If you’re reading this, you’re probably either new to air frying or want to get better at it. No matter what, we have put together everything you need to know before you start air-frying.
How does an air fryer work?
If you’ve been living under a rock, an air fryer is like a small convection oven you can put on your counter. It’s a healthier way to cook than deep frying (although not all things that you deep fry can go in the air fryer). Since they came out in 2010, air fryers have taken the world by storm because they are so versatile and can cook all your favorite foods in half the time and with no oil at all. This is made possible by a technology called rapid air circulation. Air fryers have a heating element and a big fan, just like ovens.
How to use an air fryer
Bento box with air fryer Air fryers cook food evenly by moving hot air around a bowl with holes in it. This makes the food crunchy or crispy in no time. The crisping happens because of a chemical process called the Maillard reaction. This is a type of browning that doesn’t involve enzymes and happens when heat changes the proteins and sugars in your food. It’s the reason why foods that have been browned taste so good (i.e. toasted marshmallows, chips, cookies, etc.).
What makes an air fryer different from a deep fryer?
Air fryers cook food by circulating hot, clean air, while deep fryers use a heating element to superheat tubs of oil in which food is cooked at very high temperatures. Keep in mind that you can’t air fry everything that can be deep fried and vice versa. This is especially true for things like wet batter, since hot air doesn’t get rid of the moisture in the batter like deep frying would. Instead, air fryers are made to make breaded, solid, or crunchy foods more crunchy. A recent survey by Canstar Blue found that only 9% of people still prefer to use their deep fryer. This suggests that more and more people are getting on the air fryer bandwagon.
The amount of oil used is the main difference between an air fryer and a deep fryer. Deep fryers need enough oil to cover the food completely, but air fryers use very little or none at all. This makes air fryers the better choice because they don’t add extra fat to your food. Also, air frying is cheaper because you don’t have to buy as much oil and an air fryer can do the work of more than one kitchen appliance at once.
Pros and cons of air fryers
- Food that is crispy with little oil
- Different designs suited for different needs
- There are models that range from cheap to expensive.
- Simple to use and clean.
- Compared to a deep fryer, fried foods may not be as crunchy.
- Can’t handle big amounts, so you have to cook in batches if you’re cooking for a lot of people.
- Takes up space on the bench, and models that look good are usually expensive.
- There are a few kinds of air fryers.
- a roast chicken in an air fryer oven
There are two main kinds of air fryers: those with a cylindrical basket and those with an oven. Most people have the basket-type. Even though they have some different features, they both cook food quickly and evenly by using convection heating.
Basket air fryers have drawers with baskets that you can take out and put your food in while it cooks. Air fryer ovens look like a toaster oven on the inside, with racks and a glass door. Air fryer ovens take up more counter space than basket air fryers, but they can toast, rotisserie, and broil, which most basket air fryers can’t do.
But air fryer ovens take longer to heat up, you can’t shake them in the middle to make sure they cook evenly, and there aren’t many options for how they look. In general, they are quieter than basket types, can hold more food, and have a door you can look through to see what’s cooking, just like a regular oven.
Pros and cons of an air fryer oven
- Larger amount
- Food can be seen through the door.
- Quieter fan
- You can use any of the baking dishes you already have.
- They’re bigger and take up more bench space.
- Most of the time, it costs more.
- You can’t shake it to make sure it cooks evenly.
- Take more time to heat up
No matter what kind of air fryer you buy, most of them already have settings for steak, fries, fish, and chicken. Having more settings doesn’t mean the appliance is better; it just means it has more automated settings that save you time. However, the more you use the appliance, the more you’ll learn about the right temperatures and cooking times.
Pros and cons of a basket air fryer
- Easy to heat up
- use up precious bench space
- Food is easy to throw into the basket, and you can shake it halfway through to make sure everything cooks evenly.
- Lots of colors and styles to match the look of your kitchen.
- A loud fan
- Can’t see the food while cooking unless you take the basket out, which is fine.
- There isn’t much room, so it’s not good for big families.
- What to do with an air fryer (first timers edition)
Everything should come out of the box: This should come with a mesh air fry basket, a baking pan, a wire rack, and a crumb tray that you can take out. Make sure that everything is there and nothing is missing.
Before you use the air fryer, you should wash all the parts that come out, like the trays and the rack. First, make sure they can go in the dishwasher. If you’re not sure, just wash them by hand.
Read the manual to learn how each cooking feature works and to find recipes to follow, especially the first few times until you feel comfortable cooking on your own.
Smart tip: Before you use your air fryer to cook, some manufacturers recommend running it empty for about 10 minutes to get rid of any “new appliance” smells and gas from the coating and internal elements. Don’t worry if you smell chemicals, especially if it’s the first time. Just open a vent or window. It shouldn’t happen more than once.
Preheat your air fryer. Before you put your food in, you should preheat your appliance to get it to the best temperature so that the food can start cooking right away.
Use the built-in timer to make sure the food is cooked correctly: Recipes with built-in timers can help you get it right while you do other things. They’re also easier to use than variable temperature settings alone since you have to check on your food occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Cook set recipes: At least until you learn how your appliance works, don’t try out your own recipes until you know how to use your appliance. Then step up your game by making traditional dishes like pork belly and potato bake in half the time.
Does your air fryer need to be warmed up?
In a word, yes! Always heat up your air fryer first so that your food can start cooking right away. This only takes a few minutes, but it can make all the difference! If you don’t preheat your air fryer first, you might end up with food that isn’t cooked enough. Preheating also cuts down on the amount of time it takes to cook and makes sure you get the best result at the end, i.e., something crispy and golden. But if you’re in a hurry and just want to get your food in there, add five to ten minutes to the end of the cooking time.
