Best Beginner Guide to Cook with an Air Fryer

Gone are the days of wasting countless bottles of oil and making an absolute mess of the kitchen attempting to re-creating your favorite French fries. Air fryers are a much healthier, quicker, and more countertop-friendly way of cooking just about anything. In this guide, you’ll learn why air fryers are the newest craze to hit the kitchen and what you can do with one.

air fryer

What is an air fryer?

Before you can cook in an air fryer, you should probably know what you’re working with. Unlike a deep fryer that cooks food in a vat of hot oil, air fryers are miniature convection ovens that cook food using a high-powered fan. They’ve gained immense popularity in the health food world because of the need for very little oil, a huge contrast from deep fryers.

Air fryers also require less time than deep fryers, as they don’t require additional time to heat up before cooking your food. You simply pop your food in at your desired temperature and begin the timer. Whether you want crispy brussels sprouts or tender, juicy chicken breasts, an air fryer provides the versatility to do it all.

How much do they cost?

Air fryers can range anywhere from $30 to $400, depending on the brand and what exactly you’re looking for in an air fryer. For a basic air fryer with a smaller basket and is suitable for beginners, you can expect to spend under $100. However, if you want a more advanced air fryer with features like preset options, a wider range of cooking temperatures, and an ultra-large basket, you should expect to spend a little more.

What air fryer to buy?

  • Smart WiFi Air Fryer 13 Cooking Functions, Keep Warm & Preheat & Shake Remind
  • Foodi 8-Quart 9-in-1 Deluxe XL Air Fry, Crisp, Steam, Slow Cook,….
  • Electric Air Fryer Oven Cooker with Temperature Control, Non-stick Fry Basket,
  • Air Fryer Max XL Digital Hot Oven Cooker, One Touch Screen with 13 Cooking Functions

How to Pick an Air Fryer

Unlike with Instant Pots, there are a number of brands that have air fryers with all sorts of different features on the market. There are several things to consider when selecting the right air fryer for your home:

Size. The first thing you should look at is the size. Smaller air fryers that come with 2-quart baskets are typically better for households with 1-2 people. If you’re cooking for an entire family, you’ll want to invest in an air fryer with a larger basket. Something else to consider is the amount of counter and storage space you have in your home. Make sure that you have room in your kitchen for whichever size air fryer you choose.

air fryer

Controls. Some air fryers have temperature settings that range from 150 to 400 degrees, while others have only one standard temperature. You can also find air fryers that come with preset options for different types of foods, so if that’s something that interests you then make sure you check to see if your air fryer comes with different controls before you buy.

Ease. Are you a beginner looking for an easy-to-use air fryer or a home chef who’s ready to take on a more advanced model? Make sure to do a little research on the ease factor of the various models out there to make sure the air fryer you select meets your needs.

Functionality. Some air fryers allow you to pause cooking to open the drawer and flip your food, while others will require you to restart your time and reset your temperature. You’ll also find air fryers that have a drawer that pulls out and others that have a lid that you drop food into. When selecting an air fryer, think about the different aspects of functionality that matter to you and buy accordingly.

Mistakes to Avoid

While air fryers are extremely user-friendly, mistakes happen to the best of us from time to time. Here are some to try and avoid before they happen:

#1: Overcrowding your food.

If you can’t fit all in one layer, cook your food in batches. The key to getting food perfectly crispy in your air fryer is giving it space. If you layer everything on top of each other, you’ll wind up with food that cooks unevenly and gets more soggy than crispy.

#2: Not using the right amount of oil.

While you don’t technically need any oil to cook your food in an air fryer, you do need to use a little bit if you want whatever you’re cooking to get golden and crispy. Keywords being “a little bit.” A quick spritz of your favorite oil spray should do the trick, and you can always check the food halfway through cooking and add another spritz if needed.

#3: Using sauces or wet batters.

To get the best results in an air fryer, you want to keep the food you put in it as dry as possible. Stick to dry seasonings at the beginning and add your desired sauce towards the end. Using an egg wash is perfectly fine, but make sure you don’t overdo it. A beginner’s best bet would be to start out with air fryer-specific recipes for anything requiring a batter so you can see what works best.

#4: Not cleaning your air fryer.

If you’ve never cleaned your air fryer, you may get a rude awakening the first time you take out the basket and look underneath. Every time you use your air fryer, debris like oil, crumbs, and spices fall through the cracks and build up underneath the basket. Make sure you’re cleaning your air fryer frequently and for less mess, you can lay a sheet of parchment paper or foil over the basket before adding your food on top. If you see white smoke coming out of the top of your air fryer, it’s definitely time for a clean.

What to Cook in an Air Fryer

Many people initially think of foods like tater tots or chicken nuggets when they think of air fryers, but they can do so much more. Think of it this way: Anything you can cook in an oven, you can cook in an air fryer. They’re more similar to ovens than deep fryers since they’re essentially countertop convection ovens. They can even be used for heating up leftovers, which comes especially in handy when you want to reheat last night’s pizza but want to retain the crispiness it had the first time you ate it, which a microwave won’t do.

When first starting out with your air fryer, it’s best to use recipes while you’re getting the hang of things. With over 66 million results when you type “air fryer recipe” into Google, there’s no shortage of good ideas. Whether you want some perfectly crispy potatoes, a roast chicken, or a plethora of delicious vegan recipes for your air fryer, there’s something to be found for everyone.

Here are some awesome air fryer recipes to help get you started:

And if those weren’t enough to send you running to the kitchen, here are 45 more air fryer recipes.

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