Eleven air fryer mistakes you’re making

Air Fryer

An air fryer is a kitchen appliance that cooks food by circulating hot air around it. It’s not really a fryer at all, but it certainly is a catchy name.

A typical fryer uses a lot of extremely hot oil to cook food and make it very crispy, an air fryer is more like a small countertop oven that cooks, browns and crisps many foods without the need for all of that oil.

Here are 11 mistakes you might be making with your air fryer.

Not reading the manual

A quick flip through the pages of the manual will give you an overview of the best way to use each of the different settings available on your air fryer. It’ll also let you know how to clean it, which parts can or can’t be submerged and usually also gives you a few recipes to get you started.

Not preheating your air fryer 

If you don’t preheat your air fryer, your food will cook unevenly and won’t be as crispy as it could be. Always preheat your air fryer for around three minutes before cooking (or the time indicated in the manual).

Overcrowding the basket 

If you put too much food in the basket or tray, the air will not be able to circulate properly, and your food will not cook evenly. Some pieces may cook fine, while others will come out soggy. Make sure to leave some space between each piece of food, look for a ‘max fill’ line on the basket or leave about a quarter of your basket space empty.

Not using enough oil 

If you don’t use enough oil, your food might stick to the basket and will not crisp up as nicely. Make sure to coat your food in a light layer of oil before cooking. 

Using too much oil

If you’re used to deep or shallow frying food, it might feel odd to only add a teaspoon or two of oil. But most air fryer recipes only call for a light coating of oil.

In addition to making your food soggy, too much oil can also drip on to the tray, burn, and smoke up your kitchen.

Using the wrong type of oil

You should use extra light olive oil, avocado, grapeseed, or peanut oil in your air fryer because they have a higher smoke point.

Oils such as extra virgin olive oil, and some vegetable oils, have a low smoke point. This means they will burn or smoke at lower temperatures than other oils, resulting in dry food rather than crispy.

Not shaking the basket

If you don’t shake the basket occasionally, the food will stick to the sides and will not cook evenly. Shake the basket every 10 minutes or so to ensure even cooking. 

Frying lightweight foods

Making healthy snacks such as kale chips in the air fryer may sound ideal but very lightweight foods have a tendency to blow around in the hot air or get stuck on the heating element and burn. Use a heat-safe trivet to hold them down.

If the fan in your air fryer is extra powerful, you may need to use toothpicks to hold the tops of sandwiches or wraps in place too.

Adding spices dry

If you sprinkle spices over dry vegies before air frying, the fan will more than likely blow the spices around, leaving you with flavourless food and spices stuck to the heating element. To avoid this, mix salt and spices with a small amount of oil or spray your food lightly with oil before you add spices.

Not cleaning it properly

After each use, it is important to clean your air fryer. This includes the basket, tray, and pan. If you do not clean these parts, you run the risk of contamination and burnt food. Most units are not dishwasher safe, so you will need to wash the parts by hand in warm, soapy water.

Using the same setting and cooking time for all foods

Since there are so many different types of air fryers, and many different types of food that can be air fried, there’s no one-size-fits-all rule for cooking. Even choosing the chicken setting on your air fryer isn’t failsafe if you’re just cooking chicken. It depends on the amount you’re cooking, the cut of meat and the quantity.

To avoid overcooking or undercooking food make sure you check it while it’s cooking. This is especially important when it comes to meat, poultry, or fish: put a food thermometer in the thickest part of the cut to make sure it’s done.

Do you have an air fryer? Have you used as much as you thought you would? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Five foods you wouldn’t expect to cook in an air fryer

Written by Ellie Baxter

Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.

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