When I first bought my air fryer, I didn’t know how to use it. I read the directions once and then put the air fryer away in a cabinet until I needed it again. After using it a few times, I realized that this appliance has many uses beyond just making french fries or chicken wings.
To jump-start using your air fryer follow these steps. Plug it in a power outlet, pull out the basket, wash it quickly with plain water, dry it out, and put it back in. Select one of the air fryer recipes that interest you. Place the food in the air fryer basket; if needed, use oil (about a teaspoon), set the time and temperature, and press start to air fry away. Sit and wait for perfection.
To master your air fryer might take a bit more time to test its limits and understand all its ins and outs, but I am sure that with the help of this article, you will get there in no time.
It’s one of the most versatile kitchen appliances you can own! Once you know what this magical device can do and how to ensure your food turns out perfectly every time, it’ll become an essential part of your kitchen toolkit.
What is an Air Fryer?
I have written a complete article about how an air fryer works here. But I will try to summarize it below.
An air fryer is a small appliance that uses hot air to cook food. The food basket goes inside the machine, and the user sets the temperature and timer. It’s an alternative to deep frying but uses much less oil or fat.
The heat source is located in the top part of the machine, while fans circulate air around the air fryer and suck it through the bottom back up to cook your food evenly. The cooking process takes up to 80 percent less time than traditional frying methods!
How to Use an Air Fryer
You can use your air fryer in many ways, and over time, with some experience, you will learn them through different recipes and experiments.
But it is essential to follow the basics listed below.
Read the instruction manual
The first and most crucial step when using an air fryer is to read the instruction manual. The manufacturer has put a lot of effort into ensuring that your air fryer operates safely and effectively.
The manual contains all the necessary information to get up and run and includes essential safety information that is imperative to know before using your air fryer.
Take the time to read through the manual before you start, and you’ll be sure to get the most out of your air fryer.
Preheat the air fryer
After you’ve prepared your ingredients, it’s time to preheat the air fryer. Make sure the air fryer is plugged in and turned on. Place the basket or tray into the air fryer.
Set the temperature to the desired setting and then set the timer to the time recommended in the recipe.
Most air fryers preheat for about three minutes, but it may vary depending on the model. Once the preheat cycle is complete, your air fryer is ready to cook.
Choose the right temperature for your food
One of the key points to remember when using an air fryer is to choose the right temperature for your food. Air fryers work best when set to an average temperature of 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).
This should balance cooking your food thoroughly and keeping it from getting too dry or burning. The higher the temperature, the crispier the food will be. However, it’s best to start with a lower temperature and work your way up as needed.
Additionally, if you’re cooking multiple types of food simultaneously, adjust the temperature for each item, as different foods require different temperatures to cook correctly. At the same time, it is better to cook different food in separate batches, as one type won’t influence the other.
Place food into the basket
Once your food is prepared, it’s time to place it into the air fryer’s basket. Make sure to spread the food so it’s in a single layer, as this will help ensure that your food cooks evenly.
If you overload the basket, the food will take longer and not be as crispy.
It’s also essential to ensure that the food pieces don’t touch, as this could lead to them sticking together and creating an uneven cooking surface.
Once the food is in the basket, slide it back into the air fryer, and you’re ready to fry!
Shake the basket periodically
To ensure you get perfectly crispy and evenly cooked food when using an air fryer, it’s essential to shake the basket periodically. When the timer goes off, take the basket out of the air fryer and give it a good shake.
This will help to redistribute the food and ensure even cooking. If you’re unsure when to shake the basket, use the 5-minute rule; every 5 minutes, give the basket a shake and check the food’s progress.
Doing this will ensure your food comes out evenly cooked and delicious every time.
Monitor the cooking time
One of the critical tips for using an air fryer is to monitor the cooking time. Most air fryers have pre-programmed settings for different food types, and following these instructions is essential to get the best results.
The temperature of the air fryer and the time it needs to cook will depend on the type of food you’re cooking and how you want it cooked. If you’re cooking something like french fries, keep an eye on them to ensure they’re not cooking too quickly and getting burnt.
If you’re cooking something like chicken, check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to ensure it’s cooked.
Check your food for doneness
After preheating the air fryer, you can add the food and adjust the temperature, timer, and other settings. When the timer reaches zero, you should check the food for doneness.
Depending on your food, you may need to add an extra minute or two of cooking time or check if the food is crispy enough.
For example, if you’re air-frying French fries, you may need to flip them over at the halfway mark.
You can occasionally open the air fryer basket to check if your food is ready. When it looks golden brown, it’s probably done.
Let food rest before serving
After cooking your food in the air fryer, it is essential to let the food rest before serving. This allows the food to cool down and the moisture to redistribute evenly throughout.
This helps to ensure that the food is cooked perfectly and that all the flavors are present. Additionally, letting food rest before serving helps ensure the food is not too hot or too cold.
This helps ensure that your food tastes great every time you use your air fryer.
