Getting a new air fryer is beyond exciting, learning all of the air fryer tips and tricks to get the most out of your model is even better!
Whether you're just getting started and need the basic air fryer tips or want to learn a few clever air fryer hacks, you'll appreciate this list of clever must-know ideas.
Air Fryer Tips
1. Always Preheat Before Cooking
Our first air fryer tip is to make sure you know how important it is to preheat the air fryer before cooking. Putting your food in a cold air fryer is similar to baking food in the oven without preheating it first. Not only will it throw the recipe cooking time off, but it won't evenly cook your food.
Some air fryer models have a built in preheat button and others you'll just need to manually set and let the unit warm-up while you're prepping the recipe ingredients.
To preheat the air fryer, set the temperature to whatever the temperature of the recipe will be, and then let it heat for 3-5 minutes before adding the food.
2. Internet Recipes are a Guideline
Finding air fryer recipes on the internet is an easy and free way to have a constant source of recipes to try for the air fryer. Yet because makes and models can vary, it's good to keep a close eye on the food the first time you try a recipe.
For instance, with our first two air fryers, when we cooked wings, they were done exactly at 19 minutes. One was a small basket style Farberware air fryer and the other was a large Instant Pot Omni Plus air fryer toaster oven. Boy was I ever thrilled to see similar results!
But then when I purchased our latest (and actually favorite!) air fryer, I put the wings in for 19 minutes "like usual" and they were a little dry and overcooked.
The learning experience here and the air fryer tip for you is that the first time you make a recipe, keep a closer eye on it than usual and start checking the food for doneness a few minutes before the recipe says it should be.
3. First Use Plastic Smell
If you haven't yet purchased your air fryer or you're just pulling it out of the box and trying to get started, this is an air fryer tip for you!
The very first time you're using the fryer you'll need to do what's called a test run. Not only does it get you used to using the air fryer before cooking actual food, but it also burns off the manufacturing chemical residue.
Most air fryers say that the test run should take 10-15 minutes at 400F to burn off the plastic odor. After having 3 different types of air fryers, ALL three still had a bad odor after completing a test run. In our experience, it took repeating the test run 3-4 times before the plastic smell disappeared. If the odor doesn't go away after the test run, keep doing more test runs!
4. Don't Overcrowd
You've probably seen the photos online of filled to the brim air fryers overflowing with french fries. And while that concept sure looks enticing, in reality, filling the air fryer prevents air circulation, makes it more difficult for food to cook evenly, plus some of the food doesn't turn out as crispy as it should.
The BEST way to have perfectly done crispy food is to spread it out in a single layer instead of stacking food in the air fryer. if you want to stack your food like french fries or tater tots, make sure to only add enough up to the fill line, and then shake the basket every 4-5 minutes. A single layer will still give you the best results, yet stacking part-way and shaking periodically will still help you achieve very good results.
5. Using the Air Fryer to Reheat Foods
I'm sure after purchasing your air fryer you instantly thought of all of the amazing recipes you could make like wings, pork chops, and juicy chicken breasts. What might not have instantly come to mind was using the air fryer to reheat leftovers instead of reheating them in the microwave.
Do you have leftover onion rings from your favorite burger joint last night? Reheating them in a microwave will give you hot, yet soggy onion rings. If you use your air fryer instead, you'll end up with crispy rings that taste freshly cooked.
We even reheated leftover restaurant nachos recently by laying down some parchment paper in the basket and placing the nachos on top of that.
Most foods will take about 5 mins to reheat on 400F. This is one of those times we often skip preheating the unit since we're just trying to warm and re-crisp the food.
6. Cooking Foods from Frozen
One of our top air fryer tips is using the air fryer to cook foods from frozen. You heard me right, whether it be cooking chicken breasts from frozen, frozen shrimp with a garlic butter sauce, or even frozen broccoli, you'll never be worried again when you realize you forgot to pull the meat out of the freezer!
To be honest, cooking vegetables in particular from frozen often turn out even better than cooking fresh veggies.
7. Light Foods Can Blow Around
When you're air frying very lightweight food you need to be careful because they can blow around inside the air fryer and literally get sucked up into the heating element, which is exactly what happened with our first batch of air fryer kale chips. This is very dangerous and you could end up with a fire inside the air fryer.
We also discovered after making air fryer smores, that the marshmallows were blowing all over the inside of the fryer. Since these are a little heavier than kale chips they at least didn't get sucked up to the heating element.
One little handy trick we learned with kale chips was to either lay the air fryer rack that comes with your unit over the top of the chips so they can't blow around, or try overlapping the food to help it stay down on the bottom of the basket.
