Make Snacking Easy
Snacks are one of the most fun things to eat. There’s such a big variety, and they’re convenient. No one wants snacks that take forever to prepare, because it defeats the whole purpose of a snack being a quick and convenient food!
That’s where air fryers come in. You can toss just about anything into the air fryer for a few minutes and have the perfect snack for whatever mood you’re in, like crispy seasoned chickpeas.
Heat Leftovers the Right Way
Everyone knows that one of the worst things about leftovers is when you reheat them in the microwave and they come out mushy or soggy. It often makes you not even want to eat them.
The air fryer, however, will make you feel like you’re eating your leftovers fresh, and it’s especially good for fried or crispy foods, like pizza or french fries (because microwaved french fries are awful!). So now, there’s no need to worry about taking leftovers home.
Avoid Sticking With a Simple Trick
It’s so frustrating to pull something delicious out of the air fryer just to discover that it’s stuck to the tray despite the non-stick coating. But, there’s an easy way to avoid that happening, and it involves oil.
You can use an oil with a high smoke point, like safflower oil, to grease the bottom of the basket a little bit. Doing this ensures you won’t be wasting time scraping your food off and can get straight to eating.
Get Kids to Eat Veggies
Did you know there’s a scientific reason your kids don’t like to eat vegetables? Back when we relied on smell to forage food, bitter tastes (which veggies often have) signaled things were toxic for us.
While we don’t forage anymore, that veggie aversion has stuck around. But you can find sneaky ways around it by air frying them, which gives them a unique texture and makes even the pickiest eater more likely to try them.
Space Out your Meat
Have you ever tried to pack as much beef or chicken into your frying pan as you can, only to realize that your meat is cooking unevenly? Most of us have, and quickly learned that meat needs breathing space.
The same principle applies to air fryers. Make sure to give that meat the space it needs to not only cook evenly — but to also get that crispy and delicious texture that only air fryers can achieve. It’s worth it!
Year-Round Corn on the Cob
One of the best parts of summer is bringing out the grill and making some nicely roasted corn on the cob. But, what if we told you that you could have this tasty treat year-round without needing to buy charcoal or propane?
Yep, even corn on the cob comes out great in the air fryer. You just have to coat the outside of your corn with a bit of cooking spray and seasoning before chucking it in the air fryer. Be sure to flip it halfway through.
Get Perfectly Crispy French Fries
French fries are amazing when they’re fresh, but they never keep well beyond a few hours. Despite that, many of us find ourselves with leftover french fries and dread having to putthem in the microwave.
The air fryer brings this amazing form of potato back to life, and on top of that, it’s great for making homemade fries! So, get to cutting those potatoes and enjoying fries without the oil-fried guilt that comes with actually frying them.
Be Careful With Dry Seasoning
Dry rubs — AKA applying seasonings without oil or butter — work fine when using an oven, but air fryers work by cooking food with air circulation. That means loose seasoning is more likely to get blown right off your food.
Mix your seasonings with a little bit of oil before cooking, and do a wet rub for your food instead. Your taste buds will thank you for not giving them something bland, and your air fryer will thank you for not dirtying it with loose garlic powder.
Avoid Lightweight Foods
Speaking of seasonings flying around in your air fryer, some things may not be quite right for air fryer cooking. Lightweight foods — as in foods that are literally lightweight — don’t exactly do well with air flying around them.
The food itself starts flying around, and then you open your air fryer to a disaster scene of epic proportions. So, even though your air fryer is great, remember that you do have more appropriate kitchen tools at your disposal for something like… toast.
Use Toothpicks for Sandwiches
Another popular food that turns out pretty great in an air fryer is grilled cheese sandwiches (although perhaps we need to give them a new name since they aren’t grilled this way). But, how do you stop the cheese from flying right out of the bread?
You break out that random jar of toothpicks you’ve got stowed away somewhere, and you stick a few of those puppies through your sandwich. Now, you’ve both got a delicious sandwich and gotten rid of some clutter. It’s a win-win.
Cook Perfectly Crispy Bacon
Bacon is an extremely popular breakfast food, and most people like their bacon nice and crispy. Sometimes, that’s hard to achieve without a lot of unhealthy grease, but the air fryer does a pretty great job.
