How to use (and maintain) an air fryer.

Learning to use an air fryer can feel intimidating.  Here's everything you need to know to achieve success with the airfryer.  (Photo: Getty)

Learning to use an air fryer can feel intimidating. Here’s everything you need to know to achieve success with the airfryer. (Photo: Getty)

About five years ago I received an airfryer as a gift. That box remained unopened for several months as I wondered how I would use it. Like many, I found the concept of a new device more than a little intimidating.

Now, in a small studio apartment, every box of an unused device is a waste of valuable real estate – so in the end I had to overcome my fear and open that box. What I discovered was not a waste of space, but what would quickly become my favorite appliance – a godsend for small spaces that has the power to replace the toaster, the microwave and even the oven.

My counter space is limited, so I can only have one appliance on it at a time. That appliance has been my air fryer for years, and I’ve used it to make everything from roast chicken to stuffed peppers…and so much more.

If you bought an air fryer for the holidays and have similar trepidation, it’s time to get to grips with what the machine can do and Why you need it in your own life.

What is an air fryer?

Despite the name, an air fryer is nothing more than a powerful countertop convection oven, and it has been around for decades. Your grandmother probably even had one. Hot air fryers simply have a hip design that feels a lot more trendy than the hot air oven in which grandma heated her soup.

But the airfryer is often misunderstood. People hear the term and assume it’s for fried foods, but it’s not just for frying – an air fryer can do so much more than that. “While in some ways it can mimic the texture of deep-fried foods with much less oil, don’t think that all an air fryer can do is fry,” says Emily Paster, author of Epic Air Fryer Cookbook: 100 Inspired Recipes That Take Air-Frying In Deliciously Exciting New Directions, tells Yahoo Life. “Air fryers can be used to bake, roast, sear and caramelize your favorite meats and vegetables. They can even be used to bake desserts and sweet treats.”

And they do it all in a fraction of the time, using less oil than your hob and oven. My airfryer has become my most precious device. I’ve used it to make everything from roast chicken to stuffed peppers to eggplant parmesan and so much more.

Why are they called air fryers?

Air fryers got their name because they can make food, whether wings or potato wedges, as golden brown and crispy as if they had just come out of the fryer. But they do this without a big pot of oil. Just use a quick spray of cooking oil and you’re good to go. And often you can skip even that.

“Air fryers are equipped with a powerful convection fan that rapidly circulates the micro-droplets of oil around the outside of the food, creating a golden brown, crispy, crunchy outside and a juicy inside,” explains Paster.

And somehow they get these healthier, lower-fat, lower-fat results in less time, too. “Unlike conventional ovens, air fryers heat up quickly and circulate air around food using that powerful fan, which helps food cook faster without preheating,” says Paster.

What can you cook in an airfryer?

Of course you can prepare pre-packaged frozen products, such as fries or taquitos, in your hot air fryer. Many people only use them for this kind of snack and party food. But it’s good for so much more, like lobster tails. Seriously.

“You can also cook healthy, whole foods, like salmon fillets and Brussels sprouts, in your air fryer to create satisfying, nutritious meals in a fraction of the time it takes in the oven,” says Paster. “This is especially helpful for singles, couples, and small families.”

One dish that Paster only makes in the hot air fryer is her chicken schnitzel recipe. “It’s a staple in my house and I’ve found that the air fryer makes perfect cutlets that are crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside with less oil and much less mess than cooking it on the stove,” says Paster. .

The airfryer is ideal for heating up

Air fryers are great at reheating foods like leftovers and pizza, which is great news for those of us who, as I said before, don’t have a microwave, or maybe just don’t like the taste of microwaved pizza. It’s also incredibly fast and easy. “Put it on a low heat, around 300 F, and air fry your leftovers for a few minutes until they’re heated through.” says pastor.

Unlike the microwave, the air fryer makes crispy, crunchy leftovers that never get soggy. This is especially important these days when food prices are so high; you don’t want to waste food, including everything you bring home from a restaurant in a doggy bag. “You can even take home fries from your favorite restaurant and heat them up in the air fryer the next day,” says Paster.

Move the food while cooking

Recently I made spicy harissa wings in my airfryer. Wings are a classic and one of the foods that air fryers are best known for, but it’s important to remember to move or flip those wings halfway through cooking or you may find that they’re golden brown and crispy on only one side .

“To cook evenly, it’s always best to toss the food halfway through the cooking time,” says Lizzy Briskin, food editor at Real Simple. “You can just grab the basket handle and shake it, or use a soft spatula or tongs to move the contents. Avoid using metal utensils on a nonstick basket, as they can damage the coating.”

Be careful with that cooking spray

Cooking spray and an air fryer are the perfect combination, but it’s important to remember that unlike cooking in a skillet, the food should be sprayed, not the air fryer basket.

“It’s best not to spray aerosol cooking oil directly onto a nonstick frying basket, as it can attack the nonstick coating,” says Briskin. “Instead, if a recipe calls for oiling the basket, brush it with a thin coat of olive or neutral oil.”

But you can and should spray your food with nonstick cooking spray before frying. This makes the outside of the food evenly crispy and prevents it from drying out.

What makes an airfryer different from other appliances?

Once you get the hang of your new air fryer, you’ll find yourself quite obsessed with it. “The reason I love using my air fryer so much is because it provides a quick, easy, and healthy way to ‘fry’ foods instead of traditional deep-frying methods,” says Executive Chef Kai Chase, who has served as personal chef. for clients such as President Barack Obama, Jamie Foxx and Mary J. Blige.

It’s the no mess, no fuss aspect that has many people coming back to use an air fryer again and again. “Frying your food on a stovetop gives you a ton of leftover oil to throw on top of the oil splatters in your kitchen that are impossible to clean up,” says Chase. “You also have to deal with the chore of absorbing all the oil from your fried foods onto a paper towel before serving.”

With an airfryer, that mess is as good as non-existent, since you don’t even have to use oil in the first place. “Any oil or water that comes off your food comes off in the air fryer and drips into the slotted basket or container,” says Chase.

How do you clean an air fryer

The most important thing to keep in mind when maintaining your air fryer is that the basket has a non-stick coating that you want to keep to get the longest life out of your appliance. “Don’t use metal tools or abrasive cleaners that can scratch,” warns Paster. “Wash the basket in hot, soapy water with a soft sponge and use nonstick tongs and spatulas when removing food from the basket.”

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