How Does an Air Fryer Work?
The air fryer uses hot air to cook food. No oils or fats are used in the process, so you get healthier, low-fat versions of your favorite meals.
Inside the machine is a fan that pushes around hot air. This can be used to cook anything from meat to vegetables at high temperatures with little to no oil needed!
The result? Food that tastes as good as it would if fried or baked in a conventional oven or a deep fryer but without all the extra calories!
An air fryer will also save you time because it cooks up to 80 percent faster than an oven. This means you’ll get dinner on the table more quickly!
Which Air Fryer Is Right For You
There are many different types of air fryers on the market, but they all work similarly. Most air fryers have a basket that holds the food to be cooked. The basket is placed in the air fryer, and hot air circulation ensures that the ingredients are fried evenly.
Air fryers are the most popular and most used type of air fryer. They are better than convection models (also known as air fryer ovens) because they have a fan that circulates hot air throughout the basket, allowing you to cook food more evenly and quickly.
This means your food will come out crispy and crunchy on the outside while remaining soft on the inside (crucial for fries).
A great example is this Consori air fryer you can get on Amazon.
Portable Air Fryers
Portable air fryers are small enough to carry with you wherever you go, so they’re great if you want healthy meals without having to cook or wait for something to be ready when you get home from work at night! The downside is that portable air fryers take longer than countertop models: about 15 minutes per batch instead of 8-10 minutes.
This can add up quickly if more than one person eats dinner every night! So if speed isn’t as crucial as convenience, this could be an excellent option for eating healthily even when traveling.
If you have a small kitchen or travel a lot, you will appreciate a smaller air fryer as your companion. Check out this one from Dash on Amazon.
What Features to Look for When Buying an Air Fryer
When purchasing an air fryer, there are a few things to consider.
First, you’ll need to consider the air fryer size you’d like. Do you want something small enough to fit on a countertop or your pantry? Or do you need something more significant to hold multiple servings simultaneously?
The latter might be necessary if cooking for more people or if you want to make batches of food at once. It’s also important to consider price when buying an air fryer; some models can get expensive depending on their features and how much they cost.
Similarly, consider power consumption before making your purchase the more powerful it is (and thus quicker), the higher the price tag will come with it!
However, remember that not all types of food require high wattage levels for them not to burn during the cooking process. Some foods require lower wattage values (such as meats).
Last but certainly not least: what kind of features does this particular machine have? Look into whether or not any accessories come with the purchase or whether there’s anything special that makes this model stand out from others before making up your mind!
For example, like this one, you can get a new air fryer for as low as 60$.
On the other hand, its price can also be much higher, as additional features are added, or its size is bigger, up to around 380$.
Anything higher than that starts to fall under the air fryer oven category, a slightly different appliance I will write about later.
What Size Air Fryer Should You Buy?
If you’re interested in buying an air fryer, you should figure out what kind and how much food you’ll be cooking. A small air fryer will be best for your needs if you have a small family or don’t cook for many people.
On the other hand, if there’s always someone around who wants to eat something delicious when they come over, then having a larger air fryer would be beneficial to keep everyone happy.
It’s also important to consider the size of your kitchen or any other space where the appliance might end up being stored once it’s not in use when choosing an air fryer model.
Most petite models can easily fit on top of a countertop or shelf; larger models may require extra space underneath cabinets, inside cupboards when not in use, or on your kitchen counter.
Where Should You Place Your Air Fryer?
Okay, so you’ve got your air fryer and are ready to cook some delicious food. But where should you place your air fryer?
The answer is…it depends.
The first thing to consider is what kind of model you have: there are two main types, countertop, and tabletop models.
Countertop models are generally larger and more potent than tabletop ones, making them better suited for family-sized meals.
However, suppose your kitchen isn’t huge, or storage space is at a premium. In that case, a tabletop model may be the best option, and luckily for us all these days, there are plenty of good options on the market!
Let me compare the two air fryers above to make this clear.
On one side, you can have a small air fryer with dimensions 8.7D (22.10 cm) x 10.8W (27.40 cm) x 11.3H (28.70 cm) inches.
Or you can have a large air fryer with dimensions 15D (38.10 cm) x 15W (38.10 cm) x 17H (43.20 cm) inches.
As you can see, if you are unsure how big the air fryer you want to buy is, you can quickly run into a big problem.
Another factor to consider when choosing where to place your air fryer is how much distance from the wall it needs not to overheat its motor.
The air fryers don’t need much, but having it at least a bit away from the wall is a good practice that will prolong the lifespan of your appliance for a considerable amount of time.
Should You Preheat an Air Fryer?
We’ve all heard that preheating your oven will help your food cook faster and more evenly. But does this apply to air fryers?
The answer is no.
An air fryer doesn’t need to be preheated and uses more energy when you preheat it!
By preheating an air fryer, you’re basically just adding more steps into a straightforward process which means less time spent enjoying delicious crispy snacks with minimal effort!