All you have to do is put some slices of bacon in, cook for two to three minutes at 375 °F, flip, repeat, and voilà! You’ve got nice, crunchy bacon without having to use a bunch of paper towels to soak up the grease.
Stop Your Chicken From Burning
Cooking chicken at high temperatures can result in really juicy chicken, but it can also cause your poultry to start smoking or even burn. There’s a really easy way to avoid this in an air fryer, though, and it’s free.
Simply add a cup of water to the bottom of your air fryer before you use it. All the grease and fat that normally starts burning will be caught in the water.
Use Cornstarch for Batter
Most of us have heard about using flour to create a batter for chicken, but why not try cornstarch? It’s super easy to do using the air fryer, and comes out great every time.
Just cut up that chicken into chunks, and cook it for 7-9 minutes at 400 °F. Then, simmer it in your favorite sauce for a few minutes — and you’ve got some super tasty air fryer chicken.
Toast Your Own Nuts
Sure, raw nuts are good, but toasted or roasted nuts are great — and it’s yet another thing the amazingly versatile air fryer can do! There’s no need for unhealthy supermarket versions.
Lots of people swear that air fryer roasted cashews are incredible, but you can use just about any nut to make a healthy, delicious snack. Don’t eat raw nuts like all the other lame people out there.
Boil Eggs Without Water
Hard-boiled eggs are delicious, but it’s easy to overdo them. It’s also annoying to sit and listen to them bouncing around in the pot while the water jostles them around. This is where the air fryer comes in.
“Boiling” eggs is yet another thing the air fryer does and does well. Cook them at a lower temperature for around 15 minutes. Once you find that magic air fryer time, you’ll never need to worry about underdone or overdone eggs again.
Preheat for Better Meat
While preheating isn’t a mandatory step with an air fryer like it is with an oven, sometimes it’s still a good idea to preheat, especially when it comes to cooking meat.
Preheating your air fryer can make sure it’s hot enough to keep your chicken nice and juicy while cooking and also make it easier to make sure that it’s cooked thoroughly. No one wants dry or underdone chicken! But, there’s no need to worry about that with preheating.
Make Dessert Without the Oven
We all know that the air fryer is great for cooking meals, and we’ve even seen a few handy snacks that it’s great for as well. But, don’t limit yourself — you can make desserts in this handy little contraption as well!
There are tons of recipes online for air-fryer cookies, brownies, and everything in between. You don’t need to skip dessert just because you’re skipping the oven!
Parboil Your Root Vegetables
Eating a whole roast potato is delicious, but it takes ages to cook — and unfortunately, that’s no different when doing it in an air fryer instead of an oven. That’s why it’s recommended to parboil first.
Parboiling means “partially boiling,” so cook your root vegetables in boiling water for around five minutes before putting them in the air fryer. It’s a little more involved, but you still save time over using an oven to roast them!
Be Careful With Nonstick Sprays
Sure, the invention of nonstick cooking sprays made our lives so much easier. We don’t have to waste time scraping food off of pans anymore. However, nonstick cooking spray isn’t appropriate for every scenario.
It’s not recommended for use in an air fryer because it could damage it. Go the DIY route and just put some olive oil in a spray bottle, and then give your basket a light spritz before cooking for the best results.
Utilize Egg Bite Molds
You know those little silicone trays that are used to make things like muffins or breakfast egg bites in the oven? Well, we ask you this — if they’re great for the oven, why not use them in your air fryer?
You can use them to make so many different things, from mini air fryer pancakes to tiny cheesecakes to… well, egg bites! The possibilities are endless and cleanup will be a breeze.
Silicone Cups Work, Too
Much along the lines of the egg bite trays, silicone muffin cups are another great way to cook things that need to be kept contained or separated. They’re useful for more purposes than you would think.
You can use them to cook boiled eggs, various desserts, or even chicken wings (it’s a great way to stop the sauce from getting everywhere!). The possibilities are endless when you don’t limit yourself to just the air fryer basket.
Dehydrate Your Own Fruit
Most common air fryers these days have a lot of nifty settings that their users ignore. One of those is the option to dehydrate food, but you can do this even if your air fryer doesn’t have that setting.
Dehydrated fruits can be used as snacks, toppings for desserts and oatmeal, or however else you see fit. It’s a great way to make eating fruit a bit more interesting and give it more texture.
