I made 5 Thanksgiving sides in my air fryer, and it made 3 dishes so much easier

  • I made five popular Thanksgiving side dishes in my air fryer, and three of them were incredible.

  • The green beans and stuffing turned out great, but I wouldn't make the mashed potatoes again.

  • The air fryer made cleaning up simple, which is essential when cooking multiple things at once.

Cooking a proper Thanksgiving feast is almost always stressful since making sure everything is timed properly is crucial to the happiness of your guests.

As someone who's obsessed with their air fryer, I tried using it to make five traditional holiday side dishes.

Here's what I'll be using the appliance for on Turkey Day.

I started off by making seasoned green beans

green beans in a bowl in front of an air fryer
These beans couldn’t be any easier to make.Chelsea Davis

The basic recipe I found from Kitchn couldn't have been simpler to follow.

After cleaning and trimming the tips off the green beans, I poured a splash of olive oil and seasoned them with salt, pepper, and a saltless seasoning blend.

a bowl of cooked and seasoned green beans
They came out perfectly cooked.Chelsea Davis

I placed the string beans in a preheated air fryer at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes.

Depending on how crowded the basket is, I'd add a couple of minutes if you like your beans more on the cooked/ blistered side.

seasoned green beans in an air fryer
The beans had great texture.Chelsea Davis

Verdict: I would absolutely make these again for any reason.

They were tender, but not too soft, and ever-so-slightly blistered.

Next up, I tried an air-fryer stuffing recipe

chopped cabbage, celery, and carrots on a kitchen counter
Normally I don’t even like stuffing.Chelsea Davis

Stuffing can be hit or miss, but the recipe I followed from Air Fryer Eats intrigued me because it called for both soft and dried bread chunks.

I started by dicing the leeks, carrots, and celery and sautéing the mix in butter until it was cooked down.

hand pouring veggie broth into an air fryer container with stuffing ingredients
I added more vegetable broth than what the recipe called for.Chelsea Davis

After, I added the spices and the two types of bread. I bought the dried chunks, which were seasoned and meant for stuffing, and I cubed up a fresh ciabatta loaf for the soft ones.

I stirred everything and continued to slowly add a decent amount of broth. After getting it moistened, but not completely soupy, I placed the mixture directly into the air-fryer bin.

cooked stuffing in an air fryer
I cooked it until the top got golden brown.Chelsea Davis

Verdict: This recipe came out super flavorful, but I'm glad I added extra broth — any less and it would've dried out too much.

The stuffing had a rich flavor and the right texture. It tasted like I spent triple the time preparing it.

I continued my experiment with mashed potatoes

mashed potatoes ingredients on a kitchen counter
This recipe didn’t work great.Chelsea Davis

The recipe by Fork to Spoon instructed me to place my potatoes in a foil packet before air-frying them for 25 minutes at 400 F.

It said "time will depend on the type of air fryer you have and how big your potatoes are," so I started with 35 minutes for my bigger russet potatoes.

After I checked them, they were pretty underdone, so I decided to throw them in the microwave for another five or six minutes, turning them halfway.

baked potatoes with sour cream, butter, and chives
This really needed milk.Chelsea Davis

Once I got the potatoes soft enough to mash, I added the cream cheese, chives, and seasonings.

It was way too dry and chunky to get the right mashed-potato consistency, so I slowly added whole milk until the texture was more fluffy and creamy.

mashed potatoes in a bowl
I loved the freshness from the chives.Chelsea Davis

Verdict: I wouldn't make this recipe again, but mostly because I don't need a recipe for mashed potatoes.

The addition of the chives added a great fresh quality to the potatoes. The cream cheese gave it a richer taste that I loved, too. I also added garlic seasoning, which paired perfectly with the butter.

But the microwave does the trick for cooking. Add a splash of milk, a few tablespoons of butter, and whatever seasonings and herbs you like, and that's all you really need.

I moved on to the second potato dish, candied yams

sweet potato casserole ingredients on a kitchen counter
Candied yams are one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes.Chelsea Davis

Food blog Dad Got This's candied-yam recipe is ridiculously easy and can be done in an oven or an air fryer.

I started by opening a can of yams and reserving a little bit of the liquid. Then I placed them directly into the air-fryer bin.

sweet potatoes covered in sauce in an air fryer
The sugary, spiced liquid makes this dish delicious.Chelsea Davis

In a small pot, I heated the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and yam juice over medium heat until it started to bubble.

Then I poured it over the yams and cooked everything in the air fryer at 350 F for 15 minutes.

When it was done, I topped everything with large marshmallows and browned them for a few minutes in the air fryer at 400 F.

side by side photos of marshmallows on sweet potatoes before and after cooking
Toasting the marshmallows is a must.Chelsea Davis

Verdict: I'd totally make this again.

Using canned yams made a usually time-consuming dish a piece of cake, and it didn't impact the flavor or texture.

The last side dish I tried was an air-fried pull-apart bread

pull-apart bread ingredients on a kitchen counter
I was excited to try this one out.Chelsea Davis

I've never baked bread with yeast before, let alone in an air fryer, so I was a bit skeptical.

To top it off, I accidentally had the recipe from Recipe This set to "imperial," so the measurements didn't make a ton of sense to me (15.18 ounces of flour, 1.17 cups of milk).

mixing bread ingredients in a bowl
Kneading the dough was super satisfying.Chelsea Davis

I rubbed the butter into the flour as directed, and I warmed the milk and oils in a pan.

Then I added the yeast, heated mixture, and flour together, and kneaded it for five minutes. The directions said to place the dough in the air fryer for 10 minutes at 140 F to "proof" or rise, but neither my air fryer nor my oven goes that low.

Instead, I left it in a propped-open oven at 170 degrees Fahrenheit for eight minutes.

bread dough lines up in balls
I added minced garlic for extra flavor.Chelsea Davis

I proceeded to spray the air-fryer basket with oil and placed the individual balls of dough into it. I made sure that each ball touched and gave them an egg wash.

I finished it off with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and I added a little minced garlic for extra flavor.

cooked bread rolls in an air fryer
The bottom was doughy after 15 minutes.Chelsea Davis

The instructions said to air-fry for 15 minutes at 360 F. Unfortunately, the bottoms of the rolls were still quite doughy after that.

I cooked them an additional 10 to 12 minutes and they still had somewhat of a doughy consistency. But the tops were very golden and crunchy, and I didn't want to risk burning them.

hand showing the inside of a bread roll
The taste was great, but the texture was a bit undone.Chelsea Davis

Verdict: These were generally good, but I need to make some adjustments if I ever try them again. The texture was too doughy on the bottoms.

I think I should've kept the air-fryer basket attachment in the bin so the air could circulate underneath.

But the tops had a nice golden color to them and a great, crunchy texture.

Overall, the air fryer made all of the dishes easier, but only 3 of the recipes were winners

The air fryer did its job, and I'd give it an A+.Chelsea Davis

All in all, making these sides in the air fryer was significantly easier than if I made them in a traditional oven.

It shortened the cooking and clean-up times and allowed me to make two things at once because of my double-basket model. Not to mention, once you put your dish in the air fryer, you don't really need to monitor it past a shake or two mid-way through.

Of all the recipes, the green beans, stuffing, and candied yams were definitely winners. But I wouldn't make the mashed potatoes again, and I'd make a few adjustments to the pull-apart bread.

This story was originally published on November 15, 2021, and most recently updated on November 21, 2023. 

Read the original article on Insider