If you own an air fryer—aka the kitchen tool of the moment that everyone from your neighbor to mother-in-law can't stop talking about—and have spent any time researching recipes, you know that the majority of them fall into two categories: Healthier meatballs and breaded chicken.
While the appliance certainly does work its magic to amp up these two food categories, for vegan eaters looking to use their air fryer to make a plant-forward meal, the recipes may take a bit more digging to find. And chances are, you don't really have time to do a deep dive (which is, ahem, one of the key reasons why you invested in an air fryer in the first place). Truly a shame, seeing as your air fryer is a great tool for crisping up vegetables and other plant-based foods like tofu or chickpeas quickly.
To take a step back, remember that an air fryer is not a fryer at all. Unlike deep fryers that submerge ingredients in a vat of hot oil, an air fryer is really just a small-sized convection oven that circulates hot air around food to give it a crispy, almost fried-like texture. Think about the oven fries you loved so much as a kid—air frying is same idea without the lengthy preheat time or need to fuss with a sheet pan. When using an air fryer, you typically need just a couple of tablespoons of oil plus seasonings to coat your Brussels sprouts, eggplant fries, or cauliflower florets before tossing them in the basket to cook. While they won't taste deep fried, they will come out perfectly tender on the inside with a crunchy exterior. Pro tip: Don't forget to shake the food that's inside your air fryer basket around at least once throughout the cooking process so everything cooks evenly.
Ready to get started air frying veggies, plant-based protein, and more to perfection? Here, the hard work is all done for you. (Except for, you know, the cooking part.) Below are 10 air fryer-based recipes that are 100-percent vegan, and 100-percent easy.
Scroll down for 10 vegan air fryer recipes.
All vegans have experienced a well-meaning friend cocking an eyebrow and asking, "But, do you get enough protein?" Spoiler alert: Chicken isn't the only way to ensure your taco dinner helps you reach your daily needs. In this recipe, chickpeas are the protein source, and they're paired with cauliflower for fiber (this is the part where the air fryer comes in handy) and avocado for some good healthy fats. Balanced and delicious.
2. Green beans
It's easy to get into the same routine of using rice as a base for tofu-based meals. For a veggie-centric twist, try green beans, made perfectly crispy in the air fryer. Besides the beans, all you need is literally half a teaspoon of oil and the cooking tool takes care of the rest.
3. Tofu bowl
Without an air fryer, it's a bit tricky to get tofu perfectly crisp, but the kitchen tool makes it so much easier. It's the starring ingredient in this meal. If you want to amp up the protein, use quinoa or brown rice instead of white rice.
Baked potatoes taste delicious no matter what, but when you use your air fryer to make them, they come out light, airy, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. To keep it vegan, top it off with olive oil instead of butter, and don't forget the salt and pepper.
Here, your favorite Southern staple gets reimagined in the air fryer, and there's nothing not to love about the comfort food classic.
Buffalo chicken is a popular air fryer-based dish, but using cauliflower ups the fiber while still satisfying that craving. (Because, let's be honest, it's all in the sauce.) Show up to game day with these babies and you're sure to head home with an empty plate.
Another smart way to use your air fryer to make a cauliflower-based dish is by giving it an anti-inflammatory twist—using turmeric, of course. Look how gorgeous these cauli-steaks turn out. This is dinner party *gold.*
Because they're so nutrient-rich, traditional omelettes make a great go-to dinner as well as breakfast—and this vegan makeover made using the air fryer is no different. Made with tofu, chickpea flour, and an array of spices, it's just as good for you and delish.
This Middle Eastern staple is full of flavor and protein, making them a great post-workout lunch or dunner. The key to getting the consistency just right is soaking the dried chickpeas before putting them in the food processor and air fryer. Don't forget the spices, too!
Clearly the air fryer is a clutch tool for making crispy protein balls of all sorts, and this is another one to add to your arsenal. Using vegetable broth as a base will ensure the flavor comes through in every bite.
Article originally published on August 3, 2019 with additional reporting by Betty Gold.
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