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29 Best Air Fryer Dinner Recipes

Chicken taquitos
Chicken taquitos - Ksenia Prints/Mashed

For years, a well-stocked home kitchen consisted of an oven, a stove, a microwave, a toaster, and maybe a blender or a stand mixer. Then, along came the air fryer and all the new things you learned about cooking with it. Although it would be an exaggeration to claim that this seemingly miraculous appliance is more important than a stove or a microwave in most homes, it's not an exaggeration to say that it has changed the face of cooking in many households and transformed the notion of a healthy meal. Thanks to its ability to cook food to the point of deep-fried crispiness without needing to douse it in oil, you can make everything from french fries to chicken nuggets without sacrificing your arteries.

Air fryers work by moving hot air around your food with a small convection fan, making them more like miniature ovens than deep fryers. But because the food is usually placed in wire baskets, the results are more similar to the latter: food with a crispy outside and tender inside. For some home cooks, the air fryer has become the new cooking vessel of choice. Forget about heating the oven for one baked potato or worrying about burning the bottom of skillets while trying to make hamburgers or salmon patties. You can lower the electrical bill, solve your dishwashing problems, and produce low-fat versions of your favorite crispy snacks using an air fryer. Here are some of our favorite dinner recipes to get you started.

Read more: Ingredients To Take Your Scrambled Eggs To The Next Level

20-Minute Sausage And Potatoes

Sausages and potatoes
Sausages and potatoes - Melissa Olivieri/Mashed

It's hard to believe you can have a full meal of spiced sausage, potatoes, peppers, and onions on the table in under half an hour, but that's exactly what recipe developer Melissa Olivieri has figured out how to do.

The beauty of this recipe (aside from speed, of course) is how the potatoes reach a buttery consistency as if they'd been roasting in the oven for an hour. Serve this on its own, with a side salad for dinner, or with a few eggs for breakfast.

Recipe: 20-Minute Sausage And Potatoes

Southwest-Spiced Air Fryer Chicken Legs

Chicken drumsticks
Chicken drumsticks - Kate Shungu/Mashed

Chicken legs are often given short-shrift in the culinary world unless they're breaded and deep-fried, but with the air fryer, you can make a rival version that has none of the health downsides and all of the flavor. Courtesy of recipe developer Kate Shungu, these spiced chicken legs are crispy, tender, and bursting with flavor.

Shungu has included baking powder and brown sugar in the spice rub to keep the meat crispy instead of chewy. The former draws out moisture while the latter helps the skin brown.

Recipe: Southwest-Spiced Air Fryer Chicken Legs

15-Minute Air Fryer Salmon Cakes

Salmon cake with sour cream and chives
Salmon cake with sour cream and chives - Ksenia Prints/Mashed

These salmon cakes are the type of recipe that will come to the rescue when you need to make a fancy meal but have almost no time and practically nothing in your fridge. All you need is a stash of canned salmon, breadcrumbs, an egg, mayonnaise, some seasoning, and 15 minutes.

If you'd like to attune the meal to a particular cuisine, you can swap green onions and Old Bay Seasoning with regular onions and paprika for a Spanish-inspired version, or use oregano and regular onions for a Mediterranean-inspired version.

Recipe: 15-Minute Air Fryer Salmon Cakes

Honey Mustard Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken

Popcorn chicken
Popcorn chicken - Erin Johnson/Mashed

Popcorn chicken is a comfort food that most of us would love to indulge in more regularly if its nutritional profile was not so questionable. This recipe gives you just that option, replacing the breading and deep fryer with pretzels and an air fryer.

On top of the lack of health drawbacks and crunchy texture, this popcorn chicken is full of flavor due to a honey mustard marinade and only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish. Make these once, and you're bound to be hooked for the long haul.

Recipe: Honey Mustard Air Fryer Popcorn Chicken

Easy Air Fryer BBQ Cauliflower Wings

Cauliflower wings
Cauliflower wings - Miriam Hahn/Mashed

Appetizers can be challenging. They need to be small –- often bite-sized -– and satiating without being too filling. They also need to be relatively quick to make so you can focus on preparing the rest of the meal. These barbecue cauliflower wings satisfy all these criteria and offer a mouthwatering alternative to less healthy and more predictable fare. They are also good enough to stand alone as a meal.

Coated in a batter made of milk, flour, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika, then rolled in breadcrumbs, the cauliflower is tossed in barbecue sauce before serving for an explosion of flavor.

Recipe: Easy Air Fryer BBQ Cauliflower Wings

15-Minute Air Fryer Chicken Taquitos

Chicken taquitos
Chicken taquitos - Ksenia Prints/Mashed

Taquitos are a guilty pleasure for many of us. Unless you're lucky enough to have fresh ones, they are usually procured in the frozen food section and are highly processed. With this recipe, however, you can make your own, and you won't have to wince at the nutrition label.

