Cooking isn’t always easy, but the air fryer is aiming to change that. Affordable and accessible, these small but powerful countertop ovens use hot air to fry your favorite foods to perfection. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get the most out of this trendy kitchen appliance.
Settle on A Size
First, it’s important to buy an air fryer that’s the right size for you. Want to cook bigger meals faster? A six or eight-quart machine with multiple compartments is probably best. Just aiming to use the air fryer for some snacking and don’t want to take up too much space? Go for a smaller two-quart unit. It’s all about what you want to cook, the space you have, and how often you think you’ll utilize the air fryer.
Keep It Easy to Clean
Small amounts of grease, crumbs, and oil build up over time in air fryers and can be difficult to clean up. To make things easier, line your air fryer basket with aluminum foil or parchment paper before adding your food. This will make post-cooking cleanup as simple as removing, pitching, and replacing the liner. It’s also a great way to capture any marinades or juices for other recipes, like gravies or pan sauces.
Prepare to Preheat
Preheating an air fryer works the same way you’d preheat an oven or frying pan with oil. By letting the fryer heat up before adding food, your meals will get cooked properly. In most cases, you should set your fryer to the desired temperature and let it run for 3-5 minutes empty. Some air fryers even come with pre-set buttons for preheating.
It's OK to Open
Opening a regular oven while it’s hot isn’t the best idea, as open air can impede the cooking process; however, the air fryer is different. Occasionally checking in on air fryer foods throughout cooking to monitor doneness is A-OK. Whether you need to flip, shake, or spray what’s inside with oil, opening the basket is often an essential part of recipes and allows food to be evenly cooked and crisped to perfection.
When food is stacked too high or overlaps, it doesn’t heat correctly, lengthening the air frying process and ruining recipe times. To get around this, make sure everything you’re cooking can fit on the surface of the frying basket with a bit of breathing room.
Make It a Microwave
Air fryers are an excellent tool for reheating food. Pondering what to do with those soft, day-old French fries? An air fryer can get them just about back to their original crispiness. The same goes for leftovers like pizza and burgers that don’t always taste right if you try reheating them in an oven or microwave. An air fryer is truly your all-in-one kitchen appliance--as long as it’s used correctly.
Embrace Your Curiosity
Air fryers can cook many different dishes, so don’t be afraid to get creative. A quick internet search will give you plenty of recipe ideas. But it’s OK to freestyle, too—just keep a close eye on cooking times. From vegetables to baked goods, meats, and more, there’s almost no limit to what you can whip up in this intriguing invention.