Quick Air Fryer Hacks That Will Simplify Your Weeknights

Monica Gray - October 26, 2023

Cooking during the week probably feels like another chore to add to your never-ending list. Most of the time, you probably order takeout or eat whatever you can find buried in your fridge. Unfortunately, bad eating habits can lead to a poor mental and physical state, which is why it’s so important to nourish yourself with healthy food. This is why we’ve curated a list of the best air fryer hacks that’ll simplify your weeknights.

All it takes is a bit of planning, meal preparation, and simple cooking hacks. According to RDN Basheerah Enahora, “I definitely think meal prepping helps us with just living well in general. When we put some thought into it, we’re more likely to pick up really nutrient-rich foods from the grocery store. We have a list that’s decided in advance.” These hacks make cooking easy, fun, delicious, and nutritious! Doesn’t that sound appetizing?

All Recipes

Air-Fried Ravioli

We all know the traditional way of making ravioli, and that’s to dump it into a pot of boiling water until it’s soft enough to eat. But that can get old pretty quickly, especially if you’ve tried every filling under the sun. That’s where the air fryer comes in! Instead of soaking ravioli in oil and deep drying it, you can use your air fryer. Simply dip ravioli in egg, cheese, and breadcrumbs, then air fry at 375°F (190°C). This makes a crispy appetizer, snack, or meal, depending on the portion, without a greasy mess that’ll make you feel tired and bloated. You can make a delicious tomato sauce to go with the ravioli, and a side of greens for a full meal (All Recipes).

Everyday Family Cooking

Dehydrate Fruits And Veggies

To help your fruits and vegetables last longer, you can dehydrate them. This extends their shelf life, meaning you won’t have to go to the store as often. This is especially helpful if you’re constantly in and out of the house, without much time to prepare food, cook, and clean. It helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in your food that have the potential to make you sick. Your air fryer is the perfect tool to dehydrate your fruits and vegetables. Simply use the lowest temperature setting (usually around 120-130°F or 50-55°C) to dehydrate your favorite fruits and vegetables. (Everyday Family Cooking).

Everything Air Fryer

Stuffed Avocado

If you’re a huge fan of avocados, then we’re happy to tell you that you can use avocados in your air fryer. This is an easy recipe that’ll provide you with good fats, vegetables, and dairy. All you have to do is cut an avocado in half, scoop out a little extra flesh, stuff it with any cheese you want, breadcrumbs, vegetables, and seasoning, and air fry it until it’s golden and crispy. Preparation takes a matter of minutes, and the results are delicious. If you want a more Mexican-styled dish, Everything Air Fryer suggests, “lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, cilantro, mushrooms, cheese, zucchini, black olives, jalapenos, black beans, peppers, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.” You can also add egg, chicken, turkey, or sausage depending on what kind of meal you want to have. (Everything Air Fryer).

BBC Good Food

Bake Muffins

Who said you always needed an oven to bake muffins? With an air fryer, you can bake muffins, and we guarantee they’ll taste just as good, or even better. Do this by using silicone muffin cups and the air fryer to bake muffins or cupcakes at 350°F (175°C). For ingredients, it depends on what kind of muffin you want, whether you want chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, or vegan. You can even make them sugar-free, so they’re a healthy dessert or snack to grab after work. You only need to leave them in the air fryer for about 15 minutes before they’re brown and fully cooked through. The air fryer requires less cooking time and uses less energy. It’s a more time-efficient way of cooking, especially for something that doesn’t require that much time like a muffin (BBC Good Food).

USA Today

Reheat A Pizza

This is another hack that replaces the need for an oven, which is time-consuming. During the week, you might not have time to wait for your oven to preheat, which is where the air fryer steps in. Place a slice of pizza in the air fryer at 350°F (175°C) for a few minutes to restore its crispiness and deliciousness. Make sure to check it halfway through to make sure it’s not burning and it’s at the level of crispiness you want. Depending on the level of toppings and thickness will dictate how long it spends sitting in your air fryer. Either way, it’s a fast solution that’ll save energy and time (USA Today).

Sweet Peas and Saffron

Crispy Chickpeas

There’s nothing better than an easy batch of crispy chickpeas. They’re the perfect pre-gym workout snack or appetizer. These also taste delicious sprinkled on top of soups and salads. All you have to do is toss canned chickpeas with seasonings and air fry at 375°F (190°C) until they’re crunchy. It only takes about 15 minutes to cook up this delicious snack, full of protein, and their crispiness is a lot more evenly distributed than if you were to cook them in the oven (Sweet Peas and Saffron).

Jessica in the Kitchen

Crispy Silken Tofu

Tofu is a delicious and healthy alternative to meat and other processed food. It’s a great addition to any diet, whether you’re a vegetarian or not. You can easily make crispy silken tofu in your air fryer and add it to salads or sandwiches. This is a simple weeknight meal to eat even during your busiest days. Toss cubed tofu in your favorite seasonings and air fry at 375°F (190°C) until it’s crispy. Jessica from Jessica in the Kitchen blog says, “Cornstarch is our secret weapon for crispy tofu! Cornstarch helps to draw out excess liquid and gives the tofu a crispy exterior. Light soy sauce or liquid aminos – I prefer light soy sauce (or even liquid aminos) since it’s not as salty. You can also use coconut aminos.” There’s no need for all that extra oil and deep-frying, which would make your tofu unhealthy and full of bad fats. That’s the last thing you need with your busy lifestyle (Jessica in the Kitchen).

