air fryer tips

Air Fryer Tips

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So, you just bought an air fryer and are staring at the box. You pull the appliance out of the box and pull the plastic wrap off. It’s shiny and new and the first thing you’re thinking to yourself is that it’s going to get fingerprints all over it. You clear off a place on your kitchen counter for it, wipe off the fingerprints and then start working around it every day because you get a feeling of apprehension when you think about using a new appliance.

I know it can be uncomfortable and intimidating at first but it’s really great to learn to use. I feel ya, though. I’ve owned my microwave for five years and still haven’t read the owner’s manual. Truth be told, I am more comfortable using my air fryer now than my microwave because it’s that easy to use.

Let’s take a look at some tips that will help you to get over your uneasiness and get hooked on this versatile machine.

friendly appliance

Get Comfortable with Your Appliance

Every appliance has a break-in time. Take a little time to get to learn all of the things you can do with your air fryer. There should be a new word for that break-in smell: “Appliance-y.” It will go away after the first two or three times you use the air fryer.

Spray/Spritz the Basket Before You Use It

It keeps foods from sticking to the basket. I suggest doing this before you stick it in the oven as opposed to waiting until the unit is preheated. There’s an old adage from stir frying techniques: Hot wok, cold oil: food won’t stick. This applies to regular appliances, too.

You Don’t Have to Preheat the Oven

It’s usually a good idea to do this if you’re following a new recipe so that you have a better idea of how the recipe turns out if you follow the directions to the letter. To skip the preheat stage, just add cooking time.

If you really want to preheat the oven, you can leave the basket out if you’re using one and just preheat with the catch basin. That makes it easier to arrange the food before it goes thermal. Since you don’t have a container underneath it at this point, be sure you have something to catch all of the oil and marinades, which actually brings us to the next tip:

You Can Use Your Air Fryer Without the Basket

Sacrilege? Rules were meant to be broken. The best time to break this rule is when you’re NOT cooking something that drips, like muffins (If you cook your fried chicken without the basket, you’ve kind of missed the point of healthy cooking). Cover the bottom with parchment paper or foil so your masterpieces don’t stick. In fact, unless you’re planning on using the juices, cover the bottom with a grill mat cut to size for easier cleanup.

Shake it, Baby, Flip it Real Tight

Most recipes will tell you to either shake the basket or turn the food over about half-way through the cooking time. That’s legit. The food won’t cook evenly if you don’t do this. Your fries on the bottom will burned. Save the fries and shake the basket.

It’s also a good idea to cook chicken with the skin side down to start and finish it off with the skin facing upward. It will brown nicely and not have all of those dimples in it from resting on the basket.

meat thermometer

Test for Doneness

I don’t mean poke it and stare at it. I mean get yourself a real, live digital thermometer and learn how to use it and by learning how to use it, I mean learn how to read it. Don’t do what I did and try and cook the chicken until the thermometer read 165° Celsius instead of Fahrenheit. That was one dead chicken.

Dr. Urvashi Pitre from Two Sleevers shares a great tip  on her site about using Bundt pans instead of normal pans when baking in an air fryer. Since the fan pushes air downward, the middle of your cakes will take the brunt of that force, leaving them baked through and tasting great but looking like potholes. Using a Bundt pan eliminates this irritation. Covering the pan with aluminum foil at the start of the cooking time will also curb the dents.

You May Already Own the Accessories You Need

Parchment paper, ramekins, CorningWare®, Pyrex® and foil (with some limitations) can all be used in the air fryer. Most anything that’s microwave safe is air fryer safe, too. Just make sure they fit with enough room for hot air to flow around it before you start cooking and baking. Parchment paper and foil should have air holes poked into it so moisture can escape. If you think you may need accessories for your fryer, check here.

Build a Makeshift Handle for Pans

Chef and Author, Meredith Laurence, has this great method of pulling the basket out of the air fryer and it can be adapted to anything. She creates a sling out of aluminum foil and places it underneath the baking container. It’s an easy handle for checking food and removing the pan without getting your Ove Glove jammed into your cake.

Meredith’s book, Air Fry Everything! is awesome. I’ve got all kinds of ingredients splattered all over the pages of my copy. You can get a nice, clean one at Amazon.

sandwich tips

Make Sure Your Sandwiches are Locked Down

The first time I tried to toast and melt cheese on a ham sandwich, smoke started pumping out of the air fryer within a couple of minutes. Upon inspection, the air flow had knocked off the top layer of bread. It was leaning on its side on the top rack and was touching the underside of the top. The bread was burnt black. The same thing happened with my first crack at making quesadillas.

Poor flour tortillas.

Meredith suggested securing sandwiches with toothpicks. The next time I tried to melt cheese on a sandwich, I secured it with toothpicks. The toothpicks started to burn and nearly caught fire. There’s nothing like the smell of a wood burning air fryer to entertain your dinner guests.

My problem was that I was trying to cook two sandwiches at the same time by putting one on the grill rack. That grill rack was too close to the top heating element to allow room for things like bread, tortillas and toothpicks (great for kabobs, though).

The easiest way to lock down a sandwich is to place it in the bottom of the basket with a grill rack set over it and toast them one at a time.

Use the Presets

If your machine has already been calibrated with preset times and temperatures for certain foods, take advantage of them. The manufacturers designed the machine with these settings in mind so make it easy on yourself and try it their way first.

The COSORI Max XL has a great range of presets on their panel.

Click here to read our review of the Air Fryer Max XL by COSORI.

Move the Air Fryer Away From the Wall While in Use

The air vent to keep the motor cool is located on the back of the unit. That makes the back of the unit extremely hot. Yes, VERY hot. Trust me. Just do this, please.

If You Stick the Motorized Section Under Water, You’ll Get Electrocuted

OMG, do we really have to tell you this? If we do, don’t use anything that doesn’t use disposable batteries. You are not safe around candles, table lamps, toasters, microwaves, stoves, refrigerators, hair dryers, electric toothbrushes, laptops, cell phones… . Anyway, just read the owner’s manual and it will tell you if your basket and removable bottom container are dishwasher safe.

If you’ve read this far, you probably know more than those still working around their appliance sitting on the kitchen counter (or worse: still in the box in a dark closet). Knowledge is Power but only if used wisely. Let’s start cooking.