Welcome back to Air Fryer Bro. Today, I want to go over my essential tips and tricks for using an air fryer. These are real tips that I have learned over multiple years owning and using an air fryer.
I can remember when I first starting using my air fryer, I hit some problems along the way. Hopefully, by reading my tips you will not have to go down the same route.
Before we start with the tips, I would like to say that I always really appreciate any feedback from the air frying community. If you have other essential tips that are not mentioned in this article, I would love to hear all about them in the comments section below. You never know, I might even update my list with them (and credit you of course!).
1.Use oil on food
This probably sounds a bit weird when you first hear it! I mean, a lot of people like the idea of an air fryer because it markets itself as an alternative to deep fat frying. But, don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds!
I have found this tip to be particularly useful when cooking any food where I would like a crispy layer on the outside. For example, if I was making roasted vegetables, I would want a bit of a crisp to the outside. This is when I would add oil.
When I say to add oil, most people use a oil spray bottle or spritzer. They will give the food they want to cook a spray with oil. What this does, is help to give more of a reaction on the surfaces sprayed with oil, allowing a crispy or roasted texture.
I swear by this method, and it changed my opinion of air frying completely! No more pale looking french fries for a start! If you want more details about this, you can read my whole article on using oil in an air fryer!
The only time I do not recommend spraying oil on food you want to have a crispy texture, is when you are cooking frozen pre-made items. For example, whenever I cook oven chips (or french fries) in my air fryer, I don’t add any oil and they always come out perfectly. This is because there was already oil added in the process of making them. If you are unsure, simply check the ingredients list of what you want to cook. This should quickly show you any oil content.
2. Think about the sticking!
Usually, an air fryer basket or cooking compartment will come with a non stick coating. Unfortunately, even this doesn’t always stop your food from sticking to it. And if it does, you will feel the need to scrub it more, which could lead to degradation and even flaking of this non stick coating.
So, for me, I want to look for prevention of sticking all together. There are two ways that I recommend doing this.
Firstly, you can smear your air fryer basket or cooking pan with some kind of oil. I quite like coconut oil, as it has a higher smoking point. Although, I do sometimes use regular olive oil without issues. Any oil is better than no oil! Usually, I will add this oil to a paper towel and carefully rub it onto any areas in contact with food. You could also spray it with the same bottle you use to spray your food.
The other method is to put some kind of parchment paper down inside your grill pan or cooking basket. If you do this, make sure that this parchment paper has some kind of holes in it, to allow good air flow around your food. Also, make sure it is weighted down with some food. You don’t want it flying around inside your air fryer, and potentially getting trapped inside the heating element.
The parchment paper method is so popular, you can often buy some that is pre-cut to the shape of your air fryer’s basket.
I would give one word of warning here. Don’t use these spray on oil type products, such as PAM non stick cooking spray. Although I haven’t personally used them, some members of the air fryer circles I am in have stated that the additives and aerosol nature of the spray may damage the non stick surface of your air fryer. Better to be safe than sorry, and steer clear of these spray on oils!
3. Don’t scrub it too much
Unfortunately, a lot of air fryers don’t have the best non stick coating. It’s a bit like when you think of how to care for a non stick frying pan. We are always told not to scrub too much, or the non stick coating will come off or degrade in some way. It is exactly the same (or in some cases even worse) when thinking of an air fryer.
I would recommend trying to clean your air fryer with non abrasive cleaning products, to ensure that your non stick coating doesn’t run into these issues in the future.
Make sure that you clean your air fryer quite soon after using it. The longer you leave the mess to dry out, the harder it will be to clean.
Also, try soaking stubborn stuck on food with hot soapy water before attempting to clean it. Just don’t leave it too long. The water should still be warm when you start the cleaning process.
I hear so many stories from air fryer users that get frustrated when the non stick coating on their air fryer starts flaking, sometimes literally months after they buy it! Take care and you shouldn’t run into the same problem!
4. Cook in short bursts and shake food well.
This tip is a vital one if you are using a traditional bucket style air fryer. If you want your food to be evenly crispy all over, you should make sure to shake your food on a regular basis.
Usually, I will break up the cooking time into 2 or even 3 stints. In between each stint I will give the food a good shake and spray with some more oil (as described above). This way, you are making sure all surfaces of the food gets even contact with the hot air and can crisp up.
I love this technique, especially when cooking crispy food such as french fries or chicken wings.
5. Don’t worry about preheating
I believe this is a myth that far too many air fryer experts will tell you to do. They will regularly tell you that you must preheat your air fryer in order to get the best results.
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, as a person that regularly uses an air fryer. By following this preheating myth, you are wasting time and electricity!
In a regular oven, the oven needs time to heat up and get to temperature. This is because often the heat is directly radiating from a heating element, and has a large space to fill with heat.
An air fryer is a much smaller type of cooker. Not only that, the hot air used to cook food in an air fryer will come up to temperature incredibly quickly. Think about a hair dryer? Do you have to wait a long time for that to get up to temperature? Probably not. I realize it is not the exact same situation, but you get the idea!
