How do you use it?
An air fryer is very easy to use.
First, plug it in. Next, use the adjustable temperature gauge to set the temperature, depending on your recipe’s instructions.
It isn’t absolutely necessary to preheat the air fryer, and you can put the food in prior to turning the fryer on, but it will impact your cooking time on the other end. Unless a recipe specifically says to put the food in a cold air fryer, it makes sense to take that two minutes to preheat the air fryer before you start to cook.
Next, when preparing your food, less is more when you’re using oil. It truly takes only a few spritzes of oil in many cases. You’ll generally want to spray the basket with a light spray of oil, and then spray a light coating on the food as well. A little bit of oil is important because it helps with the resulting ‘fried’ taste and texture.
The frying basket is designed to allow the excess oil to drip down and away from the food, which will be collected in a drip tray directly under the frying basket.
While cooking your food, it’s recommended that you give the frying basket a good shake every now and then to make sure the oils are evenly distributed. Also, some recipes require turning over the food at some point through the cooking process, so it’s useful to note that although it’s a lot more hands off than traditional frying, for example, this is not a ‘turn it on and go walk the dog’ type of cooking.
Toward the end of a recipe, it’s important to watch for overcooking. Again, since every air fryer is different, some recipes may need to be adapted for your particular style and model.
The frying basket is often attached to the cooking drawer. Before you turn the basket upside down to remove the cooked food, make sure it is unlocked from the drawer… and the drip pan.
Besides the basic instructions, there are some other handy tips to keep in mind:
- Generally speaking, you can adapt your favorite recipes to the air fryer. Because of the different cooking method, a good rule of thumb is to set the temperature on your air fryer to about 25 degrees lower than a traditional oven setting. Also, start checking for doneness about 10 to 15 minutes before the original recipe cooking time.
- Give the air fryer plenty of space. Don’t forget, even though the air fryer is compact, it is going to kick out some hot air. When using the air fryer, make sure there is plenty of room between the back (where the exhaust fan is located) and any walls or other obstructions.
- Check in often. Unlike a traditional oven where excessive ‘peeking’ may impact the cooking time since the oven has to come back up to temperature, the air fryer heats up quickly. So, don’t be bashful about checking in often to monitor progress, particularly as you’re getting used to this cooking style.
- Invest in a good oil spray bottle. Since this process uses a small amount of oil, it’s a waste to brush on the oil. When you use your own hand-pump spray bottle, you can not only use your preferred oil, but it is more natural than using an aerosol-propelled cooking spray.
- Don’t overcrowd the cooking basket. The air fryer works by circulating the air around the cooking food, so if you overfill the basket, the appliance isn’t going to be able to do its job as effectively
- Consider accessories. You can use any ovenproof dish or pan in the airpot, but make sure it doesn’t touch the heating element or crowd the cooking basket too much. There are a number of accessories designed specifically for the air fryer, if your model doesn’t already come with accessories.
- Add a little water to the drip tray when you’re cooking with fatty foods. This will help the dripping oil from smoking as the air fryer is cooking.
- Coat your foods with one thing in mind: air. Lightly breading a food or adding bread crumbs to a batter might not hold up to the air fryer. The very principle of the air fryer can wreak havoc on a halfhearted breading, because it’s apt to just blow the bread crumbs off of the food. Instead, as you are breading your foods, don’t hold back on pressing your bread crumbs into the batter.
While there is no question that the air fryer is an amazing piece of machinery, it is important to keep a few things in mind.
Just like the cup of coffee that you get at your favorite coffee shop or fast food joint, the air fryer carries the caution that it does yield hot foods. It is somewhat easy to forget, though, because it’s hard to believe that a small appliance like this can pack such a punch.
Plus, it heats up so quickly that it might be assumed that it will cool down just as rapidly. The air fryer will maintain a level of heat for quite a while, and you should always exercise caution when removing the fryer basket and the food. It will be extremely hot.
As with any cooking appliance, don’t leave the air fryer unattended while in use. While the safety features on modern appliances have come a long way, Murphy’s Law is always looking for a way to wreak havoc. Plus, you’ve worked hard to make that meal—why take the chance of going for a walk and having your dinner be burnt to a crisp because you accidentally set the temperature too high or got to swapping stories with your neighbor and lost track of time?
Also, while the inserts are dishwasher safe, you should never submerge the air fryer in water. The elements and other components should not come in contact with water or cleaning sprays, or it might impact the way the air fryer operates.
Finally, when not in use, it’s a good idea to unplug your air fryer.