Can You Air Fry Everything?

Air fryers are incredibly versatile, so much so that you’ve probably heard people say that you ‘can cook everything in an air fryer’.

While it isn’t strictly true that air fryers can cook everything, it’s fair to say that air fryers are capable of cooking a wide range of foods. If you’re new to air frying your food, read on to learn about the types of foods you can and cannot cook in an air fryer.

What Can Be Cooked in an Air Fryer?

Frozen foods

Most frozen foods can be cooked in an air fryer, and in fact, this is one of the ways the air fryers really shine. Frozen french fries, chicken wings, chicken nuggets, or fish fingers all cook much quicker in an air fryer compared to cooking in a conventional oven, and the air fryer circulates heat all around the food so that your resulting dish has a crisp texture and a golden skin.

You can move your frozen foods directly from your freezer into the air fryer basket and leave the air fryer to work its magic.



Most types of meat and fish can be cooked in an air fryer, including chicken breasts, chicken thighs, sausages, bacon, pork chops, cod, haddock, and salmon. The air fryer does a great job of cooking the meat or fish evenly, and the fact that it cooks quickly means that the meats are better able to retain some of their moisture.

This means they aren’t going to dry out like they might do in an oven, resulting in moist, flavorsome meats. Since the air fryer cooks using circulating hot air, the meats will also be more healthy than if they had been fried.


Some people are surprised to find that air fryers can cook pizza. When choosing a pizza to cook in your air fryer, bear in mind the size and capacity of your appliance. Individual-sized pizzas will fit in most air fryers, but for a full-size pizza, you will likely need an XXL air fryer. Alternatively, you could cut your pizza down the middle and cook it in halves.

Pasta bakes

One of the key rules of cooking with an air fryer is that you don’t use it to cook pasta, but pasta bakes are the exception to the rule. You can mix your dried pasta with a sauce and additional water, and place it in an oven-safe container such as a casserole dish, and then bake this in the oven.

Alternatively, you could cook your pasta on the stove and then finish it with some grated cheese in the air fryer for a crisp crust. If you are cooking pasta with sauce in the air fryer, you need to be sure to use a dish and keep a close eye on the air fryer during baking because sauce could splatter up onto the element and cause problems.

Cookies and cakes

Cookies and cakes

Cookies and cakes can be cooked on a baking sheet or tin which fits into your air fryer. They will have a shorter cooking time compared with cooking in the oven, so you can get started on eating your sweet treats even sooner.

Some Vegetables

Some vegetables are suitable for cooking in the air fryer and some are not. It can be hard to figure out which vegetables will work well in an air fryer, so often you have to use trial and error to establish what is going to work. Generally, those vegetables which have a high water content are better suited to air fryer cooking.

Potatoes are ideal for cooking in the air fryer, either as fries cooked from scratch or as roast potatoes. Sweet potatoes also work well when cooked in an air fryer, and parsnips and carrots can also be cooked with good results. Surprisingly, brussel sprouts are really delicious when cooked in the air fryer, as they get a nice crisp outer skin while retaining moist insides.

What Cannot be Cooked in an Air Fryer?

Wet batter recipes

Any recipe that uses a wet batter is not compatible with cooking in the air fryer, including things like homemade onion rings coated in batter, or homemade battered chicken nuggets.

These won’t work because there isn’t enough hot oil in an air fryer to set the batter quickly, so you will end up with a sticky mess in the bottom of your air fryer. Instead, a deep-fat fryer or a pan of hot cooking oil on the stovetop will work better for these types of foods.

Bolognese and sauce-based foods

You can’t cook sauce-based foods in an air fryer because they are simply too wet. This includes foods like chili con carne, bolognese, stews, and casseroles. These dishes are best cooked in a pan on the stovetop, where they can be contained, and stirred. The exception to this rule is if you are simply wanting to heat up your sauce-based food.

If, for example, you have a leftover portion of chili con carne, you could pour this over the top of a jacket potato in an oven-safe dish, and warm it through in the air fryer. Alternatively, if you have already prepared a bolognese, you could cook this in a pasta bake in the air fryer if you contain the whole thing inside a casserole dish.

You have to be extra careful when cooking sauce-based foods in an air fryer, because they can splatter when they get hot, and the small size of an air fryer cooking chamber means that the splatters are likely to reach the cooking element and potentially cause a fire hazard. If you’re at all unsure about cooking sauce-based foods in an air fryer, exercise caution.



Pasta cannot be cooked in an air fryer unless you are baking it. For fresh or dried pasta which needs to be boiled and then served, you will need to cook this in a pan of water on the stovetop. Pasta requires hot water to cook, and it absorbs some of this along the way, so an air fryer isn’t the best choice of appliance.


Rice is a hard grain that needs to be warmed up in hot water to be cooked, and the air fryer simply doesn’t have the capability to do this, since it cooks with air rather than water. An air fryer would dry out rice, rather than moisten it to get the soft texture you want. Most other hard grains cannot be cooked in an air fryer, including quinoa.

There are some websites that state you can cook raw rice in an air fryer in a casserole dish full of water, and this is possible but it is not recommended due to safety hazards related to putting large amounts of water in an air fryer.

Leafy greens

Leafy greens will dry out very quickly in an air fryer, so avoid cooking them this way unless you want dry spinach chips! Leafy greens that won’t get good results in an air fryer include kale, spinach, and chard. You can cook broccoli in an air fryer, but expect it to be very crisp and dry.

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