How to Clean Your Air Fryer
Cleaning an air fryer is easy, but you must consider how to clean your specific model. If you aren’t sure how to do this, check out the user manual that came with your machine or look online.
There is much more to be said on the topic, so if you are interested if you can put your air fryer into a dishwasher or how to deep clean it, check out my article here.
Here is a quick guide to follow:
Wipe down the inside of the air fryer with a damp cloth. Ensure all grease has been wiped away, or it could smoke up and cause fires. You may need to use several rags if there’s lots of grime. Be careful not to scratch surfaces with sharp objects like a stiff brush when wiping down hard-to-reach areas like around vents and heating elements.
Follow the same steps to clean the air fryer basket. If your basket is dishwasher safe, you can put it there. But be careful here. Not all air fryer baskets are safe to clean in a dishwasher, so I recommend checking the manual first.
If you want more time for cooking but don’t want another appliance cluttering up space in your kitchen (or if cleaning an oven takes too long), consider getting one of these handy machines instead! They’re great because they’ve got powerful fans inside them so they can circulate hot air around foods quickly without drying them out – plus there are no pots or pans involved, which means less mess!
Air fryer cooking does not require any liners to be used. But you might consider using foil in an air fryer to make cleaning as easy as possible. Another option would be to use the before-mentioned silicon liners. An important note here is that they should have holes in them. If there are none, then the whole point of an air fryer is defeated, as the heat needs to circulate from the bottom to the top.
Do You Need Oil In An Air Fryer?
There are some foods that, in my opinion, require a little coating of oil. These include anything with a high moisture content that could otherwise stick to the basket or cooking chamber.
Suppose you want these foods to come out crispy and not soggy, like something left over at the bottom of your cafeteria tray. In that case, adding a few tablespoons of oil before cooking them in your air fryer is best. Examples of this would be fresh sweet potato fries or battered onion rings.
You can use your air fryer without oil, but the results will be far from what you would expect them to be. There is no doubt that air fryer cooking does not require any oil, but it does help in making your food crispy. The hot air in the fryer helps to cook the food evenly, but it does not make it crisp.
I recommend using canola oil because it has one of the highest smoke points at 400°F (204°C), meaning it won’t burn as quickly when exposed to high temperatures as olive oil.
You’ll also want to use less than what you would typically put into a traditional deep fryer because the air around all those circulating hot air currents acts like insulation for those same hot air currents.
Do You Need Parchment Paper In An Air Fryer?
If you’d like to use parchment paper to line your air fryer basket or baking tray, that’s perfectly okay.
Parchment paper (or waxed paper) will help prevent food from sticking to the basket as it cooks and make it easier for you to remove the food once it’s ready!
It also prevents the frozen food from sticking to the bottom of the basket when you are reheating it.
Does an Air Fryer Use a lot of Power?
Air fryers use less power than conventional ovens. I have a more in-depth article about the power consumption of air fryers here. I can say that 1 batch of french fries will cost you about 14 cents in electricity, as the cooking time is about 20 minutes.
Air fryers are more energy efficient than a conventional ovens because they circulate hot air around the food quickly and efficiently without heating the kitchen and sizeable space in the oven with excess heat.
Can an Air Fryer be Used as an Oven?
No, an air fryer is not an oven.
It uses hot air to cook food, while an oven uses dry heat to cook food. If you’re looking to fill a large area with hot air, you can use your air fryer as a substitute for an oven.
But if you want to be able to bake or roast items like cakes and poultry in the same vessel (and have them come out evenly cooked), then definitely stick with using your regular old convection oven instead of using an air fryer as a replacement.
Knowing How to Make the Most out of Your Air Fryer Will Help You Take Cooking to the Next Level.
Now that you’ve decided to purchase an air fryer and know how it works, it’s time to put your new appliance to use.
First, remember that not all foods work well in an air fryer. For example, you can’t make omelets or quesadillas in one because they require moisture to cook correctly.
Similarly, don’t use an air fryer if you want to make a pizza, as the air fryers are not big enough.
When deciding what food best suits your air fryer, think about how it will be cooked. Is it baked? Steamed? Boiled? Grilled? Fried? If so, then all bets are off; sadly, no amount of magical technology can save these foods from becoming soggy in an air fryer.
So what can you cook in an air fryer? The options are limitless, from chicken nuggets, tofu, meatballs, and pork chops to cauliflower, onions, potatoes, broccoli, and beyond. You can even cook a steak or a small cake. Almost any recipe can be changed to be suitable for an air fryer.
But suppose the cooked item does not need extra heating or frying (potatoes are a great example). In that case, this will allow for optimal crispiness without having them sit too long under high-heat settings that could dry them out.
Suppose you’re still unsure whether an air fryer is right for you. In that case, I encourage you to check out some of our other articles on kitchen appliances. You might be surprised at how much they can do! I hope this article has helped explain the ins and outs of air fryers.