If you have an air fryer, you’ll probably be familiar with its many perks. Quick, convenient, and versatile, air fryers give food that moreish crispy texture while using little to no oil. Because of this, they’re seen as one of the healthiest ways to cook.

There are many healthy air fryer recipes, but some contain more benefits than others. If you want to use your air fryer to cook delicious, health-boosting recipes, we’ve got some inspiration for you – and plenty of variety too.

From kale chips that are perfect as a healthy snack to crispy sweet potato wedges that are ideal when you’re craving some comfort food, here are 10 air fryer recipes with surprising health benefits.

1. Cauliflower tacos

Cauliflower tacos

There are few people who don’t like tacos, and if you’re looking to eat more plants, air fryer roasted cauliflower tacos are an excellent choice. Cauliflower is incredibly healthy; it’s packed with nutrients and plant compounds that may reduce the risk of diseases like cancer and heart disease. It’s also high in fibre and antioxidants, and is believed to help with weight management.

Cooking cauliflower in an air fryer makes it wonderfully crisp on the outside and delightfully soft inside, while using only the smallest amount of olive oil. Seasoned with chilli, coriander, cumin, and cayenne (spices which contain anti-inflammatory properties), every bite is packed with flavour. For extra crunch, you can make a panko breadcrumb crust.

The cauliflower will only take 15 minutes to cook, so why not use that time to whip up a slaw for even more health benefits? Cabbage is rich in vitamin K, which is believed to support digestion, detoxify the body, and improve immunity.

To make air fryer cauliflower tacos, you might want to try this recipe from Delish.

2. Air fryer chicken and veg skewers

Air fryer chicken and veg skewers

Summer is BBQ season – but that doesn’t mean you can’t use your air fryer! While grilling meat on an open flame creates a delicious scent, research suggests that it can also create cancer-causing compounds called Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These compounds can lead to changes in our DNA that increase cancer risk.

So why not save your outdoor grill for cooking vegetables, and cook your meat in an air fryer? Ituses far less oil (usually around 80% less) too and makes sure the meat stays moist. Plus, chicken is high in protein, niacin, selenium, and phosphorus.

If you’re planning a BBQ this summer, why not make these air fryer chicken skewers with veggies? The tomato and peppers add a welcome dose of vitamins and antioxidants – as well as colour – and the skewers take less than 20 minutes to cook. If you’re veggie or vegan, why not make these air fryer miso tofu skewers from Vegan Bunny Chef instead?

3. Salmon salad with air fried salmon bites

Salmon salad with air fried salmon bites

If you’re on the lookout for a new salad to enjoy this summer, this air fried salmon salad might hit the mark. Salmon is one of the healthiest fishes around; it’s an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as B12 and selenium. Plus, it’s high in protein too, so you won’t have to worry about feeling hungry after – which can be the case with some salads!

Rather than cooking whole salmon fillets in your air fryer and then flaking them, why not make bite-sized pieces? Marinated in lemon, butter, and garlic, these air fryer salmon bites from Downshiftology aren’t just delicious, they’re also incrediblyversatile. You can reheat any leftovers in your air fryer and add to rice bowls, or simply enjoy as a healthy, protein-packed snack.

Once you’ve made your air fryer salmon bites from the recipe above, why not add them to this salmon salad recipe by Lauren Fit Foodie? Packed with vitamins and antioxidants, the fresh veg is the perfect accompaniment to the fatty salmon, and the bang bang dressing adds just the right amount of zing.

4. Air fryer roasted chickpea salad with avocado

Air fryer roasted chickpea salad with avocado

If you like the idea of a protein-packed salad but don’t fancy salmon – or just want another recipe – why not make a roasted chickpea salad? Chickpeas are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and fibre, and are thought to offer many health benefits, from supporting weight management and digestion to reducing the risk of disease.

When you roast chickpeas, they become deliciously crispy – but cooking them in the oven can return varying results, with some burning while others remain soft. Cooking them in an air fryer is a game changer, and pretty much guarantees you chewy, crunchy, flavoursome chickpeas in 15 minutes.

This crispy air fryer chickpea recipe from Sweet Peas & Saffron uses garlic, onion powder, cayenne, salt, and paprika to flavour the chickpeas. Once cooked, you can eat them by themselves as a savoury snack, or for maximum health benefits, why not add them to a salad? In this roast chickpea and avocado salad by Delish, the creaminess of the avocado pairs beautifully with piquant chickpeas and zingy tomatoes – and offers healthy fats and additional vitamins too!

5. Air fryer chimichanga

Air fryer chimichanga

Another recipe for Mexican food fans now! Chimichangas are basically deep-fried burritos, and if you’ve never had one before, you’re in for a treat. Deep frying the tortillas makes them indulgently crispy – but, of course, deep frying uses lots of oil, and is messy. Air frying your burrito, however, is quick, clean, uses just a spritz of cooking spray, and still gives that satisfying crunch.

The key ingredient of a chimichanga is refried beans. While some people might assume refried beans have been fried twice and therefore aren’t that healthy, it’s actually a mistranslation of frijoles refritos – and refritos means ‘well-fried’, not ‘refried’. Refried beans are a great source of protein, fibre, and many essential vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.

In addition to the beans, chimichangas usually contain veg, meat, salsa, and cheese, but you can add whatever ingredients you like. To make a healthier alternative, you can leave out the sour cream and cheese, and add extra guacamole. Why not make these air fryer chicken chimichangas from Project Meal Plan? Or keep things plant-based with this veggie air fryer chimichanga from The Edgy Veg.

