Whether you've just been gifted an air fryer and have no idea what to do with it, or you're looking to up your air fryer game, these are our favorite hacks to maximize your appliance's potential...
Defrost Frozen Food
We all love a quick and easy frozen food-based dinner after a long, hard day at the office - all we have to do is throw it in the microwave and wait patiently. Now your air fryer can make this task even easier!
Put simply, if it's frozen, it can be put into the air fryer. Pings in blankets? Yup! Chicken nuggets, egg rolls, and fish sticks too! Don't wait around for them to defrost before throwing them in - it's a one-way journey from the freezer to the air fryer! Bon Appetite!
Make Leftovers Last Longer
While some of us swear by the art of leftovers, the rest of the people are left wondering why everyone's fussing over soggy food from the night before. Cue the air fryer, which can help get everyone on board the leftovers train with its magical cooking powers.
Heat the air fryer to around 350°F, and let the food rest in there for two to three minutes. Just like that, Sunday's cooking will taste like new on a Tuesday. No wetness or dryness, this home appliance puts the microwave reheating setting to shame!
Keep Veggies Exciting
Incorporating daily healthy fruits and vegetables into your eating schedule can often feel like an uninspired burden, with the taste lacking compared to the less nutritious options. This is where the air fryer comes in, helping to convert those veggies into truly delicious meals for everyone to enjoy!
Forget boiled Brussels sprouts and steamed broccoli because we're taking things to the next level. Numerous recipes online will show you how to use your air fryer to create healthy, tasty meals. This includes sweet potato chips, buffalo cauliflower bites, and parmesan zucchini fries!
Aluminum Takeout Containers
In order to keep your air fryer clean and ensure the smooth removal of its contents, it's highly advisable to invest in some aluminum foil. Before each use of the appliance, line the basket with a sheet, and you're good to go! If you're really looking to go pro, we recommend purchasing some aluminum takeout containers instead.
These bad boys take away all the hard work of cutting a piece of foil and bending it around to fit the size of the basket. Instead, they're a one-slip wonder - fitting neatly and perfectly inside. Plus, they're not too expensive - stores such as Amazon sell them in bulk at a low cost!
French Toast Sticks
This recipe is ideal for anyone looking to shake things up in the kitchen with minimal effort. Coming to us from the mind of TikTok creator @airfrywithme is the mouth-watering air-fried french toast sticks. Simple and quick, it's the way to go for an exciting new dinner option.
Start by creating a mixture of eggs, milk, and vanilla and dipping pieces of white bread inside. Next, coat the bread chunks in cinnamon and sugar before putting it in the air fryer at 375-400°F. Give each side three to four minutes to cook and tuck in!
Pineapple may be a controversial pizza topping, but grilled pineapple prepared in the air fryer is always a winner. TikToker @happystronghealthy shows us how it's done with their quick and easy tutorial video. Start by cutting up small pineapple chunks and heating up the air fryer.
Once the fryer reaches 350°F, put the pineapple pieces into the appliance and leave it to cook for eight to ten minutes. The outcome is juicy, snack-bite pieces of pineapple that are simply delicious to eat. Once again, the air fryer proves its worth, quickly overtaking the rest of the kitchen appliances.
The Water Hack
On the whole, the air fryer is a pretty fool-proof appliance, almost guaranteeing deliciously perfect results every time. That being said, there are potential issues that can arise when it comes to cooking things like poultry which can start to smoke up if things go wrong.
As is often the case, grease and fat fall off the chicken and into the bottom of the bowl. These extracts will then begin to smoke up in the high heat, smoking or even burning the chicken. To avoid this, pour a cup of water into the bowl before cooking. The water will then catch the droppings and prevent them from heating up.
With all its miraculous abilities, it's easy to get carried away with the air fryer - trying to cook everything at once. But, if cooked food and a working air fryer are what you're after, best to avoid this practice of overcrowding the air fryer basket. Opt instead for batches and ensure spaces of 1/2 inch.
On a similar note, don't stack food on top of each other, either. When dealing with sensitive food like meat or chicken, it's extremely important that no sides touch each other. Those sections can be left undercooked in these cases, resulting in the rest of your evening going slightly differently than planned!
A strict diet plan can often be compromised by the overwhelming temptation to snack on unhealthy, sugar-filled foods throughout the day. Solving yet another one of our problems, the air fryer can create healthy, moreish snacks that guarantee guilt-free grabbing.
One such example is toasted nuts which are incredibly simple to prepare. Whether it is cashews, almonds, or walnuts, just add a teaspoon of oil and a pinch of salt and place them in the air fryer at 350°F. Shake them after 5 minutes and return them for another 3 to five minutes. Just wait for the pop!
After all this talk of french fries and tacos, our sweet tooth has been mistakenly put on the back burner. Give it the attention it deserves and whip up some delicious air-fried desserts to finish it all off the right way. Just like savory food, there's pretty much no sweet treat that the air fryer can't handle.
