Step One: Gather the Sweets
This is the absolute easiest part of the movie theater snack trifecta. Just head to the store and pick up a few boxes of your favorite theater candies: Sno-Caps, Raisinets, Milk Duds and Junior Mints. They’re much cheaper at the mini-mart than they are at the concession stand, so stock up now and you’ll be ready for the weekend.
Step Two: Bring on the Salty
Popcorn is the classic salty snack at the theater, and you can quickly make your own at home. Microwave popcorn is the easiest but, for real movie theater popcorn, you should make it with Flavacol seasoning. That means popping it the old-fashioned way on the stove top and adding the seasoning to the oil when you put the raw kernels in the pot. You’ll get yellow, perfectly seasoned popcorn every time. If you want extra butter, use ghee or clarified butter for the best texture.
Step Three: Fry It Up
Movie theater food has come a long way in recent years — you can find anything from a hot dog to fried chicken fingers. In fact, part of the experience of heading out to a movie is getting that first whiff of fried goodness when you walk through the lobby doors.
Fortunately, you can recreate the deliciousness of fried food while filling up on healthy snacks with an air fryer. This little gadget fits on your counter and crisps up just about anything you can think of — without having to dunk it in a messy vat of oil. It’s cleaner, easier and better for you to boot.
If you don’t already have an air fryer, check out the Avalon Bay Digital Air Fryer AB-Airfryer230B. Its large capacity is perfect for feeding a crowd on movie night, and you’ll probably find yourself reaching for it for regular dinners, too.
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Important Air Frying Basics
It’s a good idea to start your air frying adventure with French fries. They’re everyone’s favorite fried food, and just right for beginners. Pick up some frozen fries and a kitchen spray bottle that you’ve filled with vegetable oil — a light misting is all it takes for maximum flavor while adding minimum calories.
Follow these steps to master air frying on the first try:
- Always preheat your air fryer before adding food to make sure your food comes out crispy instead of limp.
- Don’t overfill your air fryer’s basket. Stop below the basket’s top edge so everything is evenly browned by the convection heat inside.
- Flip your food halfway. This helps with even crispness, too. You can also shake the basket a few times to redistribute the fries or other goodies for even heating.
- Save the oil for the midway point, too. Spray your finger foods lightly with oil when you flip them at the halfway mark. This helps speed up the cooking and reduces any chance of smoking the oil in a hot fryer.
- Check for doneness early and often. When you’re frying a food for the first time, feel free to open the fryer and take a look as often as you like. It won’t ruin the cooking process, and you’ll be able to see exactly when it’s at peak doneness for future reference.
The Best Movie Snacks for Air Fryers
Not sure what to make for your next movie night? Try these surefire crowd-pleasers.
- French fries with a dipping bar. You’ll love your air-fried french fries, but you can take them to the next level by offering a range of dipping sauces. Sour cream, ranch dressing and barbecue sauce are easy choices. Looking for spicier options? Stir up a sriracha mayo or a cocktail sauce made from ketchup and horseradish.
- Homemade potato chips. Oh yes, it can happen to you! For a twist on the usual potato snacks, thinly slice a regular or sweet potato and make your own chips. After a soak in some water, add a misting of oil and your favorite seasoning (Dill? Old Bay? Plain sea salt? It’s totally up to you.) before popping them in the air fryer for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Frozen appetizers. You know how disappointing those frozen appetizers are when you make them in the oven? Your air fryer will change your life. Egg rolls, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks and more all taste so much better when they’re as crispy as they’re meant to be.
- Fried veggie bites. For a healthy — but still yummy — option, use your air fryer to crisp up some of your favorite veggies for a dippable, snackable treat. Cut sweet potatoes or squash into long strips for veggie fries, or crisp up some broccoli, Brussels sprouts or cauliflower with your favorite spice blend and enjoy.
With at least one thing from each of these three movie theater food groups — plus your favorite drink in hand — you’ll have everything you need for a perfect evening in. All that’s left to do is dim the lights, curl up on the couch and press play!