The 5 Best Air Fryer Recipes for Beginners

Don’t let yours sit in the box!

eggs in an air fryer

The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

It seems like everyone and their mother is falling hard for air frying. While air fryers might feel like a new trendy gadget, they’ve actually been in home kitchens for over 10 years now. In that time the size, selection, and capabilities of the air fryer have improved making them a truly exciting product. Air fryers cook food using convection which means they can mimic the high heat of an oven and broiler and give food a fried-like texture with just a small bit of oil. Plus, an air fryer takes about a third of the time to preheat than a conventional oven. Your favorite frozen shortcuts, weeknight dinner staples, and sweet treats can be easily adapted to air frying. 

Ready to jump on the air frying bandwagon? Don’t be intimidated! These 5 recipes will take you from beginner to pro and help you learn how to use your new favorite gadget.

  • 01 of 05

    Baked Potatoes


     The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

    A crispy-skinned baked potato with a fluffy interior is hard to beat, but it can take a really long time to cook in an oven. The air fryer cuts the cooking time down significantly, but more importantly it’s a low-stakes, high-reward recipe for getting to know how your air fryer works. Just as you would with oven-baked potatoes, be sure to pierce the skins of your potatoes with a fork and coat them well with oil and salt before setting them in the air fryer until they’re tender inside and crisp outside, about 40 minutes.

  • 02 of 05


    Double-dipped doughnuts on marble surface.
    Diana Rattray

    Doughnut lovers rejoice! Thanks to the air fryer you can have the yeast-risen and glazed doughnuts of your dreams without making your whole house smell like a fryer. This air fried version will teach you how to air fry in batches and get even browning.  (Hint: you’ll need to do small batches and move your doughnuts around to get a golden brown.)

  • 03 of 05

    Crispy Chicken Thighs

    chicken thighs on a plate with parmesan cheese on the side
    Diana Rattray

    Getting crispy chicken thighs used to require a hot splatter-y pan on the stovetop followed by a long slow finish in the oven, but thanks to the air fryer you can have this all-purpose staple any night of the week. One of the reasons we think this recipe is essential for beginners is that it will show you how easy the clean up with an air fryer can be. Once you’ve made these thighs—they take just 30 minutes—you can wipe out the air fryer’s basket to remove the chicken fat and then wipe clean with a damp soapy sponge.

  • 04 of 05

    Hard Cooked Eggs

    Air Fryer Hard Boiled Eggs

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

    Hear us out: even if you have a favorite method for hard cooking eggs, you’re going to want to know this method. Air fried eggs are incredibly easy to peel and can come in clutch when you’re meal prepping as they are much more “set-and-forget” than traditional methods. Keep in mind that the cooking time will vary depending on the size of your air fryer and the number of eggs you cook.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Air Fryer Steak

    air fryer steak with pats of herb butter
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray

    The reward for trying out all these other beginner basics is that you’ll be ready for the ultimate air fryer delicacy: a restaurant-worthy steak. Cooking a steak in the air fryer will show you that a golden brown steak with a rosy interior doesn’t require a grill or a high-heat salamander. For getting a good even “sear” in the air fryer, make sure you know your model's hot spots and check the steak frequently to turn or flip it for even cooking.