Did You Get an Air Fryer for Christmas? 10 Simple Tried-and-True Tips for Air Fryer Success by Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead
My husband doesn’t particularly like to cook, but he enjoys grilling and he loves the air fryer I gave him for Christmas last year. We’ve had a year of practice (OK, mainly HE’s had a year of practice!) and we’ve enjoyed everything from air-fried chicken and french fries to (previously frozen) appetizers and vegetables. Everyone in our family is a big fan and the food is healthier than regular fried food! What’s not to love? Here are some tips we’ve learned along the way that might help you if your air fryer is new to you:
- Safety first. Place your air fryer on a level, heat-resistant countertop. Make sure there are a minimum of 5 inches of space behind the fryer where the exhaust vent is located.
- Preheat the air fryer before frying anything. The truth is, you don’t always have to do this, though we tend to for certain foods, for about 3 minutes. The good news: you don’t need to preheat an air fryer for nearly as long as you’d preheat an oven. It depends on the recipe whether pre-heating is necessary.
- Grease the food basket to prevent sticking but don’t use an aerosol spray can (like Pam and other brands)! They contain harsh ingredients that can damage the coating on fryer baskets. Use an oil mister or regular container of oil instead. This will also make your food crispier.
- Related to tip 3, invest in an oil sprayer for your kitchen. You’ll be glad you did. Spraying oil directly on your food is easier than drizzling or brushing it, and it results in less oil use overall. In addition, if you oil the food itself, both before cooking and halfway through cooking, you’ll get a crispier texture, too.
- Don’t overcrowd the basket. I personally like my fried foods extra crispy, and in addition to the above, the best way to accomplish this is to cook your food in batches so everything cooks evenly and comes out crispy.
- Check on the cooking progress. You can pull out the basket to check on your food as often as you like; this is another benefit of this popular mini appliance. Doing so won’t interrupt the timing of most air fryers.
- Keep in mind that the food cooks fast! This really surprised me; it’s much faster than you’re used to with an oven. This is one of my favorite attributes of the air fryer but it takes some time to get used to. Generally speaking, the less food in the basket, the shorter the cook time will be. The manual that comes with your fryer should have a useful table of cooking times and temperatures for common foods.
- Shake the basket when frying smaller foods. When air frying smaller items, such as some of our favorites like chicken wings, French fries and tater tots, you’ll want to shake the basket every few minutes to ensure even cooking. Note: once you pull the basket out to shake it, the fryer will pause temporarily but will resume cooking at the same temperature once you replace the basket.
- Do not put the hot drawer on your countertop! Think of the drawer as a hot skillet. When you pull it from the fryer, the bottom will be especially hot. Be sure to grab the drawer by the handle and have a trivet ready to set it on.
- Clean your air fryer after each use. Use soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge to clean the basket. Allow it to air dry completely before returning the basket to the air fryer. Clean the drawer as well! If you don’t wash it, you run the risk of food contamination (not to mention the fact that your kitchen won’t smell very pleasant!).
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