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An air fryer can help you cook faster and healthier food. Each brand and model is different, but the best air fryers for you can cater to your cooking needs; your manual would be your no.1 partner in operating your air fryer, which can be confusing. In this article Air Fryer: How to Use I will help you understand everything you need to know for air fryer beginners.
Whether cooking hotdogs or toasting bread, you won’t need wax paper for your food and other tools. You may even have a question about whether you can even put water in an air fryer! Luckily, we’ll be discussing the full potential of air fryers.
Is air-fried food healthy?
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Cooking with an air fryer is a healthier option as it does not require you to use oil when frying. It doesn’t magically make the food you pop inside healthier, but it helps cut down fats by not using oil.
Air fryers are considered oil-free. Even if you use a healthier oil variant like Olive oil, it’s still fat. Cleveland Clinic also emphasizes how oil contains more than twice the calories of carbohydrates and fats.
Deep frying foods give high amounts of trans fats that can heighten LDL cholesterol. Doing so implies that you become more vulnerable to health issues like diabetes, strokes, inflammation, and heart diseases from all the partially hydrogenated oils from trans fats.
There are many dangerous health results when constantly deep-frying food other than cholesterol. Health also stated that deep-fried food contains chemicals like Acrylamide which can cause heart diseases. It comes from cooking carbohydrates at high temperatures.
Cooking food with air fryers is a healthy alternative as it won’t need you to dip food into oil but only needs up to 1 tablespoon if you want a crispy texture and taste that can mimic fried food.
How does an air fryer work?
Air fryers are actually simple! It uses a heating element (a coil near the food basket) to produce hot air circulated by a fan, cooking food to a crispy finish.
Food isn’t fried when using an air fryer but is more heated thoroughly from rapid hot air circulation. Just place it in the food tray and pop it into your preheated air fryer. The heat travels through and around the food to make a crunchy fried-like result without the oil.
Air fryer how to use
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There are different types and models of air fryers. Your owner’s manual is your best friend when dealing with a new appliance. Luckily, I also listed a general step-by-step guide on using an air fryer to remember.
- Preheat is the key!
Set the temperature you’ll be using for your food. Most air fryers have dial controls or digital displays to set the cooking time and temperature. Doing so can help quicken the cooking session, and it only takes a few minutes, but some air fryers do not require preheating. Preheating your air fryer helps save precious cooking time.
The general cooking temperature is 350 to 400°F, depending on the food. It only takes a few minutes for most air fryers to preheat. Always read the recipe’s instructions if you’re an air fryer beginner to get the most preferred cooking time and whether or not you should preheat.
- Ensure the food is dried.
Extra liquid from the food you’ll air fry can cause smoking and splattering in the air fryer. Pat your food dry with a paper towel before setting it into the basket, especially when marinated, to ensure a crispier outcome.
Avoid cooking fatty food since excess fat from meat like bacon can also be dangerous to cook in an air fryer as the extra fat can splatter or cause smoking inside the air fryer.
- Add a small amount of oil.
Evenly coat your food with a tablespoon or less amount of oil. You can also use a cooking spray made from healthier oil like olive or avocado oil. One of the wonders of an air fryer is that you don’t need as much oil to cook to make crunchy food. Using an air fryer is not oil-free; a small amount can help bring that crispy finish similar to traditional deep fryers.
- Place the food in the food basket.
Do not overcrowd your food; having enough space in the basket for airflow is vital, and stuffing too much food in the basket can cause soggy and unevenly cooked food. The airflow won’t rotate properly, steaming your food than frying it.
Cook foods in at least 2 batches instead of cooking everything at once for more space for hot air to flow and to stir the food more freely for an evenly crispy result.
Be also careful with adding lightweight food if your air fryer has no sealed basket or rotating tub. My Recipes state that wonton strips or taco wrappings can get caught up in the hot air if not secured inside the air fryer.
Food can get sucked in by the fan, which can either break or burn the motor. The worst-case scenario is starting a small fire inside the air fryer because lightly-oiled food is more flammable and can cause a fire.
- Stir and fry.
Let the food cook then stir it halfway through its cooking time. Most recipes recommend this for the food to cook evenly. You can also give the basket a gentle shake!
Only use the exact time for cooking instructed, don’t go overboard with the time as air fryers may not fully deep-fry your food, but they can burn it.
- Check for excess fat under the food basket.
Take your basket out and gather your food. Let your air fryer cool down and inspect for excess. Food high in fats, such as bacon or chicken wings, can have excess fats that can fall under the food basket.
Check the bottom tray under the basket for excess from time to time. Cleaning your air fryer will help prevent burning that can cause smoke.
How to clean an air fryer:
Cleaning air fryers help prevent grease and residue buildup. But air fryers are not as hard to clean, which makes them an ideal kitchen tool for fast and easy cooking. Here’s a quick rundown of everything you’ll need and how to clean your air fryer.
- Non-abrasive scrub sponge
- Dawn dish soap
- Reusable cloth
- Non-abrasive microfiber cloth
- Warm water
- Not all air fryers are dish wash soap-safe despite what the manual states.
- Do not use an abrasive sponge, even if you think it would clean faster.
- Always cool your air fryer before cleaning it to prevent burning or scalding yourself.
- Unplug the air fryer – Always turn off, cool down, and unplug your air fryer to ensure safety before cleaning. Doing so will prevent burns and electrocution during the cleaning process.
