A Beginner’s Guide to Using Air Fryer


People have started raving about this new kitchen appliance. Most of them swear by the air fryer and claim that their lifestyle improved to a large extent. The majority of people love this device as they can eat healthier alternatives to deep-fried food.

Who does not want a guilt-free snack that also tastes good? This can drive anyone to get an air fryer for themselves. As a soon-to-be or recent owner of an air fryer, it is normal to have some questions. Like how do you operate an air fryer, and how does it work? Does it fry your favorite snacks? Here is an easy guide to walk you through the world of air fryers.  

Are Air Fryers Deep Fryers?

To be clear, air fryers are not deep fryers. This may seem disappointing, but that is not the case. This equipment has a lot to offer. Air fryers are full of hot air;  this heated air cooks your food and gives out various textures, and crispy is one of them.

You could consider air fryers as small ovens that are very powerful. Like ovens, air fryers use air to distribute the heat, cooking up your dish evenly. On the other hand, deep fryers use fats or oils to distribute heat and cook your food.

Since air fryers are not like conventional deep fryers, the onion rings that will come out of the oven will not be exactly like those that come out of traditional fast food joints or normal fryers at home. However, the rings will be delicious nevertheless. It is a good alternative and a healthier option.

The best features of air fryers are that they do not require much oil, and they create a lesser mess than regular fryers. These powerful ovens can do a lot more than whip up faux-fried food. 

They can churn out delectable chicken wings with the perfect caramelization, crispness, and crackle on the skin with juicy meat inside. They also make vegetables delicious as they can brown them beautifully.

You can even make decadent light and airy cakes with an air fryer. You could say it is a little machine where you can make all the courses of your meal. You will find a wide range of tasty snacks, desserts, meat, and vegetable recipes on the internet.

Different Types of Air Fryers

There are different types of air fryers available on the market. The most common and also the most affordable one is the basket air fryer. The basket air fryer looks like a futuristic coffee maker with a detachable basket in the lower half. This basket air fryer has only one function, and that is air frying.

Other air fryers that are available have more functions besides air frying. These multifunctioning air fryers look like glorified toaster ovens. In addition to air frying, they can also dehydrate, toast, and slow cook. Moreover, they can hold larger amounts of food than the typical basket ones. Since they have more functions, they also come with a higher price tag. 

This guide will cover the basics of a basket air fryer, but if you have a multifunction air fryer or an oven with the air frying option, there will be some valuable tips that you can use as well.

How do Air Fryers Function?

As mentioned earlier, an air fryer is like a small and strong oven. It is an exceptional convection oven where you can broil, roast, and bake your favorite foods. However, unlike the name it has been given, it doesn’t fry or deep fry.

The airflow in basket air fryers is designed in such a way that it mimics the heat distribution of deep frying in hot oil. It uses the convection of hot air to cook the food items. Other types of air fryers also use the convection of heated air. 

What to Do Before Using Your Air Fryer

After unboxing your new air fryer, disassemble all the removable components. In basket air fryers, the basket is removable. There is a perforated tray inside the basket at its bottom. Remove the tray as well. You need to wash the basket and the tray.

Rinse them thoroughly and make sure that you are not leaving behind any soapy residue. After rinsing, dry them well. You need to ensure that they are completely dry before using them. It is strongly recommended to place any air fryer on a heat-resistant surface and at least eight inches away from the wall.

Put the dried basket and grate back into the machine. It is wise to give a glance at the manual of the air fryer. Some manufacturers instruct to run the air fryer empty for the first 10 minutes before using them for the first time. This will eliminate the “new appliance smell,” preventing any funky chemical smell on the foods that will be cooked inside later. 

This firing up the empty air fryer is only needed once and should be done before you start using it. It is also wise to let the vents and windows open when you are running the fryer empty. Now that your new kitchen appliance is ready to use, you can now cook up various meals.

Factors to Consider When Using Air Fryer

When you are about to use an air fryer, you need to keep in mind a few factors when operating it.

  • The grate or perforated tray should always be present in the basket when you cook in the air fryer. The tray allows the circulation of hot air around the food. It also prevents the food from sitting in excess oil.
  • Air fryers are quite loud. The whirring motor or fans can be heard when it is turned on. Do not get alarmed by the loud noise it makes when using it for the first time.
  • Air fryers still require hands-on cooking. They can not cook the food evenly on their own. You need to shuffle the food around at intervals, especially when you are browning or broiling.
  • You can pull the basket out to take a peek. It can be done at any point in the cooking process. There is no need to turn off the appliance when taking out the basket for a peek. The machine automatically shuts off when the basket is removed.
  • When putting the basket into the appliance, you need to make sure that it is properly aligned and pushed in. Otherwise, the air fryer will not be turned on. You will understand that it is not switched on by the indicator light and the lack of whirring noise.
  • In air fryers, the food cooks faster than you anticipate. This is one of the best perks of having this cooking device. keep in mind that the less amount of food is in the basket, the less time it will take to cook.

The more food you have in the basket, the more time it will take to cook. Most manufacturers provide a manual or guide with a convenient table of the cooking temperatures and times for common foods like chicken and potatoes.

  • A slightly lower temperature is sufficient enough for cooking a certain dish. Many air fryer recipes instruct to use lower temperature settings than one would expect. This might seem suspicious, and you will feel that it is some typing error. Just go with the recipe and follow it.

    Since the air gets hot in the air fry quickly, some recipes call for lower temperature settings to prevent the food from getting too crispy or burnt on the outside with the inside uncooked.  Such low temperatures ensure that the food is cooked properly with the perfect textures and exteriors. 

The Real Capacity of Basket Air Fryers

You must be aware that you cannot fit a large amount of food in basket air fryers. Since the capacity is small, it is best that you also accept that it is very likely that you will not have any leftovers by cooking only one batch.

Air fryers with 1.75 to 3-quart capacity are ideal for making meals for one or two people. A large air fryer has the capacity of about 4 to 5 quarts. You will still need to cook in batches to feed more than two people.

It is best if you accept the limited capacity and use your air fryer within its limits. By doing so, your air fryer will last longer and will face little or no issues.

What Foods to Cook in An Air Fryer

Dry heat is used for cooking foods in air fryers. Hence, think of foods that can be cooked properly with dry heat like baking, roasting, and frying. You can make baked tater tots, reheat leftover pizza, crispy chicken tenders, and many more. You can also experiment with previously-fried frozen food like chicken nuggets and d pizza rolls. 

Air frying such snacks is healthier than frying them up in the traditional way. You can also cook from scratch. You can make grilled chicken wings, air-fried mozzarella sticks, and many more. With an air fryer, it is also easy to be health-conscious. You can stick to your keto diet and try out various keto recipes.

Final Thoughts

Air fryers revolutionized the cooking practices of the millennia. You can indulge in yummy munchies made from this appliance without any guilt. They are also quite hassle-free. 

You can make your favorite snacks with the kids and spend quality time with your family by spending less time cooking. Just remember to keep account of the capacity and the temperature settings, and you are good to go.