8 Dietitian-approved, air fryer side dishes and snacks you are sure to enjoy

  • 2 Minutes Read

Sure, we all know about crispy buttermilk chicken that made the air fryer famous, but what about side dishes alongside that chicken? Here are some of our favorite, nutrient-packed, easy-to-prepare air fryer side dishes and snacks without the added fat and calories of deep frying.

Air fryer side dishes

Air fryer side dishes and snacks prepared in your "mini convection oven"

Air fryers are essentially convection ovens that fit on your countertop. A heating fan inside the appliance moves hot air over and around your food, producing a crispy texture, similar to the cooking technique of frying, yet without the large amounts of oil. Air fryers continue gaining in popularity and typically cost between $100-200.

Air fryer side dishes

Stuffed sweet potatoes

Savory sweet potatoes can be served as a hearty side dish or stand-alone meal. Rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber, they can easily be made ahead of time and reheated before serving. Omit the bacon to reduce saturated fat.

Air fryer eggplant

While eggplant is low in calories, it acts like a sponge, absorbing much of the oil used during cooking. So here is an alternative way to prepare this vegetable, using only two tablespoons of oil for an entire eggplant. Serve alongside grilled chicken or fish.

Brussels sprouts

Excellent source of vitamin C and fiber, this versatile cruciferous vegetable can be served as an appetizer or side dish. This air fryer recipe is perfect for working on weight loss, as it calls for only two teaspoons of oil to one pound of brussels sprouts. Sprinkle lightly with parmesan cheese for extra flavor.

Air fryer snacks and appetizers

Air fryer apple chips

Looking for a sweet treat to add to your kids' lunch boxes? These apple chips will stay fresh inside an airtight container for up to five days. Make sure not to cut the slices too thin or run the risk of burning the chips. Sprinkle with cinnamon for added flavor and nutritional benefits.

Air fryer beet chips

Rich in potassium and fiber, this root vegetable is often overlooked for potatoes. This simple recipe calls for peeling and thinly slicing three medium beets. Next, toss with a small amount of oil, salt, and pepper and cook for 25-30 minutes. Shake the air fryer basket about every five minutes to ensure even browning and prevent overcooking the chips.

Buffalo cauliflower bites

This keto-friendly appetizer is a plant-based alternative to traditional chicken wings. Air fryer side dishes such as these are flavorful though tend to be high in sodium. Reduce the sodium by using hot sauce instead of buffalo sauce.

Pistachio-crusted salmon bites

Looking for ways to prioritize protein while also taking advantage of your air fryer? Made from sockeye salmon fillets, these salmon bites feature heart-healthy fats as well as protein. Reduce the saturated fat by using light sour cream in place of regular.

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Avoid heating up the house while making dessert with this recipe for air fryer cookies! Oats and whole wheat flour punch up the nutrition, while caramel or chocolate chips add extra sweetness. When baking with batter, place parchment paper over your air fryer baking pan for easier cleaning up.

Air fryer considerations

Pros

-If you are watching your weight and looking for some inspiration in the kitchen, an air fryer makes a fun, healthier alternative to deep frying. Since it requires much less oil to air fry, you will save calories without compromising texture and flavor.
-In addition, air fryers cook food quickly and won't heat up your house as much as traditional ovens.

Cons

-Air fryers come in several sizes yet tend to be bulky kitchen gadgets. They easily take up some serious real estate in your kitchen.
-Every model is different and you'll want to check your air fryer side dishes frequently during your first few uses. They commonly run hot, so checking frequently and adjusting the temperature will ensure you don't overcook your food.
-These appliances are best used when cooking for one or two. Even the largest fryers have limited capacity, so you'll have to cook in batches if you are cooking for a crowd.
-The mesh baskets are often not dishwasher safe and may require soaking or scrubbing to adequately clean.

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Foods & Recipes->Fruit & Vegetables Meal Planning & Diets->Snacks Meal Planning & Diets->"Plan, Shop, Prep, and Cook"
Nov 1, 2021
Joanna Kriehn
Joanna Kriehn, MS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

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