- Detach and clean removable parts – Remove the tray, basket, and pan from the air fryer once it’s cooled down. Use a non-abrasive sponge and dawn dishwashing soap to scrub dirt, grease, and residue away. Grab a soft dish brush to clean the heating element if you notice any leftover food stuck. Always check your air fryer’s manual to ensure the best soap for cleaning your specific model.
- Wipe the heating unit – Use a damp cloth or brush to remove any lingering residue or oil in the heating coil or element. You can find it often at the top of the inner area of the air fryer.
- Clean the exterior – Use a non-abrasive microfiber cloth to clean the air fryer’s outer part to prevent scratching. The best option is to use soapy and warm water with soft cleaning materials or refer to your manual for the recommended cleaning agents. Avoid using harsh and abrasive materials like metal scouring pads that can damage or scratch your air fryer’s exterior.
- Dry it up and put it back together – You can towel-dry the removable parts or leave the air fryer parts to dry overnight. Dry the exterior and heating coil with a micro-fiber cloth as well. Once everything is clean and dry, reassemble your air fryer parts back into place.
Always read your manual for specific instructions for your air fryer’s model. Some tools may be unadvisable for cleaning compared to other air fryers. Frequently clean your air fryer to prevent residue buildup and keep it in tip-top shape!
Different types of air fryers
There are 4 specific types of air fryers you can choose from. Choosing the one you’ll use depends on your needs. Here are the main types of Air Fryers stated by Kitchen Infinity.
Cylindrical air fryer
Allows you to cook in small batches for individual or intimate party uses. It preheats faster because of its smaller size, up to 2 minutes. But it’s more of a conventional single-function air fryer.
Cylindrical air fryers are louder due to their 65 decibels, much like a vacuum. It’s great for air fryer beginners, which comes with removable baskets and includes drawers. Its smaller size allows more space and less heat in your kitchen.
Oven air fryer
The oven air fryer is larger and more flexible for cooking different types of food. You can roast, bake, grill, fry, rotisserie, and toast bread with it. It has a glass window at the door, which lets you conveniently see the food you’re cooking or the air fryer’s interior for cleaning. It can cook bigger batches of food.
The only downsides of the oven air fryer are that it’s bigger than the cylindrical air fryer, which can be more clumpy for your kitchen or heat your surroundings due to the heat it releases. Preheating also takes longer for oven air fryers than other types.
Paddle air fryer
This air fryer type has a paddle that moves the food across for hot air to flow and cook it more evenly. You can also remove the paddle for more cooking space for more ingredients.
A paddle air fryer type is easy and hassle-free for busy kitchens with lots to multitask. It works automatically, unlike the cylindrical and basket air fryers that need you to stir manually between cooking times.
The basket air fryer uses tiny holes in its basket for hot air to enter freely and heat your food. It also helps oil drip down from food to help lessen the greasiness.
What can you cook in an air fryer?
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Air fryers let you grill, fry, roast, toast, and bake various delicious meals. Aside from its versatility, it also helps cut costs because of its energy-saving characteristics. There are many easy air fryer recipes to try. But you can’t cook everything with it! Here’s a list of what you can and can’t cook in an air fryer.
What to cook in an air fryer:
- Frozen foods
- French fries
- Reheated leftovers
- Battered or breaded fish (dry the liquid batter first)
- Sausages and hotdogs
- Minced meat
- Firm and coated cheese like mozzarella sticks
- Cookies and brownies (make sure the batter is frozen)
What you shouldn’t cook in an air fry:
- Fried food with wet batter
- Broccoli (roasting is a better option, especially for broccoli florets)
- Entire roast or whole chicken
- Unwrapped or covered cheese
- Hard-boiled eggs
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Now that you’ve had a crash course in air frying 101. You may still be thinking of some questions before you start cooking with your air fryer at home:
Do you have to put oil in an air fryer?
One of the best things about an air fryer is that you do not need oil to cook your food. Most recipes do not call for oil. You only need to coat or spray your food with up to 1 tablespoon of oil. You should also not fill the air fryer with oil to fry food.
What is the disadvantage of an air fryer?
It does not give you the crispiness of deep-fried foods. While an air fryer is versatile, it can’t do everything. There are still some downsides to be aware of as you use an air fryer:
- Some air fryer models can be noisy.
- Oven air fryers can heat the entire room.
- Air fryers can burn food faster because it creates high temperatures too quickly. Always follow the recipe, and do not overcook the time.
- Medical News Today states that air fryers can produce harmful compounds linked to cancer, such as heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
- Cannot cook vegetables perfectly.
- Cannot bake as well and lacks space compared to a convection oven.
Wrap up to owning an air fryer: how to use one
Using an air fryer can be initially overwhelming, but it’s not rocket science. Maintaining an air fryer is also not a back-breaking task. The cooking process is also fairly easy! It’s a convenient and user-friendly tool to lessen oil and cholesterol in your diet.
Knowing how an air fryer works and how to use it will also help you take care of it for years. Nonetheless, always read your air fryer’s manual to ensure it’s used and cleaned correctly, as each model is different.
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Keeler, Natalie. “What Shouldn’t You Cook in an Air Fryer?” BBC Good Food, BBC Good Food, 14 Nov. 2022, https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/what-not-to-cook-in-an-air-fryer.
Kilner, Lara. “What Can You Cook in an Air Fryer? 19 Foods You Can Actually Cook in an Air Fryer.” GoodTo, GoodTo, 24 Jan. 2023, https://www.goodto.com/food/air-fryer-foods.
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I am a physician who cares about healthy living. I strive to be as healthy as I can be so that I can thrive in my own life. By sharing what I know I want to help others to live a healthy life.