A First-Timer’s Guide to Using an Air Fryer

Looking for a guide to understand your air fryer? Go through the article to learn the fundamentals and become a pro user.

A First-Timer's Guide to Using an Air Fryer


Air fryers are an easy-to-use gadget and a great addition to your kitchen. You can make many delicious food items using an air fryer. If you are new to air frying and want to understand its fundamental aspects, keep reading to learn helpful tips to get the most out of your air fryer. First, let us check out the pros and cons you will face while using one:

 Pros and Cons of an Air Fryer

Air fryers are extraordinarily useful cooking appliances. Here are some of its greatest benefits:

 Healthier Meals

An air fryer allows you to cook food with very little oil. Food will come out browned and crispy without the added grease… In fact, excess oil drains away from the foods if you cook them using these appliances. So, the food you get will be much healthier.


Air fryers are useful when you need to bake, broil, stir fry, air fry, grill, steam, reheat, and roast. Some models can even be used for rotisseries too. You can prepare stir-fried meats, roasted or steamed veggies, chicken breasts or thighs, grilled sandwiches, hot dogs and sausages, nuggets and fries, and steak using an air fryer. Check out air fryer vegetable recipes to add more variety to your meal.

Quicker, More Efficient Cooking

You will find air fryers more efficient than the traditional appliances you have used. They cook faster and preheat in minutes. You can cook frozen foods quickly using these appliances.


Air fryers are ideal for dorm rooms, kitchenettes, small kitchens, and RVs. You can find them in coffee-maker sizes too. They are small and super-compact. They can be more convenient than a steamer or toaster oven.

 You might also face inconveniences while using your air fryers. Some of them are discussed below:

Quality Issues

An air fryer is mainly made from inexpensive plastic and metal parts. So, they might become unusable after some months of use. You might need to replace the baskets and metal cooking pans after some time. Heating elements, controls, and fans tend to go out also. But, appliances from a well-established company can be long-lasting and help you to avoid some of these issues.

Not Ideal for Large Families

Medium-sized air fryers might have a capacity of 3.5 quarts. It can handle a side dish and a main dish for one person or the main dish for two people. A large unit of 5.8 quarts can handle four servings at once. So, these appliances are generally ideal for small families.


You will be limited in the shape and size of the basket when using an air fryer. Sometimes you might find it difficult to clean up the pan when the food gets stuck. You will need to cook in batches while you are preparing for multiple people. Keep these limitations in mind when you have an air fryer.

 How Air Fryers Work

Air fryers are amazing and function similarly to convection ovens. It’s small but mighty. Though you cannot use it for deep frying, you can bake, roast, or broil in it.

In an air fryer, a fan pumps hot air rapidly and browns the food, creating a crisp coating. It imparts the flavor profile of fried food without really being cooked.

 Preheat or Not

Air fryers do not need much time to get heated. So, it’s not like the big oven on your range. Only a few minutes of preheating will do. In some models, there is a light to indicate when the unit is preheated. Manufacturers might recommend preheating, but it is not a must. Try both ways to see what comes with a better result.

 Mistakes to Avoid

There are some mistakes you need to avoid while using an air fryer. Go through the discussion below to use your appliance more efficiently:

Avoid Using Too Much Oil

Air fryers provide you healthy foods by draining the excess oil in a drawer under the grate. However, too much buildup might cause smoke. If you are going to cook frozen fried foods or anything that has enough fat already, such as skin-on chicken, you can choose to use little to no oil at all. But, if you are cooking vegetables, using a light coat of oil can be better as it makes them nice and brown.

 Avoid Greasing the Drawer with Cooking Spray

The cooking spray might damage the finish of the baskets of your air fryer over time as they have a nonstick coating. Your manual will also warn you of this. Toss your food into oil instead of using cooking spray or you can rub it down using an oil-saturated paper towel.

Try Not to Crowd the Drawer

An air fryer does not have a big capacity. If you want a better result, do not try to load the drawer up with food. In marketing, the used image of air fryers can be quite misleading. With experience, you will learn that food cooks up faster and comes out crisper if you cook in small batches.

Avoid Using Oil with a Low Smoke Point

Olive oil might not be a good idea when you are using an air fryer to cook as it has a low smoke point. It creates smoke at high temperatures and also develops an undesirable aftertaste. Vegetable oil, peanut oil, canola oil, and other high smoke point oils are good to use.

 Remember to Shake the Basket

While cooking, shake the basket periodically. It will ensure that the food is evenly heated and provides better browning. For some recipes, it is necessary to do so every five minutes. For larger items, it will be better to flip them instead.




Try Not to Trust the Timer 100%

You will find some basket-style air fryers with a dial that you need to set like an old-fashioned kitchen timer. The machine stops when the time is up. In some cases, the timer will not be an accurate indication that the food has been cooked perfectly.

For shorter cooking, you might find some models work best if you wind the timer for 10-20 minutes and then wind it back to your desired cooking time.

 Avoid Putting the Hot Drawer on the Countertop

The bottom of your drawer will be hot when you pull it from the unit. It is like a hot pan. Grab the drawer by the handle and make sure to have a potholder or trivet ready to set the drawer on; the heat can damage your countertop.

As the air fryers get hot very fast, using a slightly lower temperature can come with a better result. It will help to keep your food from getting too crispy or dark on the outside while still raw on the inside. Make sure you go through the manual before using your appliance to do things accordingly and avoid any kind of additional mistakes.

 How to Clean the Air Fryer

You need to clean your air fryer every time you use it. If you don’t, a build-up of oil might make the unit smoke. At the very least, you should wipe off the drawer and then rub it with a paper towel. Check your manual to find out which parts of your air fryer are dishwasher safe and clean accordingly.

 Foods to Prepare Using an Air Fryer

There are many yummy foods you can cook using your appliance. Classics like fish sticks, chicken tenders, pizza rolls, and tater tots are made for your air fryer. Some tasty dishes you might enjoy are parmesan dill fried pickle chips, french fries, sriracha-honey chicken wings, chili-rubbed rib-eye steak, doughnuts, molten chocolate cake, and many more. Roasted vegetables, brownies, bagels, and crispy chickpeas are some other mouth-watering dishes you can experiment with making in your air fryer.

 Foods You Can’t Cook in an Air Fryer

Some foods are not ideal for cooking in an air fryer. If you don’t want to mess up, try being careful with them.

    • Avoid cooking cheesy items using your air fryer. They will just melt on the tray, creating a mess that is difficult to clean.
    • Do not fry foods with a homemade wet batter. If you want to, make sure to add breadcrumbs to it.
    • Remember, vegetables like broccoli might dry out or wind up soggy. Leafy vegetables may not cook evenly and just be blown around.
    • Be careful with dry foods as they might end up losing their seasonings if coated.

Air fryers are an efficient appliance to have when you want to cook your food faster. They will provide you with a healthy meal in a short period. Try maintaining the guidelines discussed above and use your appliance more effectively.

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