Air Fryer: Latin Food

A Brief History of Latin Food

Latin food finds its base in the variety of diverse native cultures within Central and South America. This food was further influenced by African and European culinary traditions in many regions and even has Asian influences particularly in Panama, Peru, and Ecuador where many laborers migrated during the 19th Century.

Fried Foods

Latino food is so much more than just the fried foods. There are, however, many foods that we associate with the different regions in Latin America that can be cooked in the air fryer. We can make foods ranging from anticuchos, tequenos, cachapas, tostones, chile rellenos, or chicharron. This list could go on and on.

Since the air fryer isn’t a fryer but rather a small convention oven that circulates high heat, these recipes have significantly less added fat and cholesterol than traditional frying. It still ensures that you will have a crispy well-cooked piece of food once complete. Here are some of our favorite air-fried Latin foods from different regions to get you started:

Latin Food: South America

Air-Fryer Empanadas

Empanadas are originally a Spanish dish that was adopted in South America likely first appearing in Argentina. In most of South and Central America empanadas are made from a flour dough but in Venezuela, Colombia, and some times Panama they are made from a corn dough. Either way that you choose to make them, empanadas make a great addition to your party menu, and they’re simple to make.

  • Just roll out some store-bought frozen dough (or, if you’re feeling ambitious, make your own) on a floured surface and cut it into circles a cookie cutter or this handy empanada tool.
  • Fill the dough with whatever ingredients that you like meat, cheese, and/or veggies. You can even try some pineapple or cooked pumpkin if you prefer sweet to savory.
  • Then pinch the edges together so that it has a half-moon shape.
  • Fold over the edge into a small lip with your fingers or use the tines of a fork to create little divots in the dough—the important thing is just to make sure that nothing spills out during cooking.
  • Brush them all over with an egg wash for nice golden brown color.
  • The whole batch will take about 15 minutes in air fryer set at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. (Make sure to flip or shake the basket halfway through)

Empanadas can be made ahead of time and frozen before baking; just be sure to let them thaw completely before putting them in the air fryer so that they bake through properly.


Air Fryer Arepas Rellenas

  • For the arepas you need corn meal, water, and salt.
  • In a bowl mix one cup of corn meal such as Maseca Amarillo with a cup of warm water and a pinch of salt. Cover and let rest for about 5 minutes.
  • With wet hands split the dough into 4 even portions and roll each into a ball.
  • Press each ball down until each is a disk about ½ inch thick.
  • Spray some oil on each surface and place in the air fryer at 375F for 15 minutes, flipping at the 8 minute mark.
  • While the arepas are cooking, make your filling. Take a whole avocado, 1 tsp of mayo, ½ tsp of lime juics, ½ tsp of garlic powder, ½ tsp of salt, and a cup of shredded meat (or no meat if you prefer). Mash the ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  • Once done remove from the air fryer and split each in half with a thin knife. Fill with the mix that you just made and serve.

Latin Food: Central America

Air-Fryer Taquitos or Flautas

  • Take a tortilla, fill it with a small amount of filling, and roll it up tightly.
  • Cook in the air fryer for 5 to 6 minutes at 390°F (199°C).
  • Serve immediately with your favorite cheese or sauce for dipping; we love sour cream, guacamole, and salsa verde.

These taquitos are great as a snack or appetizer when you have friends over! You can easily customize them by using any kind of filling you (chicken tinga is a good one), but you can use shredded beef or cheese as well!

Latin Food: Caribbean

Air Fryer Fried Plantains (Tostones)

  • Peel the plantains and cut them into 1/2-inch-thick slices on a diagonal. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, then transfer to the air fryer. Cook until golden brown and tender, about 10 minutes total, turning once about halfway through.
  • Serve as an appetizer or side dish alongside whole grilled fish or chicken legs.

Air Fryer Chicharrones

Making pork belly in an air fryer can give you a nice crunchy snack.

  • Cut your pork belly into roughly 1 inch pieces.
  • This is one time when you might want to preheat your air fryer for about 2 minutes before placing the meat in the basket.
  • Pat the meat dry and place in a bowl.
  • Next squeeze some lime juice over the meat.
  • Toss in a bowl with salt, pepper, baking soda and garlic powder.
  • Place the seasoned pork into the preheated air fryer in one layer and air fry for 20 minutes at 400 degrees F. Open the basket at the 10 minute mark, shake, and replace.

Remove the pork and serve with limes.

Latin Food: Tex-Mex

Air-Fried Tortilla Chips

  • To make air-fried tortilla chips, you’ll need a bag of tortillas, some vegetable oil spray and your air fryer.
  • Cut the tortillas into triangles by stacking 5 or 6 at a time and using kitchen shears to cut them.
  • Spray both sides with oil spray and place in the air fryer basket without overlapping them.
  • Set the temperature to 375 F and cook for 3 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving sprinkled with sea salt.

Chips and Pico

Air-Fryer Nachos

  • Preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees F for 5 minutes.
  • Lightly spray the basket of your air fryer with cooking spray.
  • Add the tortilla chips to the air-fryer basket in a single layer.
  • Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 1-2 minutes, or until cheese is melted and nachos are crisp.
  • Remove from heat and top with your favorite toppings; serve immediately!

…or check out this Crunchwrap recipe for another option.

Some great air fryers:

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