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Many kitchen gadgets end up becoming rarely used devices that just take up space in our kitchen cabinets. Air fryers, on the other hand, are truly a game-changer.
Air fryers have become ubiquitous in the kitchen these days, and beloved by many for its compact size, ease of use, and ability to cook food quickly. If you’re craving something crispy but don’t want the grease, air fryers can scratch that itch with a healthy alternative to deep frying.
For those who are newer to air fryer cooking, however, operating an air fryer can be a bit intimidating. To save you from figuring out how to master the air fryer on your own, follow these tips and hacks so that you can get the most out of your new favorite kitchen tool.

Check Out: Is an Air Fryer Worth Buying?

1. Preheat Your Air Fryer

Instant Pot air fryer

Credit: Instant Pot

While it’s not always necessary, it’s generally a good idea to preheat your air fryer because it encourages more even cooking. If your gadget doesn’t have this setting, don’t worry. You can simply set it to the temperature you want and let it warm up for three to four minutes before placing your food inside.

2. Stop Lighter Items from Flying Around

Because of how an air fryer works, they come fitted with a strong fan. This does mean smaller and lighter items can fly around. Two useful hacks come to mind: use toothpicks to hold smaller items down, and mix any seasoning into oil beforehand so that the flakes don’t fly around.

3. Don’t Overcrowd Your Basket

cauliflower in an air fryer

Credit: iStock

As tempting as it is to cram your air fryer basket with goodies, remember that browning and crisping is hampered by this. For best results, space out your food so there is room for each item to cook and brown evenly.
If you find your basket is struggling to fit an entire serving for the family, consider investing in an air fryer with a larger basket. Otherwise, try to cook your food in multiple batches.

4. Air Fry Plant Proteins and Vegetables

If you love tofu but are put off by the soft texture, remember your air fryer can change all that. Tofu, and other plant-based proteins like tempeh, become crispy and delicious when cooked this way, especially if you marinate them beforehand.
Kids will also love vegetables more if they’re crispy. The most popular vegetable to air fry are brussel sprouts, which are highly nutritious and especially delicious in the air fryer.

5. You Can Use Aluminum Foil

aluminum foil in air fryer

Credit: iStock

Your air fryer is far more like a conventional oven than it is like a microwave. And like an oven, you can place aluminum foil inside without causing sparks to fly.
When using aluminum foil, put it in the basket and not the bottom of the drawer. Even when putting foil in the drawer you must be careful that isn’t able to move around easily; it could land on a heating element and even cause a fire. Don’t place foil in the basket during preheating, and always weigh it down with food.

8. Add Water or Bread to Minimize Smoke

Cooking greasy foods like bacon or chicken wings can create smoke. To avoid this issue, pour around two tablespoons of water to the bottom of the air fryer basket. This will also make cleaning easier because you won’t have based-on grease to clean up.
Another hot tip to avoid smoke is to place a slice of bread at the bottom of the unit. If you’re cooking something particularly greasy, like rashers of bacon, the bread will simply soak up the grease and make it crispy enough to eat afterwards.

9. Invest in Air Fryer Accessories

silicone air fryer accesory

Credit: Amazon

It will make life a lot easier if you pair accessories with your air fryer. These range from perforated silicone mats perforated holes to make cleaning up easier, or an oil mister to help evenly coat your food with oil.
Some air fryer accessories that people love include:

When purchasing accessories, you’ll want to opt for silicone-based accessories such as tongs and pans that won’t ruin the nonstick coating of your air fryer.

10. Avoid Aerosol Oil Sprays

There are guidelines for using oil in your air fryer:

  • Always use an oil spray bottle or mister
  • Never use an aerosol spray to apply oil as there are harsh agents in the oil in these products that can damage the coating on the air fryer basket
  • Use a silicone brush to coat foods in oil

Remember also that not all foods will need a coating of oil. Some fatty cuts of meat, for example, will crisp without oil whereas vegetables will need oil added. Note, however, that even if you choose not to add oil, at least grease the basket to make sure food won’t stick to it.

