A Guide To One Of The Coolest Kitchen Inventions Ever
So, you have given into the hype and have bought yourself an air fryer. What now?
It feels like you can barely scroll through social media at the moment, without coming across someone waxing lyrical about the air fryer.
They’re quick. They barely use any fat. They can make healthy food that tastes good. Honestly, it all sounds too good to be true… But it is true. Getting an air fryer could change the way you cook.
You may be reading this article because you have just bought yourself an air fryer and are not sure how to get started with it. Or, you may be wondering if an air fryer would be a good investment for you. Whoever you are, you’ve come to the right place.
Today, we are going to be looking at air fryers, how they work, how to cook with them, how to clean them, and what you can cook with them.
So, let’s start with the big question – what is an air fryer?
- What Is An Air Fryer?
- How Does An Air Fryer Work?
- How To Use An Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Uses
- How To Use Aluminium Foil Safely In An Air Fryer
- Things To Avoid
What Is An Air Fryer?
Do you feel like the air fryer appeared out of nowhere a few years ago? In a way, you are right. The modern air fryer hit the market in 2010 but it was a long process to get there.
The earliest reference to the air fryer can be found in Technical World Magazine, back in 1904. This article talked about a machine that used pressurized air to cook food. However, this idea didn’t really catch on.
In 1945, a cauliflower farmer put in a patent for a 35-pound take on the air fryer. However, the intention was too big and too expensive to take off.
The next major development in the world of air fryers came in 2007 when Philips started working on their own lightweight, countertop air fryer. They debuted it in 2010 and the rest was history.
So, what does an air fryer do?
How Does An Air Fryer Work?
Air fryers are small countertop convection ovens that were invented to create the same results as a deep fat fryer in a much healthier way. They can do this because they require little to no oil to cook the food.
The air fryer blasts the food with hot air from above to cook it. There is a fan inside the air fryer that helps the air to circulate. The air circles around the food at a rapid pace and leaves the food tasting like it has been deep-fried. Most air frying recipes do not require any oil to get these results.
You can use an air fryer to cook meals, reheat leftovers, and you can even use it to bake.
According to the NPD group, 40% of homes have an air fryer now. Air fryer sales have gone up 60% in the last year and air fryer cookbook sales have also increased by 11%.
Air fryers are quickly becoming the must-have kitchen tool.
How To Use An Air Fryer
Now that we know what an air fryer is and how they work – let’s take some time to learn how to use one.
At the end of this article, you will find 6 tips and tricks which will help you take your air frying to the next level.
There are thousands of air fryer recipes online with more appearing each day. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For now, let’s go through a quick step-by-step guide to cooking with an air fryer.
1. Place Your Food In The Basket
Your first step is to place your food inside the air fryer basket.
You will want to make sure that the basket has been thoroughly cleaned between uses and that you do not add too much oil.
You will want to make sure that you season your food before you place it in the basket. Cooking your food with the seasoning on will help you to get the most robust flavoring into your meal.
You should also make sure that you do not put too much food in your basket at once.
Air fryers come in many different sizes – if you will be regularly cooking for multiple people then you are better off investing in a larger air fryer.
2. Set Time And Temperature
Next, you will want to consult the recipe you are using and the instructions for your specific air fryer – so that you can set the temperature and time.
Most air fryers work slightly differently, so you will need to spend a little bit of time getting to know how quickly your air fryer will cook your food. Over time, you will be able to work out cooking temperatures and times off the top of your head.
Until you get to this point, make sure to have your air fryer’s instructions on hand when you cook.
3. Let The Food Cook
This is the good part.
Once you have seasoned your food and set the timer on your air fryer – you can just sit back and let everything cook.
Depending on the recipe, you will want to shake the basket every 5-10 minutes to make sure nothing sticks together or to the basket.
If you are new to using an air fryer, it is best to stay near your air fryer while it is cooking. This will help you to learn how the food will start to smell when it is done cooking. It will also help to avoid burnt food if you get your settings wrong.
Air Fryer Uses
Now, we are going to look at what you can cook with an air fryer, what you can bake with one, and how to clean them after you have finished using them.
What Can You Cook In An Air Fryer?
If you have been on social media (particularly Tik Tok) over the past year, then you have probably seen half a dozen videos about surprising things you can cook in an air fryer.
The real answer to the question – what can you cook in an air fryer – is anything if you are creative enough.
