How to use your air fryer
Need-to-know tips on how to use your air fryer
It’s not hard to understand the rise and rise of air fryers. Not only do they rustle up crispy golden food, but they do so faster and with less oil and mess! If you’re ready for faff-free cooking, then we can help you navigate purchasing an air fryer and using it to get the most mouth-watering results.
In this guide, we’ll cover all the essential food prepping, checking and frying tips!
How does an air fryer work?
It might be helpful to think of your air fryer as a mini convection oven. Air fryers work by whipping hot air around the food, creating crispy exteriors while retaining the moisture within.
Each air fryer has a heating element and a powerful fan. These are usually positioned either side of the food basket or tray, allowing the air to circulate for a perfectly even finish.
The important thing to know about this method of cooking is that it’s fast, energy efficient and needs less oil than frying. If you’re asking us, air fryers are worth their weight in gold.
Do you need to preheat an air fryer?
Yes, you’ll need to give your air fryer a chance to warm up before use. The good news is, unlike a traditional oven or hob, it only takes minutes!
Preheating times will vary depending on the model of your air fryer, the temperature you’re cooking at and the programme you want to use. Typically, you’re looking at a preheat time of 5 minutes max.
Your air fryer will let you know when it’s ready with a little beep or a flashing light.
How do you prepare food for air frying?
You’ll be staggered by the versatility of this gadget. Air fryers can prepare so many dishes, from roasted vegetable kebabs to crispy chicken wings. There are so many recipes to choose from. Whatever direction you take your dinner in, here are some basic food prep techniques that’ll guarantee satisfaction.
- Make sure everything going into the air fryer is of a similar enough size. Cutting up your ingredients evenly means that no pieces get over or undercooked. We’re going for perfection here.
- Dry your food!
This is an underrated rule but listen up. Moisture is the enemy of the air fryer. If you want golden edges and crispy skins, then make sure you pat your food dry with a paper towel before adding it to the air fryer basket.
- Space the food out evenly, using a single layer when you’re after that crunch.
No matter how hungry you are, do not be tempted to overcrowd your air fryer. This can prevent your food from cooking evenly and make for a less crispy texture. You might even find it worthwhile to cook your food in batches so that every mouthful is perfectly crisped.
What’s the best way to add oil?
There are many schools of thought on this. Which route you follow might depend on what utensils and oils you have to hand, and what food you’re cooking.
Using a spray bottle is a very popular way of applying oil to air fryer foods. It gives a light, even coating which can easily be topped up during cooking. As you’re also likely to use less oil overall, this method tends to appeal to chefs seeking healthier, low-fat foods.
Alternatively, you can use a pastry brush to glaze your meal-to-be. While not as low-fat or controlled as the spray method, this still creates a delicate golden finish on everything from jacket potatoes to salmon fillets.
But if this is all sounding a bit fiddly, then don’t be afraid to just drizzle oil on in whatever way works for you!
Checking your food while it’s in the air fryer
Generally, you can trust in your air fryer’s pre-set programmes. But we each have our personal preferences and know just what shade of gold we want our French fries. It’s a good idea to check your food while it’s cooking to make sure it’s to your liking.
There are a few things you can do:
- First off, if you’re opening your air fryer often, you might want to position your machine beneath your oven’s extractor fan. This will help whip away any steam or smoke released during cooking.
- Give the air fryer basket a shake. Doing this a couple of times during cooking will enable you to see how things are shaping up and give each piece a chance to crisp over evenly.
- Check the temperature. For meat eaters, this is an important part of all cooking. Wondering whether or not your sausages are safe to eat is a quick way to ruin a meal!
Use a cooking thermometer or cut open your foods to check the internal heat (see below) and colour.
- Chicken and sausages: 165°F (74°C)Lamb and beef: minimum of 145°F (63°C)
- Fish: 145°F (63°C)
- Try using a silicone air fryer basket to keep your air fryer free from excess oils.
Air fryer safety reminders
Before you go any further on your air frying journey, it’s important we recap some safety advice. Your machine will come with instructions and tips of its own, so make sure to give everything a read through.
- Set up your air fryer on a stable surface, away from clutter or flammable materials.
- Do not leave the air fryer unattended while plugged in and/or cooking.
- Avoid pouring wet ingredients into the drawer as it may cause hot splatters.
- Clean regularly to prevent grease build-up and smoke.
- Wear oven gloves when checking or serving food in the air fryer basket.
There you have it; you’ve got all the insider knowledge to help you become an air frying pro! If you want to know even more about this art, then check out our guide on what foods do and do not air fry well – that’s valuable knowledge!