Fun Vegan Ways To Use Your Air Fryer

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.

Air fryers have become insanely 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 the perfect quick 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 to 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), can be pretty compact and perfect for a countertop, and, probably best of all, don’t require a huge production for set up or clean up after use. 

Whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, we use our air fryer at least half a dozen times a week, and always for such a versatile array of big flavor foods.

Apparently, we’re not alone in our love for air fryers: sales of them have spiked in the past year alone, and vegan air fryer recipes are consistently some of the most popular recipes on our website! 

So we finally put our vegan and vegetarian air fryer recipes all 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 than using a deep fryer. 

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, and probably everyone’s, used to say: “A little goes a long way.” 

We have a variety of air fryer recipes we’ll share below – some call for no oil and others call for a little olive oil.

These days there are all shapes and sizes of air fryers at all tiers of cost from less than $50 to more than $200. 

There’s the old-style basket fryers, toaster oven convection-style fryers, ones with dual chambers each with different temp selections, fryer/dehydrator/pizza oven combinations. 

This means cooking times in air fryer recipes will vary which is helpful to keep in mind. 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 those on a vegan diet. 

And if you’re looking for an easy way to cook crispy food with less oil, it really does cut back on the amount you need to use 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 also GREAT for crisping diced tofu for stir fry or whipping up a quick batch of croutons with some stale bread. 

Oh, and one more word: tots. Arguably the best thing to make in an air fryer is the tots. 

These crispy air fryer vegan taquitos are made with a meaty, flavorful jackfruit and refried beans filling with a quick dairy free queso sauce. This tasty vegetarian appetizer recipe is fun to make and is always a huge hit! Serve them with your favorite dips for a game day plant-based platter or for a cozy date night in. Or serve them with some rice and beans for a complete family dinner.

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.

We love it for all the reasons stated above: it’s compact, convenient, saves time, does a MUCH better job reheating and crisping food than a microwave would. Not to mention, our particular model is SUPER cute.

There are some things I wish it did better though. Although, I’m pretty sure these will apply to all (or at least 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 just cooking for the two of us. 

Basket models can’t really be filled all the way (don’t be fooled by some sales pictures you see) if you want a consistent browning and cooking of the food. 

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.

Head on photo of a Salton 3-in-1 Flip and Cook with glass jar

Salton Flip and Cook Air Fryer Review

In 2023, we met Salton at the Inspired Home Show in Chicago, and their team was nice enough to send us a Flip N Cook air fryer to try. It’s my new best friend! 

Needless to say, we put our Cook’s Essentials air fryer away and never looked back! We still like the Cook’s Essentials one, but this new air fryer is on a whole other level. 

Here’s what we love about it:

  • Beautiful glass basket – Not only does this look sheek AF, it also lets you see your food while it’s cooking! And the square shape allows me to fit more food in it without taking up more room on my counter.
  • 3-in-1 design – Takes the place of 3 separate appliances in one! Air fryer, dehydrator, and it flips over to become a cooktop! This is awesome for people with a small kitchen or college students!
  • Space saving design – The whole appliance takes up less room on our counter than our previous air fryers. Salton puts a big focus on building their machines to take up vertical space rather than counter space
  • No weird plastic smell while it’s cooking – I know I can’t be the only one who smells that weird plastic smell from a lot of air fryers. It can be a real turn off! I have been using this Salton air fryer for an entire year, and that has never happened.
  • You can also read our detailed review of the Salton Flip and Cook in our air fryer tofu wing guide!

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 purchased 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.

This easy air fryer tofu with a sweet sriracha sauce is our favorite quick tofu recipe! It’s perfect for a healthy weeknight dinner or meal prep lunch. Tofu is diced and air fried (with no oil needed!) and then tossed in a sweet and spicy sriracha sauce. Serve this sweet sriracha tofu recipe over rice and roasted veggies or in a vegetable stir fry!

The Best Vegan Air Fryer Recipes

Now that we’ve covered air fryer basics, let’s get to the best vegan and vegetarian recipes for air frying! There is something in this list for the whole family.

