster and create less mess.

1. Boiling eggs in an air fryer

Yes that’s right, you can make a boiled egg in an air fryer! The best part is there’s no faffing about boiling water, you simply pop your eggs in the basket and let the hot air get to work! This is a much quicker, cheaper and simpler way to cook boiled eggs. Cooking your eggs this way also means you can be quite specific when it comes to having a runny, soft or super hard egg. Just nine minutes in the air fryer will give you a nice soft-boiled egg and for a more jammy consistency, leave it for 11-13 minutes. For a firm hard-boiled egg you'll want to keep it in your air fryer for 15 minutes.
Once cooked to your taste, pop your egg into a bowl filled with ice and water to stop it from cooking any further.
The good news is that eggs cooked in an air fryer are really easy to peel. This is possibly due to the fact they are cooked by the dry heat, which helps to pull the shell from the membrane as they cook.

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2. Poached eggs

And it's not just boiled eggs that are easy to cook in an fryer, poached ones are super simple to make too!
All you'll need are some small oven-proof dishes like little ramekins. Start by greasing these with a little oil, then fill them with 3 tablespoons of hot water. Crack one egg into each ramekin and place in a pre-heated air fryer at 180°C for around 7 minutes.
Once cooked, remove your ramekins from the air fryer using tongs or oven gloves. Then gently try to prize your egg out using a rubber spatula or by running a knife around the outside.
Place your egg straight onto a piece of warm, buttered toast, season with salt and pepper and enjoy!
We've also got a fool-proof method for poached eggs in a microwave if you don't have an air fryer.

3. Air fryer toastie

Is there anything better than a toasted sandwich, with a crispy crunchy top and a gooey cheesy middle? To create your own perfect air fryer toastie, take two slices of bread and add a slathering of butter to the sides facing out. You can also use a thin layer of oil if you prefer. Then fill your sandwich. Cheese is obviously a great addition as it will melt and be all lovely and soft inside. Other good ingredients are ham, tomato, onion spinach, thinly sliced mushrooms, sweetcorn and even baked beans. Just make sure you don’t overfill your sandwich, otherwise it’ll be likely to spill out in air fryer and make a mess.
You’ll want to cook your toastie for about 10 minutes making sure you turn it over halfway through.

4. Air fryer cakes

Pretty much any cake recipe can be made in an air fryer. It’s almost the same process as baking with a full-size oven, but the added benefit of doing it in an air fryer is that it’s much quicker to preheat - around 3 minutes.
You don’t need to buy a specific air fryer cake tin, as long your tin is heat-resistant and fits in your air fryer it’s absolutely fine. Cupcakes are ideal for baking in an air fryer, however it's best to use silicone cupcake moulds rather than paper ones in case they catch fire.

You will need to adapt the cooking time and temperature of your recipe to convert it from an oven-cooked recipe to an air-fryer one. The general rule of thumb is to reduce the suggested temperature by 20°C-30°C and then cut the cooking time by about 20 percent.

5. Steak

If the thought of smoking out your kitchen puts you off frying a steak on the hob, then cooking your prime cut of meat in your air fryer is a great option. Not only will it be healthier (because you'll need less oil) but it'll also mean all the lovely juices are retained in the meat making it tender and juicy.
Don't just take out word for it, Kitchen Nightmares chef Gordon Ramsey highly recommends this method and certainly believes that steak is one of the foods you can cook in an air fryer.
"With an air fryer, you're gonna get those delicious flavours locked in and keep all that juice inside that rib-eye steak without the grease," he says.
Before cooking his air fryer steak Ramsey rubs the meat with a blend of coffee grounds, sugar, and Aleppo pepper. He insists this should be applied generously and left to marinade for at least 60 minutes.

Ramsay preheats his air fryer to 200°C for at least three minutes then cooks the steak for 8-10 minutes, turning over halfway through.

6. Pretzels

If you're a fan of the soft and salty pretzels you often see for sale in shopping centres, then you'll be delighted to learn that these are foods you can cook in an air fryer. Try this fab recipe from Air Frying Foodie, who shows you that making these mouth-watering pretzels in an air fryer couldn't be easier and involves minimal ingredients.
Once you've made your dough according the recipe simply coat your air fryer basket with olive oil. Place the pretzels in the basket, evenly spaced art to give them room to rise and brush then with some egg wash. Air fry at 200°C for 12-15 mins until golden brown and delicious!

