An air fryer is one of those appliances that has made life easier. They can turn any amateur home cook into a budding chef with great tasting food. More importantly, food can be cooked much faster and with little or no oil.
This quick-cooking makes air frying a healthy alternative to many other cooking methods.As simple as cooking is with an air fryer, many owners fail to get the best results out of their cooking.
With these 17 helpful tips for anyone who owns an air fryer, you'll transform any meal into something unique and get the most out of your appliance.
1. Preheat Your Air Fryer
Most air fryers heat up fairly quickly and, in many cases, don't need to be preheated. However, when your air fryer is preheated, the food is quickly sealed, so you're more likely to get that delicious crispiness coating your food. Always check your recipe to see if preheating is needed for perfect results.
2. Grease Your Air Fryer Basket
Many air fryer baskets or trays come with a non-stick coating, but it's still a good idea to grease the basket before adding your food. This is especially important for foods such as fish and crumbed dishes. The last thing you want is to turn your food over and have the skin or breading stuck to the basket. Use a cooking oil spray or just apply a thin layer of oil to your air fryer basket.
3. Lightly Spray A Coating Of Oil On Your Food
For perfect, crispy results for breaded food, french fries, and other foods that are usually deep-fried, spray a light coating of oil over the food before putting them in the air fryer to cook. You can use a commercial cooking spray or buy an oil spray bottle and add your favorite oil. This layer of oil results in all-round crispiness for all of your foods.
4. Don’t Overcrowd The Basket
It's hard to be patient when you're in a hurry to put dinner on the table, and the temptation is always there to dump as much food as possible into your air fryer basket to save time and energy. Cooking in smaller batches will save you time because if you try and cook everything at once, it may actually take more time.
What's worse, the food will not cook evenly, and you'll end up with a basket full of soggy food. Cook your food in smaller batches and get the consistency right for a better-tasting meal.
5. Avoid Aerosol Can Sprays For Non-Stick Coatings
Greasing your air fryer basket is an effective way to achieve great cooking results, and we all know cooking sprays give us the perfect non-stick advantage when we cook. While these commercial aerosol cooking sprays are great, many are made with harsh chemicals that may erode the non-stick surfaces of your air fryer. Invest in an oil mister or bottle and use that instead.
6. Add Water When Frying Fatty Foods
If you love crispy bacon, you'll love the results you can get when you cook those rashers in an air fryer. The trouble is, the fat will render off, and when it gets too hot, it will smoke. Place a little water in the bottom of your air fryer tray to prevent the fat from overheating. Otherwise, you’ll need to take the food out of the air fryer every few minutes and drain off the fat.
7. Don’t Discard The Fats
Air frying is a healthy way to cook without adding a lot of unnecessary oil, but much of the fats and oils that drip off foods like roasts and bacon is like liquid gold. Don’t throw out these fats and juices. They are packed with flavor and can be used to make mouth-watering sauces and gravies.
8. Shake And Bake
As much as we'd like to think of our air fryers as set-and-forget appliances, for best results, you need to take your basket of food out a couple of times during the cooking process and give the basket a shake. This quick shake will redistribute the food so that all sides cook evenly and crisply. You'll appreciate this little step when air frying french fries and other traditionally fried foods.
9. Bake Light Food Items With Caution
Your air fryer works on the concept of hot air circulating your food with the help of a high-powered fan. For this reason, you need to exercise a little caution when cooking foods with seasoning flakes or light pastries. The fan can blow these particles around and they can get caught up in the fan.
This is a potential hazard that can result in your air fryer short-circuiting, overheating, or even catching on fire. Either avoid cooking these items in your air fryer, or find a way to ensure they won’t be floating around.
10. Don’t Just Use Your Air Fryer Accessories
Most air fryers come with a range of accessories such as pans, cake tins, and other cooking utensils. Other air fryers have these accessories available to purchase. Find additional sized cake pans, trays, and small pots that fit in your air fryer. Not only will you have more versatility with your air fryer, but you can also increase your repertoire of air fryer recipes and cook a larger variety of different dishes.
11. Use A Food Thermometer
Some of the best foods to come out of an air fryer include chicken and pork, but you can also cook large chunks of meat like beef, lamb, turkey and more. Air fryers do cook food quite quickly, so there is always the fear that the beautifully cooked roast on the outside is still undercooked on the inside. Not only can this ruin a great meal, in some cases, but it can also be dangerous to your health.
Get yourself a good food thermometer and check the temperature deep inside your meat to ensure it is cooked. You can use a regular thermometer and research the right temperature for each food, or get a digital one and program it for the type of meat you are cooking.
12. Line Your Air Fryer Basket
If you're concerned about your food sticking to the air fryer basket or pan, you always use aluminum foil or parchment paper. Simply line the bottom of your air fryer basket and cook away. You can also use parchment paper on the side of a cake pan to ensure your cakes won't stick. The other bonus of using aluminum foil or parchment paper is that cleaning is a lot quicker and easier.
13. Give Your Air Fryer Enough Room
Your air fryer relies on a lot of circulating hot air to cook your food to a perfectly crisp consistency. That means your air fryer is drawing on the surrounding air to ensure this circulation flows smoothly. Don't push your air fryer up against a wall and crowd other items around it when you are cooking. For the best and safest results, place your air fryer in the middle of your workspace and move any other odds and ends away, at least until you've finished cooking.
14. Clean Your Air Fryer After Use
Your air fryer most likely has a removable basket and trays. Many of these are even dishwasher safe, so cleaning is relatively easy. Don't forget to clean the inside of the unit as well. Omitting this part of cleaning results in spattered food caking on the sides of your appliance, and this will affect the taste of the next food you cook.
The last thing you want is a vanilla pound cake with a fishy taste. If you are diligent with cleaning after each use, it should be enough to simply wipe the inside of the unit with a damp cloth. This is usually best done while the air fryer is still warm, but cool enough to touch.
15. Your Air Fryer Bakes And Roasts Too
Most new air fryer owners are completely entranced with the perfection of fried foods cooked in this wonder appliance, but your air fryer can do so much more than just air fry your food. Use your air fryer for baking cakes and puddings. You can also roast nuts for a great treat or to add extra flavor to your desserts. Flash fry certain spices as well to release their magical aromas.
16. Marinate Food For Extra Flavor and Juiciness
Before you head off for work in the morning, spend a little time to marinate your food and keep it in the refrigerator until you return home. All of those delicious flavors will infuse into your food and the marinade will also form a protective seal over your food as soon as the heat hits it.
The result is food with a mind-blowing flavorful crust, with all the moistness locked in.
17. Frozen Food For When You Forget
Most people like to take their frozen food out of the freezer in the morning as they leave for work, or even by defrosting it in the fridge overnight. Unfortunately, during the hustle and bustle of our busy schedules, we sometimes forget, and that makes preparing dinner a bit of a hassle. With an air fryer, you can still cook almost any food even if it's still frozen.
Simply prepare it as you usually would and cook it at a lower heat for 20 minutes or so. Once you are sure that the food has defrosted, you can turn up the heat and finish cooking.
Okay, so you may have purchased your air fryer because you wanted guilt-free, oil-free food such as french fries, nuggets, chicken wings, and other convenience foods. That's all well and good, but you're not using your air fryer to its fullest potential. With these tips for anyone who owns an air fryer, you can become a cooking wizard in your home and enjoy healthy and delicious meals every day.