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How To Use an Air Fryer – Tips and Tricks

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Did you get an air fryer for Christmas? Now what!? I put together this quick and easy how-to guide so that I can share with you some of the things I have learned over the last several months using an air fryer and some of the tips and tricks I frequently use while cooking. I also included some delicious recipes for you to test out in your new air fryer!

Well I have been posting a lot of air fryer recipes, which means I have been eating tons of delicious food! My favorite thing about the air fryer is how easy it is to use and get amazingly crispy food. Plus it is extremely easy to clean and takes up about as much space as my stand mixer in my pantry. There are some easy air fryer tips I always use which makes cooking with an air fryer a breeze! Whenever I am using my grill to cook up some grub for dinner, I am usually also air frying some vegetables or some potato wedges as a side dish. It is so easy and I want you all to get the most use out of your air fryer as well, so keep reading below!

4 strips of bacon in an air fryer

Should you use oil in your air fryer?

One of the best air fryer tips is to use oil! I almost always use oil in my air fryer. If you absolutely do not want to use oil, there are some other options, keep reading! Oil coats your food and allows the seasoning to stick to it. It also prevents your food from sticking to your air fryer basket. However, if you want to cook low fat and leave the oil out of the recipe you can always use parchment paper to prevent sticking. Just remember, the function of the air fryer is to circulate air, so parchment paper and foil may prevent the food from getting crisp on the bottom and may require a shake of the basket or flipping the food while cooking. And, if you are preparing high-fat foods, like bacon, you will not need to include oil in your air fryer.

What oils can you use in the air fryer?

I hate when food sticks to the air fryer, it ends up peeling the crispy skin away from the food and ruining my day! So I will always coat the bottom of the air fryer basket with oil. There are of course some important considerations when deciding on which oil to use and how to apply it to the basket. You will want to ensure that the oil will not ruin your air fryer’s nonstick coating or leave an obnoxious, burnt coating. Also, some oils smoke more at lower temperatures.

Higher smoke point oils

The smoke point of an oil indicates at which temperature the oil will begin to smoke. This is especially important with an air fryer since you will sometimes cook at high temperatures and the ventilation of the device is very poor and will pour smoke out from the basket while cooking. Below is a list of oils and their smoke points. I usually will use avocado oil because it has a very high smoke point, usually above any temperature you may reach in your air fryer. This will help to cut back on any smoking in the air fryer.

The smoke point of common oils and fats:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: 325°F
  • Butter: 350°F
  • Coconut Oil: 350°F
  • Lard: 370°F
  • Grapeseed Oil: 420°F
  • Ghee: 450°F
  • Palm Oil: 450°F
  • Peanut Oil: 450°F
  • Soybean Oil: 450°F
  • Vegetable Oil: 450°F
  • Safflower Oil: 510°F
  • Avocado Oil: 520°F
Avocado oil aerosol spray in front of a stainless and black air fryer on a wood table
spraying aerosol avocado oil into stainless and black air fryer on wooden table
spraying oil into the air fryer

How to apply oil to the air fryer

In the picture above you can see my oil of choice for my air fryer, Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil Spray. I prefer to use this because there are no other ingredients other than 100% avocado oil and compressed air to discharge the oil.

Other aerosol sprays may contain harsh agents as the propellents in the can. These include hydrocarbons (butane and propane) or carbon dioxide. Although they are considered food safe by the FDA, I would rather not spray a combustible gas on my food near a heating element. Call me paranoid, but one of my great tips when using your air fryer is to not use propellants near the device, plus, butane doesn’t sound very yummy. To top it off, these chemicals can deteriorate the nonstick coating in your air fryer and leave a nasty brown, almost burnt, film on the surface after heating up.

If you want to steer away from spray canisters of oil altogether, you can use an oil mister similar to this Misto aluminum spray bottle.

How to keep food from sticking to your air fryer basket

If you do not want to use oil in your air fryer, there are some great alternatives. Just remember, the air fryer functions by circulating air around the food to make it crispy, so minimize the amount of foil or parchment paper you use.

