10 Air Fryer Tips You Need to Know

Want to know the secret to crispy, golden-brown air-fried food? We've got air fryer tips that'll help every recipe come out perfectly.

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Skip the battered foods

While air fryers work wonders with so many recipes from dinner to dessert, there are some things you should avoid air-frying, particularly dishes dipped in batter.

The batter that gets so crisp and golden when you deep-fry your favorite fish and chips will just drip right off your food in an air fryer and cause a big mess inside. If a fish fry sounds good, try this fried fish recipe formulated just for an air fryer.

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Don’t forget to preheat

Much like an oven, air fryers need to preheat before you add the food. This ensures that your dishes, whether they’re frozen fries or Air-Fryer Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, start to cook right away. Because these appliances are fairly small, they typically take only a few minutes to reach the targeted temperature.

Don’t have an air fryer yet? Here are the best air fryers, according to the Taste of Home Test Kitchen.

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Get golden-brown food every time

When you cook your favorite frozen fries or air-fryer appetizers, you may notice that they come out looking a little pale. Without oil, air-fryer recipes won’t necessarily gain that golden hue we’re all searching for.

But all’s not lost! Just try this air-fryer trick: Use a quick mist of cooking spray to achieve golden air-fried food every time without excessive oil, like in these delicious Air-Fryer Potato Chips,

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Don’t overcrowd the basket

Air-fried foods only turn out so temptingly crispy and golden if they’re given enough space inside the appliance for the air to circulate. For best results, cook foods in a single layer. This is key when making air-fryer hamburgers, southern-style chicken and more.

The exception would be some air-fryer vegetable recipes. You can load the basket with a pound of Brussels sprouts and roast them at 350°F for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring once.

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Give it a shake (or a flip)

To help food crisp, always turn, rotate or shake the contents in the air-fryer basket—just like flipping french fries, fish fillets or chicken tenders halfway through cooking in a traditional oven).

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Skip greasing the basket and trays

Air frying is easy—so easy that you can even skip steps like greasing the tray and basket inside. Air-fryer recipes like Air-Fryer Ravioli and frozen foods work well without any additional grease, beyond a light spray to help the food brown.

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Air Fryer; Therma Pen; Thermapen
Taste of Home

Use a thermometer when cooking meat

Because food can brown nicely on the outside before reaching an appropriate temperature on the inside, checking the temp with a meat thermometer is an important step for safety. That goes for frozen foods in the air fryer as well as fresh ones. Then, check out the air fryer cooking time for your go-to meal, so that you can be confident that your food is well-cooked.

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Use your air fryer to reheat leftovers

While you can use your air fryer to make plenty of from-scratch appetizers and dinners, you’ll also find it useful for reheating yesterday’s leftovers. Everything from day-old fried chicken to leftover pizza gets a new life in the air fryer.

The circulating hot air heats the food evenly and gives it the crisp texture that microwaved leftovers lack. Here’s how to reheat fries and other leftovers in your air fryer.

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Give the appliance some space while in use

When you’re using your air fryer, make sure to move it at least 6 inches away from any nearby walls. This will allow the air fryer to pull in air for circulation more effectively.

After you’re finished using it and it’s cooled down, you can stash your air fryer toward the back of your counter or in a cupboard.

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cleaning air fryer
TMB Studio

Clean it well

After you get the hang of using an air fryer, odds are you’ll be using it frequently. Keep it in great condition by learning how to clean an air fryer the right way.

The basket and drip tray should be cleaned after every use in warm soapy water or in the dishwasher if the manual specifies these parts are dishwasher-safe. If the heating coil inside is looking a little dirty, you can wipe that down with a damp cloth when the machine is cooled and unplugged. The outside of your air fryer can be wiped down with a damp cloth. If you’re tight on time and want to skip the cleanup altogether, you can put foil in an air fryer before use—here’s how.

Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is a former Taste of Home editor and passionate baker. During her tenure, she poured her love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. Lisa also dedicated her career here to finding and testing the best ingredients, kitchen gear and home products for our Test Kitchen-Preferred program. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.
Christine Rukavena
Christine loves to read, curate, sample and develop new recipes as a senior book editor at Taste of Home. A CIA alumna with honors, she creates cookbooks and food-related content. A favorite part of the job is taste-testing dishes. Previous positions include pastry chef at a AAA Five Diamond property. Christine moonlights at a boutique wine shop, where she edits marketing pieces and samples wine far higher than her pay grade.