Poke Holes in Parchment Paper
Parchment paper is useful in that it makes cleanup a breeze and saves you the trouble of scraping food off of the pan, but it can be a bit tricky to use inside of the air fryer.
You can get around smoking or burning by poking a few holes in the parchment paper here and there, but if the idea still makes you nervous, you can just skip it altogether and use aluminum foil instead!
Make Tofu Crispier
Tofu is a staple in most vegetarian and vegan diets, but cooking it so that it doesn’t turn out mushy or flavorless can be really tricky. Thankfully, that’s where the air fryer comes in.
After seasoning it properly, cooking it in the air fryer gives the tofu the perfect texture. It’s enough to convert even the biggest tofu hater into a fan, assuming you remember to pack in the flavor!
Don’t Overpack the Basket
Have you ever tried to roast something in the oven, just to realize that it’s not cooking properly because you tried to cram way too much onto the oven tray? Most of us have.
The same idea goes for air fryers — don’t overpack the basket. The air needs to be able to circulate through and cook the food thoroughly, and putting too much in will prevent that from happening. Make sure you leave some space for the best results.
Make Copycat Fast Food
Have you ever desperately craved McDonald’s chicken nuggets or a whopper, but couldn’t be bothered to drive down there? Or maybe you have some leftovers but aren’t looking forward to how soggy they get in the microwave.
Well have no fear, the air fryer is here! Pop those nuggies or that half-eaten Whopper in the air fryer and watch true magic happen. You won’t need fast food anymore when you can make such tasty copycat fast food at home.
Try Out Air Fryer Casseroles
Casseroles are a very American food. They became super popular during the Great Depression, when families just gathered whatever bits they had into a pan and stuck it in the oven. They’ve been a staple in American households ever since.
Next Thanksgiving, instead of hogging valuable space in the oven with your green bean casserole, try cooking it in your air fryer! And you can cook it in any material pan you want, even silicone.
You Can Use Other Pans
We’ve already talked about using egg bite trays, silicone cups, and even casserole dishes in your air fryer, which leads us to our next point — don’t be scared of using pans inside your air fryer!
As long as they aren’t touching the heating element, it’s perfectly safe and gives you a wider variety of dishes you can prepare. It also saves you from having to scrub the basket down afterward.
Shake the Basket Halfway Through
It’s a step that lazy cooks often skip, but it’s important — when baking, use a spatula to flip what you’re cooking halfway through. Well, the same idea goes for air fryers, except you don’t need a spatula.
About halfway through the cook time, take the basket and give it a few shakes. This will help shift around what you’re cooking to make sure all sides are getting cooked evenly so that your food turns out perfect every time.
Bake the Perfect Ham
Remember how you can save space in the oven on Thanksgiving day by preparing your green bean casserole in the air fryer? Well, you can do the same thing with your glazed ham!
You’ve just got to cook the ham at about 300 °F for about 10 minutes for every pound of meat. Your guests will be raving about it and will never know that it wasn’t baked for hours on end.
Air Fryer Placement Is Important
It’s common to see air fryers shoved into a corner on a countertop, and also directly underneath a cabinet. That’s not a great place to place your air fryer, and here’s why — your air fryer is a mini oven.
It needs space around it for the heat to dissipate, and placing it in a corner, especially if it’s near meltable objects, is a sure way to enter the kitchen to the smell of burnt plastic. Make sure your air fryer has some room to “breathe.”
Improve Your Grilled Cheese Game
Most air fryer owners know that making a “grilled” cheese inside their air fryer is pretty darn delicious, but they may not know that there’s something better to coat the bread with than butter — mayonnaise!
Since mayo is made with egg yolks and oil, it gives the bread a crispy, golden brown layer that you just can’t achieve as well with butter. You can even use garlic mayo if you want to get fancy.
Avoid Messes With Aluminum Foil
Want to save time cleaning up messes in your air fryer but don’t want to buy extra pans and silicone trays? You can use a household kitchen staple instead — aluminum foil.
The foil will preserve juices and oil if you want to make a gravy, but it will also prevent them from building up on your basket and making cleanup more difficult. There’s a reason every kitchen has this beautiful silver miracle product.
Use Less Expensive Olive Oil
People in southern Europe are lucky because they have cheap and easy access to great-quality olive oil. In other countries, people aren’t so lucky, having to spend quite a bit of dough to get good olive oil.