  • aluminum foil – it is safe to use aluminum foil in your air fryer. Just line the basket.
  • parchment paper – I usually just cut out a circular piece of parchment paper to line the bottom of my basket. I always have some of this stuff laying around.
  • reusable mats – I really enjoy using these reusable mats in my air fryer! They come in a 3-pack and include a mesh mat to allow oils to drip and air to circulate. The pyramid structured red mat also helps to lift the food away from the surface so air can circulate and flow around your food.

Why is the air fryer smoking?

When cooking high-fat foods in the air fryer, you may experience a cloud of white smoke pouring out of the basket. This is completely normal and is happening because there is excess fat that is circulating in the basket and burning on the heating element. There are some easy steps to help prevent the smoke from developing and setting off your annoying smoke alarm.

How to prevent the air fryer from smoking

  • Add water to the basket
  • Use bread to soak up the grease
black and stainless air fryer with slice of bread underneath the removable basket and pan on top of wood table

To prevent smoke in your air fryer you can add a couple of tablespoons of water to the bottom of the basket. This will help to trap the oils in the water and prevent them from splattering onto the heating element.

If you are cooking especially greasy foods, like bacon, you can put a piece of bread underneath the basket. Just take out the removable rack at the bottom of the basket and place a piece of bread down there and replace the rack. The bread will soak up the excess grease and prevent the air fryer from smoking.

Evenly cook your food by preheating the air fryer

Of all the tips on this page for your air fryer, this is one that I do not always adhere to. Sometimes I am too busy or in a rush, so I forget, also spelled neglect, to preheat my air fryer. But for best results, you can preheat your air fryer.

The air fryer can cook food quickly, but you will also want to evenly and thoroughly cook the food. Sometimes I suggest preheating your air fryer for the best results. Most air fryers do not have a preheat setting. If yours doesn’t have a preheat setting then you can set your temperature and run the air fryer for 2-5 minutes to bring it up to temperature before adding your food to the basket. The smaller your air fryer, the less time you will need to preheat it.

Leave space in your air fryer basket. Space it out, man!

Air fryers work by circulating air around the basket and as it circulates, oils and fats are also circulated onto the food. If you overcrowd your basket then you will have disappointingly un-crispy food. Space everything out in your air fryer basket and you will have a much crispier result.

Bagel bites spaced out in the air fryer basket

Flip and shake the air fryer basket

Similar to the tip for leaving plenty of space for your food to achieve a good crisp, you will also want to shake the basket periodically or flip the food halfway through cooking. This will allow the food to cook well on all sides and you will have a crispy result.

hash browns spaced out in black and stainless air fryer basket with eggs and glass of milk on wood table

How to modify a recipe for an air fryer

Air fryers are often much more efficient at cooking foods. Since the air fryer is circulating air, similar to a convection oven, I always recommend setting your air fryer to a lower temperature and monitoring the cooking progress throughout the cooking time. Even at lower temperatures, your items may finish cooking sooner than expected. As a rule of thumb, adjust the cooking temperature about 10% lower and the cooking time about 20% shorter. This is just a starting point so you may have to experiment a bit depending on what you are cooking.

Check out this air fryer temperature and cooking time converter. Just input your recipe temperature and time and it will tell you how to adjust the recipe for use in the air fryer, it is very simple!

four air fried hash brown patties on wood and blue epoxy cutting board with glass of milk and bowl of brown eggs in back ground and stainless air fryer

Some air fryer recipes you will dig!

Bacon! It is super easy to cook bacon in the air fryer. You won’t need to worry about a messy stovetop from all the grease splatter or spilling a baking pan of grease when removing the bacon from the oven. This air fryer bacon recipe is a must-have for your next breakfast!

Chicken wings are always one of my favorites in the air fryer. They come out so crispy and juicy! Check out these air fryer honey mustard chicken wings and if you have frozen chicken wings already, these air fryer buffalo chicken wings – from frozen.

We all could use some more vegetables in our lives, right!? Brussels sprouts are so delicious in the air fryer. I hate mushy Brussels and these fry up to a nice crisp! Grab this recipe for some air fryer Brussels sprouts with bacon.

And for dessert, you will want to make a bunch cookie dough and keep it in the freezer so you can always have some fresh cookies when your sweet tooth strikes. These air fryer chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are perfectly crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside!

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