Let’s take a look at the most useful thing you can cook in an air fryer.
You may be surprised to hear that you can use your air fryer to cook frozen food safely.
Some people worry that air fryers can’t heat frozen food all the way through – but this is not true. Air fryers work in a similar way to convection ovens, so they are heating the food from above and below.
This means that frozen food can be fully and safely cooked in an air fryer. Please do not try to cook frozen raw meat in an air fryer.
Meat (Beef And Pork)
Did you know that you can roast beef in an air fryer? Did you know that you can cook steak in an air fryer? That you can make ribs in an air fryer? And that you can even make pulled pork in the air fryer.
Because of the holes in the air frying basket, the meat won’t sit in its fat. Instead, the fat will drain into the tray below (don’t forget to clean this out after you cook) – allowing you to enjoy red meat with less guilt.
Many of us were put off vegetables when we were younger because at school they were never seasoned and always overboiled.
Let the air fryer help you fall in love with vegetables again.
With an air fryer, you can say goodbye to slimy, boiled, mushy vegetables that don’t taste like anything. And say hello to crispy, flavorsome vegetables that will make your mouth water.
And the best part is, you can make vegetables taste good without having to smother them in far and make them unhealthy.
You could try wine and honey roasted carrots. You could try bacon and parmesan sprouts. Or even cauliflower wings.
Fries And Other Potato Dishes
When people think about air fryers, the first thing that comes into people’s mind is using them to make french fries. It seems impossible that you could make crispy fries without using any oil or having to deep-fat fry the potato.
But it is possible.
In fact, french fries aren’t the only potato dish you can use your air fryer to make. You can make tater-tots, hash browns, potato waffles, steak cut chips, and much more in your air fryer.
To get potato dishes that taste even better, make sure that you will season the dish before placing it in the basket.
Fried chicken is another dish that is hugely popular in this country. But most people make this dish using a lot of oil. With an air fryer, it doesn’t have to be this way.
However, the air fryer isn’t just limited to making chicken wings.
You can use an air fryer to make chicken tenders, roast chicken, make tender chicken breasts, and even a mixed chicken and veggies dish.
When you are cooking chicken in an air fryer, you need to make sure that you don’t cook it at too high a temperature or you will dry the meat out.
Fish can be difficult to cook when you don’t have an air fryer.
As you have probably guessed, you can use an air fryer to make fried fish and fried battered fish. But you can use it to make so much more.
When you cook fish in an air fryer, you get to enjoy the flavor of the meat, not just the fats you are cooking the fish in.
Reheated Food (Leftovers)
Finally, you can use your air fryer to breathe new life into your leftovers.
If you want to, you can use your air fryer to reheat your leftovers without ruining their integrity or burning it.
However, you can get a bit more creative with your leftovers.
If you have leftover roast chicken, you could use your air fryer to make that chicken into a spicy taco filling. Or you could turn leftover roast potatoes into hash browns or into a Spanish inspired potato and chorizo hash.
The possibilities are endless.
What Can You Bake In An Air Fryer?
One of the things that surprised us the most, when we delved into the world of air fryer social media, was that you can use your air fryer for more than just cooking.
You can use your air fryer to bake with as well.
In this article, we don’t have time to cover all the different baked goods you can make in your air fryer – so we are just going to cover a few of our favorites in this section.
We have also noticed that gluten-free baking is a lot easier to do when you use an air fryer.
We all know that cookies are pretty easy to make – but would you believe us if we told you that making them in the air fryer makes the process even easier?
Well, it’s true.
We also love making cookies in our air fryer because it gives us an excuse to make the cookies in a smaller batch. We only have to make 4-5 cookies at a time. This seriously reduces the likelihood of us eating 15 cookies in one sitting.
If you are wondering what cookies to make first, you can’t go wrong with a classic chocolate chip cookie.
If you have never baked before, but you like the sounds of trying it out for the first time using your air fryer – start with brownies.
Brownies are one of the easiest baked goods to make because it’s very hard to get them wrong.
One of the great things about baking with your air fryer is that you can use less fat without having to compromise on the moistness of the brownie.
If you’re that way inclined, you can even make special brownies in your air fryer.
Yes, you really can make donuts in your air fryer.
Any dessert that you traditionally need to deep-fry, you can make in your air fryer.
