7 surprising things you didn't know you could cook in an air fryer – but you really should be

Air fryers are useful for more than just chicken and chips

Cheesecake being cooked in air fryer oven
(Image credit: Cuisinart)

Air fryers are kitchen appliances that need no introduction given their sheer convenience and versatility. However, are you fully clued up on just how versatile they really are? We guarantee there are certainly a handful of surprising things you didn't know you could cook in an air fryer.

Although many of us have likely turned to the use of the best air fryer on the regular to help us whip up quick yet equally delicious dishes, chances are, you're not using your air fryer to its fullest potential – a big air fryer mistake many unintentionally make.

We've previously explained the various things to avoid cooking in an air fryer, so we figured it was time to flip the script and shed light on some nifty things you probably had no idea your air fryer could do. Knowledge is power, so allow us to let you in on some cooking secrets that go beyond chips, chicken, and veggies.

Air fryers line up from testing day

(Image credit: Future/Phillip Sowels)

Things you didn't know you cook in an air fryer

'Despite the name, air fryers don't actually fry your food,' begins Dean Harper, chef and director at private chef services, Harper Fine Dining. In fact, simply think of an air fryer as a mini convection oven – the biggest difference being that an air fryer is cheaper to run than a traditional oven. 

So, anything that your oven can cook, an air fryer can more or less do as well. While there are a handful of things an oven does better than an air fryer (and vice versa), there's no reason to ditch your air fryer for the following.

1. Boiled eggs

Starting strong, we've got boiled eggs. That's right, no pot of boiling water required. 'Simply place the eggs in the air fryer and let the hot air do the work,' explains Thea Whyte, AO's air fryer expert. 'It's a quick and mess-free way to achieve perfectly boiled eggs.'

On that note, you can also go down the dippy egg – or soft-boiled egg – route with this method and pair it with some soldiers to achieve the British classic.

Black and silver single basket air fryer on kitchen worktop

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sam Milner, air fryer expert and co-author of The Complete Air Fryer Cook Book even notes, 'This is my mummy go-to as I can make it for the kids for breakfast, go and get dressed as the air fryer cooks, speeding up my morning routine.'

Sam Milner
Sam Milner

Sam Milner has been air frying for almost 12 years and is the co-author of the Sunday Times bestseller, The Complete Air Fryer Cook Book: 140 super-easy, everyday recipes and techniques.

Given this kitchen appliance is a must-have for busy Mums, it's no wonder even Dannii Minogue swears by an air fryer for quick after-school dinners.

2. Puff pastries

Since the way an air fryer works is basically akin to baking, it's no surprise that it does the job for nailing both sweet and savoury puff pastries like croissants and Cornish pasties.

Thea explains that an air fryer helps to achieve a perfect balance of crispy and flaky textures. 'The air fryer's efficient hot air circulation will ensure that the pastry layers puff up and become crispy, while any fillings inside will be warm and gooey.'

Cheesecake being cooked in air fryer oven

(Image credit: Cuisinart)

3. Bagels

Bagels are traditionally cooked by dropping the dough into a pot of boiling water before baking. However, Zoe McLean, Breville's senior home economist explains that with the use of an air fryer, you can simply steam the dough and then air fry them for a great result.

Air fried bagels on oven tray

(Image credit: Cuisinart)

4. Steak

If you're quite the steak connoisseur, the idea of using an air fryer might sound like a nightmare. But, for those of us who are simply looking for a quick and delicious result, an air fryer does the job and more.

'Steak is one of those air fryer it once, and you will want to only ever do it the air fryer way,' assures Sam. 'It's easier in the air fryer with a flip-over halfway through.'

Some of the best dual-zone air fryers even come with a meat thermometer as an attachment (attesting to an air fryer's use for cooking steaks all the more).

5. Chicken/pork crackling

We were introduced to this surprising little trick when we tuned into Nigella Lawson's Amsterdam Christmas Special and spotted her using a red COSORI air fryer to quickly whip up chicken crackling to add as a finishing touch to a dish.

The same can be done with pork, too. Simply place chicken or pork skin in the air fryer for a quick snack or topping for your meals.

Air fryer on kitchen worktop

(Image credit: Getty Images)

6. Lasagne

Believe it or not, your comfort food lasagne can also be made in the air fryer without a single extra pan in sight.

'Rather than putting it in the oven, simply assemble your layers of mince and pasta directly into the air fryer for a speedy lasagne,' assures Thea.

7. Cheesecake

A favourite of ours, air fryers also work quite the treat for making desserts like cheesecake. Simply make and assemble a cheesecake as you would, but instead of throwing in the oven, pop it into an air fryer.

Cheesecake being cooked in air fryer oven

(Image credit: Cuisinart)

Considering all the different things you can cook in an air fryer, it's no surprise that the kitchen appliance is slowly transitioning into a new generation of multi-zone air fryers that can just about do anything.

While many models still sport the traditional basket-type look, we're seeing air fryer countertop ovens and French door air fryers increasing in popularity, too as more people are prioritising versatility in their kitchen appliance investments.

Shop our edit of the most versatile air fryers

It's no secret that air fryers have quickly revolutionised our cooking, so it only makes sense that we ought to push it to its limit and take advantage of quicker cooking times and healthier meals anytime we can.

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is Ideal Home’s Junior Writer. She’s always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham in 2022. Previously, she was an Intern Editor for ArchDaily. Now focused on news stories, Jullia can be found down the TikTok and Pinterest rabbit hole scrolling through any new and upcoming trends, hacks, and home inspiration.