Doughnuts, cookies, brownies, baked apples, fried Oreos, and fruit-filled hand pies can all be created in this all-knowing appliance. A handy trick is covering the baked dish with foil to avoid the air circulating too fast and burning it. This extra layer of protection will ensure the sweets are evenly heated.
20 Minute Wonders
When it comes to dinner, we believe that the less prep time, the better. Unfortunately, most of our favorite meals cannot be reasonably cooked in such a short space of time, and so we're left with the same old basics, time and time again. Looking to shake things up? Get yourself an air fryer.
These great appliances can prepare your dinner in about twenty minutes without compromising on taste or quality at any point in the process. We're talking crispy quesadillas, twice-baked potatoes with cheese and bacon, English muffin pizzas, taco stuffed peppers, and so much more.
Fast Food From Home
Craving McDonald's fries and Chick-Fil-A nuggets but lacking any energy to get out and get them? We've got the perfect solution - as long as you've got an air fryer at hand, that is! Use this appliance to recreate your favorite fast food dishes and control your oil and fat intake while doing so!
For example, this copycat McDonald's fries recipe air-fries the chips over the traditional deep-fried approach favored by fast food eateries. It also cuts out all the oil and uses more straightforward, natural ingredients to ensure they are as healthy as fries can realistically be!
It's pretty unbelievable, but the air fryer can be used to make none other than hardboiled eggs. For this handy trick, put the eggs in the fryer at 250°F. After exactly sixteen minutes, take them out and place them in a bowl of ice-cold water for five minutes. They'll then peel off with ease!
In fact, it's not just hardboiled eggs that the air fryer can create. The appliance is able to whip up eggs in any form of choice - from an omelet to scrambled. While these will come out soft, fluffy, and incredibly tasty, they will take twenty minutes to make, losing points here to the ten-minute stove method.
One of the first foods to come to mind when we say air fryer is, of course, fries. The machine's ability to cook one of our favorite unhealthy foods in a less heart-killing way was primarily responsible for these appliances flying off the shelves. But it's not just good for regular fries; whip up some loaded fries too!
As proposed by TikTok user @richardeats, it's best to start with a layer of aluminum foil. Cook some frozen fries for fifteen minutes at 400°F, and then it's time to get loading. Add shredded cheddar cheese, some craps of bacon, and some chives, and put them back in the air fryer for another three minutes.
Preheat for Perfection
Although an air fryer puts the oven to shame in more ways than one, there is one thing it can learn from the traditional appliance, and that is preheating. As tempting as it is to throw the food in the air fryer and call it a day, taking three extra minutes to preheat it will take the food to the next level.
Just like with the oven, preheating the air fryer is a critical step in the cooking process and can seriously impact the final product. Heat up the appliance just a few minutes before to help ensure the food is cooked thoroughly. The set-up time will also be significantly shorter!
Avoid Basket Sticking
Some of the best air fry hacks are not written in the accompanying manual but have spread online through word of mouth. For those desperately flipping through the user guide trying to find a solution for the sticky mess left after each use, the answer lies right here.
The trick is to grease the surface of the basket with oil. This should be one with a high smoking point, such as safflower or soybean. Although there's a ready nonstick coating to ease the cleaning process, this will guarantee an even smoother wipe as the dirt easily slides away.
Corn on the Cob
How is it fair that some of our favorite foods can only be eaten at specific times of the year? Take corn on the cob, for example - a delicacy limited to the sunny, BBQing summer months. The air fryer is here to fight against this concept, helping ensure we can eat grilled corn on the cob whenever we desire!
Turn the appliance to 400ºF and cover the corn with cooking spray and spices. After five minutes of cooking, flip it over and return it for another five minutes in the heat. After ten minutes in total, take out the perfectly grilled corn on the cob! No one will suspect a thing!
Bacon at Its Best
Every kitchen appliance will claim to be the perfect bacon-cooking tool, but we're here to crown the air fryer as the winner. This trusty machine allows its users to create crispy bacon strips with minimal effort. So, throw the frying pan away, and let's get to work!
Simply take the bacon and cut it into slices. Preheat the oven to 375°F and then place the pieces on the air fryer's rack. Wait two to three minutes before opening the tray and flipping the bacon. Leave for another two to three minutes, and you'll be left with crispy bacon - no frying smells or fumes involved.
Save the Juice!
One of the smartest hacks on this list involves thinking ahead and thanking yourself later for doing so. Any time the air fryer is being used to cook things like chicken, bacon, or pork chops, make sure to collect the drippings and juice that are left over in the air fryer basket.
While this may sound slightly unappealing, they can be stored in a plastic container in the fridge and put to great use later on. These deliciously flavored juices contain all the great taste of the meat cooked prior and can be used to create a homemade gravy. You gotta try it to believe it!
Avoid Cooking Sprays
After all those years of cooking in the oven or on the stove, we've grown accustomed to using the nonstick cooking sprays whenever it's meal time. This, however, is one step to avoid when using the air fryer, as they often include additives that can significantly damage the inside of the unit.