Many people are put off making bakes like donuts and churros at home because they are scared of using a deep-fat fryer. It is very easy to burn yourself while using one of these.
You can get the same results (but healthier) with an air fryer without any of the dangers of having to buy a gallon of oil. You can make healthier treats, save yourself money, and produce less waste.
It’s a win-win-win situation.
Finally, you can use your air fryer to make light, airy, and delicious cakes.
We know that fried cake doesn’t sound like it will taste good, but trust us it’s delicious.
You can make nearly every type of sponge cake you want in an air fryer. We recommend this layered chocolate cake.
To create a cake tin inside your air fryer, simply line your basket with aluminum foil, then lay down a layer of damp paper towels. You can then fill this tin with as much cake batter as you like.
We recommend starting small with your first try.
How To Clean An Air Fryer
If you are going to use your air fryer for many different types of cooking then you are going to have to clean it well between each use. You want to make sure that no fat is sticking to any part of your fryer – as this can damage your fryer. But cleaning the fryer after every use is recommended no matter what you are making.
Not only should you be cleaning your air fryer after every use, but you should also be deep cleaning it every few weeks.
Why so much cleaning?
Well, simply, the sooner you clean your air fryer after you use it, the easier it will be to clean. You don’t want to be trying to scrub off week-old beef fat when you have to cook for guests or hungry kids.
You will want to start your cleaning process by taking out all the cleanable components of the fryer. Then using warm, soapy water and a cloth or sponge wipe everything down. You do not want to use anything abrasive, otherwise, you will damage the fryer.
Then get a toothpick, or even a water pick, and remove any pieces of food from the gaps in the basket.
Leave all of this to air dry.
Meanwhile, clean the inside of the fryer using soapy water and another non-abrasive cloth. Don’t forget to clean the heating element. Allow this to air dry and then reassemble the air fryer.
After everything is put back together, take another soft cloth and wipe down the outside of the air fryer.
If you want to reduce the amount of cleaning you have to do, then line your basket with aluminum foil while you are cooking. This will affect the quality of the food you produce, however.
Remember, if you regularly clean your air fryer, you will make the job much easier.
How To Use Aluminium Foil Safely In An Air Fryer
When you are baking with your air fryer or cooking something particularly messy, you may want to lay down a layer of aluminum foil inside your basket.
This can prevent the wet batter from spilling through the holes in the basket and stop good from stinking to the walls of the basket. It can make your food cook more quickly and can make the fryer much easier to clean.
When you are using aluminum foil you must be careful.
The foil and the food cooking in it will get very hot while in the air fryer. You should wear proper protection on your hands if you try to remove it from the air fryer strait after use. Ideally, you should allow the foil to cold down before you touch it.
Q – Can aluminum foil catch fire in an air fryer?
No, the burning and melting point of aluminum foil is 1,221°F.
However, you should only ever put foil in the basket – not anywhere else. Doing so could cause the fryer to overheat and cause internal damage.
Q – Is there an alternative to using aluminum foil in an air fryer?
Yes, if you do not want to use aluminum while you are cooking then you can swap it out for perforated parchment paper.
Again, these should only be used inside the basket and you should never let them rest again the heating component or you could start a fire.
Things To Avoid
Before we leave you, we want to end this article with 6 tips that will help you to improve the longevity of your air fryer, the taste of your food, and make using your air fryer generally easier.
Air fryers are amazing tools that make healthy cooking quick, tasty, and easy.
However, you need to look after the machine itself, if you want to use it for a long time. You will find that the tips below help you to do this.
Are you ready to learn more about how to use your air fryer?
Do Not Be Generous With Oil
One of the major selling points of air fryers is that you do not have to use oil with them.
However, if you want some of your food to be extra crispy or the recipe calls for it – you may have to use a little bit of oil.
When you are using an air fryer, you need to remember that it is not like cooking on the stovetop, in the oven, or in a deep-fat fryer.
If you are cooking with an air fryer then you should use about a ¼ of the amount of oil you would usually use when cooking. If you use too much oil, you can risk burning your food or damaging your air fryer when it overheats.
After you have used any kind of oil in your air fryer, make sure that you need to clean it. You do not want to have a build-up of oil in your air fryer – particularly in the heating component.
Q – Can I use any type of oil in my air fryer?
You can use any type of oil that you would use in the oven. Sunflower oil or vegetable oil are good options that are also affordable.
