Think Twice Before Putting Leafy Vegetables In The Air Fryer

From cakes to "boiled eggs," there isn't much an air fryer can't handle. In addition to being able to cook nearly any culinary delight, these appliances get the job done in a fraction of the time when compared to an oven. They even give ingredients a super crisp coating without the added stress and fat of frying in oil. However, the versatile air fryer does have its limits — we're looking at you, leafy greens.

We totally get it — eating lettuce and delicate greens isn't always terribly exciting, which is why experimenting with different cooking methods is necessary. That said, it might be best to step away from the air fryer when it comes to Swiss chard, dandelion greens, and wrinkled spinach leaves. Unlike what you may expect, air frying these fragile leaves tends to not result in crisp veggie chips but disaster.

Since air fryers circulate air at high speed, leafy greens often risk uneven cooking. As the lightweight leaves either stick to or flutter around in the cooking chamber, greens tend to either turn soggy or burn. Consequently, to avoid jeopardizing the quality of these dainty greens, it's best to consider alternative methods or air fry some other veg. 

Other cooking options or alternative veggies

While you might get away with air-frying sturdier greens like kale — if you coat them enough in oil and seasoning or lay a rack over a layer to prevent them from taking flight — most greens just won't hold up under this method. More often than not, bok choy leaves, collard greens, and the like are best served by a more gentle (or controlled) preparation. Served raw, these leaves offer a wonderfully tender texture with a slight bite. But if you prefer cooking leafy greens to eliminate some of their fibrousness, sautéeing is your best bet. 

As opposed to air frying, cooking them on the stovetop gives you the control of wilting the greens to your preference and reduces the risk of ruin. And if time is on your side, spinach can withstand a round of cooking on the stovetop and the baking rack in this chicken spinach pasta, and Southern collard greens relish nothing more than a slow-cooker simmer.

Alternatively, if you're flexible on the vegetable to use, you could opt for sturdier options. Cauliflower, broccoli, squash, zucchini, mushrooms, and even Brussels sprouts lend themselves excellently to air frying without consequence. With air fully circulating through the frying chamber, these durable veggies roast evenly without the threat of blowing away.