- Air fryers can be a versatile and useful kitchen appliance, but there are some key things you should know before using or buying one.
- Remember to preheat your air fryer before filling it with food.
- Putting a slice of bread in the bottom of your air fryer can help you collect grease without making a mess.
- While heating something in an air fryer, shake the basket but avoid using cooking spray.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Air fryers are small appliances that use rapidly circulating hot air to create crispy food without the need for large amounts of oil.
They have grown in popularity due to their convenience and versatility, but these little machines have their own quirks.
Insider spoke to chefs to identify the best way to use your air fryer and the top tips for getting the perfect result every time.
Here are some things everyone who has (or is planning to get) an air fryer should know.
Remember to preheat your air fryer
Chris Riley, chef and founder of The Daring Kitchen, told Insider that you should always heat up your air fryer before filling it with food.
“By doing this, you save time because the meals are ready faster,” said Riley.
To preheat your fryer, simply turn it on two to three minutes prior to use or use the preheat setting if your unit has one.
Choose the right fryer for your kitchen and lifestyle
Air fryers come in all shapes and sizes, from supersized units meant for batch cooking to compact fryers that can perch almost anywhere.
Fiona Kennedy, research and development chef for The Spice Lab, told Insider that you’ll get far more use out of your air fryer if you pick one that suits your needs.
“If you’re single or living in a dorm, a small air fryer that cooks enough for one or two people at a time is perfect,” said Kennedy. “If you have a family of four, you’ll want a larger unit that fits more food and is easy to clean.”
For extra crispy results, coat your food with additional oil halfway through cooking
One of the main advantages of an air fryer is its ability to make your food crispy without using a ton of oil.
But adding a small amount of oil during the cooking process can really amplify the crispiness of your food.
“Spraying with oil halfway through cooking makes for deliciously crispy foods,” said Riley. “This works on most foods, unless the item doesn’t need spraying, like naturally greasy meats.”
But don’t mist food with oil cooking spray while it’s inside the air fryer
To add oil or cooking spray to your dish safely, remove the food from the fryer first.
“Always spray food with cooking spray outside the machine, as many cooking sprays can cause a sticky buildup on the inner surfaces of the air fryer,” Kennedy told Insider.
By removing your food from the fryer to spray it, you are also able to apply a more even coat of oil.
Shake the fryer basket throughout the cooking process
Moving your food around a little can help it crisp properly in the air fryer.
“Shake the basket a few times while cooking to make sure everything is browning and cooking evenly,” said Riley.
He said that this is especially helpful when cooking small items, like chopped vegetables or french fries.
When cooking meat in an air fryer, be sure to check the temperature of it
It’s important that meat is cooked thoroughly enough to kill bacteria – and, in some cases, the crispiness imparted by air-frying can disguise undercooked meat.
“Get a good, quick-read thermometer to check your food’s doneness,” said Riley. “This is especially important when cooking things like pork, steak, and chicken.”
Per the CDC, to be safe to eat, whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal should internally reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit; ground meats, like pork or beef, should internally reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and all poultry should internally reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Position your air fryer under your stove’s hood.
Most air fryers actually release some amount of smoke or steam, so you don’t want to leave them tucked under a cabinet or shelf while they are in use.
Deanna Kang, chef and recipe developer at Asian Test Kitchen, told Insider that placing your air fryer beneath your exhaust hood can help keep your kitchen air clear.
“Put the air fryer on the stovetop and turn on the fan,” Kang said. “Just make sure you don’t actually turn on the burners and end up frying your air fryer.”
Use a slice of bread to soak up grease
Environmentally conscious air fryer owners can actually swap aluminium-foil liners for a slice of 100% compostable bread.
“Put a slice of bread on the bottom of your air fryer,” said Kang. “It’s a green alternative to foil for catching grease and drips for easier clean-up.”
In order to minimise food waste, you may want to only use this technique when cooking especially greasy foods (like bacon), and also use bread slices that are stale.
On hot days, use your air fryer instead of your oven
It can be downright unpleasant to fire up the oven or stove on a hot day, Kennedy said, but an air fryer is a fast and relatively cool alternative to other larger kitchen appliances.
“An air fryer can cook without heating up your whole kitchen as a traditional oven would,” said Kennedy.
Skip the microwave – use your air fryer to reheat leftovers
To take full advantage of your air fryer, Kennedy said, use it to breathe new life into leftovers.
Some foods, especially fried snacks or dishes coated in breadcrumbs, tend to get soggy when reheated in the microwave. But an air fryer can help ensure your leftovers become as crispy as they were yesterday.
“Air fryers have an impressive ability to heat up and elevate leftovers,” Kennedy said. “Foods like egg rolls, taquitos, and arancini come out tasting as delicious as they did when they were fresh.”
Of course, you’ll want to avoid putting liquid-based or heavily-sauced dishes, like stew or pasta, in the air fryer as it might create a mess and dry out the food.
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