The air fryer — the latest “it” kitchen appliance — is a wildly popular countertop convection oven that uses circulating hot air to cook food quickly. I put one through its paces to see if it could really mimic the taste of deep-fried foods without all the fat. I also picked up a few tips along the way, which I’m passing on to you.
If you stuff the air fryer basket or rack, your food will steam rather than crisp. For a smaller model, this could mean cooking food in many, many batches. (If you are routinely cooking for more than two or three people, consider buying a larger-capacity model.)
Take care not to cook food too long: The fan may dry things out, turning ingredients from crisp to hard and leathery.
Use Dry Breading
Dry coating works much better than a wet batter, so cloak ingredients in flour, egg and bread crumbs, in that order, for added crunch, and to help ensure that the breading sticks. (Air fryer fans are very powerful, and if an ingredient is not well coated, the breading could fly right off.) You could also try pressing down on the crumbs so they adhere.
Add a Little Oil
Unless a food is inherently fatty (such as bacon, skin-on chicken or a batch of meatballs made from beef that isn’t too lean) always add at least a little oil, which encourages browning. Otherwise, the fan could dry out the food before it browns.
If you’re cooking really greasy food like bacon, put a tablespoon of water or a piece of bread in the bottom of the air fryer to catch the grease and keep it from potentially smoking.
Give It a Shake
Always turn your food or shake the basket to ensure even cooking.