The air fryer has grown in popularity in recent years for some obvious reasons. The increasing pace of our busy lives and demands on our time make cooking more of a burden now than ever. Versatility, ease of use and speed of cooking make the air fryer an easy choice for the modern generation. However easy it is to cook in an air fryer, there are still some things that can go horribly wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The following advice is exactly what I wish I had read before buying and using my air fryer. It’s a handy resource that will ensure you avoid the major pitfalls of using this great little appliance.
You’re probably wondering, really…. what’s the worst that can happen if I just charge ahead and play it by ear? This list of mistakes that everyone should avoid when using an air fryer will tell you just that.
#1 Air Fryer Mistakes to Avoid : Buying a Cheap, Low-Quality Brand of Air Fryer
Although the air fryer has been around for a long time, its popularity has surged over the past three years. Manufacturers all over the world saw a golden opportunity to make money producing this appliance. Unfortunately, where many producers haven’t been able to compete in quality, they have tried to compete in price. What does this mean for you? It means the air fryers on the market vary in quality hugely, and it's easy to buy a dud.
What makes one air fryer better than another? The first and most obvious answer to that is the durability of its parts. Have you ever purchased one of those cheap non-stick pans that looks perfectly fine? Then within about a week, all of the non-stick coating is peeling off.
You don’t want the non-stick coating on your air fryer peeling off within a few weeks. This is an easy shortcut for a manufacturer to save on costs. The problem is, in general, it’s very difficult to tell if an air fryer is built with quality materials just by looking at it. So how do you avoid making a terrible purchase if you can’t tell the difference yourself?
Because of the share volume of sales that go through Amazon, it’s a great source for product reviews. Some air fryers have more than a thousand reviews and also include answers to questions from the manufacturer. There are a few things to remember when reading Amazon reviews though.
First, the number of reviews matters. An average 5-star rating doesn’t mean very much if only four people have reviewed the product. In contrast, if 500 people have reviewed the product, that’s an excellent sign.
Second, remember that most reviews are posted within a short time of receiving the product. This means that the majority of reviews don’t account for the long-term quality of an item.
And finally, remember that sometimes, knock-off versions of the more popular products slip through the cracks on Amazon. This might mean a certain brand has great reviews for one seller and horrible reviews for another.
In this instance, find reviews from the seller who has the longest track record of sales for that branded item. That is likely to be the true version of the item.
Genuine “Top 10 Best Air Fryers” type Comparison Reviews
Get onto some legitimate websites that do Top 5 or Top 10 product comparisons. These usually involve well-researched in-depth summaries of each item. They also allow you to compare the most important features of each product. This can be a super helpful way to stop you from purchasing a low-quality air fryer. But please don’t be duped.
There are so many websites with articles like these created entirely to sell a specific air fryer. The product reviews in this case, are biased to make that product look better than it is. How can you tell a legitimate website? Does it refer to reviews verified by Trustpilot?
If yes, that’s a good start. Does the website undertake comparison reviews for a broad range of products? If yes, this is also good. Does the website try to sell you any of the products? If so, then it may not be very trustworthy.
#2 Air Fryer Mistakes to Avoid : Take Care with the Placement of Your Air fryer
Yes, I know it sounds simple. And it really is. But the consequences of not placing your air fryer in the right location can be very costly.
Air fryers create a lot of heat. An oven creates a lot of heat too. However, an oven has been specifically placed in a fixed position in your kitchen so that it operates as it should. Air fryers, on the other hand, are meant to be portable. They allow the user to plonk them basically anywhere they like.
But just because something is portable doesn’t mean it can or should go anywhere. If you want your air fryer to be around long-term, placement is important. Here are the things you need to do when you are looking to place your air fryer.
Give your Air Fryer Space for Airflow
There needs to a decent amount of airflow around your air fryer so that it can operate effectively. If you’re able to have 5 inches of space around the edges at all times, that’s ideal. If not, it should have a minimum of 3 inches.
Place Your Air Fryer on a Heat Resistant Mat
It’s a good idea to place your air fryer on a mat or anything else that is made of heat-resistant material. There is a lot of heat going through this little appliance. Having it sit on a bench that conducts a lot of heat too, isn’t a good idea. Using a heat resistant pad or mat will stop a heat trap from forming underneath that warps the bottom of your air fryer.
