Air fryers have become very popular since first introduced. In this post, we’ll share our best healthy vegan air fryer recipes perfect for beginners. From easy plant-based meals using oil-free air fryer tofu to perfect quick and crispy snacks, we guarantee you’ll find a fun new way to use your air fryer in this post! We’ve also included our best air fryer tips and a review of our own air fryer. So if you’ve been thinking of getting an air fryer, or recently got one, settle in and learn some of the wonderful vegan ways you can use it.
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We’ve had our air fryer for quite a few years now and absolutely love it!
They’re super convenient, fairly inexpensive (depending on the brand/model), and can be pretty compact and perfect for a countertop. And probably best of all, they don’t require a huge production for set up or clean up after use.
We use our air fryer at least half a dozen times a week, and always for such a versatile array of foods.
Apparently, we’re not alone in our love for air fryers. Sales of them have spiked in the past year alone. Not to mention, vegan air fryer recipes are consistently some of the most popular on our site!
So we finally put all our vegan air fryer recipes in one place, along with some of our best tips we’ve picked up over the years and answers to the questions you’ve asked!
What is an air fryer?
An air fryer is basically a compact form of a convection oven. That is, air is heated to a high temperature via an element or coil and blown around at high speed by an internal fan. This heated air produces a very scientific chemical reaction known as the Maillard Effect that browns and crisps the food as a fryer would.
Air fryers were actually only introduced to the market as recently as 2010 and touted as a way of “frying” food with up to 80% less oil. Yes, most air fryers call for “less oil” and not necessarily no oil for maximum crispness and browning. (Would that be “Maillarding”?) But as my grandmother used to say: “A little goes a long way.”
These days there are all shapes and sizes of air fryers from less than $50 to more than $200. There’s the old-style basket fryers and toaster oven convection-style fryers. There are ones with dual chambers each with different temp selections and even fryer/dehydrator/pizza oven combinations. We’ll look at some of these models later.
Is an air fryer good for vegans?
An air fryer is a tremendously convenient appliance for ANY vegan kitchen (at every level of skill!). And if you’re looking to cook with less oil, it really does cut back on the amount you need to get things nice and crisp. And in some cases, the oil can easily be omitted entirely.
We love to use ours to make homemade or frozen fries and to heat frozen vegan chicken nuggets or burgers. Air fryers are GREAT for crisping tofu for stir fry or whipping up a quick batch of croutons with stale bread. Oh, and one more word: tots. They make the BEST frozen tater tots.
Cook’s Essentials Air Fryer Review
We have a slightly older model of the Cook’s Essentials basket-style air fryer. It’s a basic model by a popular brand – a gift from a VERY sweet friend and blog reader.
What We Like
We love it for all the reasons stated above. The Cook’s Essentials air fryer we have is compact, convenient, saves time, and does a MUCH better job reheating and crisping food than a microwave would. Not to mention, our particular model is SUPER cute.
What It Could Do Better
There are some things I wish it did better though. Although, I’m pretty sure these will apply to most basket models and maybe all air fryers in general. Maybe there’s just some things they can’t do!
The basket on our air fryer is widely perforated, which makes obvious sense because in order for the whole thing to work the hot air needs to circulate ALL around the food. While this is great for breaded or dry-rubbed foods, this design does not allow for batter-dipped foods to be air-fried (unless they’re the frozen, store-bought kind, then it works like a charm). I can’t see any of the air fryers I’ve looked at addressing this though.
I think the reason our air fryer works best for us is because we’re cooking for the two of us. Basket models can’t be filled all the way if you want a consistent browning and cooking of the food. (Don’t be fooled by some sales pictures you see.) Also, filling the basket too high can cause burning and a potential fire. Larger amounts of food need to be done in batches, which can sometimes take away the convenience factor. believe the 3-4 level, tiered models discussed below might correct this issue.
More Air Fryer Brand Options
Ten years have shown a lot of change and advancement in air fryers, and now multiple brands offer a variety of styles. Many of the single basket-style models can now be gotten for well under $100, and tiered models (think like your regular shelved oven) and multi-function models going between $100-200.
If you’re just settling into a new kitchen, one of these multifunction units can replace quite a few appliances and save a lot of space. Some are miniature, fully-operational convection ovens that sit on your counter. Perfect for studio apartments.
Instant Pot Vortex Plus 10 Quart Air Fryer Oven: Instant Pot got into the air fryer game and offers this oven style with three tiered rack inserts and rotisserie/closed basket accessory for around $125. They also offer a basket model for a similar price or this mini oven 11-in-1 appliance for just under $200.
The Ninja Foodi series offers a two-basket air fryer that allows you to simultaneously cook at independent temperatures in both baskets. Ninja also offers a slightly more expensive style in their Foodi series that is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, AND air fryer. Isn’t technology great?
Cook’s Essentials has always had some really beautiful styles to their basic models and recently have come out with some gorgeous advanced/multifunction oven models as well.
Vegan Air Fryer Recipes for Beginners
2. Air Fryer Croutons
Seasoned and tossed with just the slightest oil (or skip it for oil-free), these easy air fryer croutons level up any old salad or bowl of creamy soup. Crispy perfection.
An absolute necessity for green bean casseroles, I also love to just eat these air fryer onion crisps by hand out of the basket. Make extra.
These air fryer pita chips are THE BEST way to use up stale pita bread and SO easy to make. They are awesome as a vegan snack served with ALL the dips – like our extra garlic hummus or our vegan tahini feta dip.
These air fryer vegan taquitos with JACKFRUIT are the perfect game day or snack time bites! You’ll be blown away by the flavor and crispness!
Do you have air fryer questions we didn’t answer in this post? Leave them in the comments below!
And be sure to tag us in your photos on Instagram if you make any of these delicious recipes or you try your own vegan air fryer adventures. We love celebrating your kitchen wins with you! If you’re not already hanging out with us on IG, we are @theplantpowercouple with the “the”.
Until next time!