If you want more information about this, I have a whole article dedicated to it on this site!
6. Stop white smoke!
This is a critical problem that most new air fryer users can be shocked by. I have even heard of new air fry users considering packing in air frying all together because of this very problem. This is the problem of air fryers and white smoke! We have all been there, right? Coming back to a kitchen filled with white smoke or a beeping smoke alarm. All because of your air fryer.
The reason this problem exists, stems from the presence of excess oil or grease inside your air fryer. When cooking food where a lot of oil comes out of it, you may find a build up of this oil at the bottom of your air fryer’s cooking compartment. When this oil heats up to its smoking point, this is when you will get this white smoke problem.
Actually, this problem is easy to solve. All you need to do is find a way to soak up this extra oil, or even water it down so it doesn’t reach it’s smoking point.
What I do, is put a slice of bread in the bottom of my air fryer’s cooking compartment. This will soak up the extra oil and smoking won’t be a problem.
The other option is to add water to the bottom of your air fryer, so that the oil gathering gets watered down and can’t smoke.
Again, I have a full article on this problem over HERE, if you want more details.
7. Air flow is king!
Whatever you are doing in an air fryer, you must always have the subject of air flow in the back of your mind. An air fryer uses hot air to cook the food inside. But in order to cook evenly, this hot air needs to be able to circulate all around the food. If you block that air flow, your cooking performance in your air fryer will drop a lot, and may even be unusable!
This means you cannot stack food in a way where the air can’t flow around the food you want to cook. If you want to use a grill pan or other cooking accessory, you cannot lay it in the bottom of your air fryer. It needs to be placed in a way that the hot air can always flow all around it (including underneath).
If you are having problems with air flow in a traditional bucket style air fryer, I would highly recommend you replace it with an oven style air fryer. These allow you to place several racks of food inside the air fryer, and there biggest selling point is to cook a lot of food whilst maintaining air flow.
8. Marinate for extra juiciness!
This has been a life saver in our household, especially when cooking skinless and boneless meat. We were finding that things such as chicken tenderloins were coming out of our air fryer rather dry and with an unpleasant texture. Spraying oil on it helps, but we still felt the meat was pretty dry.
However, when we started marinating our food before cooking in the air fryer, we were amazed at the results. The meat was still tender and incredibly juicy inside. To a layman, it seemed the marinate was helping to lock in the moisture.
This marinate doesn’t have to be time consuming or complex either. Sometimes, I just mix some olive oil with chili flakes, herbs and some other things such as garlic (oh, and salt!). I leave overnight, although you don’t have to.
This one method has helped us enjoy our skinless and boneless meat in the air fryer so much more!
If you want more help with dry food in an air fryer, we have a whole article on the topic HERE.
9. Don’t let anything fly around your air fryer!
As an air fryer uses the flow of hot air to cook food, you need to be careful that you don’t allow anything to fly around your air fryer’s cooking compartment. You would be surprised with the amount of force this hot air has!
There are two techniques you can use. One is placing something on top of your light food, to stop this happening. For example, when I talked about cooking bacon in an air fryer, I suggested placing another cooking wire rack on top of the bacon.
The other method is to pin your food down using wooden toothpicks. For example, if you were cooking a grilled cheese sandwich (yum!), you wouldn’t want the top slice of bread flying off. Placing wooden toothpicks through each layer on the sandwich would stop this happening.
10. Let the air fryer dry itself!
After washing your air fryers cooking compartment (which you should do after every use), it can be annoying to have to wait for it to dry. Or worst still, to have to physically dry it yourself.
A simple alternative is to put the empty compartment and basket back into the air fryer and let it cook for a few minutes. This heat should quickly dry everything for you, and is totally safe to boot.
11. Think of placement!
This is something a lot of new air fryer users don’t always think of. Although an air fryer is a lot less smelly or smoky than a traditional oil fat fryer (as a kid, I can remember our whole house smelling of oil!), it still important to think of placement.
There is usually a vent on your air fryer. For my Philips air fryer, there is a vent on the backside of the lid. You need to make sure this vent is not covered up, to allow it to operate properly.
If you are having issues with your air fryer smoking, and the tips in this article are not helping, you could even try to place it under your regular kitchen extractor fan. Most kitchen stoves have these above them, so you just need to come up with a safe way to place your air fryer underneath on the hob. Maybe a wooden chopping board would do the trick!
That’s all folks!!
Well, there you have it. My definitive list of real tips that will change how you use your air fryer forever more! An air fryer is such a new kitchen appliance, that a lot of these tips are not common knowledge yet. I wanted to save you the time, effort and potential disappointment of finding these things out for your self. Hopefully, we have given a one stop shop for any air fryer advice and tips you may need.
Over time, I will add to these tips as I discover new ones. The world of air fryers is still rather new, so we are always learning new and exciting things about them!