The advantage of these aerosol cooking sprays is that it helps us easily control the amount of oil we use in our food. In order to still apply oil in this way, pour some regular olive oil into an empty spray container. Before each air fryer session, spray once and twice, and you're good to go.
Few things are more annoying than opening the air fryer to see half the food overcooked and the other undercooked. Although it is a mostly perfect appliance, the air fryer does have its weaknesses like the rest of us, and can be known to cook its inputs unevenly. Thankfully, we have a straightforward solution to this!
Depending on how long the recommended total cooking time is, set a reminder to open the air fryer basket once or twice and shake the contents. This will help to ensure the food is evenly spread out in the heat and is not spending too much time in one corner of the basket.
Create a Seasoning Rub
One important thing to remember when cooking with the air fryer is that it uses air circulation to fry the food inside. With this in mind, avoid sprinkling on the seasonings as usually done before oven cooking, as it will blow around the unit and cause a mess.
Instead, mix the seasonings in a bowl with a small amount of oil and create a wet rub to spread across the food. Not only will it cook and season the food better, but it will also help avoid some serious mess inside the machine! You'll thank us later for this one!
At times, the dishwasher may feel like the most helpful appliance in your kitchen, but there are limitations to its powers. Clearly feeling threatened by the air fryer's high rise to fame, the dishwasher is not a fan and can cause damage to its pieces upon entry.
Avoid loading the air fryer pieces into the dishwasher; use a wet rag to clean the rack and internal parts instead. Thinking ahead, the air fryer pieces were designed with a nonstick coating, so cleaning it manually is as effortless as the rest of its functions.
Anything meat can do, fish can do too, so don't be afraid to air fry the salmon! Not only is it convenient, but the air fryer cooks the salmon in a way that guarantees crispiness on the outside and moisture on the inside. It seriously puts the oven to shame with this one.
To achieve this result, drizzle some olive oil over the salmon, add salt and pepper, and place in the air fryer at 390°F. After just seven minutes of patiently waiting, the fish will be ready to eat. As a bonus, the clean-up involved is basically zero! Win-win.
Clean Every Time
The air fryer may help its users cut corners in terms of time and effort, but shortcuts should never be taken when it comes to keeping the valuable appliance clean. In fact, the experts recommend cleaning it thoroughly after every single use in order to avoid future technical problems.
If your appliance has started acting up and smoking up when in session, this might be because of a build-up of leftover oil and batter on the bottom of the air fryer. As this continues to layer up, it will begin to smoke as the machine is repeatedly used. Wipe it down every time, and thank yourself later!
Despite its positive reputation as an all-knowing machine, there are a few foods that are not best suited for the wonderful air fryer. The air fryer basket or shelf is unlikely able to hold things like macaroni and cheese or fried rice - think of the mess involved as it seeps through the basket holes!
But of course, the world of TikTok has found a solution and discovered that oven-safe baking dishes, bowls, and ramekins could all be placed inside the air fryer. Add the ingredients to the glass baking dish and then put this into the air fryer. This way, the food is held together, and the air fryer can still do its thing!
The Perfect Pizza
For as long as we can remember, microwave pizza has been our go-to for satisfying a late-night pizza craving. Now, the air fryer has provided us with a healthier, more delicious alternative that's just as quick and easy to make—introducing the air fryer pizza that goes crispy in all the right places.
First, spread some dough along the bottom of the air fryer and let it cook for three minutes. Next, assemble the pizza inside the machine by adding tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings of choice. Allow the entire pizza to cook at 375°F for seven minutes - checking the cheese is melted and the crust is golden!
Less Is More
An age-old trick when cooking roast vegetables in the oven is to add a drop of butter for extra taste. The air fryer, however, is here to put the oven to shame yet again, providing the best results with the smallest amounts of butter. In fact, when air-frying roast veggies, too much butter can ruin them!
Take zucchini, for example, which can go brown much faster in the air fryer if too much butter has been added. For the juiciest roast vegetables, use the smallest amount of oil, add some salt and pepper, and allow the air fryer to do the rest. It's no regrets, guaranteed.
Just a Drop!
When one hears the word 'fryer,' they're likely to think of unhealthy, deep-fried, oil-intense food. But that is the beauty of the air fryer - it requires a minimal amount of oil for the same great-tasting result. This is important to remember every time the air fryer is turned on.
Although it's often a natural instinct to pour generously, be aware of how much oil is added to the food before putting it into the appliance. The experts recommend just a light coating of olive oil is necessary to cook as intended. These air fryers really are in a league of their own!
What NOT To Try!
While TikTok is often a place to learn the most innovative and valuable hacks out there, they can sometimes get it very wrong, sharing tips we should most definitely avoid. This viral air fryer cleaning hack falls under the latter category and can leave your air fryer, well, fried.
This user squirts dish soap into the dirty air fryer basket, fills it with water, puts it in the machine for 3 minutes at 200°F, rinses it, and voila! Unfortunately, the appliance is not designed to store such quantities of water and can easily make its way into the internal electrical parts, destroying the machine.