Do Not Grease The Cooking Drawer
If you have been cooking for a long time then greasing the drawer of your air fryer seems like the logical thing to do.
However, this is something you shouldn’t do.
Because they are designed to be used without oils or fats, the baskets in air fryers come with a strong non-stick coating.
Loading fats, oils, or cooking sprays onto the basket can actually break down this coating over time. Doing this also makes us more likely to scrub away the coating when we are trying to clean off the oil.
One of the easiest ways to prevent your food from sticking to the basket is to preheat the basket.
Meat and fish seem to be the main culprit when it comes to sticking to the basket. However, frozen foods tend to not stick.
Q – How can I stop the food from sticking to my air fryer basket?
There are three things you can do to prevent this from happening.
You can cook your food at a lower temperature. You can add a small amount of oil onto the surface of the food, rather than the basket. Or you can line the basket with some aluminum foil.
Do Not Crowd Drawer
Our next tip is to make sure that you do not put too much food inside your air fryer at once.
We know it can be tempting to squeeze as much as you can in there – when you have lots of hungry mouths to feed. However, this will just leave you with food that is burnt on the outside and undercooked on the inside.
Why does that happen when you overfill the air fryer drawer?
Earlier, we discussed how air fryers are very similar to mini convection ovens. The reason they are able to cook food so well is that the hot air is able to move around the food from every angle. This results in food that is evenly cooked.
If there is too much food in the drawer, then a lot of the food is only coming into contact with the hot air in a few places or worse, not at all.
You want to make sure that your food is spread out evenly in a single layer at the bottom of the fryer. You do not want large piles of food.
Q. Do air fryers come in multiple sizes?
Yes. Some brands only make one size of air fryers, however, you will find a good range of sizes across the market. If you regularly have to cook large quantities of food, it might be in your best interest to invest in a larger air fryer.
Do Not Neglect To Shake The Basket During Cooking
This is something that a lot of people forget to do.
If you were using a deep-fat fryer then you would regularly shake the basket. This stops any of the food from sticking to the bottom of the sides of the basket. It also makes sure that all of the food is getting heated all the way through.
It is important that you do this when you are cooking with an air fryer – for all the same reasons. If you let the food go for too long without shaking it you could see your food stick together, not cook properly, or burn.
Q. Can I cook more than one type of food in my air fryer at once?
There are a few things you should bear in mind.
Even if you are cooking with multiple types of food, you should shake the basket.
If one of the foods takes longer to cook than the other, then you should add that first, then add the other late. You should not try to cook everything for the same amount of time unless the recipe tells you to.
Do Not Trust The Timer Completely
When you first start using your air fryer it will take you a little while to work out how quickly it cooks and how that compares to what recipes recommend.
The first air fryer we had ran quite hot, so it always cooked the food faster than the recipe suggested it would. We learned this the hard way the first time we tried to use it.
The first couple of times you use your air fryer, you should keep an eye on it as it cooks. Every time you open it to shake the basket, you will be able to note how quickly the food is cooking.
As time goes on, you will be able to look at a recipe and work out quickly how long it will take your air fryer to cook the food.
It is also worth noting that smaller portions of food will cook more quickly than larger pieces. So, if you are downsizing a recipe then you should keep this in mind.
If you need more information about using your air fryer then you should look in the instruction manual that the manufacturer provided.
Do Not Put Hot Drawer On Countertop
Our final piece of advice is to remember that the basket of your air fryer will get really hot while you are using it.
You need to be careful when you are removing your basket from the fryer. Do not touch any of the drawer apart from the handle as you will burn yourself. Do not put the hot basket on a heat-sensitive surface – like a stone worktop or a plastic chopping board.
Make sure that you allow the basket and the rest of the air fryer to cool down before you start cleaning it.
When you are emptying the drawer, make sure to use a spoon or a spatula so that the hot contents do not fly out. Try to avoid dumping it straight into a bowl.
Air fryers have the possibility to revolutionize the way that we cook and the way that we eat. They offer a fast and healthy alternative to deep-fat frying.
Instead of using oil, air fryers use hot air to cook the food. They can be used to cook most types of food (including chicken, fish, vegetarian food, and much more).
While they are fairly easy to use, there are a few tricks you must be aware of if you want to get the best out of your air fryer. Are you ready to make delicious but super healthy food? It’s time to turn up the air fryer!