Improve Air Fryer Recipes with These Tips

Cooking potatoes and carrot sticks with spices in an air fryer
Francisco Zeledon/

Air fryers are the kings of the kitchen. These appliances allow you to cook a wide variety of foods with little to no oil, resulting in healthier (and crispier) versions of your favorite dishes. However, getting the perfect result from this appliance every time can be tricky. Here are a few tips to help you improve your air fryer recipes and achieve delicious, crispy results every time.

Preheat Your Air Fryer

Someone preheats an air fryer

Preheating the air fryer before cooking is important because it ensures that your food is cooked at the correct temperature from the moment it goes in. This will result in more even cooking and more accurate cook times.

When your air fryer is preheated, the heating element and fan are already working at full capacity and the temperature inside the cooking compartment is more consistent. This will provide more even heat distribution and help make sure that your food is not undercooked when you take it out.

Additionally, when the food is added to a preheated air fryer, it starts cooking immediately, which creates an effect similar to searing your food. This helps keep moisture inside and creates a crispy exterior.

Don’t Overcrowd the Basket

Close up flat lay image of an air fryer oven on kitchen countertop.

Air fryers work by circulating hot air from all directions around food to cook it. If the basket is overcrowded, the air won’t be able to circulate properly, and the food will not cook evenly. This can even cause your food to steam instead of air fry, which will result in soggy food.

Making sure there is plenty of space in the basket also helps prevent food from sticking together. For the best results, cook your food in small batches and don’t exceed the maximum fill line of the basket. If you want to cook in larger batches, you should get a larger air fryer.

Pay Attention to Cook Time

A woman is holding the tray of the air fryer
Enjoy The Life/

While cooking times will vary depending on the type of food and the temperature, food cooked in an air fryer will generally take less time to cook than in an oven. When trying a recipe for the first time, it is a good idea to check your food at the shortest recommended cook time to see if it’s finished. It’s easy to overcook food in an air fryer, which will result in dry meals.

Every air fryer model is different and cooking times may vary from appliance to appliance. It’s a good idea to check on your food occasionally and to adjust the cooking time as needed.

Use Cooking Oil

Someone dumps out potatoes from an air fryer

While a big selling point of an air fryer is its ability to make crispy food without much oil, you do want some to get the best end result. A light coating of oil on your food can help achieve the crispy texture you want.

Use a spray oil or brush a light coating of oil on your food before cooking. But be careful not to use too much—this can damage your tray or basket.

Line Your Basket

An air fryer lined with foil
Bubbers BB/

If your biggest issue with your air fryer is the mess it creates, there is an easy solution. Simply line your tray with aluminum foil or parchment paper before adding your food. This will make it easier to remove the food and clean the basket after cooking.

Lining your air fryer basket can help to prevent small food items from falling through the basket’s holes and becoming lodged in the air fryer’s heating element. You’ll still get those crispy, tasty recipes you love without the hassle of cleaning forever afterward.

Don’t Forget to Flip

Roasted sweet potato cooked by airfryer
Romix Image/

Most air fryer recipes recommend flipping your food halfway through cooking to get a crispy texture on all sides. However, it can be easy to neglect this step.

While you’ll still get an okay meal without turning your food, the final recipe will be next-level if you give the basket a good shake in the middle of your cooking time. You can also add another spritz of cooking oil at this time to make sure everything continues to bake nice and crispy.

Get Creative

Muffins cooked in an air fryer

Air fryers aren’t just for meat and vegetables. Virtually every recipe that can be cooked in an oven can also be cooked in an air fryer.

If you want to dehydrate fruits at home for easy snacking, an air fryer makes a great substitute for a dehydrator. Baked goods, like cakes and bread, can also be cooked evenly in this appliance. There are plenty of recipes online that will show you how to make the most of your air fryer, so don’t be afraid to do some digging or experiment on your own.

Air fryers are a great way to cook healthy and delicious food, but it can take a little bit of experimentation to get the perfect results every time. These tips will help you improve your air fryer recipes and make the most of this popular appliance.