Air fryer Yorkshire puddings

Readymade, frozen Yorkshire puds can be easily heated up in an air fryer but you might not know that it's just as easy to make them from scratch in one too.
To make 4 Yorkshires preheat your air fryer to 200°C and grease 4 heatproof pudding moulds, ramekins or silicone cupcake cases, with sunflower oil. Place the oiled moulds in the air fryer to get nice and hot.
Meanwhile, mix 70g plain flour with 2 eggs. Once combined, gradually whisk in 100ml milk. Pour your batter mixture in a jug and pour a quarter of the batter into each mould. Then, cook for 10-12 mins until puffed up and golden. Use a knife and fork or two spoons and turn them over. Cook for another 3-5 mins and you'll have the most mouth-watering crispy, golden Yorkshire puddings to accompany your roast dinner.

How to get the most from your air fryer

Siobhan Wightman, The Sunday Times Bestseller and author of Slimming Eats, Made in the Air Fryer shares her tips for getting the best results from your air fryer.

Always preheat your air fryer

“It is recommended that you preheat your air fryer for at least 2-5 mins, especially if you want a crisp/sear to whatever you are cooking. In cases where you want, say, a steak to be nicely browned, you’ll need to make sure your air fryer is nice and hot before adding it to the basket.”

Cooking times vary for different air fryer models
“While cooking times are generally given in recipes, these can only be a guideline as there are many different factors that can change timings, such as the brand of air fryer you use, its wattage and the thickness of the foods you are cooking, such as different cuts of meat.”

Always use oil when cooking in an air fryer
“While it’s possible to cook oil-free in an air fryer, using a small amount of oil can make a significant difference in achieving optimal results. Typically, just one tablespoon of oil is sufficient for a recipe intended to serve four people.”

Don’t overfill your air fryer basket
“One of the most crucial tips for air-frying success is to avoid overcrowding the basket. Filling the basket beyond its capacity can result in uneven cooking leaving some portions of food undercooked while other overdone.”


How do air fryers work?

Once the food is placed into the basket, the heating element starts to warm up. Hot air is then blown and circulated around the basket. This allows the food to cook evenly and for it to crisp up, without the need to use lots of oil.
An air fryer cooks things in a different way to a standard oven because the air in an oven is still and not moving all around the food. This means that food cooked in oven can be less crispy and take longer to cook.

Are air fryers cheap to run?

The answer is yes. Cooking in air fryer is cheaper than using a conventional oven. According to The Eco Experts a 1,500 W air fryer will typically cost 17p per 30 minutes of run time, or around 51p per hour, whereas a 2,200 W electric oven, will cost you 85p per hour.

Gas ovens are slightly cheaper to run than air fryers (costing 23p per hour) but because you need to run them for longer to fully cook you food they work out more expensive.

What foods shouldn’t I cook in air fryer?

Here's Claire's recommendations for foods that don't cook so well...

  • Leafy greens like spinach or chard- these are too light and will be blown about and therefore cook unevenly.

  • Popcorn- most air fryers won't get hot enough to pop the kernels, plus they could get stuck in the heating element.

  • Any sauce- when heated up sauces are likely to splash everywhere making a a mess of your air fryer.

  • Wet batters like onion rings are tempura prawns- the batter is likely to drip to the bottom of the air fryer.

  • Rice or pasta- some recipes suggest this by adding a little water but I'd avoid cooking anything that needs steaming in an air fryer as they aren't designed to do that.

Can all air fryer models cook the same things?

The short answer is yes. The cooking and temperature times should work for most air fryers. You should consider the size of your air fryer though. Larger models may have higher wattage than smaller ones and therefore may cook foods a bit quicker.
Large foods like a whole chicken shouldn't be stuffed into a small air fryer as it won't cook evenly but may work well in a larger one where there's plenty room for the air to circulate.

What's the best way to clean an air fryer?

Unless stated on the manufacturer instructions you can put your air fryer basket in the dishwasher to wash, but it may not get rid of all the stubborn stains. For baked on food and grease apply a mixture of baking soda and water using a soft toothbrush and leave for 20 minutes. Then gently scrub off and rinse.
Just be sure not to ever clean your air fryer with an abrasive sponge or brush as this will remove the nonstick coating.

Claire Tapley is a digital editor for She is a journalist with over 16 years' experience writing for women over 50. In her previous role she was Deputy Editor on Yours magazine for nine years.

Claire is extremely passionate about all things health related, specifically fitness and healthy eating. She has a huge amount of knowledge on all areas that interest women over 50 including health, wellbeing, finance, food, tech, beauty and fashion.

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