An air fryer is a must-have when trying to make dinner that will please the whole family! Here are our favorite kid-friendly air fryer recipes for picky eaters.
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If you’re new here, this blog is about helping toddlers and kids overcome picky eating (if you want to see more picky eating resources, click here). If you’re a parent of a picky eater, then you probably noticed that trying to feed your kids means you’re always trying to cook something with the hopes that your kids will eat it.
Well, an air fryer is one of the BEST purchases I’ve made that I use every day trying to get meals on the table that my whole family will love (including the picky 3 year old).
Of course, your kid is not magically going to like a recipe just because it is labeled “toddler-friendly” or “for picky eaters.” But a lot of these air fryer recipes listed below really are super kid-friendly.
And an air fryer makes them super easy to make and gets the texture just right (which is so important!)
Do you already have an air fryer?
If you already have an air fryer and cook with it regularly, then feel free to skip ahead to the list of kid-friendly air fryer recipes using the Table of Contents below.
But before you skip ahead, make sure you also check my list of favorite Toddler-Friendly Instant Pot Recipes for Picky Eaters (opens in a new tab so you can read it after).
If you don’t have an air fryer yet, then keep reading.
Are you still undecided about getting an air fryer?
If you’re still undecided about an air fryer and not sure whether it is right for your family, then let’s talk. (Warning: you’ll walk away wanting an air fryer).
I held off on getting an air fryer for the longest time – I didn’t think we ate enough fried foods to justify getting an air fryer. I thought an air fryer was only for making healthier versions of fried foods.
But I WAS WRONG.
It turns an air fryer is SO MUCH MORE than that, as you’ll see from the list of kid-friendly air fryer recipes below. After LOTS and LOTS of research, we got this Cuisinart Air Fryer Oven Combo. We LOVE IT.
Benefits of an air fryer
- Does not heat up the whole kitchen (so you can bake, broil, and air-fry in the summer)
- Less daunting than trying a recipe that requires you to use an oven
- Can easily make small batches of snacks of food for kids
- Really really good at making food crispy – crispier than baking. And if you have a picky eater in your family, then you know how important texture is
- Really good at reheating leftovers without making them mushy
- They often actually remove grease from many foods (such as chicken thighs) because the grease drips down during cooking
What size air fryer to buy for your family
The answer to what kind of air fryer to get is simple: the biggest one you can afford, money and counter space-wise.
Most air fryer recipes require you to not stack too much food on top of each other in order for the food to cook evenly and get nice and crispy. This means you can’t make large batches of food at once. That’s the ONLY downside of an air fryer.
So get the one with the biggest size frying basket or tray you can get. You’ll thank yourself.
What type of air fryer to get
There are three basic types of air fryers:
- Basket air fryers
- Convection oven / air fryer combos
- Air fryer lids for pressure cookers / multi-cookers
Basket air fryers
The “basket” air fryers are stand-alone small appliances. These are the most popular kind.
This is because when someone decides to buy an air fryer they are only looking for air fryers and not trying to replace their other counter top appliances, such as their pressure cooker or convection oven or toaster oven.
Phillips air fryers
From reading a ton of reviews and talking to my friends who have air fryers, Philips air fryers are the absolute best, and they all recommend getting as large or an air fryer as you can, especially if you’re cooking for more than 2 people.
Other brands are good too!
Philips air fryers are definitely on the expensive side, and many other brands work great too. If you’re set on a stand-alone air fryer, you can find the right one for your family here.
The advantage to basket-type of air fryers is that they’re not super heavy (but still around 15 lbs) and they can be moved and stored in a cabinet or on a kitchen cart, if you have space for that.
But I recommend getting an oven/air fryer combo (even if you already have a counter-top oven), so keep reading:
Convection oven air fryer combo
This is the kind of air fryer I have, and the one I recommend (even for those who already have a counter-top convection oven). Here’s why:
I prefer not having single-use appliances, if I can help it. Basket-type air fryers can be stashed away, but they’re large. If you use yours regularly, you’re not going to want to take it out every day.
Cuisinart air fryer oven
I replaced my toaster oven with my Cuisinart Air Fryer Oven combo and I am super happy with it. It toasts, bakes, AND air fries. It’s GREAT for reheating leftovers and making them not mushy (without having to turn my whole oven on). This is sooo important for us!
It has a large baking tray that is 9.5 x 11 inches, which fits a lot of food.
