5 foods that cook surprisingly well in an air fryer

It turns out that the best air fryers aren't just here to make you chips

Woman working with airfryer and man using laptop
(Image credit: Twinsterphoto/Getty)

Air fryers are brilliant things, cooking tasty food with very little fat and for a fraction of the price of conventional cooking. But if your repertoire has centred around French fries, chunky chips and chicken wings you're missing out. Air fryers are very versatile, and their cooking powers work magic on foods you might not expect.

We've already brought you 6 things we wish we knew before buying an air fryer and the best foods to cook in an air fryer – those are somewhat more obvious meals, though. Here are five foods that cook surprisingly well in an air fryer. All you need to add is something from our list of the best air fryers.

1. Sprouts

Sprouts get a bad rap, especially in the UK where they're associated with memories of soggy, over-boiled lumps of sheer misery that ruin a perfectly good Christmas meal. Or maybe that's just me. But cooked properly, Brussels sprouts can be amazing. Cook them in oil and seasoning for about 20 minutes at 400ºF; as ever, give them a shake a few times to ensure even cooking. If you're not veggie, mixing them with little bits of bacon or pancetta is even better.

2. Bacon 

On the subject of bacon, air frying can give you crisp, super tasty results without the mess of oil frying. The fat falls off as you cook, so you'll need to consult our how to clean an air fryer guide for how to handle the resulting grease, but it's worth the effort. Most recipes say you need 7 minutes at 350ºF, but you'll need longer for thicker cuts.

3. Burgers

Skip this one if you like your burgers medium; air frying is not the cooking technique you want here. But if you prefer your burgers well done (or if your family does) then you can get good results at 400ºF for ten to fifteen minutes. Remember to flip them over halfway for consistent results.

This one really depends on the burgers you're cooking. If you're doing them DIY you may need more time – home-made burgers tend to be thicker than shop-bought – and smaller, frozen ones need careful monitoring so you don't overcook them. You'll often find shop-bought burgers produce quite a lot of grease; that'll fall down during cooking to deliver considerably less greasy patties.

4. Boiled eggs

Yes, really. They're not technically boiled – whatever you do, don't fill your air fryer with water – but you can get the same kind of results in about 15 minutes at 250ºF. Chuck them in ice water to cool them down, peel and eat.

If you have an air fryer and an instant pot, though, I'd recommend doing your eggs in the latter using the 5/5/5 method: five minutes at high pressure, five minutes natural venting, five minutes in ice water. They're incredibly tasty and incredibly easy to peel too.

You can also fry and scramble eggs in your air fryer, provided of course you use an appropriate container. Cracking eggs onto the mesh basket isn't going to end well. 

5. Chickpeas

Air fryer chickpeas are a revelation: crispy, crunchy and much more fun than hummus. According to The Kitchn, they're best with a moroccan spice blend and it's crucial that you get them as dry as possible before air frying. If you don't, they'll pop all over the place. Once they're dry, 20 minutes with the occasional shake at a temperature of 400ºF should do the trick.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).