Your air fryer is the hottest thing in the kitchen, and you’re excited to try it out. You unpack it from the box, plug it in, and set the temperature. Then you pour a cup of oil into it…and realize that your excitement is quickly turning into confusion because that’s not how this appliance works at all!
So then what are air fryers for? What do I do with them?
It may seem pretty simple on the outside –it even has an automatic shut-off – but there are actually some tips and tricks to consider before using your air fryer for the first time. And it’s also worth noting that they aren’t exactly like normal deep fat fryers , so you’ll want to follow a different set of instructions and keep reading.
Your air fryer uses hot air circulated around the food in order to cook it, making it a much healthier cooking method than deep fat frying. Plus, you can do everything from baking cakes to roasting chicken with your air fryer (in fact, we’ve included some awesome recipes for you at the end of this article).
But if you’re new to using an air fryer, here are a few things to consider before trying out your machine:
Preheat Your Air Fryer
It’s generally recommended that you preheat your appliance for about three minutes before adding foods in order to sear them and lock in flavor and moisture. So turn on your machine and give it a little time to heat up. Then add your food and you’re ready to go!
Make Sure You Use Enough Oil Or Fat
You don’t need to use a ton of oil or fat in your air fryer, but the general rule is that you should add enough so that there’s at least one millimeter covering the bottom. If necessary, add more. Don’t allow the ingredients to stick by adding too much oil or fat –– this defeats the point of using an air fryer. However, if you are cooking something fatty like bacon, leave it as-is since some fat is good for air frying.
Don’t Overfill Your Basket To Prevent Spills & Fires
This probably goes without saying, but it’s better to not overcrowd your air fryer. Certain foods like potatoes and root vegetables take up a lot of space and could cause oil or fat to spill over the sides if too much is in the basket. So when adding ingredients, keep an eye on the capacity of the machine and avoid overfilling.
Keep The Lid Closed For Most Foods
You can technically air fry anything in your machine that you could normally bake or roast in the oven, but not all foods require that you keep the lid open. Many foods are best if cooked with the lid closed to ensure even cooking throughout. Plus, leaving it open too often will cause hot oil to lose its heat much faster than it would otherwise .
Use A Timer & Air Circulation Knob
Depending on how you set up your air fryer , you may have an automatic shut-off feature to prevent fires in case you forget about what’s cooking inside. You’ll want to pay attention during cooking regardless though, because things like chicken and steak should be timed more carefully than vegetables. If you’re cooking something that takes up to 20 minutes, the air circulation and temperature knobs may be all you need (and if your machine is older, these dials may be the only options available).
Many newer models of air fryers also have a “Keep Warm” function built in for after-cooking use. This allows you to keep cooked food warm without ruining its crispiness or flavor. Simply add whatever you want to stay warm while everything else finishes cooking, and then turn on this feature once it’s done.
Get The Most Out Of Your Air Fryer By Experimenting Like we mentioned before, some foods like potatoes and root vegetables take longer than most other ingredients –– and these things vary depending on the size, shape, and type of ingredients you use. So experiment with what works best for you! Air fryers are relatively new appliances so there’s no one guide that will tell you exactly how to cook everything .
A Few Recipes For You
Here are a few recipes we’ve collected from other sites as well as our own:
Jalapeno Poppers: This is a simple recipe that features jalapenos stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon before cooking them in your air fryer.
Onion Rings: These might not be “healthy,” but they’re definitely better than other fried foods out there like french fries. Plus, onion rings make an excellent side dish.
Chicken Nuggets: A healthier alternative than fast food, these things are crispy and delicious with frozen peas as a side dish.
Fried Rice: You can’t exactly recreate your favorite restaurant’s recipe in an air fryer, but you can come pretty close with this one!
Cauliflower Bites: Another take on a fried vegetable dish with less oil and fewer calories than their potato counterparts.
Chicken Wings: If you really want to impress someone who loves wings, cook them in your air fryer instead of baking or frying them in oil. Full instructions found here (and try not to drool on your keyboard).