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8 Air Fryer Cooking Tips You Need to Know

New to air fryer recipes? Here are a few secrets for success from our Test Kitchen experts.

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Oven thermometerRachata Teyparsit/Shutterstock

Check your air fryer’s temperature.

Just like with ovens, temperatures may vary between air fryer models. Test your air fryer to see if it runs above or below the selected temperature setting. You’ll want your fryer nice and hot for these air-fried eggplant fries.

Become an air fryer expert with our Test Kitchen’s complete guide.

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air fryerROLAND ANCLA LEGASPI/Shutterstock

Know your air fryer’s cooking times.

Since air fryer temperatures vary, so do cook times. That’s why our air fryer recipes have wider time ranges. So, to find your air fryer cooking times you’ll need to experiment. Start checking the food at the shortest time, and check back a little later if it’s not done. By the way, here’s what is an air fryer and how it really works.

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Home-made french fries in modern airfryerBeer5020/Shutterstock

Give it a shake (or a flip).

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

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Chicken fry made from Airfryer not use food.Ezzolo/Shutterstock

Cook food in a single layer for best results.

Allow plenty of air circulation to get even cooking and crispy results. One exception where you can stack and pack foods is if you’re roasting veggie side dishes in the air fryer. For instance, you can load the basket with a pound of Brussels sprouts and roast them at 350° for 12-15 minutes, stirring once.

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Happy girl eating a dietetic cookie sitting on a couch at homeAntonio Guillem/Shutterstock

Bake up a little treat.

Yes, you can bake homemade cookies in the air fryer! All it takes is a few minutes and chilled dough on stand-by. Models differ in their “baking” functions, so test just one or two cookies at first. You may need to adjust the temperature or cooking time.

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Smoke from the cooking potTeerapong Teerapong/Shutterstock

Seeing smoke? Here’s what to do.

First off, don’t panic. Simply unplug the air fryer and remove the food basket. Make sure no food is lodged in the heating coil. Return food to the air fryer and continue cooking. If smoke persists, there may be oil or residue on the heating element. Unplug the machine, cool, and then wipe the coil clean with a damp cloth, just like the heating coil on an electric stove. From now on, make sure to clean your air fryer on the regular.

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Young woman measuring temperature of whole roasted turkey with meat thermometerAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Use a thermometer when cooking meat.

Because the 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 previously frozen foods and fresh ones.

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Senior asian couple sharing meal at homeMonkey Business Images/Shutterstock

It’s a quick option when cooking for one or two.

Any more than that, and you may have to cook in batches—so be sure to account for that in your timing. Find the best air fryer for your lifestyle.

Christine Rukavena
Christine loves to read, curate, sample and develop new recipes as a 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.

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