Place Your Air Fryer Somewhere Secure
If you have a busy kitchen or young children, placing your air fryer somewhere secure is very important. It’s a light appliance compared to many and can be pulled off the bench or tipped easily. Having it on a narrow shelf next to other appliances isn’t a suitable spot. It can be easily knocked around while the other appliances are being accessed. Aside from the condition of your air fryer, it’s a real safety issue for your kids. Although the outside doesn’t get hot, the draw can be pulled out very easily, and the draw gets extremely hot while cooking.
#3 Air Fryer Mistakes to Avoid : Cooking Several Times Without Cleaning In Between
Ever been to a fried food takeaway joint and been hit by that unattractively strong smell of seasoned oil? It’s not pleasant at all. If you treat your air fryer like a deep fryer, expect it to smell like one. Cleaning it out once a month will have your kitchen smelling like a deep-fried take-out restaurant.
You may also notice your deep fryer will smoke a lot more if not cleaned after every cook; this can negatively affect the taste of the food. And lastly, you’ll put yourself at a much higher risk of food contamination if you do this. Aim to clean your air fryer after every meal that’s cooked in it.
The air fryer isn’t difficult to clean. Just use hot water with a bit of dishwashing liquid. Let the basket soak as long as it needs so you don’t have to scrub off baked-on food. Three minutes of your time will keep your air fryer fresh, your tummy safe and your kitchen won’t stink.
#4 Air Fryer Mistakes to Avoid: Putting Fine Ingredients In Your Air Fryer Unsecured
Air fryers all have one thing in common. They move air, and they move it at a very rapid pace. Things like salt, pepper, spices and anything leafy or light is going to blow all over the place.
It probably doesn’t seem like that much of an issue, but it can be if you cook with these things often. These tiny bits and pieces end up getting lodged in the filter of your air fryer, and if that gets too clogged, they can cause your machine to malfunction.
So how do you get seasoning into the food your cooking in the air fryer? It’s quite simple really. Add a bit of oil to the seasoning so that it sticks to the food. Also, try to put the seasoning, on the bottom side under the weight of the food as much as possible.
Instead of cooking in the basket use a shallow baking pan (silicone works well), and this will reduce the air that can hit and move around your ingredients. Just make sure there is some space between the little baking dish and the edges of the air fryer. This way enough air circulates to get a good cooking result.
A trick for other light foods like anything leafy is to take a crust of bread and anchor the leaves to it with toothpicks. Your food will stay put this way.
#5 – Air Fryer Mistakes to Avoid: Cooking Very Wet or Loose Batters
The air fryer isn’t at all a substitute deep fryer. Yes, it can cook foods very similarly to make the texture and taste resemble that of a deep fryer. But, the two machines go about it in a completely different way.
Dipping something in boiling hot oil versus rapidly circulating hot air is actually about as different as it gets. You can be forgiven for thinking that you can do battered foods in the air fryer.
Unfortunately, if you do, you’ll get horrible results. The batter drips away from the food and ends up all over the pan. It’s a horrible mess to clean up, and you’ll get results nothing like you would from deep frying.
#6 Air Fryer Mistakes to Avoid : Don’t Cook Raw Vegetables by Themselves. Frozen is Best
I’m someone who enjoys eating and preparing food. This advice I’m giving you goes against every rule in the book when it comes to conventional cooking. In a stir-fry for instance, cooking with fresh raw vegetables is the only way to go. If you use frozen vegetables, you’ll end up with a flat, soggy dish once it’s finished cooking.
When it comes to air frying, if you cook vegetables raw, they just don’t come out very well. I’ve tried them every which way at various temperatures. The result in the end is always lacklustre compared to the result I get with frozen vegetables. The edges of the fresh vegetables tend to get charred very easily, and they come out really chewy and tasteless.
I experimented with frozen veggies, and the result was quite the opposite. A crisp, delicious, well-cooked end product. Why? I can’t be sure. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that frozen veggies have a lot more moisture being icy and the air fryer tends to dry out things with a low oil content that aren’t sufficiently moist.
Many raw food purists probably won’t like this quality about the air fryer. But the truth is, frozen vegetables are usually frozen very close to the time of picking and can be a lot fresher than the “fresh” produce sitting on the shelves at the stores. With that in mind, you shouldn’t fret about the nutritional value you’re getting out of frozen veggies. They’re great, and the fact that you can take something straight from the freezer and cook it beautifully in the air fryer is only a positive thing for me.
Well, we’ve come to the end of my list of things you need to avoid when it comes to air fryers. This appliance is a great little machine. It’s super versatile, and it’s helped me to get much more nutritionally valuable meals into my busy life. If you’re all set to use your air fryer for the first time, I hope this advice sees you avoid many of the mistakes I made in the years to come.
Happy air frying!