I Used My Air Fryer Every Day for Two Solid Weeks—Here’s What I Learned

Your air fryer really can be an everyday appliance.

I was slow to jump on the air fryer train, thinking it was a gimmicky appliance (looking at you, quesadilla maker) that I had no room in my kitchen for. Then I found out that “air fryer” was a flashy name for “tiny high-powered convection oven that fits on your countertop and will change your life forever.” I bought one immediately and never looked back!

When I was a professional chef, the only ovens I ever used were convection ovens, which cook food by rapidly circulating hot air, and maintain a more even temperature than a regular home oven. Then I became a professional recipe developer working out of my own kitchen, and remembered why it’s so hard for home cooks to get restaurant-caliber results.

Even though they’re much smaller than professional convection ovens, there’s a lot you can do in an air fryer. (These are the best air fryers, according to the Taste of Home Test Kitchen). To prove it, I spent two weeks cooking three meals a day for our family using only an air fryer.

How I Used My Air Fryer

Breakfast

breakfast tacos out of the air fryerMatt Robicelli for Taste of Home

My family of four doesn’t eat breakfast at the same time, nor does anyone like the same things—my wife and I like “fancy” things like omelets and veggie-packed hashes, while our teenage sons prefer toasted bagels and frozen waffles. And thanks to its versatility, all of these things can be easily made in the air fryer with minimal mess. Anything that keeps me from needing to clean the kitchen in the morning is A-OK in my book.

At first, we all kept our air-fryer breakfasts pretty simple. The kids made toast they could schmear with peanut butter or jam (air fryers also work as toasters); my wife made air-fryer hard-boiled eggs she could drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with good salt; I’d whisk up some eggs with leftover veggies from the previous evening’s dinner, divide between two ramekins, and make myself a pair of mini-frittatas. All of these things were so easy to make, we were always able to start our day with a delicious breakfast, no matter how groggy we were.

Because the air fryer was easy to use and didn’t leave us with a sink of dirty dishes, all four of us began upgrading our breakfast game significantly. The kids learned how to make eggs Lorraine; my wife and I would crack eggs into ramekins filled with tomato sauce and spices for individual shakshuka. While cooking dinner, I’d whip up quick and easy things that could be kept in the refrigerator to be air-fried the next morning, like homemade sausage patties and cinnamon breakfast bites.

Lunch

grilled cheese out of the air fryerMatt Robicelli for Taste of Home

Lunch is usually simple since my wife and I work from home and don’t want to do dishes in the middle of the day. Many times, we’d use the air fryer to heat up leftovers from the night before since, unlike the microwave, air fryers can be used for foods that are meant to be crisp. (It’s now the only way any of us will reheat cold pizza.) And while she and I are more than capable of whipping up a gourmet lunch, we did discover the wonders of air-fryer grilled cheese. Then we upped our game to fancy grilled cheese, which is any kind of sandwich with a slice of cheese and mayo smeared on the outside, popped in the air fryer until bubbly and golden brown.

Another lunch we fell back in love with: mini English muffin pizzas. My wife and I both made those as after school snacks when we were kids, and realized they were a perfect recipe for the air fryer. We started riffing off that recipe like we did with the grilled cheese sandwiches. One of our favorites was a Tex Mex-inspired version with crumbled chorizo, cheddar cheese and my guilty pleasure, Taco Bell hot sauce.

Dinner

tofu stir fry made with an air fryerMatt Robicelli for Taste of Home

I figured dinner would be a cinch, considering there’s no shortage of amazing air-fryer recipes out there: air-fryer pickles, coconut shrimp and beef Wellington were all big hits in this house!

But where the air fryer truly excelled was the nights where I was so exhausted, I could barely bring myself to cook. Toss some tofu and vegetables in soy marinade, throw it all into a 400°F air fryer, watch some TV and before you know it, dinner is served. Chicken thighs marinated in salad dressing, salmon steaks brushed with bottled teriyaki sauce, frozen shrimp tossed with blackening spices—the air fryer was made for mindless cooking; “can do” on days you “can’t even.”

I followed the suggested cooking times given in my air fryer’s manual, and got a fantastic dinner every single time.

What I Learned About Air-Fryer Cooking

Keep it clean

When you only use your air fryer occasionally, it’s pretty easy to clean—usually a quick wipe down or rinse is all you need. But when you’re using your air fryer for three meals a day, it needs a deep clean every night.

Fortunately, this isn’t hard to do! After shaking off any crumbs and stuck-on food, the air fryer baskets and drip tray go into the dishwasher at the end of the day and are ready to use again when we wake up for breakfast.

Learn how to clean an air fryer.

Preheating is key

Just like a big oven, your air fryer (a small oven!) cooks best when it’s been preheated. But, because of its compact size, it only takes 60-90 seconds for your air fryer to get hot. The results are worth waiting for—food comes out browner, crispier and more evenly cooked. Preheating is only one of the simple air fryer hacks that will make your meals delicious.

Don’t forget to spray

Even though many air fryers have nonstick interiors, always give your trays and basket a light spritz of cooking spray before adding your food. We learned the hard way that there is such a thing as “too much cheese,” and a little cooking spray will save you from a lot of scrubbing.

Use cookware

Don’t think of an air fryer as a fryer—think of it as an oven. Just like an oven, picking the right size for your air fryer is very important. Make use of ramekins, cake pans and other air-fryer accessories, which will open your air fryer up to a whole new world of possibilities.

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Matt Robicelli
Matt Robicelli is a recipe developer and professional air fryer tester. A graduate of the French Culinary Institute and former chef/owner of a renowned New York City bakery, Matt has coauthored several cookbooks, including The Back to the Future Cookbook. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, recipe developer and author Allison Robicelli.