Do I need to preheat my air fryer? This may surprise you!

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Welcome back to another air fryer tips article here on Air Fryer Bro! In all the air fryer groups that I am a part of, I always see people recommending (or even saying it’s a must) to preheat your air fryer. I find this interesting, because in all my years of using air fryers, I have never once preheated mine. So today, I want to write an article to talk about the pros and cons of both options. 

Do you have to preheat an air fryer? Let’s find out together!

For me, you do not have to preheat an air fryer. This is because the hot air it provides (and uses to cook your food) is instant, unlike a traditional oven. The only reason you may want to preheat an air fryer is to heat up the cooking accessories or utensils inside the air fryer before applying food.

does an air fryer need preheating? Read this article to find out.

Before we dive into the full explanation of my theory behind air fryer preheating, I will say that my views have been built up over multiple years of practically using an air fryer. If you have a different experience, or can tell me a scientific reason to preheat, please tell me in the comments section below. If we bring all our ideas together, we can come up with the best combined solution!

I believe in giving you my real advice that comes from my experience of actually using an air fryer, and not just reading up what other people think and copying what they say (as apparent authorities on air fryers). It would have been so easy to go with all those other air fryer sites and tell you to preheat, but I chose to go with what I have seen myself!

Why don’t you need to preheat an air fryer?

After reading the intro to this article, you will already know that I don’t think air fryers need to be preheated. I am sticking my neck out here, as my research for this article showed that many other people believe the complete opposite!

a graphic showing home appliances you do and don't need to preheat (including air fryers)

So, why am I an air fryer preheat doubter? I am not a scientist (as I have told you way too many times on this site!), but here is my common sense explanation.

An air fryer is basically a heating element that heats up air, combined with a fan that pushes this hot air around the air fryer itself and cooks the food. What other home appliances follow this principle? The one that jumps to my mind is a hair dryer. A hair dryer also basically consists of a heating element and a fan to push out the air. An air fryer uses much hotter air, but the principle is the same.

When using a hair dryer, do you have to wait for the hot air to get to temperature? I don’t have much experience with hair dryers, but what I do know is the air will get to temperature almost immediately.

This is why my (hopefully) common sense brain tells me I don’t need to preheat my air fryer. The hot air being constantly pushed around my air fryer will be up to temperature and cooking my food in no time! You are needlessly adding to your cooking time by pre-heating, in my opinion.

For some reason, people think you especially need to preheat when air frying frozen foods. But for me it doesn’t matter! Cooking from frozen, roast veggies, baking, batch cooking or making your favorite chicken tenders! In all situations, I DO NOT preheat 🙂 Simple!

Are there any exceptions to this?

Are there any situations or an air fryer recipe that makes things different? There are only two exceptions I can think of, so let’s go over those now!

1. Heating up accessories!

In our household, we use the grill pan accessory in our air fryer (that you can see below). In fact, we love this accessory so much and use it almost every time we use our air fryer (but that’s a story for another day!). Click the image to go view this product over at Amazon.

In the same way that people like to heat up a frying pan before they pan fry meat, some people might want to do the same with this grill pan type accessory before cooking meat on it in an air fryer. To give the meat a hot surface to sear on as soon as it goes into the air fryer. Even though the air heats up instantly, a metal grill pan will take a bit longer to heat up. Having your meat sat on a cold grill pan may slow down the cooking process.

However, to be clear, I never preheat my air fryer or any of my air fryer cooking accessories, and I have never had any problems with any of the food I cook in there.

2. All for the non stick!

A lot of people like to apply some kind of oil to their air fryer basket (or cooking accessory of choice), to make sure it has good non stick qualities.

For example, I like the idea of rubbing avocado oil on my air fryer accessories to do this exact same thing! After applying oil, some people like to preheat everything in their air fryer before they actually put the food in to cook.

Again, to be clear. I have never done this, but a lot of people swear by it. What do you think?

So, you still don’t believe me?

As I see many other air fryer gurus and members of air fry groups saying that you must preheat your air fryer, I expect to still have a lot of readers thinking to themselves “this guy is crazy, telling us we don’t need to preheat.”

So I want to reassure you that I am not crazy, by showing you what Philips says about preheating their air fryers. Yes, you heard me right – Philips. Just a company that has been making air fryers for many years and has some of the most popular (if starting to become a bit unfashionable) air fryers on the market. They should know a thing or two about air fryers, right??

