If you’ve never used an air fryer before, they can seem intimidating. How long does it take to cook things? Do you need to clean it? What should I be cooking? It can all feel overwhelming.
1. Preheat your air fryer before adding your food.
Just like an oven, an air fryer benefits from a few minutes of preheating. To do so, just turn it on before adding your food to the basket. It’s a simple step that many people overlook but can help shed a few minutes off your cooking time.
2. Make sure to grease your air fryer basket with oil so nothing sticks.
Even though most air fryer baskets have nonstick coatings, you’ll still want to grease the basket to make sure nothing sticks. Oils with high smoking points (such as safflower or soybean oil) are ideal for using in air fryers, as the temperatures within the machine can get very hot. Pro tip: If you want to use olive oil in your air fryer, avoid extra-virgin varieties, which have smoke points between 350⁰ and 410⁰F, and go with regular (or light-tasting) varieties which have smoke points between 390⁰ and 470⁰F.
3. But don’t use nonstick aerosol cooking sprays, as they can cause damage to your air fryer.
Many nonstick cooking sprays contain additives that can “damage the nonstick coatings on some air fryer baskets,” so you’ll want to avoid using them. An easy alternative is to purchase a spray bottle and fill it up with your own oil.
4. Instead of reheating food in the microwave, do it in the air fryer for crispier, tastier leftovers.
You can reheat anything from leftover veggies and pizza to roast chicken and salmon in the air fryer! Just set it at a lower-than-usual temperature like 350°F so the air fryer heats up your food without over-cooking it. After about a minute, the leftovers will be hot and crispy and ready to eat.
5. Shake the basket a few times during cooking to make sure everything is browning evenly.
To make sure your items are cooking evenly, give the basket/shelf a few shakes during cooking. You can keep the air fryer running and just remove the shelf without any problems. This is especially useful for small items that you want to crisp all over, like fries or small roasted veggies. A few shakes should be enough, and it’ll help ensure everything turns out crisp and consistent.
6. Rather than douse food in olive oil, use sparingly to achieve the crispiest food.
You might think that coating your food in lots of oil will cause it to become more crispy in the air fryer, but less is actually more when it comes to oil. Too much olive oil and your food could actually get soggy instead of crisp. Go easy on the olive oil for maximum flavor and texture.
7. Make sure you don’t overcrowd your air fryer.
If you add too many items to your air fryer, the air won’t be able to circulate properly and your food won’t get crispy. If you’re making a large amount of something, cook items in batches instead of all at once. This advice is especially important for fries, diced veggies, and other small items you want to get super crispy.
8. And for larger items (like whole chicken cutlets or pork chops), cook them in a single layer and don’t stack them.
Things like steaks, pork chops, fish fillets, and burgers need to be cooked in a single layer in the air fryer. If you try to stack them, the sides that are touching will end up colorless and soggy. If you can only fit three steaks at a time in the bottom of your air fryer, but want to cook more, you’ll need to cook them in batches.
9. From chicken nuggets to cauliflower gnocchi, you can cook just about any frozen food in the air fryer.
If you’re not sure how long or at what temperature to cook frozen food in the air fryer, check out this handy chart.
10. Make sure there’s at least 5 inches of space around your air fryer.
Air fryers rely on hot air circulation to crisp up food, so it’s important that you give your machine enough space on all sides to account for proper air flow. A good rule of thumb is to allow 5 inches of clearance on all sides, and make sure your surfaces are heat-proof. You don’t want to cook with an air fryer that’s pushed against a wall.
11. Mix your seasonings with oil before adding them to your foods to prevent them from blowing around.
Because the air circulation within an air fryer is so strong, lightweight spices have a tendency to be blown off of food. One way to avoid this is to mix your spices with oil, and then coat your items in that mixture. The oil helps weigh them down and glue them to the food.
12. Clean your air fryer after every use — but not in a dishwasher.
After using your air fryer, you’ll want to let it cool and clean it. If you notice smoke starting to come out of your machine as you use it, this is a sign that your air fryer has oil buildup and needs to be cleaned. Cleaning the machine is fairly straightforward and can be done with regular soap and water; just avoid sticking the pieces in a dishwasher. Learn more: See how to properly clean your air fryer.
Click here for some easy and delicious air fry recipes from Food Network!