What Are The Most Important Things to Remember About Air fryer Usage?
Air fryers may be easy to use but there are still important things to keep in mind about these handy kitchen appliances! Since these are electronic appliances, safety is still a primary concern so we suggest reading the instructions manual about safety precautions. These can range from plugging in an air fryer into the right outlet to cooking the right types and amount of food.
The following tips are general in nature so these can be applied to all models of air fryers, such as the Phillips air fryer models. For more detailed instructions, we again suggest looking to the air fryer’s user’s manual.
1. Foods Suitable For Cooking In Air Fryers
Nearly all types of vegetables including green leafy vegetables and root crops; meats like chicken, pork, beef and turkey; fish and shellfish; and baked goods, among others, can be cooked in a standard air fryer. Even frozen foods can be cooked in it although certain steps should first be taken to prepare them. Foods that require a light flour coating or a bread crumb coating can also be fried in it,
There are foods, however, that shouldn’t be cooked in air fryers because of the mediocre results, if not for safety reasons. These include veggies that can be steamed like beans and carrots. Better yet, check the instructions manual as many manufacturers include a list of dos and don’ts in food.
Regardless of the food being cooked inside an air fryer’s cooking chamber, it should be kept as dry as possible. We suggest patting foods dry with a kitchen towel before placing them in the cooking chamber, such as with marinated foods. This will reduce the risk of splattering of liquids and excess smoke.
2. Cooking Multiple Dishes Simultaneously
Multiple ingredients can be cooked simultaneously in a typical air fryer. But don’t just place two types of food helter-skelter in its cooking chamber since it will affect the food’s final results.
- Check the total capacity of the cooking chamber. Most air fryers have a 500-gram capacity so weigh the ingredients first, if necessary. Check the “Max” mark in the basket, too, and keep the food level within the line.
- Use the separator or divider in dividing the ingredients inside the pan or basket when cooking two foods at once. The divider is essential in proper cooking, aside from reducing the number of minutes it takes to cook the foods.
Be sure to check that, indeed, the two different ingredients require the same or similar cooking time and temperature, thus, they can cook evenly. A good example are potato wedges and chicken drumsticks.
In case two types of food don’t have similar cooking requirements, it’s still possible to cook them nearly at the same time in an air fryer. Place the food with the longer preparation time, close the cooking chamber, and let it cook for a while. Then, add the second food so that it can finish cooking at the same time as the first food.
Be quick when adding extra ingredients to the air fryer’s cooking chamber. Otherwise, the heat loss from opening it may result in longer cooking times. Keep the second type of food on hand for this reason.
3. Notes on the Use of Oil
When there isn’t sufficient oil in the air fryer for the type of food being cooked, the food will not have the Maillard effect – in other words, it will be less juicy and crispy than desired. In many of the recipes, we only recommend spraying on the oil of your choice on the air fryer’s cooking chamber.
There’s no best oil for use in an air fryer so you can use olive oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, peanut oil, and sunflower oil. We strongly suggest, nonetheless, using oils with a high smoke point because air fryers can have extremely high internal temperatures. With the air being blown about inside its cooking chamber, these also cannot ventilate smoke efficiently.
The smoke point, by the way, refers to the approximate temperature an oil starts to smoke. The higher the smoke point of a cooking oil, the more suitable it is for use in an air fryer. The best smoke point is 400°F and above so the following types of oil are recommended:
- Grapeseed oil (420°F)
- Palm oil (450°F)
- Peanut oil (450°F)
- Safflower oil (510°F)
- Rice bran oil (490°F)
- Soybean oil (450°F)
- Avocado oil (520°F)
Never use beef tallow, butter and ghee because these either have low smoke points or have solid states before being applied to the food.
A few tips to keep in mind when using any type of oil.
- Use oil sparingly. One to two tablespoons of oil are usually sufficient for foods with low natural oil content. The goals here are to prevent the food from sticking to the basket and to get the Maillard effect.
- Spray the air fryer’s rack or basket lightly first when food that has been dredged or battered in flour will be cooked. Place the food in a single layer on the rack or basket then lightly spray with oil again; the second spray will make the food’s surface turn golden brown and crispy.
