You Just Got an Air Fryer—Here Are 20 High-Protein Recipes to Make First

Air-Fryer Beer-Battered Fish
Photo: Charlotte and Johnny Autry

From buffalo wings to fish tacos, these delicious recipes are must-trys for air fryer beginners. And with at least 15 grams of protein per serving, these dishes make filling, flavorful and nutritious dinner mains. Recipes like our Air-Fryer Beer-Battered Fish and Air-Fryer Turkey Stuffed Peppers are delicious and healthy ways to enjoy the foods you love with your new appliance.

01 of 20

Air-Fryer Buffalo Wings


A sports bar favorite comes home with these deliciously crispy chicken wings in the air fryer, which require just 10 minutes of active prep time. In fact, one of EatingWell's recipe testers declared this air-fryer Buffalo wing recipe "a reason to buy an air fryer." Add a spicy sauce, carrot sticks, celery sticks and ranch dressing for dipping and you have a healthy take on wings that's sure to score.

02 of 20

Air-Fryer Pork Chops


If you're looking for simple low-calorie, high-protein meals, these crispy breaded air-fryer pork chops are an excellent option. They don't require a lot of oil to create a deep-fried crispy crust. Serve them with your favorite dipping sauce or alongside roasted veggies. Want to double the recipe? Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may have to cook the pork chops in batches, but that's easy to do.

03 of 20

Air-Fryer Beer-Battered Fish

Air-Fryer Beer-Battered Fish
Charlotte and Johnny Autry

We love a crispy piece of beer-battered fish, but we don't always want the calories that come with deep-frying. So we turned to the air fryer to develop a recipe with all the characteristics of the traditional dish—a light, crunchy-yet-airy exterior and a flaky, luscious interior. The secret to this recipe is in the method. Traditionally, the fish would go into a wet beer batter and then cook in hot oil. But in order to work in the air fryer, we needed to make some important changes. Get all the step-by-steps below, and learn how we tweaked the process, from the dredge to the oil, to create crispy air-fried fish.

04 of 20

Air-Fryer Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Air-Fryer Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers are a classic family meal--and they're fun to eat, too. Instead of roasting the sweet peppers in the oven, use an air fryer to get them crisp-tender but not soggy.

05 of 20

Air-Fryer Fish Cakes


Typically deep-fried, these tasty fish patties get a little zip from sweet chili sauce and fresh cilantro. Any white fish will work, so select what looks freshest at the best price. The squeeze of lime at the end really brings everything together perfectly, so don't skip it.

06 of 20

Air-Fryer Rotisserie Chicken

a recipe photo of the Air-Fryer Rotisserie Chicken
Antonis Achilleos

Replicate the flavor, lovely burnished skin and moist texture of a classic rotisserie chicken with this easy recipe for cooking a whole chicken in your air fryer. With just a handful of ingredients and 10 minutes of active time, you get a roast chicken with lemon and herbs that's a remarkable doppelganger for a deli chicken right after it comes out of the rotisserie. Serve this air-fryer rotisserie chicken with your favorite veggie sides for a healthy weeknight dinner or weekend supper. And if you're hosting a dinner party, cooking your main course in the air fryer is also a great way free up oven space for casseroles, rolls and other dishes.

07 of 20

Air-Fryer Salmon with Horseradish Rub

Air-Fryer Salmon with Horseradish Rub

A crust of fresh horseradish, parsley and capers turns delicately crispy on this air-fried salmon. It's an impressive dinner that's also super simple to make. If you can't find fresh horseradish, use a high-quality prepared product. Be sure to drain and squeeze it to remove as much moisture as possible.

08 of 20

Pork Schnitzel with Creamy Dill Sauce

Pork Schnitzel with Creamy Dill Sauce
Jacob Fox

Pounding pork chops before breading and pan-frying is the signature method to getting crisp yet tender German schnitzel. Using an air fryer works well too and cuts back on calories.

09 of 20

Air-Fryer Fish Tacos

air fryer fish tacos
Jacob Fox

These air-fryer fish tacos get their kick from a crispy breadcrumb coating that's spiked with chili powder. Avocado crema helps balance the flavors, while shredded cabbage slaw adds crunch. These easy air-fryer fish tacos are finished with fresh tomato, but feel free to add your own favorite toppings to the mix.

10 of 20

Air-Fryer Chicken Cutlets

Air-Fryer Chicken Cutlets
Photography / Antonis Achilleos, Styling / Christine Keely / Ali Ramee

Cooking chicken cutlets in an air fryer creates a crunchy, golden-brown exterior while eliminating excess oil. Serve the crispy cutlets with a side salad.

11 of 20

Air-Fryer Salmon Cakes


These air-fried salmon patties are reminiscent of classic salmon croquettes, crispy on the outside and pillowy tender on the inside. Look for canned or jarred salmon that has less than 50 milligrams of sodium per serving, and don't be afraid of varieties that have bones. They're easy to remove.

12 of 20

Air-Fryer Spinach & Feta Turkey Burgers


Sharp raw garlic, fresh herbs and tangy feta cheese superbly flavor these turkey burgers. Since the patties are air-fried with very little oil, there's room to add a bit of olive oil to the meat to keep the patties from drying out. Serve with air-fried zucchini fries (see associated recipe).

13 of 20

Air-Fryer Egg Rolls

Air-Fryer Egg Rolls

Get intensely crunchy homemade egg rolls with much less fat by using an air fryer. Roll these up ahead of time and store them in the fridge for a make-ahead appetizer or dinner side dish. You can toss them in the fryer when you need them.

14 of 20

Air-Fryer Pistachio-Crusted Sea Bass

a recipe photo of the Air-Fryer Pistachio-Crusted Sea Bass served on a platter with greens

Sea bass fillets are crusted in pistachios and panko for a nutty, crunchy exterior in this healthy air-fryer recipe. We use sea bass here, but any other firm white fish like halibut would work just as well. Serve with grains and a side salad.

15 of 20

Air-Fryer Tilapia

air fryer tilapia
Jacob Fox

This quick and simple air-fryer tilapia recipe is perfect for busy weeknights. The tilapia is moist and flaky and gets brightened up with lemon zest and fresh herbs.

16 of 20

Air-Fryer Popcorn Shrimp


These air-fried popcorn shrimp get crispy and crunchy with very little oil.

17 of 20

Air-Fryer "Fried" Chicken Thighs


Air fryers need a lot less oil to create a deep-fried crispy crust. Here, chicken thighs are marinated in buttermilk and dredged in a simple breadcrumb coating. With the help of a little cooking spray, they cook up nice and crispy with a lot less fat. Serve them with your favorite dipping sauce or slice them up to top a salad.

18 of 20

Air-Fryer Salmon

Air-Fryer Salmon
Caitlin Bensel

In this simple air-fryer salmon recipe, the garlic gets crispy on the top while the Aleppo pepper and coriander bring earthy flavor to the fish, which remains delicately cooked in the middle.

19 of 20

Air-Fryer Drumsticks

Air Fryer Drumsticks
Photographer: Victor Protasio, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall

These simple air-fryer drumsticks are sweet and savory with a subtly smoky flavor from smoked paprika. Lime zest adds bright flavor. These drumsticks pair well with just about anything, from a simple green salad to roasted sweet potatoes.

20 of 20

Air-Fryer Meatloaf

air fryer meatloaf
Jacob Fox

Air-fryer meatloaf is perfect for those who like a crispy outside and tender juicy inside. This air-fryer meatloaf recipe has the classic flavors of Worcestershire sauce and onion, with a ketchup coating on top.

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