Air Fryer Cookbook For Dummies
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Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan, or an omnivore, this article shows you how to make plant-forward main dishes in your air fryer without sacrificing any flavor. Eating plant forward is very trendy these days and for good reason: Produce is powerful! From fighting off disease to improving digestion, the benefits of incorporating more plant-based meals into your regular routine are profound. You can pair a simple Basic Fried Tofu with Veggie Fried Rice, or enjoy Charred Cauliflower Tacos on Taco Tuesday.

Prefer more of a traditional menu? Eggplant Parmesan may be right up your ally.

We promise, with the recipes in this article, everyone will be pleased with incorporating more plant-based meals into your household menu!

Charred Cauliflower Tacos

charred cauliflower tacos

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


1 head cauliflower, washed and cut into florets

2 tablespoons avocado oil

2 teaspoons taco seasoning

1 medium avocado

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons chopped red onion

2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lime juice

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Eight 6-inch corn tortillas

1/2 cup cooked corn

1/2 cup shredded purple cabbage


  1. Preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the avocado oil and taco seasoning. Set the metal trivet inside the air fryer basket and liberally spray with olive oil.
  3. Place the cauliflower onto the trivet and cook for 10 minutes, shaking every 3 minutes to allow for an even char.
  4. While the cauliflower is cooking, prepare the avocado sauce. In a medium bowl, mash the avocado; then mix in the garlic powder, pepper, salt, and onion. Stir in the lime juice and cilantro; set aside.
  5. Remove the cauliflower from the air fryer basket.
  6. Place 1 tablespoon of avocado sauce in the middle of a tortilla, and top with corn, cabbage, and charred cauliflower. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Serve immediately.

If you don’t have a metal trivet, you can cook the cauliflower directly in the metal basket. Just be sure to shake the cauliflower frequently so it doesn’t burn.

Store the leftover cauliflower in an airtight container and use within 3 days. Reheat in the air fryer for 3 to 5 minutes at 350 degrees.

Basic Fried Tofu

Prep time: 1 hour 20minutes

Cook time: 17 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


14 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Cut the tofu into 16 cubes. Set aside in a glass container with a lid.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, and garlic. Pour over the tofu and secure the lid. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for an hour.
  3. Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch, black pepper, and salt.
  5. Transfer the tofu to a large bowl and discard the leftover marinade. Pour the cornstarch mixture over the tofu and toss until all the pieces are coated.
  6. Liberally spray the air fryer basket with olive oil mist and set the tofu pieces inside. Allow space between the tofu so it can cook evenly. Cook in batches if necessary.
  7. Cook 15 to 17 minutes, shaking the basket every 5 minutes to allow the tofu to cook evenly on all sides. When it’s done cooking, the tofu will be crisped and browned on all sides.
  8. Remove the tofu from the air fryer basket and serve warm.

Press tofu before marinating by placing it between layers of paper towels under a heavy object (like a cast iron skillet). You can purchase a tofu press, but this homemade option works just as well.

The tofu will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days in an airtight container. Reheat in the air fryer at 350 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

Want to make this gluten-free? Use a tamari or gluten-free soy sauce alternative

Spicy Sesame Tempeh Slaw with Peanut Dressing

Prep time: 2 hour 10 minutes

Cook time: 8 minutes

Yield: 2 servings


2 cups hot water

1 teaspoon salt

8 ounces tempeh, sliced into 1-inch-long pieces

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon filtered water

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 jalapeño, sliced

4 cups cabbage slaw

4 tablespoons Peanut Dressing (see the following recipe)

2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped peanuts


  1. Mix the hot water with the salt and pour over the tempeh in a glass bowl. Stir and cover with a towel for 10 minutes.
  2. Discard the water and leave the tempeh in the bowl.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the soy sauce, rice vinegar, filtered water, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, pepper, and jalapeño. Pour over the tempeh and cover with a towel. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours.
  4. Preheat the air fryer to 370 degrees. Remove the tempeh from the bowl and discard the remaining marinade.
  5. Liberally spray the metal trivet that goes into the air fryer basket and place the tempeh on top of the trivet.
  6. Cook for 4 minutes, flip, and cook another 4 minutes.
  7. In a large bowl, mix the cabbage slaw with the Peanut Dressing and toss in the cilantro and chopped peanuts.
  8. Portion onto 4 plates and place the cooked tempeh on top when cooking completes. Serve immediately.

Prep a day ahead for a stronger flavor infusion.

Veggie Fried Rice

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


1 cup cooked brown rice

1/3 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup chopped bell peppers

1/2 cup chopped broccoli florets

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs


  1. Preheat the air fryer to 370 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the brown rice, onions, carrots, bell pepper, and broccoli.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic powder, pepper, salt, and eggs.
  4. Pour the egg mixture into the rice and vegetable mixture and mix together.
  5. Liberally spray a 7-inch springform pan (or compatible air fryer dish) with olive oil. Add the rice mixture to the pan and cover with aluminum foil.
  6. Place a metal trivet into the air fryer basket and set the pan on top. Cook for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the pan from basket, discard the foil, and mix the rice. Return the rice to the air fryer basket, turning down the temperature to 350 degrees and cooking another 10 minutes.
  7. Remove and let cool 5 minutes. Serve warm.