The great thing about air fryers is that thanks to the method of cooking, you can use so little oil that you’ll actually end up saving money! So, that means your olive oil bottle will last longer and your wallet will thank you.
Know What Not to Cook
As much as we’ve been raving about how incredible the air fryer is and how it can do anything and everything, you should remember that you have an entire kitchen at your disposal!
Other cooking methods, like boiling or searing, are still really useful and shouldn’t be forgotten just because you’ve got a snazzy new gadget. Use these “old school” methods in combination with your air fryer if you really want top-tier home cooking.
Save the Juices for Broth
You know how when you air fry chicken, you end up with juices and drippings down in the bottom of the basket? Don’t just throw it away. You can use it!
No matter what kind of meat it is, you can use those juices to make gravy or sauce for your meal. Not only will it be packed with flavor but it’ll also ensure that any meal has some tasty moisture.
Detach and Dump
You may think of your air fryer insert as one unit, but most air fryer inserts that are basket-style have two pieces — a drawer and a basket that goes inside. Make sure you detach the basket before you dump out your cooked food.
If you don’t, any juice or oil that has gathered in the bottom will end up dumped all over your food, which isn’t exactly ideal. So don’t forget to take the basket out and dump the food out that way.
Put Down the Butter
Look, butter is great and all, but it can’t be used for anything and everything. One example is roasting vegetables. Butter can burn quickly at high temperatures, making your veggies burn.
It’s true for ovens and frying pans, and it’s true for the air fryer too. Cut down on the butter when roasting your veggies to prevent burning, and if you want to use a lot of something, use oil instead.
Try Breadcrumbs for Outer Layers
When you deep fry food, you usually make the breading layer by using egg and flour. And while that works well for actual frying, it’s not so great in the air fryer.
The crust doesn’t turn out as well that way, so instead of just egg and flour, use breadcrumbs and oil. That’ll make it easier to get the perfect crisp you’re looking for in your “fried” food — plus it’ll be so much healthier than deep frying.
Don’t Be Scared of Thermometers
If you’re still using your eyeballs to judge whether your meat is cooked, or overcooking your chicken for fear of food poisoning, then you should join the loads of people who have upped their cooking game with a simple tool.
Buy a meat thermometer. It’s the most accurate way to make sure your meat is fully cooked and to prevent over or undercooked chicken. Both your stomach and your tastebuds will thank you.
Stop the Annoying Beeping
Like microwaves, sometimes the air fryer beeping gets super annoying. It can be really loud and jarring, and go off for way longer than it needs to. But, what if you could turn it off?
It turns out that on some air fryers, you can. Usually, it’s achieved by pressing the minus keys down for around three seconds. If your air fryer can’t do this, maybe you’ll want to buy a new one that can (or invest in a pair of earplugs)!
Trust That Experience Is Knowledge
Manuals and recipe cook times are great and all, but just like ovens, each air fryer is different and may need slightly different cook times to achieve the same results.
Trust the experience of those who share recipes with you, but also trust your own experience. With time, you’ll be an expert on what your own air fryer needs to produce food exactly how you like it, and you’ll no longer need to even glance at the manual!
Add Oil Halfway Through
Since cooking with the air fryer doesn’t need very much oil, it can be easy for food to dry out if you aren’t careful. So, don’t avoid adding oil completely — just time it right.
Add a little bit of oil in the beginning, but also add a little bit of oil in the middle of the cooking cycle. It will help prevent your food from drying out and sticking to the basket.
Save Stale Pastries With Water
There’s nothing worse than buying a bag of amazing croissants from a nearby bakery, only to forget about them and realize that they’ve gone stale. But, what if you could bring some life back into them?
You can with the air fryer. Add a little bit of water to the drip pan, and then throw your stale pastries in for a few minutes. The moisture will bring even the hardest croissant back from the dead.
Don’t Forget to Clean
Don’t neglect cleaning! It’s easy to think that our microwaves and dishwashers and air fryers are invincible and don’t need to be cleaned, but it’s just not true.
You should wipe down the bottom of the air fryer frequently to avoid extra smoking, and you should also clean the basket when it’s warm as that’s the easiest way. Don’t wait until it’s too late to really remove the grime.