All for the same price as a Philips single-function air fryer.
The only downside is that it is large, and it is permanently on our counter. Which is actually very convenient since we use it every day! But you need to have the space for it.
Ninja Foodi Air Fryer Oven
Another really good option for oven + air fryer combinations is this Ninja Foodi Air Fryer Oven. It also has a dehydrator feature (great for lots of healthy fruit snacks for kids!). It fits a 13 inch pizza, so it’s a GREAT way to bake pizza and make dinner without turning on the oven and heating up your whole house.
If the Foodie Air Fryer was available when we were buying ours, I would have chosen that one instead – it’s only $10 more and is a bit larger and I love the dehydrator option.
Pressure cooker + air fryer combo
I am not going to talk about these too much, since this is a whole other beast. These are definitely a GREAT option if you want a pressure cooker / Instant Pot AND an air fryer.
Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid
The Instant Pot has an Air Fryer Lid you can buy that fits on top of the 6 quart Instant Pots. Here it is, and here is the 6 quart Instant Pot. It works OK, but the downside is that it’s not a standalone air fryer and works best for recipes that require an Instant Pot and then a broil in the oven. It only crisps up the part of the food that is at the top of the Instant Pot, and you can’t easily shake / re-arrange the food like you can in a basket air fryer or oven air fryer.
Its other downside is that it is very large. It might feel like you’re saving space by only buying a separate lid, but that lid is VERY tall, almost as tall as an Instant Pot and it is kind of awkward to store because of that.
I’m not trying to dissuade you from this one! A lot of people love theirs. But them’s the facts.
Ninja Foodi 9-1 Air Fryer + Pressure Cooker
The Ninja Foodi is probably the gold standard in pressure cooker + air fryer combos. Everyone I know who has one is OBSESSED with theirs.
You can see all its features here. If I didn’t already have an Instant Pot and an air fryer I would be getting one of these FOR SURE.
So now that you’ve read about all the air fryer options out there, here are just a few of the hundreds of delicious kid friendly air fryer recipes for picky eaters you can make!
Toddler-friendly Air Fryer Chicken Recipes
The air fryer is amazing for making crispy chicken without deep frying in oil. No matter what shape chicken your kids prefer - nuggets, popcorn-style, or larger tenders, I've got an easy recipe for you below.
These air fryer chicken recipes are all super kid-friendly, crispy, delicious, and easy to make. The great thing is that you can read all 3 recipes below and then pick and choose your marinades and seasonings.
Want chick-fil-a flavored popcorn chicken? Just use the ingredients from the air fryer chicken nuggets recipe but cook it according to the popcorn chicken recipe instructions.
Homemade Air-Fryer French Fries and Side Dishes
When my son was 18 months, he lived off French fries. Don't judge. I even wrote an article called 7 Reasons to Let Your Picky Eater Eat French Fries.
Well, even though my son overcame most of his picky eating issues, he still LOVES French fries. Most kids do.
So we make our own in the Air Fryer. From the two recipes below you'll see that you can make them with oil or without, and they both have different cooking temperatures and times.
The exact time and temperature for how to make French fries in the air fryer will really depend on how thick your potatoes are sliced and your air fryer model. Play around with the recipes, check on the potatoes while they're cooking to make sure they don't burn, and figure out what YOU like best!
As I mentioned in my article about letting my picky eater son eat French fries, I was actually glad to add a little healthy oil to my son's diet because he was so overweight. So read both recipes below and decide what's best for YOUR family!
Air Fryer Toddler Friendly Snacks
One of the main reasons I love my air fryer is for making quick snacks. Check these out:
Kid Friendly Air Fryer Main Dishes
Your air fryer can be used for so much more than just snacks, fries, and chicken. There are a few amazing main dishes you can make in an air fryer that are perfect for kids.
Here are a few genius ways to make kid friendly meals in the air fryer:
Kid-Friendly Air Fryer Desserts and Sweets
The air fryer can be used to make desserts too!
Looking for other recipes for picky eaters?
- Kid friendly Instant Pot recipes for picky eaters
- Toddler-friendly recipes with hidden vegetables
- Hidden vegetable breakfast recipes
- Hawaiian chicken salad with pineapple
- Tuna nuggets
Looking for other resources for picky eaters?
- How to get your toddler to eat when they refuse
- Feeding therapy for picky eaters
- How to get a toddler eat tomatoes – food chaining
- 11 Reasons you should cook with your kids
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