To keep this recipe gluten-free, use a tamari or other gluten-free soy sauce.

Serve with a fried egg over the top for an added vegetarian protein boost.

Prefer a little meat? Mix in a cup of cooked chicken, pork, or beef.

Black Bean Empanadas

black bean empanada

Prep time: 35 minutes

Cook time: 8 minutes

Yield: 12 servings


1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter

1 egg

1/2 cup tablespoons milk

One 14.5-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 cup shredded purple cabbage

1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese

1/4 cup salsa


  1. In a food processor, place the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, salt, and butter into processor and process for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the food processor every 30 seconds. Add in the egg and blend for 30 seconds. Using the pulse button, add in the milk 1 tablespoon at a time, or until dough is moist enough to handle and be rolled into a ball. Let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the black beans, cilantro, cabbage, Monterey Jack cheese, and salsa.
  3. On a floured surface, cut the dough in half; then form a ball and cut each ball into 6 equal pieces, totaling 12 equal pieces. Work with one piece at a time, and cover the remaining dough with a towel.
  4. Roll out a piece of dough into a 6-inch round, much like a tortilla, 1/4 inch thick. Place 4 tablespoons of filling in the center of the round, and fold over to form a half-circle. Using a fork, crimp the edges together and pierce the top for air holes. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
  5. Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees.
  6. Working in batches, place 3 to 4 empanadas in the air fryer basket and spray with cooking spray. Cook for 4 minutes, flip over the empanadas and spray with cooking spray, and cook another 4 minutes.

Serve with a simple sauce of Greek yogurt, lime juice, cumin, and hot sauce or make it a slaw by adding in purple cabbage to the sauce.

Sweet potatoes and black beans are magic together. If you have leftover sweet potatoes around, chop them up and add them to the filling.

Refried beans are an easy swap for black beans.

Roasted Vegetable Pita Pizza

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into quarters

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt

Two 6-inch whole-grain pita breads

6 tablespoons pesto sauce

1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, toss the bell peppers with the olive oil, pepper, and salt.
  3. Place the bell peppers in the air fryer and cook for 15 minutes, shaking every 5 minutes to prevent burning.
  4. Remove the peppers and set aside. Turn the air fryer temperature down to 350 degrees.
  5. Lay the pita bread on a flat surface. Cover each with half the pesto sauce; then top with even portions of the red bell peppers and onions. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Spray the air fryer basket with olive oil mist.
  6. Carefully lift the pita bread into the air fryer basket with a spatula.
  7. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the outer edges begin to brown and the cheese is melted.
  8. Serve warm with desired sides.

Best served immediately. Flatbread pitas do not hold up well when stored and reheated.

Tight on time? Use roasted red bell peppers from a jar and finely mince the onion and toss on top.

Prefer a more traditional pizza? Sub the pesto for a marinara sauce and top with tomatoes and cheese. You can add your favorite Italian meats here, too!

Eggplant Parmesan

Prep time: 40 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings


1 medium, round eggplant, sliced to 1/2-inch-thick rounds

2 teaspoons salt, divided

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 eggs

1 cup breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish

2 cups marinara sauce

2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish


  1. Place the eggplant on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels or a tea towel in a single layer. Sprinkle the eggplant with 1-1/2 teaspoons of the salt. Place paper towels or a tea towel on top and place heavier pots or plates on top of that. The idea is to press the bitters out of the eggplant. Let the eggplant sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together the flour, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the thyme.
  3. In a second bowl, place whisk the eggs.
  4. In a third bowl, mix together the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt, the breadcrumbs, the oregano, and 1/4 cup of the parmesan cheese.
  5. Preheat the air fryer to 370 degrees.
  6. Remove the towels and rinse the eggplant slices. Pat the slices dry and begin breading the eggplant. Working with 1 slice at a time, first dip in the flour mixture; shake off the extra flour. Next, dip into the eggs. Finally, dredge the eggplant in the breading. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices.
  7. Place a single layer of eggplant slices in the air fryer basket and spray liberally with cooking spray. Cook for 5 minutes, flip over and spray with cooking spray, and cook another 5 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, heat the marinara sauce in a saucepan until warm.
  9. To serve, plate the eggplant rounds and spoon the marinara over each round. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and parsley for garnish. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Japanese eggplants are much thinner than American eggplant. Look for round and firm-skinned eggplant for best results.

To serve as a baked casserole, layer air-fried eggplants with marinara and shredded mozzarella or fontina cheeses. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Meri Raffetto, RDN, founded Real Living Nutrition Services (, which pro- vides one of the only interactive online weight-loss and wellness programs.

Wendy Jo Peterson MS, RDN, enhances the nutrition of clients ranging from elite athletes to pediatric patients, and is currently a culinary instructor at Mesa College.

Wendy Jo Peterson, MS, RDN, is a dietitian, culinary instructor, award-winning coauthor of Born to Eat, and a contributor to Taste of Home magazine.

Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, CPT, is a dietitian, personal trainer, nutrition professor, and media authority on TV and in print, sharing evidence-based facts.

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