Have you just been gifted an air fryer for Christmas or you've decided to treat yourself to one since it's all the rage now, but you have no idea how to use it and quite frankly the instruction booklet is not helping?
Not to worry as we can help you with a guide to using the air fryer! This article will teach you how to use an air fryer so that you can start cooking those fabulous meals which you saw on Pinterest, Facebook groups, or heard about from a friend.
What exactly is an air fryer
An air fryer is a type of kitchen appliance that air cooks by circulating hot air and minimal or no oil (compared to deep-frying). Most modern air fryers resemble a small box, with a tall stand for the basket and a control panel on top.
The hot air flow generated in an air fryer heats up the food only from the top, leaving the inside of the food moist and tender.
Before we start I think it is important to clear up some misconceptions about the air fryer.
The air fryer is not a deep fryer nor is it meant for frozen foods or ready-made meals alone. An air fryer is everything and more, it can fry, bake, roast and grill and even dehydrate food, in fact, you can boil eggs in the air fryer.
Although some people think this method of cooking eggs is taking things a little bit too far. Well, I can say I agree with them. That said, you can perfectly boil an egg in the air fryer like you would in a pot on the stove or with an instant pot (pressure cooker) without the use of water.
So what is the air fryer good for? It is great for frying chicken, fish, and French fries, pork chops, steak, burgers among other things. It is a great gadget for reheating all types of food, hello Pizza.
Think of this little gadget as a mini conventional oven, it can do it all!!!
Types of air fryer
There are two different types of air fryers commonly used today and they are basket air fryers (square or cylindrical) or air fryer ovens also known as multi-functional air fryers or toaster air fryer ovens.
Both types work in similar ways, they are small, compact, and would only take up a small place on your counter. With an exception for Ninja air fryer which is somewhat bulky.
Regardless of the type you own, you will have these accessories
- Basket (square or round) Your air fryer wouldn't work without one, it is important this comes complete in the box. This is attached to the air fryer basket base and can be detached with a click.
- wire racks if you have an air fryer oven and a rositiere hook
Cooking in an air fryer for the first time
Do the following before you first use your air fryer and after reading the manual making sure all the components are complete in the box.
- Remove all the packaging from the air fryer including any stickers and paper around the plug.
- Choose a solid, flat surface that is sturdy to set up the air fryer. The surface should not be plastic and must be heat resistant. Also, make sure to leave a space of about 13 cm from the air fryer to the wall to allow for air (heat) circulation
- Remove the air fryer basket from the compartment and wash it with a non-abrasive sponge in soapy water or in a dishwasher. Rinse it clean and dry with a kitchen towel. Make sure that your brand can be washed in a dishwasher if that is your prefered way. Please note that you are not washing the whole air fryer but the air fryer basket and its base. See your manual to see how this works for your brand
- Return the air fryer basket into the compartment and TEST RUN it. How do you do this, you ask? plug the air fryer safely into the power supply. Put it on, depending on your brand, you should hear a beep. Again depending on the brand of your gadget and whether it is manual or digital, press preheat on the air fryer if using digital or simply press temperature to 205C/400F and time for 5 minutes then start. The air fryer will beep to notify you once the time is up.
- You are ready to cook in your air fryer. If you would not be cooking immediately, leave it and let it cool completely before touching it. However, it is safe to touch the handle of the air fryer at any time but not the body or the base which can be extremely hot.
What you should know
The air fryer can be quite loud when it is working, just a tad quieter than the microwave, and definitely not as loud as the washing machine.
This gadget is very easy to use, however, the different brands and sizes used can affect the cooking result and time by only a few minutes. Nothing much to worry about here. The more you use your air fryer the more you understand how it works and how best to use it.
Personally, I wouldn't bother with the preset cooking temperature recommended because they are not always accurate. My go-to cooking temperature is (manual) 180C/360F, depending on what you are cooking, it is always a good starting point.
The timer and temperature can be adjusted to suit your cooking needs and yes, you can always open the airfryer basket to peek at the food to flip or shake as needed.
Remember this when using an air fryer (Dos and Don'ts)
- Don't forget to preheat the air fryer if need be. While this is not a deal-breaker, remember this gadget is a mini oven, some recipes might actually benefit from preheating the air fryer first. I mostly preheat when I am cooking frozen foods in the air fryer. It does help the food crisp up nicely.
- Remember to shake or flip, this is important for even cooking.
- Use an instant-read meat thermometer to make sure your food is cooked correctly to the right temperature.
- Don't overload the basket with food, you will end up with a soggy mess and uneven cooking.
- Make sure to clean the air fryer basket and base after each use. The accumulation of oil or crumbs is an accident waiting to happen and yes, it makes me judge you. CLEAN YOUR AIR FRYER AFTER EACH USE!!! To reduce the mess or clean up, you can line the base with foil.
- Don’t put parchment paper in the air fryer basket without weighing it down with food. If the parchment paper touches the heating element of the air fryer it can easily cause a fire hazard.
- Don't detach the basket from the base whilst you are holding it up to avoid accidents. Only detach the basket when it is resting on a flat surface.
- Remember to turn off the air fryer from the power supply when not in use
What do you cook in it
You can cook any kind of food in the air fryer from fresh to frozen. Whatever you can grill, bake, or roast can be cooked in your little gadget. More importantly, you can reheat food in it too. Here are collections of simple air fryer recipes for beginners. All of these recipes are cooked in my COSORI 5.5 L air fryer.
Over to you
I hope this article has been helpful in teaching you about how to use an air fryer.
Remember this is just the basics, there are so many more tips and tricks you learn along the way so go on, get to know your gadget, own it, and start cooking your way to happiness!