Made with small, fried tortillas stuffed with rotisserie chicken, cheese, refried beans, and salsa, they do not lack flavor or indulgence despite being leaps and bounds healthier than the store-bought kind. Plus, they take only 15 minutes to make.

Recipe: 15-Minute Air Fryer Chicken Taquitos

Crispy Air Fryer Pretzel Chicken Fries

Pretzel chicken fries
Pretzel chicken fries - Stephanie Rapone/Mashed

Coating chicken in crushed pretzels is an ingenious alternative to breading it. It's faster, for one thing, but it also provides the perfect crunchy texture and salty flavor. Think Burger King chicken fries, but tastier.

On top of the knockout texture and tender meat, this recipe calls for coating the chicken in a Dijon and honey dressing to make the crushed pretzels stick to the chicken. You'll also be serving the final product with a sweet, tangy apricot Dijon dip, taking game-day snacking (or any-day snacking) to the next level.

Recipe: Crispy Air Fryer Pretzel Chicken Fries

Easy Air Fryer Sticky Wings

Sticky wings
Sticky wings - Ashley Schuering/Mashed

If you're looking for a new cooking challenge that won't take up half the day, these air fryer sticky wings are a great place to start. Although they take only 35 minutes to make, you'll need to butcher the meat, which, in this context, means cutting the chicken wings to remove unwanted bones and tendons rather than slaughtering a live animal.

You'll need a sharp knife and some elbow grease, but once you get the hang of it, you'll look like a pro. Make sure to serve these when they're fresh out of the air fryer and at their crispiest.

Recipe: Easy Air Fryer Sticky Wings

Air Fryer Country-Style Ribs

Country-style ribs
Country-style ribs - Angela Latimer/Mashed

Want to look like a grilling pro without touching a grill? This recipe will do the trick, leading you to crispy, caramelized ribs bursting with delicious fats and sweet, tangy flavor. The process is surprisingly quick and easy, with just a few pointers to ensure the results are stellar.

Make sure you're leaving plenty of room in the air fryer for each piece of meat. Overcrowding will cause moisture to build up and make the ribs soggy rather than crispy, a step that will make or break the results.

Recipe: Air Fryer Country-Style Ribs

Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Tenders

BBQ chicken tenders
BBQ chicken tenders - Kate Shungu/Mashed

With the combination of spices and the even browning of the air fryer, you won't miss the usual breading and oil that goes into fast-food chicken tenders. Recipe developer Kate Shungu has devised a healthy version that is still crispy and full of flavor.

The crux of the recipe is the homemade barbecue sauce, which is made of brown sugar, paprika, baking powder, chile powder, garlic, cayenne, salt, and olive oil. Although baking powder might seem like a strange addition, it helps to draw the moisture out of the meat and keep it crispy.

Recipe: Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Tenders

Air Fryer Chicken Fried Steak

Chicken fried steak
Chicken fried steak - Erin Johnson/Mashed

Chicken fried steak is a classic comfort food that feels old-fashioned in the best way. Usually made by deep-frying a battered cutlet of beef, this meal is salty, fatty, and crunchy, with a nutrition profile that is better left unsaid. When you make the dish in an air fryer, however, you don't have to turn a blind eye.

This recipe comes together in less than 20 minutes and calls for cube steak, flour, eggs, breadcrumbs, and spices. You'll be amazed at how delicious the results are without all the oil that's required for deep frying.

Recipe: Air Fryer Chicken Fried Steak

Sweet And Spicy Air Fryer Salmon Bites

Salmon bites
Salmon bites - Erin Johnson/Mashed

It is infuriatingly easy to overcook fish, but with the air fryer, you can end up with tender morsels of salmon that will stand out at any meal. Salmon is delicious on its own, but recipe developer Erin Johnson has doubled down on flavor with a marinade made of soy sauce, honey, garlic, and gochujang.

For a crunchy texture, you'll also be coating the cubes of marinated fish in breadcrumbs and everything bagel seasoning. Serve these mouthwatering salmon bites in a salad, over rice, or with dipping sauce.

Recipe: Sweet And Spicy Air Fryer Salmon Bites

Air Fryer Teriyaki Salmon

Teriyaki salmon
Teriyaki salmon - Kit Hondrum/Mashed

Four ingredients are all you need for this juicy, flavorful salmon recipe. Aside from the tender pink fish, you'll need teriyaki sauce, sesame seeds, and green onions. Marinating the salmon for 30 minutes will ensure that the teriyaki sauce can work its magic, but once you have the fish in the air fryer, it only takes eight minutes.

Serve these fillets with rice to fully enjoy their depth of flavor. Recipe developer Kit Hondrum recommends black or brown rice, but if you only have white rice in your cupboard, it will also work.

