With an air fryer on your benchtop, you can enjoy meals that are not as oily but just as delicious. But air fryers can do more than chicken nuggets and chips. Once you learn how to use an air fryer the right way, you’ll be using this appliance from morning till night. Here are some useful tips to get perfect results and avoid those air-frying mistakes!
Use air fryer inserts.
You can whip up a lot of delicious dishes with the air fryer alone. But results can be better when it’s paired with useful accessories. The insert or grate, for example, allows hot air to circulate, so your food cooks more evenly. The slight elevation also prevents your food from absorbing excess oil. Other accessories worth using are baking pans for cakes, metal skewers for kebabs and racks that let you cook two meals in one go.
Pat foods dry before cooking.
One of the best tips I got while learning how to use an air fryer is to keep foods dry. If you are cooking with raw meat or vegetables, use some paper towels to pat them dry. For marinated food, try to drain as much excess marinade as possible. The purpose of this is to speed up the cooking process and avoid splatters. Also, this step ensures that hot air, not steam, cooks and crisps up your food.
Don’t use wet batters.
Air fryers are not your go-to appliance for making tempura or beer-battered fish sticks. Instead of achieving crispy results, you’ll only make a mess. So, steer clear from a time-consuming clean-up, and let your deep-fryer handle your wet-battered items. And when air frying, stick to coating your food in flour, egg and breadcrumbs.
Refrain from air frying foods that need lots of liquid.
Some food doesn’t mix with air fryers. These include grains, rice, pasta and other items that require boiling. Air fryers have a temperature limit that doesn’t quite match your stovetop or rice cooker. You can still cook your casserole and pasta bake in the air fryer, though. But make sure to cook your grains and starchy ingredients separately.
Lightly brush foods with oil before air frying.
I know you’re figuring out how to use an air fryer mainly to cook your oil-free, healthy air fryer recipes. But adding a little bit can give you better cooking results. For one thing, it prevents food from sticking to the basket, making your air fryer easy to clean. Oil also makes spices and seasonings stick to your food and the outside crispier and evenly cooked. You can also use non-stick cooking spray if you want. For small items like vegetables, you can toss them in oil instead.
Avoid using non-stick sprays on the basket.
While you can use store-bought oil sprays on food, they are not advisable for the air fryer baskets. Aerosol sprays contain chemicals that can potentially damage the baskets’ non-stick quality. Opt for hand-pump sprayers instead, filled with your preferred cooking oil. Lining your basket with aluminium foil or parchment paper is another alternative.
Preheat your air fryer.
Air fryer cooking is somewhat similar to oven baking or roasting. You need to preheat the appliance for optimum results. Doing this lets you air fry your food at the correct cooking temperatures and time. Make sure to follow proper air fryer settings. Instructional manuals or recipe guides included in your cooking appliance should have the details.
Don’t overload the cooking basket.
Like deep-frying, air frying with an overcrowded basket is a big no-no. Overloading your deep fryer brings the oil temperature down, which results in slow cooking and greasy food. On the other hand, an overloaded air fryer produces a lot of steam and gives you undercooked or soggy results. Make sure to cook food in batches to allow air to circulate. Arrange breaded food items in a single layer. You can also use tiered racks if you want to cook more food in each batch.
Shake or flip foods halfway through cooking.
Here’s another technique to do when air frying in batches: give your food a shake or flip every so often. French fries or veggies, for example, tend to stick together or compress. Giving them a shake ensures that hot air can get to every side of your food. Flipping your proteins like pork tenderloins and fish fillets also prevents some parts from under or overcooking.
Check your food for doneness.
Once you know how to use an air fryer, keep in mind that this machine is not a set-and-forget appliance. It tends to work fast, too. Compared with deep fryers and regular ovens, an air fryer is more compact and capable of maintaining a consistent temperature. So, make sure to check your food, ideally several minutes before the end of cooking time.
Put water or bread in the drawer to avoid smoke.
The good news about air frying is that it lets excess oil from your food drip down into the drawer. The bad news is it can overheat the grease and emit smoke. One way around it is to add a few tablespoons of water to the drawer before cooking. This trick works wonders when cooking burger patties.
However, it can create steam inside and prevent other food items, like bacon or air fryer chicken, from getting crispy. In this case, put a slice of bread in place of water. The bread can help absorb the oil, prevent smoke from coming out and make clean-up easier.
Don’t dump out food on the plate after cooking.
Use a pair of tongs to take the basket out of the drawer after cooking. Then transfer your cooked food onto the platter or serving bowl. This way, you won’t be serving any excess grease with your perfectly air-fried meal or snack. If you want, you can strain the collected oil and save it for stir-frying pan sauce-making.
With these helpful tips, trying all sorts of healthy air fryer recipes at home should be easy. You can also check out my reviews of the best air fryers in Australia to pick the model that suits you best!