Air fryers are amazing kitchen tools. You get some of your favorite fried favorites with all the golden, crispy goodness, but without using nearly as much oil as you would find in a traditional deep fryer. It decreases the fat and calories without causing you to miss out on any of the flavor you love. In fact, with the right herbs and spices, you can get even better flavor than you get from traditional fried foods If you aren’t using your air fryer correctly, however, you may discover that it’s harder to get the golden-fried goodness you were hoping for. Are you making some of these key errors with your air fryer?
Error #1: You’re Stuffing Your Basket Full
In order to take full advantage of your air fryer, the air needs room to circulate around your food. Air frying works by circulating hot air around the food. If you over-stuff the basket, leaving no room for the air to do its work, you may end up with a soggy mess instead of the crisp, golden food you were hoping for. Instead, try putting smaller batches of food in your air fryer at a time. It may take a little longer to get your meal on the table, but it will also provide a much better dish.
If you need to make large batches of food frequently, consider upgrading your air fryer and purchasing an XL or XXL model. These larger models are designed specifically to cook food for families in one easy batch.
Error #2: You Haven’t Tried Baked Goods in Your Air Fryer
Are you still using the oven to put together the vast majority of your favorite desserts–or worse, fixing up fried desserts in a regular deep fryer? Why not turn to your air fryer, instead?
A quick look around the internet will immediately yield an incredible range of dessert dishes, from doughnuts to cakes. Your air fryer is the perfect place to whip up a breakfast casserole or to put together a cupcake for one.
If you’re going to experiment with baking in your air fryer, make sure you have the right equipment: smaller pans that are specifically designed to fit inside the basket of your air fryer will work best for this endeavor. You can’t cook some types of baked goods and casseroles directly in the basket of the air fryer, since they need to be contained by those dishes.
Error #3: You Don’t Know How Much Oil You Need
In order to get the crispy “fried” feel to your foods, chances are, you aren’t going to want to forego the oil entirely. Unlike traditional fried foods, however, your air fried treats don’t have to be dripping with oil in order to crisp up the outside and give you the texture you’re looking for. Most air fried recipes need just a teaspoon or so of oil, while breaded items like fish sticks and chicken tenders might need a tablespoon or two. Sometimes, a light oil spray–like the cooking spray you use to coat your pans–is all you need for your recipe.
When using your air fryer, pay attention to your recipe. If you’re using a standard recipe, check other, air fried recipes to see how much oil they use and adjust your usage accordingly. If you use too much oil, it will drip out of the pan, smoking up your kitchen and adding a faint burnt air to the room–and that’s not what you want out of your air fryer at all.
Error #4: You Aren’t Cleaning Your Air Fryer Properly
Some people believe that they don’t have to clean their air fryer regularly. Others are trying to keep it clean, but they aren’t quite sure how to do it correctly. Every time you use your air fryer, you should hand wash the basket and bottom tray. Hand washing, rather than tossing it in the dishwasher, will help protect the coating, and regular washing will help prevent each dish from taking on the flavor of the others made before it–not to mention ensuring that food doesn’t crust on your air fryer. Using nonstick cooking spray can help make scrubbing your air fryer easier.
Error #5: You Aren’t Preheating Your Air Fryer Before Use
In order to get that great fried texture from your food, your air fryer needs to already be heated to its ideal cooking temperature before you put the food in. Check out the dials on your air fryer: not only do you have multiple temperatures to choose from, you also have preheating options. Like your oven, the air fryer will simply cook better–and give you both the air flow and temperature you need–if you preheat it first. Preheating the air fryer will also create a hot cooking surface that will start cooking the food right away.
Error #6: You’re Only Cooking Meat
Sure, your air fryer is a great way to get the fried meats you love without taking in the added fat and calories. It will make great fried chicken, amazing steak, and perfect French fries–but there’s a whole other food group that can turn out amazing in your air fryer: vegetables.
There are some amazing air fryer recipes out there that will allow you to pack a nutritious veggie punch. Try sweet potato hash, experiment with stuffed peppers, or throw in some carrots or radishes. You’ll be amazed by what your air fryer will allow you to accomplish as it adds a crisp texture to your vegetables–and cooks them up fast, which is a great advantage when you’re in a hurry to get a meal on the table.
Error #7: You’re Only Cooking Convenience Foods in Your Air Fryer
It’s easy to pick up a bag of chicken tenders or fries at the grocery store and throw them in your air fryer, but those aren’t the only things you can use. You wouldn’t toss them in a regular deep fryer hoping that they would come out even more fried. Not only that, those foods taste just fine–and come out with perfectly acceptable texture–when you cook them in an oven, convection oven, or, in some cases, in the microwave.
Instead of focusing on convenience foods, use your air fryer to expand your scratch repertoire. Try steak, salmon, or make your own chicken wings from scratch, rather than picking up the pre-fried convenience version. Check out great vegetable or shrimp recipes. There are so many things out there to try–many of which will help you get the lower fat and calorie counts you were hoping for when you purchased the air fryer.
Are you taking full advantage of your air fryer? By avoiding these common mistakes, you can create better air fried dishes–and fall in love with this new cooking option.