Recipe: Air Fryer Teriyaki Salmon

Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets

Tofu nuggets
Tofu nuggets - Miriam Hahn/Mashed

Omnivores shouldn't be the only ones who can indulge in chicken-style nuggets, and this recipe proves that you can, in fact, make something just as delicious with tofu.

You might be thinking that this popular vegan protein source lacks the flavor you get from meat. Luckily, this recipe solves that problem with a three-step breading process that involves coating the tofu in a mixture of arrowroot powder, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt; dunking it in a batter made of flour, milk, and paprika; and then coating it in breadcrumbs.

Recipe: Air Fryer Tofu Nuggets

Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

Chicken nuggets
Chicken nuggets - Carlos Leo/Mashed

The next time you have a hankering for chicken nuggets, skip the fast food line and head to the kitchen. This recipe makes your favorite processed snack healthy and homemade. Forget about the health risks of deep frying, and fire up your air fryer. You won't look back.

For even more flavor than their fast food counterparts, these nuggets are tossed in a mixture of flour, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper before being covered in Parmesan and parsley-seasoned breadcrumbs. Crispy and juicy, these nuggets take less than 20 minutes to make.

Recipe: Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets

Easy Air Fryer BBQ Chicken

BBQ chicken
BBQ chicken - Susan Olayinka/Mashed

You don't need to fire up the grill to produce sweet, succulent barbecue chicken. Simply hit the power button on your air fryer, and make sure you have bone-in, skin-on chicken in your fridge. Recipe developer Susan Olayinka keeps this recipe simple, calling for five pieces of chicken, barbecue sauce, paprika, olive oil, salt, and pepper, but you can opt for more exciting sauce variations if you'd like.

Brushing the chicken with barbecue sauce eight minutes before it finishes cooking will ensure that the flavors suffuse the meat for maximum deliciousness.

Recipe: Easy Air Fryer BBQ Chicken

Air Fryer Salmon Patties

Salmon patties
Salmon patties - Christina Musgrave/Mashed

When you're casting about for something quick to make for a weeknight meal, this recipe for salmon patties will come to the rescue. Not only is it nutritious and quick to make, but you also probably have the ingredients in your pantry already.

You'll need canned salmon, an egg, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, mustard, pepper, and paprika. Mix the ingredients together, form them into patties, and cook them in the air fryer. It takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish. Serve them with lemon to complete the delicious restaurant-worthy flavor profile.

Recipe: Air Fryer Salmon Patties

20-Minute Sausage And Potatoes Dinner

Sausage and potatoes
Sausage and potatoes - Mackenzie Burgess/Mashed

Keeping a stash of sausages in the freezer is a great way to take the stress out of busy weeknight meal preparation, and with this handy 20-minute recipe, you'll have a delicious as well as quick dinner.

You can use whatever type of sausage you have. Beef, venison, pork, or even a vegetarian option will work, though keep in mind that the recipe calls for them to be pre-cooked. Don't worry if they aren't seasoned. Recipe developer Mackenzie Burgess has included a honey Dijon dressing that will more than make up for it.

Recipe: 20-Minute Sausage And Potatoes Dinner

Air Fryer Chicken Breast

Chicken breast
Chicken breast - Susan Olayinka/Mashed

Making chicken breasts can feel like a lost cause. With a lower fat content than other parts of the bird, they are prone to being dry and tough, even when you poach, marinate, or slowly cook them in a creamy sauce. This recipe cuts out all the fussy cooking options and simply gets the job done with 20 minutes in the air fryer.

For flavor, this recipe has you covered. Paprika, thyme, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, and cumin provide a powerful hit of taste that you may find yourself repeating the next time you cook chicken.

Recipe: Air Fryer Chicken Breast

Air Fryer Mac And Cheese

Mac and cheese
Mac and cheese - Susan Olayinka/Mashed

Just when you thought you'd exhausted all the options with your air fryer, we're here to show you just how versatile the appliance is. Instead of frying vegetables or searing meat, you should consider cooking a restaurant-worthy bowl of mac and cheese.

You don't even have to cook the pasta on the stove for this recipe. All you have to do is combine macaroni pasta, chicken broth, cheddar, Parmesan, heavy cream, and butter in the air fryer. Cover everything with breadcrumbs and Parmesan for the last five minutes to provide a good crunch.

Recipe: Air Fryer Mac And Cheese

Lemon-Garlic Air Fryer Bay Scallops

Bay scallops
Bay scallops - Erin Johnson/Mashed

If you've never made scallops before, this recipe is an ideal entry point. These buttery mollusks are no more difficult to cook than other types of seafood, and when you use an air fryer, it's a breeze. This recipe enhances the mild, faintly sweet flavor of the scallops with lemon and garlic to create a dish that is tender and fragrant.

You don't have to limit yourself to scallops, however. Recipe developer Erin Johnson notes that you can use the same method with similar types of seafood, including shrimp.

