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Cooking Tips

The Best Air Fryer Accessory? A Cake Pan.

It opens up a world of new air fryer possibilities.

By now, you know that an air fryer can cook everything from chicken nuggets and french fries to pork tenderloin and turkey meatloaf. However, the design of cooking basket prevents you from baking or cooking juicy, liquid-y foods that can leak through and be a hassle to clean. Or does it? 

With a 6-inch cake pan, you can open up a world of new air fryer possibilities. 

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While developing the recipes in our cookbook Healthy Air Fryer, our test cooks realized they didn’t need to limit themselves to just the air-fryer basket. Using ovensafe vessels that fit into the basket—such as a bowl, souffle dish, or nonstick cake pan—to hold liquid-y items was a revelation. 

The most versatile of all the containers was the 6-inch cake pan. It’s small enough to fit in drawer-style air fryers, which we found performed best in our air fryer testing. (The drawer-style Instant Vortex Plus 6-Quart Air Fryer was our overall favorite in that review.) But it’s big enough to make a main dish for two or a batch of snack bars.

It’s also easy to put in and take out of the air fryer when hot. We recommend removing the air fryer drawer completely, then using tongs in one hand and an oven mitt on the other.

Not only does this small pan allow you to toast nuts and spices in your air fryer, but you can do so much more. Dishes like frittatas and meatballs are now air-fryer friendly. Ingredients like kimchi and tomato sauce can now be incorporated into your air-fryer recipes. We even use it to toast orzo in olive oil and garlic.

So instead of preheating your oven the next time you want to make a white bean and mushroom gratin, take out your 6-inch cake pan and turn on your air fryer instead.

Get more out of your air fryer with these six recipes, among our all-time favorites. Start a free trial to access all these, plus our other home kitchen–tested, foolproof recipes.