Are you ready to get started with your new air fryer? I bet you have a lot of questions!
In this air fryer beginner’s guide, I’ve answered all of the most common questions about air fryers and created a comprehensive how-to.
Also, be sure to check out my beginner air fryer recipes that will be easy to make with your new air fryer.
Why use an air fryer?
The main reason air fryers are used is that they use a fraction of the oil that is needed for deep-fried foods like onion rings, chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, and so on. Less oil of course means lower fat content and cholesterol, but the air fryer also maintains the crispness that you’re looking for in fried foods.
How does the air fryer cook food?
They are not that different from convection ovens. Basically, very hot air is blown around the interior which heats up the food more evenly.
At the bottom of the air fryer is an electric heating element and next to it is a fan. The fan is what circulates the hot air and since the bottom of the air fryer baskets has holes in them, the hot air can engulf the food from all sides.
This cooking method works faster than a traditional oven. Although, by comparing an air fryer versus a deep fryer, the latter is quicker. An air fryer is the healthier alternative since you need significantly less oil than a deep-fat fryer to get the same crispy exterior.
Does the air fryer have to be preheated?
Preheating is often recommended but not always necessary. It really depends on the recipe and what you are cooking.
Many of my recipes don’t need any preheating time. After all, one of my main reasons for using an air fryer is the quick cooking time.
The idea behind preheating is that it creates a more even temperature throughout the interior. Although this may be true, an air fryer is already quite a small space and reaches the temperature very quickly.
It does not have as much space and air to heat up as a traditional oven does.
So, when do you need to preheat?
When you have a recipe that requires a very specific temperature and very even cooking, preheating is a good idea. For instance, if you are making cookies, cupcakes, or other baked goods that can melt too much before cooking. Otherwise, you won’t really notice the difference in most of your food.
Some models have a preheating setting while others don’t. If yours doesn’t, you can simply preheat it by letting it run at the temperature needed for 2-3 minutes before placing the food inside. It really works that quickly since it’s a smaller appliance.
Air Fryer Clean Up
Without all the oil splatter, air fryers are much easier to clean. You can even pop the air fryer basket and accessories in the dishwasher. If you are worried about the nonstick layers getting damaged in the dishwasher, you should wash them by hand.
The bottom tray collects all the juices so be sure to empty this out and clean it after every use. Also,
don’t forget to wipe down the main unit using a mild dishwashing liquid and a soft sponge.
If you’ve scrolled around Simply Happenings then you know that I love using the air fryer. It is quick, hands-off, and healthier, plus easy to clean.
Have you finally got your very own air fryer but are not sure how to get started? I’ll take you through everything you need to know about how to use an air fryer and my favorite tips for better meals.
Air Fryer 101
- Does not need preheating for every recipe like an oven does which saves time in the kitchen.
- Healthier equally crispy food without the grease.
- Faster cook time for quick weeknight meals.
- Reheating leftovers or cooking frozen food doesn’t get soggy like in a microwave.
Can you use aluminum foil in an air fryer?
Yes, you certainly can and for certain recipes, you really need to! For fish and meats that might release a lot of juice or for recipes with sauces, it is a good idea to use aluminum foil to avoid drying out. Also, fish is rather delicate and can stick to the bottom of the basket. You can either line the basket with foil or create little foil packets, depending on what the recipe calls for.
Pro Tip: making an aluminum foil sling and placing the food on top of the foil is the easiest! Leave enough foil over the sides so that it is easier to lift out of the air fryer. This works great for my air fryer salmon recipes.
What kinds of foods can you cook in an air fryer?
Once you get a little creative, there is so much that you can cook inside an air fryer. Anything from juicy steaks to bright green veggies and deliciously soft fish works. There are only a few limitations.
Because of the holes in the basket, it is not possible to cook foods soaked in batter. If you are using a glaze, marinade, or sauce, it is important that you line the basket with aluminum foil or wrap the food in aluminum foil packets.
Other than that, you can prepare endless varieties of dishes in an air fryer. Think of what you would put in a deep fryer, on the grill, or pan fry – most of those dishes can be done in an air fryer.
If you are still testing it out, I recommend sticking with dry rubs. This preparation is the easiest to monitor and comes out perfect without needing much work.
Oil, butter, or cooking spray – which should you use?
Do you put oil in an air fryer? Can aerosol sprays be used in an air fryer? These are often the first question people ask.
Cooking in an air fryer is healthier because you need less fat so there’s no need to douse your food in oil or butter.
Plus, most air fryers have a cooking rack so much of the excess oil would drip down anyway.
Instead of brushing your food with oil or greasing it with butter, I recommend a few spritzes with cooking oil but be picky about which one you choose. Aerosol cooking sprays can be a little too harsh on the non-stick basket and can cause chipping.
I find that using olive oil in a spray bottle is the easiest, best tasting, and a tad healthier than canola or vegetable oil.
Now that you have all of the basics covered with your air fryer, check out some easy beginner air fryer recipes to get started!
I have 3 air fryer cookbooks for sale that will help you cook appetizers, main dishes, and sides for all your cooking needs. Also, if you sign up for my mailing list you’ll receive a special offer on them. Check them out!