Recipe: Lemon-Garlic Air Fryer Bay Scallops

Air Fryer Crispy Cod

Crispy cod with fries
Crispy cod with fries - Susan Olayinka/Mashed

The British are rarely singled out for their culinary excellence, but if there's one thing they do well, it's fish and chips. Crispy, deep-fried white fish with a side of thick-cut fries (confusingly known as "chips" across the pond) and a serving of mushy peas make for a perfect seaside meal.

This recipe recreates the British classic but with a lot less grease. To achieve the crispy breading, you'll need flour, whole milk, an egg, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese. The results will immediately transport your taste buds to the rainy shores of the Atlantic.

Recipe: Air Fryer Crispy Cod

Air Fryer Grilled Cheese

Grilled cheese
Grilled cheese - Susan Olayinka/Mashed

You might not think that grilled cheese can be improved upon. After all, the formula is simple enough -– bread, cheese, and enough heat to make the former toasty and the latter gooey. You might have your method down, but it's still worth giving this one a try.

The beauty of using an air fryer to make grilled cheese is that it doesn't burn the bread. When you're using a skillet or griddle, it's easy to overdo it and end up with perfectly melted cheese and charred toast. The air fryer gives you an easy win.

Recipe: Air Fryer Grilled Cheese

Air-Fryer Flautas

Flautas
Flautas - Miriam Hahn/Mashed

Whether you call them taquitos, tacos dorados, or flautas, these small, veggie-filled tortillas will be the stars of any meal. The fact that they're made in an air fryer and are therefore quick and mess-free is just a bonus.

You might be familiar with meat-filled flautas, but we doubt you'll miss the meat in this recipe. You'll need refried beans, an onion, garlic, a can of green chilis, chili powder, and cumin plus the tortillas. Just make sure you have all your favorite fixings on hand for serving.

Recipe: Air-Fryer Flautas

Garlic And Herb Air Fryer Steak Bites

Steak bites
Steak bites - Kate Shungu/Mashed

Air fryers, as their name suggests, are famous for their ability to make something that isn't soaked in scalding oil taste and look deep-fried. However, one of the things for which it is less well-known is equally game-changing: searing meat. Instead of worrying about ruining a perfectly juicy steak by accidentally burning it or having it stick to a skillet, you can simply air-fry it.

This recipe capitalizes on this option, producing succulent, garlic-and-herb-crusted steak morsels and a mayonnaise-based dipping sauce to boot.

Recipe: Garlic And Herb Air Fryer Steak Bites

Air Fryer Hamburgers

Hamburgers
Hamburgers - Susan Olayinka/Mashed

Recipe developer Susan Olayinka is a master at turning beloved foods with tried and true cooking formulas into air fryer magic. You might think that the grill is the only real way to make a burger. But try this recipe out for yourself, and you might change your mind.

The reason the air fryer makes such good burgers is that, as Olayinka explains, it broils each side to the kind of crispy texture we associate with grilling. Unlike grilling, however, it doesn't require all the setup and cleanup.

Recipe: Air Fryer Hamburgers

Air Fryer Steak

Steak and asparagus
Steak and asparagus - Susan Olayinka/Mashed

When you have a good cut of steak on your hands, cooking it can feel like a treacherous road to tread where it seems too easy to make things worse. Too much heat and you'll burn it. Cook it too long and it will become tough. Too low a temperature will leave you with a rubbery exterior instead of a crispy, caramelized one.

The air fryer removes the pitfalls and the guesswork. Cook the steak on perforated parchment paper to ensure there is enough airflow, set the timer, and relax.

Recipe: Air Fryer Steak

Air Fryer Falafel

Falafel
Falafel - Miriam Hahn/Mashed

Falafel are full of healthy ingredients, but since they are often deep-fried, it's difficult to claim that they are entirely nutritious. Now that we have air fryers, however, it's possible to capitalize on all the nutrients, protein, and healthy fat in the ingredients without undercutting them with oil.

On top of the health benefits, this recipe is bursting with flavorful additions like fresh parsley, lemon juice, garlic, onions, cilantro, and jalapeños. All you need to complete the meal is pockets of pita to fit the falafel into and tzatziki for dipping.

Recipe: Air Fryer Falafel

Air Fryer Meatloaf

Meatloaf
Meatloaf - Laura Sampson/Mashed

Meatloaf is one of those retro dishes that holds up. As a weeknight meal, it's still a go-to, especially when you use an air fryer. While your parents and grandparents might have been stuck waiting for the oven to preheat, you can simply turn on your air fryer and marvel at how little time it takes to get this crowd-pleasing meal on the dinner table.

All you need is 35 minutes -- five to prep the ingredients and 30 minutes to cook. The hardest part is letting it rest for five minutes before digging in.

Recipe: Air Fryer Meatloaf

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