Can you stack food in an air fryer? [& TIPS FOR HOW TO]

Welcome back to the Air Fryer Bro website and thank you for clicking on another article! We have been busy lately handing out advice to air fryers users both new and old. There are numerous questions I see repeated again and again about air fryers. So, I thought I should answer these questions once and for all on the inter-webs! I am not an expert, just a guy that has been using air fryers for numerous years and has learned some hard lessons! Now, you don’t have to!

Today we are answering the question ‘Can you stack food in an air fryer? and if so, how?’

In short, you cannot stack food in an air fryer, unless you find a way to maintain air flow. An air fryer cooks by circulating incredibly hot air around your food. If this air flow is compromised, you will end up with under cooked or even slightly raw food.

a tray would solve your air fryer stacking problems!

We will now attempt to break this question down into it’s finer points!

Can you stack food in an air fryer?

When thinking about stacking food in an air fryer, there is one crucial thing you need to remember.

Air flow is the key!

When thinking about the method that an air fryer uses to cook food, it will tell you a lot of what you need to know before trying to stack food inside it.

The food in an air fryer is cooked by the hot air that swirls around it. This hot air is blown around the air fryer at such a rate, that light food has been known to fly around inside!

make sure your air fryer has good air flow if you do decide to stack food in it!!

What this means, is if you obstruct this air flow in any serious way, you risk stopping the proper operation of your air fryer. You will probably end up with unevenly cooked or even partially raw food. This is no fun, and potentially dangerous.

With this in mind, try not to pile up food in your air fryer, unless you are sure that air can circulate around it well enough to not change the cooking process!

Also don’t be tempted to change the basket configuration your air fryer originally came with. Most traditional air fryers will have a basket to put food into, similar to what you have in a regular fat fryer. Notice how this basket will have ample space all around it when positioned inside the air fryer. This is to maintain air flow in the way described above. 

When you want to cram food in an air fryer, you might be tempted to take out this air fryer basket and place food directly onto the bottom of the cooking compartment. In most cases, this would end in disaster. The only way to do this is to still ensure good air flow around all of the food that is being cooked (including underneath).

What is the best way to stack food in an air fryer?

Now that we know how important air flow is to an air fryer, we will now discuss the best ways you can use if you want to stack food and still maintain air flow.

For me personally, there is only one option. Invest in some racks that you can place inside your air fryer. I would recommend that these fit into your air fryer’s basket, giving you two levels to cook on.

The other option would be to buy two racks of different levels, that fit into the cooking compartment of your air fryer instead of the regular basket. This only works if you have a traditional bucket style air fryer, where you lift things in and out of it.

The reason I don’t recommend this is because it could lead to complications. Usually, the air fryer basket has a handle that sticks out of the air fryer. If you don’t have the basket inserted when cooking it could leave a gap that would let hot air out and change the efficiency of your air fryer. This is a unique thing to your air fryer, so look into it and see if it would work.

When stacking food on racks, be aware that most air fryers have one heating element at the top, in the lid of the unit. Therefore, the food on the top level may cook or brown faster than the food underneath. It may be necessary to change the food over half way through cooking.

We have an accessory set on our recommended products page that will provide a good start when thinking about getting racks for your air fryer. 

Are there any other techniques that should be used?

There are some foods that do stack better than others. Usually, smaller or thinner food items that are supposed to crisp on the outside work better than slabs of meat that stick together (for example). The small food will still allow some kind of air flow around it, even if it is not exactly optimal.

The common items I am talking about are usually the traditional “fried” foods such as french fries, nuggets etc. With these, you can use a simple technique to ensure even cooking. Cook these food types in shorter bursts and in between each burst give your food a good shake. This shake will expose different surfaces of the food to the hot air and will lead to a much better texture to your food.

when done right, air fried chips or french fries are amazing.

What are the alternatives to stacking food in an air fryer?

These days, there are two main ways you could get around the need to stack food inside your air fryer. 

Batch your cooking

This is something I sometimes have to do, as I have a fairly small air fryer. Simply cook your food in batches, rather than all at once. It might not work great for all situations, but it certainly gives you the option to cook more.

Upgrade your air fryer!

When air fryers were first out on the market, they were only available in smaller sizes. However, more recently the options for larger air fryers are becoming more widespread. As the hot air needs to be intense in nature, this is why it took a why for manufacturers to achieve this in a larger cooking environment.

There are much bigger traditional basket or bucket style air fryers now, but more importantly there has been an important innovation in air fryers. This is the oven style air fryer. As the name suggests, it is simply an air fryer set up in a more oven like configuration.

This is great, as you can buy them in much larger sizes. Also, oven style air fryers usually have at least two cooking racks right out of the gate. Basically, investing in an oven style air fryer would mean you would never have to worry about stacking food again! If you want to find out more about oven style air fryers, you can check out our article comparing them with traditional air fryers!

You can check out a popular model of air fryer oven on Amazon by clicking on the image below.

To stack or not to stack?

Hopefully, I have set out the key considerations for stacking food in air fryers. Now, you need to look at your situation and decide what the best thing for you to do is! I would imagine that most people with enough space would simply go for a larger oven style air fryer, now that it is an option. I too would do that, but I really don’t have the space! Maybe one day!!

If you have any personal experiences of stacking food in an air fryer, we would love to hear all about them in the comments section below. Do you have your own special tips or experiences to share? Go on, you know you want to!

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