9 top tips for new air fryer owners

Air fryer Korean-style chicken wings. Picture: McCorkle for The Washington Post

Air fryer Korean-style chicken wings. Picture: McCorkle for The Washington Post

Published Jan 31, 2024

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Air fryers are becoming more and more popular these days. There are plenty of brands you can choose from that vary in price range.

If you have recently acquired this smart appliance for your home, pay attention to these important tips. These tips will not only enhance your cooking experience but also help maintain your air fryer's longevity.

Even if your food does not require oil, always take a moment to at least grease your air fryer basket. Picture: Supplied

Grease your basket

Even if your food does not require oil, always take a moment to at least grease your air fryer basket. Unless a food is inherently fatty, always add at least a little oil, which encourages browning. Otherwise, the fan could dry out the food before it browns.

Preheat it

Like the full-sized oven in your kitchen, the air fryer only starts cooking once its chamber has heated properly. Save cooking time – and get better results – by running the air fryer for three to four minutes while you are preparing your food.

An air fryer uses hot air to cook the food inside. Picture: Supplied

Airflow is king

Whatever you are doing in an air fryer, you must always have the subject of airflow in the back of your mind. An air fryer uses hot air to cook the food inside.

But in order to cook evenly, this hot air needs to be able to circulate all around the food. If you block that airflow, your cooking performance in your air fryer will drop a lot and may even be unusable.

Avoid overcrowding the basket

Planning on roasting a whole chicken in there? Not such a great idea. Even if it fits into the basket, chances are the chicken will not cook evenly, so you are better off with chicken parts when it comes to this appliance.

To make cleaning easier for super-messy things (such as wings covered in a sticky sauce) lay them on a sheet of foil or parchment paper on top of the air fryer basket. Picture: Pexels/Yan Krukau

Use foil or parchment paper

To make cleaning easier for super-messy things (such as wings covered in a sticky sauce) lay them on a sheet of foil or parchment paper on top of the air fryer basket.

The power of the hot air moving can cause the sheets to fly, so make sure the food is heavy enough to keep it from flying away.

Read your owner’s manual to find out how to wash your air fryer

You might be surprised to find that some parts or accessories can go in the dishwasher. Never submerge the actual device itself.

Save the drippings from the drawer for your next meal

The fat that collects in the pan does not have to go to waste; you can save it for future cooking, even if it is mixed with a bit of water. It is packed with flavour and can be put away in a container to later use for gravies and stir-fry sauces.

If you have received an air fryer cookbook with your new appliance, then you can utilise drippings in some of these recipes.

Air fryer Korean-style chicken wings. Picture: McCorkle for The Washington Post.

Reheating your food in the air fryer tastes so much better

While it may be tempting to warm your food in the microwave, the results are often disappointing. But reheating with the air fryer will easily make your food crispy and delicious again.

In just a few moments, you can reheat French fries or other “crunchy” foods and bring that delightful crunch back to life instead of settling for soggy leftovers.

Remember to shake

To help your food cook evenly and have great colour, shake the basket a few times during the cooking process. This is especially helpful when you’re making smaller items.

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