1. Sweet Sriracha Air Fryer Tofu

Our favorite addition to a stir fry or the main course in an easy vegan dinner bowl, these sweet and spicy cubes of air fryer tofu turn out perfectly crispy and golden brown EVERY time. 

Trust me, if you’re not a tofu fan, these will make you rethink your position. You’ll be licking that spicy sauce off the spoon!

2. Air Fryer Croutons

Air frying croutons is a great way to make them! Seasoned and tossed with just the slightest oil, these easy air fryer croutons level up any old salad or bowl of creamy soup. Crispy perfection.

3. Air Fryer Crispy Onion Strings

An absolute necessity for green beans casseroles (the perfect side dish for the holidays!), I also love to just eat these air fryer onion crisps by hand out of the basket. Make extra.

Make your own pita chips in the air fryer with just 4 ingredients and 20 minutes of your time! Perfect for snacking or dipping in hummus. #vegan #veganrecipe #airfryer #airfryerrecipes #pitachips #easyveganrecipes #vegansnack #homemade

4. Air Fryer Pita Chips

These air fryer pita chips are THE BEST way to use up stale pita bread and such a simple recipe 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.

You can also use this recipe as a framework for making potato chips, veggie chips, or tortilla chips out of corn tortillas!

5. Vegan Air Fryer Taquitos

These air fryer vegan taquitos with JACKFRUIT are the perfect game day or snack time bites!

Serve them with your favorite dipping sauce. You’ll be blown away not just by the flavor and crispness!

6. Vegan Air Fryer Donuts

In the realm of vegan air fryer desserts, this one just may take the cake. For the adventurous bakers out there! 

Fluffy with a bit of crisp, you’re going to LOVE making vegan sugar donuts in your own kitchen! It’s even just a joy to say: Air. Fryer. Donuts.

This meaty vegan jerky is made in the air fryer and full of that classic Bloody Mary cocktail flavor. The perfect snack to enjoy with a cold beer! #vegan #plantbased #jerky #recipe //

7. Easy Air Fryer Vegan Jerky

Your mouth will be amazed by this meaty plant-based magic! 

Vegan jerky from the air fryer made with soy curls is the perfect snack for game day or parties. These are delicious, chewy, and pure bliss. 

8. Air Fryer BBQ Soy Curls

You are going to love this vegan BBQ chicken! Meaty soy curls are marinated and sauced before air-frying to tender perfection! 

Perfect for meal prep, and great for sandwiches or wraps, pizzas, salads, grain bowls and more. You won’t believe how unbelievably easy, or tasty, this delicious recipe is!

9. Air Fryer Buffalo Soy Curls

Make this easy recipe for vegan buffalo soy curls right in your air fryer for a quick snack or as a great plant-based protein for salads, bowls, sandwiches, wraps and more. 

They’re spicy, saucy and super simple to make. Leftovers can even be frozen for later!

Overhead close up photo of a pile of crispy tofu cubes. The top one has a bite taken out of it.

10. Air Fryer Crispy Tofu

In this post, we share our absolute go-to method for a basic crispy air fryer tofu made with simple ingredients can be used in a variety of dishes from stir fry to salads and wraps to a healthy grain and veggie bowl. Unlike other recipes, this one is completely oil-free!

11. Air Fryer Buffalo Tofu Wings

If you’re looking for the best vegan boneless wings with dairy-free buffalo sauce, you’ve found the right recipe, my friend! 

These vegan chicken wings made with frozen and defrosted tofu are marinated, breaded, and air fried before being tossed in a spicy tangy buffalo sauce and dipped into a vegan blue cheese dip. 

If you’re a buffalo sauce fan (or love someone who is!), you have to try this game-changing buffalo tofu recipe.

12. Vegan Air Fryer Chicken Platter

Welcome to the vegan answer to chicken wings! 

We’ve served this Air Fryer Tofu Chicken for many occasions (to both vegans and non-vegans, young and old!) and they are a crowd-favorite every single time. 

With a crispy dairy-free buttermilk breading, sauce and serve these plant-based wings any way you like.

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 vegan air fryer 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!

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