Can you still put oil in your air fryer?
There is no rule that says you can’t use oil in the air fryer, but only a small amount is needed. Even though not every recipe calls for oil, a light spray of oil will always help your food get nice and crispy. This is especially true for chips, spring rolls, and anything else that has been breaded. Make sure to put the oil right on the food you’re cooking, not just in the basket of the air fryer.
What are the best things to use an air fryer to cook?
Air fryers have all the cool features of an oven, microwave, toaster, and deep fryer (but no oil), so you can cook almost anything in them. The only exception is foods that are soggy or have a wet batter. This is because air fryers work best with dry foods, like sausage rolls, potato gems, or breaded mozzarella sticks.
If you’re cooking things that tend to have a lot of moisture, like meat or vegetables, give them a quick pat to get rid of some of the extra water. This is because, if you think about it, an air fryer doesn’t get rid of moisture. It just moves hot air around in a small space.
- Some of the foods you can cook in an air fryer, but not all of them, are:
- Chips, spring rolls, garlic bread, and other things can be frozen.
- Meats like steaks, roasts, chicken, lamb, etc.
- Seafood: fish that has been breaded, shrimp, calamari rings, etc.
- Veggies: potatoes, carrots, broccoli, etc.
- Desserts like chocolate puddings that don’t need extra sauce, brownies, cheesecake, etc.
- Croquettes of mac and cheese, arancini balls, and other foods are breaded.
How to use an air fryer (for more experienced cooks)
Try out recipes made from scratch: Make something from scratch to get in touch with your inner chef. Try making chicken parmigiana, fried chicken, and other chicken dishes.
Meals that are ahead of the game: You can make fish tacos, seafood platters, gnocchi, steak, pizza, chicken taquitos, and so much more with an air fryer. This is true whether you’re a fan of air fryers or just want something different for dinner.
Make breakfast to save time in the morning. If your kitchen is always busy in the morning, using your air fryer to make some quick (and tasty) breakfasts might help. Breakfast burritos made in an air fryer change the game. You can make them ahead of time and freeze them so that all you have to do is heat them up and go. You can add whatever you want to make it exactly what you want.
Try making desserts, like cheesecake in an air fryer. Put us down! An air fryer can make all kinds of desserts and sweet snacks, like crispy apple pie, sticky pudding, s’mores, and pretty much anything else your heart desires.
Bring life back to cold pizza and wet fries: Is there anything worse than coming home from a McDonald’s run and finding that your chips are cold or, even worse, soggy? Well, you can bring them back to life with your air fryer! Just heat the oven, as usual, put the chips in, and in three to five minutes you’ll have crispy chips again. You can use the same method to make cold pizza come back to life.
Foods can be dried out. Fruit, vegetables, and even meat can be dried out, which is a great way to reduce food waste. Foods that can be dried out can be anything from beef jerky and banana chips to dried mango and granola. Foods can also be rehydrated in liquid so that they can be used in recipes and smoothies. Some air fryers have a setting for drying out food, or you might be able to dry out food in a regular air fryer as long as the temperature can go as high as 50°C. This is because you want to get rid of the food’s moisture, not cook it.
Cleaning your air fryer
Clean the air fryer. To keep food and grease from building up in the cooking chamber, you should wipe down your air fryer after each use and give it a more thorough cleaning every week or two, or after a particularly messy cook.
Here’s the right way to clean your air fryer:
Unplug the air fryer: First things first, make sure you unplug your air fryer and let it cool down completely before cleaning it.
Disassemble the appliance and clean the parts that can be taken apart. Most air fryers have parts that can go in the dishwasher, which makes cleaning very easy. Just take out the basket, tray, and pan and clean them as needed. Before you put anything in the dishwasher, make sure to check the manual for your model, just to be safe. When in doubt, always wash by hand.
Soapy water can be used to clean the inside of the air fryer. You can soak and scrub the basket and pan in warm soapy water until all food debris and grease are gone, or you can use baking soda and vinegar as a natural alternative.
Clean the main unit by wiping it down with a damp cloth to get rid of any food residue or grease. Because it has electric parts, you should never put the main unit of your air conditioner in water.
Check the heating coil: After each time you cook, it’s a good idea to check the heating coil for any oil or leftover food. Make sure the appliance is completely cool and unplugged before wiping it down with a damp cloth or dish brush. This is like cleaning the heating element on an electric stove.
Dry and put back together: Before putting the parts back together, make sure they are completely dry. You can use a towel or just let them dry in the air.
Are they safe to use?
Yes, you can use an air fryer safely if you take the right precautions, like not touching the hot frying basket with your bare hands and being careful when you open the lid while your food is still cooking. People think that air fryers are safer than deep fryers, which have hot oil that can cause burns. Here’s how you can safely use your air fryer:
- Don’t forget that the tray will be hot, so use a heat-resistant mat if you need to and be careful not to touch it.
- Make room for your air fryer! Make sure there is at least 5–10 cm of space on each side of the unit while it is cooking.
- To keep your hands from getting burned, use tongs or an oven mitt to take food out of the air fryer.
- After each use, turn off and unplug your air fryer.
- Don’t touch your air fryer too much because the back can get very hot.
- Tips and things to remember about air fryers
It’s fine to take out the basket to check on your food, especially for the first couple of times until you know how long different dishes take to cook in your machine. Don’t worry about turning off the machine. When the basket is out, it automatically stops. That’s also how you’ll know if you put it in right, since the car won’t start if you didn’t.
Spread out your food in the basket. If you overfill the basket, your food won’t cook evenly or will take twice as long and not turn out as well.
The best way to heat up leftovers is in your air fryer instead of the microwave.