You have heard of the new kitchen appliance trend – the air fryer! – and you’ve done your research. Keep the fried foods but ditch the added fats and calories? Sounds like a good deal! Be sure that you keep the following tips in mind, or your experience with the air fryer might not be smooth, and your air fryer sits unused in a closet.
Give It Space
When in use, an air fryer can heat up to 400°F! It’s recommended that you leave a good amount of space around it, at least 5 inches or so. You should also consider placing it on a cutting board, to protect your countertops.
Grease The Basket…
While air fryers do cut down on the oils used in fried foods considerably, some oil is still needed in the bottom of the basket. This depends on what you’re cooking. If you’ll be using your air fryer to cook meat, there is enough fat naturally in the meat to serve as your basket oil. Breaded food items, however, need to have a greased basket or they will stick.
…But NOT With A Spray!
Aerosol sprays, such as Pam, are not the way to go to get your basket greased up. They will cause your basket to peel. Simply rub in a few drops of oil.
Not Too Hot
The air fryer is essentially a small convection oven, and it will have a tendency to dry out your food if you’re not careful. It is always better to cook at a lower temperature for a longer amount of time, than to crank up the heat to try and speed things up.
Don’t Overcrowd The Basket
For an air fryer to work well, there needs to be space for the hot air to be circulated. This is where the “fried” crispiness comes from. Arrange your food so that there is room around each item, ideally in a single layer.
Poke Things Down
If you’re cooking something like a grilled cheese sandwich, use a toothpick to poke that top piece of bread down! The hot air that circulates can blow light foods around, such as breads and toppings.
Be Sure To Preheat
You might have read that it isn’t necessary to preheat air fryers – and you’re right, it’s not necessary per say. However, you will find that your food will cook more evenly, more quickly, and have more flavor if you do. If your air fryer doesn’t have a preheat button, just turn it on for a couple of minutes before adding your food.
Flip Your Food
Your food will be cooked more evenly and more crisply if you pause halfway through your cooking to flip your food. You can either use a good pair of tongs, or simply give the basket a good shake.
Stop The Smoke
Depending on what you’re cooking, you might notice a white smoke. This is from grease falling from splatters, common if you cook fattier meats such as bacon. There are two ways to prevent this. You can put a slice of bread under the basket, to catch and absorb any grease splatters. Another option is to put a couple spoonfuls of water in the bottom before cooking. This prevents the grease from getting too hot.
Bread Food Well
The air fryer fan is pretty strong, as mentioned before! You’ll need to bread your items well, or the breading will get all over your air fryer. Many people find success in breading dry-wet-dry. This means dredging your food in flour, then in a wet egg or milk mixture, and then pressing in another dry item such as bread crumbs or corn meal.