Preparing to air-fry:
- Find the right place for your air fryer oven in your kitchen. Make sure you have some clearance around the oven so that the hot air can escape from the vent at the back.
- Pre-heat your air fryer before adding your food. Because an air fryer heats up so quickly, it isn’t critical to wait for the oven to pre-heat before putting food inside, but it’s a good habit to get into. Sometimes a recipe requires a hot start and putting food into a less than hot oven will give you less than perfect results. For instance, pastry bakes better if cold pastry is placed into a hot oven. Pizza dough works better with a burst of heat at the beginning of baking. It only takes a few minutes to pre-heat the oven, so unless you’re in a real rush, just wait to put your food inside.
- Invest in a kitchen spray bottle. Spraying oil on the food is easier than drizzling or brushing, and allows you to use less oil overall. It will be worth it!
- Think about lining your drip tray with aluminum foil for easy clean up.
- Use the proper breading technique. Breading is an important step in many air fryer recipes. Don’t skip a step! It is important to coat foods with flour first, then egg and then the breadcrumbs. Be diligent about the breadcrumbs and press them onto the food with your hands. Because the air fryer has a powerful fan as part of its mechanism, breading can sometimes blow off the food. Pressing those crumbs on firmly will help the breading adhere. You can learn all about the proper dredging and breading technique here.
While you are air-frying
- If you’re cooking very fatty foods, add a little water to the drip pan below the basket tray to help prevent grease from getting too hot and smoking.
- Don’t overcrowd the mesh tray, but cook foods on one layer instead. I can’t stress this enough. It’s tempting to try to cook more at one time, but over-crowding will prevent foods from crisping and browning evenly and take more time over all.
- Spray with oil part way through. If you are trying to get the food to brown and crisp more, try spritzing it with oil part way through the cooking process. This will also help the food to brown more evenly.
- Place delicate items lower in the oven so they don’t over brown or brown too quickly. Foods with ingredients like cheese or pastry on top can get too hot being too close to the upper element, so take advantage of the versatility of your air fryer oven and move the tray lower in the oven.
After you air-fry
- Always make sure the drip tray is underneath the mesh or perforated tray when you pull the tray out of the oven. Otherwise, grease and crumbs will drip or fall down on the oven door or countertop.
- Don’t pour away the juices from the drip tray too soon. The tray below the mesh basket tray collects a lot of juices from the cooked foods above and catches any marinades that you pour over the food. If the drippings are not too greasy, you can use this flavorful liquid as a sauce to pour over the food. You can also de-grease this liquid and reduce it in a small saucepan on the stovetop for a few minutes to concentrate the flavor.
- Wipe down the heating element and oven door after each use to prevent grease from building up inside your air fryer oven.
- Use a bristle brush to clean the mesh racks or baskets in your air fryer after each use. Soaking the mesh basket in the drip tray while you enjoy dinner is enough to loosen any food stuck on the mesh.