6. Crispy air fried tofu

Crispy air fried tofu

Tofu can get a bad rap – but if you think you’re not a fan, this next recipe will surely change your mind. While it has a mild natural taste, tofu acts like a sponge, so if you season it well, it’ll be bursting with flavour. And cooking tofu in the air fryer gives it a satisfying crisp texture and golden colour, while the inside remains chewy and soft.

Tofu is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s a complete protein that’s packed with protective plant compounds and nutrients, including calcium. It’s thought to help support heart health, manage cholesterol, support blood sugar management, alleviate perimenopausal symptoms, and support bone health.

This air fryer crispy tofu recipe from Love and Lemons uses sriracha and tamari to give the tofu lots of flavour, but you can add as many spices or sauces as you like. The tofu takes around 10 minutes to crisp up, then you can enjoy it in many different ways: season and serve with chilli and spring onions as a side dish, add to a rice bowl, or throw into a stir-fry. Or why not make this air fryer tofu and soba noodle salad from Good Housekeeping?

7. Air fryer kale crisps

Air fryer kale crisps

If you’re a fan of snacking on salty, savoury treats, you’re certainly not the only one. There’s something comforting about having a bowl of crisps or tortilla chips on your lap when you’re relaxing or watching a film – but unfortunately, most crisps aren’t exactly healthy. So why not make some air fryer kale crisps instead?

We all know that kale is incredibly good for us. It contains four times as much vitamin C as spinach, and twice as much selenium. It’s also high in antioxidants, vitamin K, and beta-carotene, and contains nutrients that can support weight management, heart health, eye health, and healthy cholesterol – to name just four health benefits.

Cooking kale in the air fryer turns it fabulously crispy. You can buy kale crisps in many supermarkets and health food shops, but making your own is almost always healthier. Plus, it costs less too. Simply season, add a dash of olive oil, and cook until crisp – about five minutes. To make kale crisps, try this recipe from Piping Pot Curry.

8. Air fryer scallops with lemon butter

Air fryer scallops with lemon butter

Sweet, buttery, yet also subtly briny, scallops are rich in many nutrients. They’re high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and B12, and they also contain important minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and zinc. All these play a key role in our bodily functions.

If you’re a fan of scallops, why not try cooking them in the air fryer next time you fancy a seafood fix? Frying scallops on the stove usually uses lots of butter or oil, while grilling them involves careful watching. Cooking them in an air fryer, however, is a quick, easy, and lower fat alternative.

But scallops do go deliciously with butter, so why not try this air fryer scallops with garlic and lemon butter recipe from Cake N Knife? The scallops take around 12 minutes to become perfectly cooked. Then, you can serve them as a starter, a side dish, or pair them with pasta to make a delicious seafood spaghetti.

9. Crispy sweet potato wedges

Crispy sweet potato wedges

If you have a craving for thick, crispy chips, why not make a healthier alternative and whip up some sweet potato wedges? While regular potatoes aren’t bad carbs, sweet potatoes are superior in several ways. Not only are they much higher in vitamin A, but they’re also lower on the glycemic index, which means they’re less likely to make your blood sugar spike.

Sweet potatoes contain many other important vitamins and minerals, including beta carotene, vitamin C, zinc, fibre, and potassium. They’re also rich in antioxidants and have benefits for your eyes, gut, brain, and heart. And, if that weren’t enough, they’re also believed to have anti-inflammatory benefits, boost the immune system, and ward off cancer.

Cooking your sweet potato in the air fryer makes them delightfully crispy. And, unlike deep-fried chip shop chips, you only need to use a teaspoon of oil. Tossing the wedges in a paprika, coriander, cumin, and garlic mix gives them a delicious depth of flavour – and extra health benefits. Why not try these crispy air fried sweet potato wedges from Eating Well?

10. Air fryer falafel

Air fryer falafel

Traditionally made with chickpeas or fava beans and lots of spices and herbs, falafels are packed with plant protein, fibre, and vitamins. But while falafel ingredients are healthy, they’re usually deep-fried. And while baked falafels can be dry and inspiring, air fried falafels are another matter.

When you cook falafels in the air fryer, they turn a beautiful golden brown colour, and the shells are perfectly crispy, while the inside is fluffy. You can enjoy their multiple health benefits without worrying about consuming too much oil. These air fryer falafels from Elavegan are gluten-free, cholesterol-free, vegan, and high-protein, and have a tender interior and crispy outer shell.

They’re also ideal for meal-prep, so why not make a big batch and enjoy throughout the week? You can enjoy falafels in pitta or wraps, drenched in your favourite sauce, or in a sandwich, salad bowl, or lettuce wrap. You can even make large patties and eat them as a burger, or serve as part of a Mediterranean mezze plate.

Final thoughts…

While frying food isn’t thought of as a healthy way to cook, air frying is a different matter. Cooking food in an air fryer is a great way to get that satisfying crunch and enticing golden colour while using little to no oil.

Hopefully a few of these recipes have stirred your appetite – but if you’re looking for more air fryer inspiration, why not check out our other articles, 12 best air fryer recipes and 10 airfryer breakfast recipes to jumpstart your day.

If you don’t have an air fryer but are interested in in buying one, you might want to check out our guide, 13 best air fryers 2024.

Are you tempted to make any of these recipes? Do you have any of your own air fryer recipes you’d like to share with our readers? We’d love to hear about your air fryer experiences in the comments below.