Last Updated on May 4, 2021
If you recently bought an air fryer or are considering purchasing one in the future, you probably have a few questions about how they work and how to use them. Or at least how to make the most of your new appliance. This article explores how to use an air fryer by offering you step-by-step instructions and tips to help you air fry food like a seasoned professional.
What Is an Air Fryer?
Cooking with an air fryer is basically like cooking with a convection oven. In fact, the devices are almost the same, but an air fryer comes in a smaller design package. Like a convection oven, they have a heating element and work to circulate hot air around food while it cooks. It helps the food to cook faster and also allows it to become crispy. The heating element is very similar to a traditional oven. However, a traditional oven does not circulate the hot air making it take longer to cook, cook less evenly, and become less crispy in the end.
The finished food product resembles the consistency of fried foods made in a deep fryer because it is crispy, but it is significantly more healthy considering you use little to no oil with an air fryer. The fryer air is enough to make your food crispy without having to submerge it in oil like with regular deep-fried foods.
Gather Your Supplies: What Are You Cooking?
The first step to using your air fryer is to determine what you will be cooking. Later in this article, we will explore some of the best foods to cook in an air fryer but for now, suffice it to say you can cook just about anything. It includes fresh and frozen foods like chicken and vegetables, fish, fries, leftovers, and even homemade baked goods like cookies and pastries.
7 Easy Steps Using Your Air Fryer
While each air fryer machine has its own slight variations concerning the control panel and preset settings, you use them in the same way. The following air fryer instructions are a basic guideline and can easily be tweaked to suit almost any machine.
Step 1: Read the Instruction Manual
Before using any new appliance, air fryers included, we strongly recommend you read through the user manual. Not only will it familiarize you with the air fryer’s control panel and settings, but it will also give your specific advice about the device. The manual may also be able to help you troubleshoot if you run into any issues.
Step 2: Add Food to the Basket
Once you have acquainted yourself with your new air fryer, it’s time to start cooking. Pull out the interior drawer and add your food of choice to the air fryer basket. Space the food out as much as possible and take care not to overcrowd the basket, or it will take longer to cook and may not cook evenly.
Step 3: Add Oil if Desired (Optional)
If you plan on adding oil to your recipe, now is the time. Apply a thin, even coating of oil to your food. This step is optional but is more important with vegetables that can easily dry out if cooked for too long or at too high temperature.
Step 4: Select Temperature and Time Setting
Next, close the air fryer food drawer securely and select your temperature and time settings. If you are not using a specific air fryer recipe, you can easily adapt a regular oven recipe by deducting 25 degrees from the cooking temperature and reducing the cooking time by 20%. After selecting the correct settings for your recipe, press the start button and wait while the air fryer does its thing.
Step 5: Shake or Flip the Food Halfway Through
You will want to flip or shake the food halfway through the cooking time for many food items and recipes. Many air fryers will alert you when the time is half done in order to alert you that it is time to complete this step. If your air fryer does not do this, we recommend setting a timer, so you don’t accidentally forget.
You may also wish to add more spices and seasonings at this point. For smaller items in a larger quantity, like fries, it may be easier to dump the food into a dish or bowl to salt to taste and then re-add it to the basket.
Close the drawer and wait for the cooking process to complete.
Step 6: Remove and Enjoy
When the timer cycle ends, open the drawer and check to ensure the food is done or brown to your liking. If so, your air fried food is ready to eat. Remove it from the basket using tongs, as the interior will still be quite hot, and enjoy your completed dish.
Step 7: Clean up Your Mess
Finally, after you are done enjoying your food, make sure to unplug your appliance and clean both the basket and the pull out drawer. Many air fryers have dishwasher-safe parts but always check the user manual first to determine whether or not your parts need to be hand washed or can be machine washed.
Benefits of Using an Air Fryer
More and more people seem to be air frying their recipes. So, why are air fryers so popular? It’s because they pose a series of benefits, aside from cooking delicious tasting crispy foods.
Using an air fryer allows you to use little to no oil during the cooking process. It means air frying your food results in lower calorie fried food options with less fat compared to deep frying the same recipes.
Cooking with an air fryer also creates significantly less mess than a deep fryer. When you air fry your food, you can expect just about the same mess as cooking recipes on the hob.
Air Fryer Tips
The following tips will help you to use your air fryer to the best of its ability. They will also help you to cook your food evenly and with minimal mess.
- Choose a good surface. Make sure to place your air fryer on a heat resistant countertop surface. While they are designed to be suitable for countertops, they will most likely heat up quite a bit externally.
- Be careful with the basket. Don’t place the hot basket on the countertop as it will retain heat similar to a pan you pull out of the oven.
- Don’t overcrowd your food. Air needs to circulate around the food for it to cook evenly. Multiple small batches are better than overfilling the basket to make a larger single batch.
- Preheat. Preheating your air fryer may be recommended, but for the most part, we found that it doesn’t make much of a difference in the finished product. The interior of an air fryer tends to heat up rapidly thanks to the restricted size, so you can often skip the preheat part of the cooking process.
- Flipping your food halfway is essential. Unlike the preheating step, you can not skip the flip or shake step midway through the cooking cycle.
- Use a bit of oil. Oil is not a necessity when you cook with an air fryer, but a little bit can go a long way when it comes to locking in moisture and adding a bit of extra flavour. Just make sure only to use a thin coating.
- Less oil is better. Don’t put too much oil on the food, or it could cause smoke and unnecessary buildup in the interior of the machine. Extra oil also makes it harder to clean.
- Use spices and seasoning. Add spices and seasonings at the beginning and halfway through for extra flavourful recipes.
- Spray the basket. Experiment with lightly spraying the basket before putting the ingredients in to get a more even level of crispiness.
- Drier foods are better. Place a piece of parchment paper beneath foods with a batter. The wetter the batter, the harder it will be to cook with any kind of consistency.
What Foods Can You Make In an Air Fryer?
Considering how you can adapt any of your favourite recipes to be air fryer compatible, what else can you make?
Some of the most popular air fryer food recipes include fried brussel sprouts and other vegetables, homemade potatoes and french fries, fried cheese, cheese stuffed peppers, chicken wings, homemade chips, cookies, fried chicken, and more.
You can put just about anything you can come up with in your air fryer basket. The only limit is your culinary imagination.
What Will You Make First?
That’s all for our article explaining how to use an air fryer. After all, you have learned, we hope you are excited to start cooking with your air fryer right away. What will you cook first? Chicken? Crispy fries? The possibilities are almost limitless.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.