11. Shake it Up

french fries in air fryer

Credit: iStock

If you’re air frying smaller like fries, shake the basket halfway to make sure each piece is cooked evenly. You can simply remove the basket, shake, return the basket, and hit start to resume cooking. For larger items, you’ll can use silicone tongs to flip items rather than shake.

12. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

Unless many other appliances, air fryers are very forgiving when it comes to being open and shut, so feel free to check up on your food as often as you wish. They are programmed to simply resume the process and will carry on where they left off with temperature and timing.
If you have an idea for a new air fryer recipe but aren’t sure of the exact time and temperature, toss it in the air fryer and check on it occasionally to make sure it’s not overcooked. It’s hard to actually mess up a meal in the air fryer unless you make the temperature too high or leave it in for too long.

13. Reapply Oil Halfway Through

olive oil dripping off a spoon

Credit: iStock

Remember to apply a fresh coat of oil when you’re about halfway through the cooking process. This ensures that both sides are evenly crispy and delicious (some foods can be dry without oil).
No need to splash a bunch of oil either, use an oil mister to get a light coat and choose healthy oils such as olive oil or avocado oil.

14. Crisp Up Leftovers

Air fryers can be used to reheat leftovers that you bring home from restaurants. Fried or crumbed food in particular like fries or battered chicken crisp up much better in the air fryer than the microwave.
But avoid heavily sauced foods, as the air fryer can dry them out.

15. Ripen Avocados

Avocados are notorious for leaving home chefs in the lurch by going from hard and unripe to a mushy and unusable mess seemingly overnight. An Australian woman in an article in the Mirror discovered that you can ripen avocados for guacamole in the air fryer.
To ripen your avocados in the air fryer, simply:

  • Wrap the unripe avocado in tinfoil
  • Stick it in the air fryer
  • Set the temperature to 200 degrees
  • Leave in for 10 minutes (or longer if needed)

16. Cook Hard-Boiled Eggs

This may come as a surprise to you, but you can actually make hard-boiled eggs in the air fryer. All you need to do is add the eggs to the air fryer, cook around 270 degree F for around 15 minutes. The time and temperature may vary depending on your air fryer. Once the eggs are done cooking, transfer them to a bowl of cold water with ice to make it easier to peel.
There is no water needed when cooking eggs in the air fryer and they will not explode like they would in a microwave.

Can you put raw meat in an air fryer?

chicken in air fryer with thermometer

Credit: iStock

Many new air fryer owners wonder about putting raw meat in their appliance. You certainly can, but always make sure it has thawed and then follow the cooking and handling guidelines from the manufacturer. Consider also using a meat thermometer to make sure the meat is cooked thoroughly.

How do you get baked grease out of an air fryer?

Remove all pans and baskets and soak them in warm soapy water for at least ten minutes. Scrub them and the interior gently with a non-abrasive sponge and then wipe with a damp cloth. If the main appliance has stubborn spots of baked grease, remove with a paste made of baking soda and water. Use an old toothbrush to push the paste into the hardened grease and then wipe with a clean cloth. Make sure everything is dry before reassembling.

What is the easiest way to clean an air fryer?

cleaning an air fryer

Credit: iStock

There are two main pieces of advice here. Clean after every use and use warm soapy water or else it gets pretty bad. That’s why a frequently asked question is ‘how do you clean a disgusting air fryer?’ It only gets ‘disgusting’ if you keep using it without cleaning it. You will save yourself a lot of trouble if you just commit to cleaning it with warm soapy water after each use so that residual grease does not simply get baked over and over again.

Take Your Air Fryer Cooking to New Levels

Once you master all the tips and tricks of using an air fryer, you can start experimenting with new and healthy recipes. This powerful kitchen gadget will quickly become your new favorite method of cooking.
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