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Air Fryer 101

What is an air fryer?

An air fryer is a convection oven in miniature – a compact cylindrical counter top convection oven, to be exact. The name however, can be a bit confusing as this air cooker does much more than fry up diet-busting treats. It roasts, grills, fries, and even BAKES!




What is an air fryer?  An air fryer is a convection oven in miniature – a compact cylindrical counter top convection oven, to be exact. The name however, can be a bit confusing as this air cooker does much more than fry up diet-busting treats. It roasts, grills, fries, and even BAKES!

Air fryers simulate the traditional frying of foods by circulating hot air around food rather than submerging the food in oil. As with frying, properly prepared foods are crispy, juicy, golden brown, and flavorful.

Air fryers work due to the Maillard reaction, a scientific principle which refers to what we usually call “browning.” A Maillard reaction occurs when the surface of a food item forms a crust due to dehydration, and the intense heat breaks down proteins, starches, and fibers. That is what gives fried, roasted, and baked foods their delicious, complex flavors.

Air fryers employ convection to rapidly and efficiently cook crisp foods. A heating element within the air fryer super-heats the air, producing natural convection currents. A fan within the appliance aids in air movement, circulating it even more rapidly.

Perforations or holes in the cooking basket allow the hot air to flow freely around the food. This air movement increases heat transfer from the air to the food. Thus, your dinner gets done faster.

Benefits of an AirFryer

There are a number of reasons why so many love air fryers, among them: Healthy cooking, faster cooking, simple and easy to use, convenient clean up and air fryers are safe to operate.


Are Air Fryers Healthy? Well If you’re looking to lower cholesterol or lose weight, your doctor may thank you for using an air fryer. Air fryers use around 75 percent less oil than deep fryers, providing a healthy alternative without sacrificing flavor.

Plus, unlike microwave ovens, which use a form of electromagnetic radiation called microwaves to excite water molecules, thus heating the food due to friction, air fryers do not use any form of radiation.


The air fryer’s small convection oven preheats and cooks more quickly than a conventional oven. You’ll have tasty meals in haste, with less wait!
Also, most air fryers are energy efficient, and shorter cook times translate to less overall power usage.


Lacking the large oil vats of traditional deep fryers, air fryers eliminate the risk of serious burns from spilled oil. Also, air fryers are designed so that the exterior does not become dangerously hot to the touch.

Air fryers utilize simple controls, typically two knobs for cook time and temperature, or an easy to read digital display. You simply toss the food in oil (if desired), place it in the basket, and the air fryer does the rest.


The baskets and pans of most air fryers are dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. Also, the enclosed nature of the air fryer prevents the splatters and spills associated with deep frying and pan frying.

Now, we understand how much you love your air fryer and how much you love to use it and that is why you also need to remember to keep it clean.

Fryer baskets can get a little dirtier and greasier than other kitchen appliances and grease tends to cling due to continual use. So, when you think of how to clean an air fryer it might seem a scary thing to do. It’s ok. We get you. It sounds like quite the chore, however you’ll learn it doesn’t have to be scary at all with our dummy proof HOW TO CLEAN AN AIR FRYER GUIDE here.

Parts of an air fryer

Here you will find a list of the most common air fryer parts and accessories you can replace yourself or it can help you with the entire cooking experience.

  • The air fryer baking pan. Is a removable part of your air fryer that you will cook your food in.
  • The air fryer basket. Another one of the air fryer baking accessories is the air fryer basket. It is very similar to the baking pan, except it comes with holes inside of it.
  • Air frying grill pan. Very similar to the previous accessories we mentioned is the grill pan. It comes with a perforated surface which helps to create the ideal airflow while grilling your food.
  • Boil out fryer cleaner is a fryer cleaner that is great for cleaning and removing oils, fats, carbon, rust, etc.
  • Rack with skewers for air fryer. They are made of stainless steel and are dishwasher safe. You will be able to cook two different types of food, due to the two layers of racks.
  • Basket divider. A basket divider will allow you to cook two food types at the same time one next to each other, without them touching.

Air Fryers Frequently Asked Questions

Can I put oil in an air fryer?

Most recipes only call for about 1 tablespoon of oil, which is best applied with a mister.
Fatty foods, like bacon, won’t need you to add any oil. Leaner meats, however, will need some oiling to keep them from sticking to the pan.

What shouldn’t you put in an Air Fryer?

The Air Fryer is one of those kitchen inventions that seem too good to be true. You can cook practically any food in the hot air multi-cooker.
However, there are mistakes a lot of us do when handling an air fryer including not preheating your air fryer, not giving the air fryer enough space, overcrowding the air fryer basket, using too little oil, cutting vegetables too small, using wet batters and not washing the air fryer often enough.

Can I use Aluminum Foil or Baking Paper in the Air Fryer?

As a general rule, you can use both on the bottom of the air fryer if the basket sits on top. Using aluminum foil or baking paper in the basket technically can be done as long as it’s weighed down by the food however it’s not recommended because an air fryer works by providing a constant air flow around the cooking cavity.

Should I shake the basket while cooking?

Yes, shaking is allowed. A number of foods will stick to the basket if you don’t shake it while cooking. Giving it a little shake is specially helpful if you overlap foods, this way the contents of the basket will cook evenly.

I want to buy an Air Fryer, how large should it be?

Air fryers refer to the size of their models in terms of food quarts. The smaller model sizes are in the 2.2 to 3.7 quart range, the larger model sizes are in the 5 to 6 quart range, the extra-large model sizes are in the 8 and 16 quart range. If you have a big family you may want to with the extra-large model, it all depends on your needs.