Regardless, make sure to keep an extra close eye on things when working with lightweight foods.
8. No Aerosol Cooking Sprays
Most air fryer baskets are non-stick and because of that, it's super important that you don't use aerosol cooking sprays like Pam in your air fryer. The aerosol sprays have a component to them that actually causes sticking and the sticky residue can build up in your air fryer over time.
If you want to grease the air fryer basket, you'll want to either pour a little oil on a paper towel and wipe it on the bottom of the basket, or you'll want to use an oil spray bottle.
9. Protect the Non-Stick Surface
Most air fryer baskets have a non-stick surface, so taking care of it and keeping your foods from sticking goes beyond skipping the Pam spray.
Only using non-stick utensils, cleaning the air fryer with gentle cleaners like Bon Ami and a gentle sponge, plus only hand washing the basket will prolong the basket life instead of placing it in the dishwasher.
10. Air Fryers Cook Hotter and Faster
Wouldn't air fryer recipes be easy if they cooked at the same temperature and cooking time as your favorite oven-baked recipes? Unfortunately, things are a tad more complex than that with an air fryer.
Air fryers are actually mini convection ovens that do a much better job of circulating the hot air, which is why you can get crispy crunchy food that's evenly cooked compared to a standard oven that doesn't give you as consistent of a result.
An air fryer tip to remember, when converting your favorite oven recipe to the air fryer, turn the temperature down 25F. So if your baked chicken recipe cooks at 400F when you cook it in the air fryer, turn the heat down to 375F.
Air fryers also cook quicker than an oven, even after adjusting the cooking time! Many oven adapted recipes in our experience cook in 20-25% less time compared to a standard oven.
11. Using Oil
Making perfectly crisp foods like breaded chicken or wings is one of the many reasons people purchase an air fryer. You get the crispy food but without all of the extra fat and oils to go along with it.
While you technically can cook foods without any added oil, mixing in a small amount of oil like olive oil or avocado oil OR at least spritzing the food with oil helps to make the food crispier than not using oil at all.
12. Preventing White Smoke
If you haven't yet experienced a basket (and kitchen) filled with air fryer white smoke, consider yourself lucky! When cooking high-fat foods in the air fryer like bacon, the dripping grease can cause the unit to fill with white smoke.
To prevent this, here's a few of our favorite air fryer tips and tricks:
- Always keep the air fryer basket and interior clean.
- Add a couple of Tablespoons of water to the bottom of the air fryer.
- Place a slice of bread under the basket and the grease from the high-fat food will mostly drip on the bread instead of the bottom of the air fryer itself. As a bonus, you now have a side of bacon toast to go with the bacon 😉
13. Is It Necessary to Flip Foods?
Most air fryer recipes will tell you to flip the food halfway during the cooking time. After experimenting with 3 different air fryer models, whether or not you need to flip the food might come down to the air fryer model that you have.
Some models do a really good job browning foods on BOTH sides and flipping the foods halfway won't be necessary.
14. Parchment Paper Liners
Sometimes when you cook delicate foods like air fryer cookies, you don't want the dough to possibly get stuck down in the air fryer basket holes or stick to the bottom of the air fryer basket.
Buying air fryer parchment liners don't restrict the airflow and helps to keep delicate foods from getting stuck on the bottom. They also make it easier to keep your air fryer clean.
15. Inaccurate Preset Buttons
Many of the more expensive air fryers come with fancy knobs, dials, and presets to make it even easier to cook food. Common preset buttons include chicken, wings, french fries, steak, vegetables, or even cake.
While it might be temping to just take your favorite recipe for steak, add it to the air fryer, press the steak preset button, and walk away, air frying food perfectly isn't as simple as that.
In our experience, many of the preset cooking times aren't accurate and don't factor in the size of the meat cut or weight. If you're lucky, you have preset buttons that let you customize the presets, meaning you can change the temperature and time for your favorite foods going forward.
To be honest, we rarely use the preset buttons and almost always manually set the cooking time and temperature to what we know already works.
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Thanks for reading through our list of 15 air fryer tips and tricks! Do you have any other tips on using an air fryer we missed? Please post below in the comments to share with others!
More Air Fryer Tips and Recipes
- The Best Types of Air Fryers to Buy
- Best Air Fryer Accessories
- How Do You Use an Air Fryer?
- Air Fryer Cook Times Printable
- Air Fryer Recipes for Beginners
- Air fryer boneless pork chops
- Air fryer chicken tenders without breading
- Air fryer Italian sausage
- Air fryer frozen sweet potato fries
Don't forget to save the air fryer tips pin to Pinterest so you can find it again for later!