Well Plated

Cook Bacon A Cleaner Way

There is such a thing as perfectly crispy bacon, and it’s all thanks to the air fryer! There’s nothing worse than having a messy kitchen full of bacon grease. Luckily, that’s where your air fryer comes in. You’ll get the crispy bacon, without all the greasy mess. To do this, place bacon strips in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Let it cook until it’s as crispy as you like. Say no to soggy bacon! It’s completely hands-free, and the air fryer is great for both thick and thin-cut bacon (Well Plated).

Insanely Good Recipes

Cook Frozen Dumplings

Setting aside dozens of frozen dumplings is a great way to have meal prep for an entire week. It’s easy to take them out of the freezer and stick them into your handy dandy air fryer. You can air fry frozen dumplings without defrosting for a quick and crispy snack. Add a few vegetables or a side salad to make it into a nutritious meal. A few tips from the Insanely Good Recipes blog recommend, “Do not overcrowd the air fryer basket. Air fryers cook food by producing and circulating hot air throughout the basket. If there’s not enough space, the food won’t cook properly. Don’t stack the dumplings over one another for evenly-cooked dumplings. Cook in batches if needed. Don’t forget to spray the dumplings with oil to get those nice and crispy skins. The oil also keeps the dumplings moist. Without it, the dumplings will be tough and dry.” (Insanely Good Recipes).

All Day in the Oven

Revive Stale Snacks

If you had a box of cereal or a bag of chips lying around that you forgot about, they’ve probably turned stale. Luckily, your air fryer is the perfect way to rejuvenate all those stale chips, crackers, or cereal by air frying them at 350°F (175°C) for a few minutes. It brings back their moisture and makes them as good as new. There’s no need to waste food when you have an air fryer lying around. This is probably the most life-changing hack on this list, considering that the cupboard full of stale food just took on new life (Reddit).

My Forking Life

Recreate Leftover Mac and Cheese

If you have a container of old mac and cheese lying around, you can use your air fryer to eat them in an entirely new way. Shape cold mac and cheese into balls, coat them in breadcrumbs, and air fry for a crispy treat. This will take that boring bowl of mac and cheese and turn it into something new and delicious. Add a few more flavors to change it up even more. Because you’re not deep frying them, they’re just as nutritious as if you were simply eating mac and cheese. You can make them even healthier by using gluten-free noodles or vegan cashew nut cheese. They only need about 10 minutes in the air fryer to come out golden and crispy (My Forking Life).

Fork to Spoon

Bake Mini Cakes

There’s nothing better than a mini cake to end a long day at work. You can prepare small cake batter portions in ramekins and air fry at 350°F (175°C) for a quick and easy dessert, or post-work snack. For a healthier alternative, use gluten-free flour, no sugar, and nutritious ingredients like eggs or fillings like apples or blueberries. Toss them in the air fryer until their cooked through and crispy, and add a dollop of peanut butter on top for added protein and fat (Fork to Spoon).

Simmer to Slimmer

Roast Nuts

For the perfect afternoon snack, grab a handful of roasted nuts. You can roast these nuts in the air fryer, like almonds or cashews, at 300°F (150°C) for a few minutes. Make sure you’re shaking the basket occasionally to prevent it from burning or sticking to the side. Blogger from Simmer to Slimmer says roasted nuts in your air fryer make a great snack because “Nuts are a good source of protein, fat, and fiber and are loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. They protect against heart disease and diabetes. It also keeps you satiated for a long time preventing mindless snacking.” You know exactly what’s going on with them, and there are no added salts or oils that you might get with bagged nuts (Simmer to Slimmer).

Tasty Oven

Roast Garlic Bulbs

Whether you love eating garlic by itself or want to add it to another dish, you can make garlic bulbs in your air fryer. Cut the top off a garlic bulb, drizzle it with olive oil, wrap it in foil, and air fry at 350°F (175°C) until it’s soft and fragrant. You’ll know it’s done when you can press your fork into the garlic and it has a similar consistency as butter. You can use it on toasted bread, pasta, soups, salads, curries, pizza, or vegetable side dishes. The options are endless when it comes to roasted garlic (Tasty Oven).

Cook it Real Good

Crispy Quesadillas

You’re probably used to making quesadillas on the stove. But it never seems to come out right, and you might end up with a burned tortilla or cheese that’s too crispy. For an evenly, deliciously cooked quesadilla, use your air fryer. Make quesadillas by placing tortillas with your favorite fillings in the air fryer for a few minutes and flipping once, until they’re crispy and golden. For an easy dish that’s packed full of protein, you can use simple ingredients like beans and cheese. But for a more nutritious option, fill your quesadilla with chicken, spinach, and other vegetables (Cook It Real Good).