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Frequently Asked Air Frying Questions

Whether you’re considering buying an air fryer or you already own one, these common questions will help you become more informed about the tool itself and the unique cooking technique. Have a question we didn’t answer? Let us know in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

What is an air fryer?

Air fryers are large countertop appliances that offer a bold promise: perfectly fried food using very little oil (often less than a tablespoon). But despite the clever name, an air fryer is not a fryer at all. It’s a mini convection oven that cooks food by circulating hot air around it with a fan. This way, food is cooked by convection, which means it can approach the crispiness of fried food while using far less oil. But the intense hot air is also ideal for roasting and even allows you to prepare dishes you might otherwise cook on the grill.

Is air frying healthier than deep frying?

Yes, the air fryer’s intended purpose holds true: Instead of quarts of oil, a cook can use just a small amount and achieve beautifully crisp results in French fries, chicken, fish, and more. But we found that the results are more akin to those of an oven-fried food, instead of something that’s been deep fried. Because fat is essential to “fried” flavor, air-fried and oven-fried foods taste a lot leaner than deep-fried foods. That said, we found that the best air fryers produced food that was even better than oven-fried versions.

Do I need to preheat the air fryer?

An air fryer heats much faster than an oven. When developing recipes for our air fryer cookbook, Air Fryer Perfection, we found that the total time it took to cook food started in a cold air fryer was the same as when we waited a few minutes for the air fryer to heat and then added our food; plus, skipping the preheating was convenient. That’s one of the advantages to using an air fryer as opposed to an oven—it’s much faster because you don’t have to preheat it.

How much can an air fryer hold?

Most standard air fryers can fit enough food for 2 to 4 servings, depending on the food. It’s important not to overcrowd the basket. If you choose to make multiple batches of an air frying recipe, start checking the second batch for doneness a few minutes early, as the air fryer will already be hot and may cook the second batch more quickly.

Do I need to purchase extras and attachments for my air fryer?

Some air fryers come with attachments such as racks and pans. While these can be useful for specific purposes, our recipes in Air Fryer Perfection were crafted to use only the basic air-fryer basket. No additional bells and whistles necessary.

How do I prevent food from sticking to my air fryer?

For foods that are prone to sticking, such as breaded chicken or delicate fish, we recommend spraying the basket lightly with vegetable oil spray. Using a foil sling can also make cleanup and the removal of certain foods easier, especially fish.

How do I clean my air fryer?

Most removable parts of the air fryer, such as the drawer and basket of many models, are dishwasher-safe, but you should consult your air-fryer manual before putting parts in the dishwasher. The main body of your air fryer also needs to be cleaned occasionally, as grease and food splatters can build up around the heating element and cause smoking. Turning the air fryer upside down can make it easier to access the heating element of some models. Make sure your air fryer is completely cool before you clean the inside, and use a mild detergent. After you clean the air fryer, briefly run it to dry out the inside.

What do I do if I smell smoke while air frying, or if my air fryer starts to smell funny?

Clean your air fryer! We found that the biggest problems with smoking and smell were due to a dirty air fryer. If you see excessive smoke or smell burning even though your food is not burnt, be sure to clean the area around the heating element of your air fryer to remove built-up residue. Periodically check around when it’s cool for food splatter with mild detergent.