I love the way that they have a super short post on their website that goes something like this:

Question: Do I need to preheat my Philips air fryer model?

Answer: No, you don’t need to preheat your Philips air fryer, you can just put the food straight in.

Simple, and to the point. It would be great if they explained this in more detail, maybe with some cool scientific facts. But hey ho!

Surely, if preheating had any effect, Philips would want their customers to benefit from that and get the best experience from using their Philips air fryer? So the fact they don’t recommend preheating is a big thing for me. It certainly makes me feel less crazy 🙂

Having said that, Ninja totally went against my advice for their Ninja Foodi Air Fryer, saying to preheat for three minutes. I think they are just trying to annoy me 🙂 In all seriousness though; I am wondering if they actually did tests over several cooking cycles before coming to that conclusion 🙂

So, what does all this mean?

So the next time you go to air fry those frozen french fries, chicken wings or fried chicken have a little think first…..consider trying not preheating your air fryer and see what happens 🙂 Even if the air fryer recipes demand it!!

To round up! After everything is said and done, what does all this actually mean for you, the air fryer owner?

It means that preheating your air fryer is all a matter of personal preference.

Although you don’t technically have to preheat an air fryer, some people still swear by it.

I would recommend you play around with it yourself. Cook the same dish twice, once with and once without preheating your air fryer. See if you notice any difference in the end result.

Individual air fryers have different levels of wattage, and cooking layout, so your results may vary. So test, test and test some more.

The reason I think a lot of people only feel comfortable preheating an air fryer, is they are so used to conventional ovens and the preheating they require. But remember, regular ovens are usually huge lumbering beasts that actually require time to come up to heat. This is not the case with air fryers.

Writing this article makes me think why I love air frying as a cooking method. No more waiting around for your oven or deep fryer to heat up! And you get a cleaner cooking process and shorter cooking times to boot 🙂 Even the fabled Instant Pot needs times to heat up and build pressure!

Well, there you have it! I have thrown my hat in the ring! Let the debate start! If you have a different view on air fryer preheating, I would love to hear all about it in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to Preheat an Air Fryer Oven/ Convection Oven?

This article has been aimed more at traditional air fryers, but how about countertop air fryer ovens? Do I have to preheat those? No. You still don’t need to preheat an air fryer oven. They still use the same hot air frying technology that heats up instantly. The only exception to this is if you have an appliance that is of larger size and you find that it is weaker or underpowered as far as air fryers go.

If you keep having to up your cook time from what you find from typical air fryer recipes, then your air fryer oven is weak. Then it may be beneficial to preheat for a short time. However, you should check out any new appliance straight after purchase and, if you find it to be weak, simply send it back and get a better model.

Enough of this preheat talk. Stop reading and go enjoy some air fried doughnuts (yes, you can air fry doughnuts), or better still some trusty old fish sticks 🙂

3 thoughts on “Do I need to preheat my air fryer? This may surprise you!”

  1. Typical home ovens are rather large and require preheating to get everything up to temp. If you don’t do this, cakes for instance, will cook deferentially. Some spots will be raw; others dried out. This the main reason you can’t bake effectively and easily in a microwave oven … too many hot spots. Microwave radiation heats the food by molecular excitation, not the air. And the radiation is essentially beam-like. Similar to trying to roast a leg of lamb with an air gun. With an air fryer, the volume of the fryer is small contrasted with that of a full size over. With the fan, there is little chance of hot spots. The simple truth is, as long as you’re not broiling, it’s the hot air that cooks the food in a conventional oven. Air is the transfer medium for the heat. If you think this is wrong, try it yourself. You may have to adjust cook times for no preheating, but that’s a no-brainer. If you’re unwilling to try it, then all you’re doing is expressing somebody else’s unsubstantiated opinion.

    • Hi, thanks for your comment. I am not entirely sure if you are agreeing or disagreeing with my opinion that air fryers don’t need to be pre-heated. You mention that ‘air is the transfer medium for heat’ and this is why i don’t think that air fryers need preheating. I haven’t noticed a difference when pre-heating or not, so I figured it’s a waste of energy 🙂

  2. There is another reason not to preheat. If you remove the container and load your food in it, the heat goes out rather quickly. So unless you have magic fingers to drop you food in a couple of seconds this is a complete waste. Conventional oven is different, it is large, you are only removing the grill which is quick enough.


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