- Brush oil on fish, meats and roasted vegetables instead of just spraying it on. In most stir-fried vegetable recipes, tossing the vegetables in a little oil is recommended.
- Spritz a light spray on the air fryer’s rack before placing frozen and par-cooked foods, such as chicken strips and fish sticks, on it. Be sure to lightly spray the food, too. While these types of food can be cooked without added oil, a little oil will definitely be helpful.
We also suggest avoiding the preparation of fatty foods in the air fryer because of the risk of white smoke coming out of it. But if you must prepare them, we suggest using them as one of many ingredients, not as a single ingredient. For example, sausages can be used in a recipe but don’t fry them as is in an air fryer.
- Can I use aluminum foil in the Airfryer?
While either paper or foil can be used in an air fryer’s cooking chamber, certain precautions must be kept in mind.
- Never completely cover the bottom of the basket with paper or foil. For proper cooking, there should be proper airflow for the steam to pass through easily. Otherwise, the reduced airflow decreases the air fryer’s cooking performance.
- Never place paper or foil in the air fryer without placing food on top of it. Otherwise, the paper or foil will burn and stick to the bottom.
- Check that the paper or foil doesn’t stick out beyond the edge of the basket.
Each air fryer model has specific instructions for using paper or foil but these recommendations apply to most models. Be sure to use only the pans, baskets and racks made specifically for the air fryer model, too, since these are designed for efficient air circulation.
5. Setting the Cooking Temperature
Pre-heating the air fryer isn’t a requirement for proper cooking, unless otherwise noted in the recipe instructions. But pre-heating it for about four minutes can decrease cooking time –without the food yet, obviously. After pre-heating, be sure to set the temperature according to the recommended one in the recipe.
A note on converting the suggested temperature from cooking in conventional ovens to an air fryer: Reduce the air fryer’s temperature by 25°F in relation to the conventional oven’s temperature. This is also true when roasting food in an air fryer.
The adjustment is crucial in getting similar results. This is because the circulating air inside an air fryer makes for a more consistent cooking environment and, thus, it’s more intense. The food will cook at lower temperatures due to the higher intensity of the cooking environment.
This tip is important because you will come across recipes that can be cooked in an air fryer but there are no instructions about cooking temperatures.
6. Filling the Rack or Basket with Food
Never overcrowd the air fryer’s cooking chamber. The food should have plenty of space inside the cooking chamber so that air can effectively circulate and, thus, it can be cooked properly. Otherwise, the desired crispy results will not be achieved. The smaller the batch, the better it can be cooked.
Foods that have been battered and floured should ideally be arranged in a single layer only on the basket or rack. But in air fryers with racks that allow for two layers, the food can be placed in two layers.
Vegetables roasted in an air fryer and French fries can be loaded up to the top, if necessary. But keep in mind that a fuller basket will translate to longer cooking time and less crispy results. If you aren’t pressed for time or you’re cooking for a few people only, cooking in smaller batches is recommended.
When the food is already cooking, it’s also necessary to open the air fryer and shake its contents for a few times. Shaking the food halfway through its cooking time ensures even cooking results, as well as allows for checking its color, crispiness and doneness. This is especially true for ingredients that touch each other – without shaking, some parts won’t have the desired crispy results.
We recommend shaking the food every 5-10 minutes depending on its type. The process itself can either be manual or automatic depending on the air fryer’s design.
In manual shaking, pull the pan out of the air fryer using its handle and then shake it gently. Check that the food has been mixed well before placing the pan back into the air fryer. In the case of French fries, for example, the lower layer should be on top after shaking so that it will be crispy.
In automatic shaking, you can let the air fryer do the work. The rotation of the food will be accomplished by its built-in food agitator that churns the ingredients on a continuous or regular basis.
In the following section, we take a look at air fryer-suitable recipes good for your 30-day meal planning. We chose these recipes because these are easy to prepare yet deliver on delicious and nutritious – in other words, short and sweet – that even the busiest housewife or househusband, career professional, and college student can whip up!