What’s the first thing I should cook in my new Air Fryer?

The most common foods to start with are French Fries, and also Chicken Drumsticks.

What are the disadvantages to cooking in an Air Fryer?

The only real disadvantage to cooking in an air fryer is the fact most of the air fryers on the market have small cooking cavities.

What are the advantages to cooking in an Air Fryer?

Advantages are many, like we said before, we’re talking about a healthier form of cooking. Even though your food is fried it won’t be dripping with oil.

It’s less expensive to run. Cooking in an air fryer is very quick. Also, food cooked in an air fryer is generally really tasty simply because the food is crispy on the outside, and juicy and tender on the inside.

What kind of foods can you cook in an Air Fryer?

The air fryer is your ticket to healthier fried foods that still taste crispy-crunchy delicious and leaves you with a lot less mess at clean-up time. Whether frozen food or raw meat or reheating leftover food, the hot air multi-cooker does a fantastic job.

Having an air fryer means you can go ahead and cook frozen food such as frozen fries, nuggets, fish sticks etc. You can also cook raw meat, for example you can roast chicken or pork in the fryer. And you can certainly roast vegetables and nuts too and let’s not forget you can easily bake small items.

Should I pause the Air Fryer when checking on the food?

Since you generally only spend a matter of seconds checking, or shaking the food, it is not necessary to pause the air fryer.

Can I open the Air Fryer while cooking?

Every Air Fryer is slightly different however going on the premise that heat rises, if your air fryer opens by sliding a basket out from the side or front, then there should be no reason why you can’t open the basket for short periods of time.

Should I preheat the Air Fryer?

Every Air Fryer manufacturer will have their own recommendations for their particular air fryer. This is also a good isde since many users find that cooking times are more accurate if you preheat first.

Why are my cooking times different?

Remember, not all Air Fryers are created equal. Air Fryers work by circulating hot air around the food. The internal shape of the Air Fryer and how the air flows, as well as how hot the air is all contribute to how long it takes to cook a food. This is why you should check often and only use temperatures as a guide until you know how your particular Air Fryer cooks.

How do I clean the Air Fryer

Again, it depends on the model really, however, the general rule seems to be to soak the basket, and removable bucket in warm soapy water for around 10 minutes before trying to clean it. You can also place the parts into a dishwasher.

Common troubleshooting tips for an air fryer

When you are a new air fryer user, no one tells you about what can go wrong. Well here it is.

Air fryer not switching on

When you run into a problem of this nature you need to first check the connections. It has been many times when you just have to reconnect the machine to your wall outlet in order to get power to your Air Fryer. If your machine is plugged in but you still don’t get power first thing you need to do is take the plug out and reinsert it into the outlet.

It is also wise to check if you can see any visible cuts on the cable of your Air Fryer. Some Air Fryer models don’t turn on if the basket is not placed correctly.

Outside of the fryer is hot while it is in use

Since the appliance heats up, it is quite logical to assume that the outer body will get hot when you are cooking something.

White smoke coming from air fryer

The white smoke you are seeing is most likely steam. This happens when the food is particularly moist or when there is significant amounts of fat in the foods that you are cooking.

Mistakes You’re Probably Making With Your Air Fryer

There are mistakes a lot of us do when handling an air fryer including not preheating your air fryer, not giving the air fryer enough space, overcrowding the air fryer basket, using too little oil, cutting vegetables too small, using wet batters and not washing the air fryer often enough.

You Forget to Pre-Heat

Preheating the air fryer is best for optimum cooking, the temperature and air flow will be at right levels and food can cook to crispy air fried perfection. Preheating only takes a few minutes and you won’t regret it.

Not giving the air fryer enough space. ( Link to your Article )

You may want to save time and energy by making a big batch at once, but you run the risk of wrecking your meal. Experts say it is always best to prepare food in small batches.

Cutting vegetables too small.

Air fryers are equipped with a basket that allows airflow around the food, but the basket’s holes are wide, meaning that small pieces will fall through the basket and can burn quickly.

Using wet batters.

Some of our favorite deep-fried foods have moist batters that don’t work in the air fryer, because they don’t get the instant set that comes from a vat of hot oil. Wet battered foods (think: corn dogs or tempura) have to be adapted to the air fryer with thicker coatings.

You Only Cook Foods That Are Already Fried

Don’t throw a fried chicken wing in the air fryer to get only more fried. Convenience foods like bagged frozen french fries, fish sticks, and chicken fingers are already fried. Use your air fryer for from scratch recipes.

You Overcrowd the Basket

The basket on most air fryers is small. There’s enough room to comfortably cook two servings of meat or fish, or four servings of a vegetable side. It can be tempting to stack or squish food closer together to get as much food cooked at once as possible, but results won’t be great.

You Use Too Much or Too Little Oil

The air fryer gives the satisfaction of deep-fried food without all the oil of deep frying, but it can be hard to gage just how much oil basic foods need, especially frozen foods prepared to mimic fried food on their own.

Washing It Infrequently or Incorrectly

When you’re just throwing frozen tots into the air fryer, you might not notice that the fry basket is collecting debris and oil every time you use it. Fully wash the basket with hot soapy water after longer air frying sessions.

Your are not giving it the proper maintenance.

Now that you’ve made the big step of getting yourself an air fryer it is important to learn how to clean an air fryer. Remember, your band new air fryer isn’t like any other kitchen tool, it is an electronic kitchen gadget that needs to be properly managed.

Bottom Line

Air Fryers are great!

So I’ve researched and compiled the best air fryers that are great to choose from based on Size, Purpose, Extras and of course Price.  Check out Which Air Fryer is best for you.