Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Using Air Fryers

We all have busy lives and never seem to have the time to spend cooking in the kitchen. As a result, we seek out easier ways to make the cooking process less of a burden. The air fryer is the perfect solution to this modern-day kitchen problem — unless we make one of the mistakes to avoid when using air fryers.

Air fryers have now become a kitchen stable in many households, and their popularity is continuing to grow. With the ability to deep fry foods with nothing but hot air and a small amount of oil, it is easy to see why.

Benefits of an Air Fryer

If you have been thinking about purchasing an air fryer but are on the fence with your decision, check out these benefits.

  • You can cook food with only hot air and a small amount of oil.
  • It’s a low-fat alternative to fried food.
  • It is an energy efficient appliance as it uses less energy than a conventional oven.
  • You can cook almost everything in an air fryer.
  • Air fryers produce crispy and juicy food.
  • It’s a veritable appliance as you can fry, grill, bake, and roast food.
  • It cooks faster so you can have food quicker.

Want to know more?

Read our Air Fryers Buyer’s Guide to find our best tips, what type of air fryers are available, and where to buy them.

Air fryers are a fantastic kitchen gadget to have at home that produces tasty, crisp fried food. Using an air fryer is pretty simple, however, like with any kitchen appliance, it is easy to make mistakes when using them for the first time or if you don’t know how to use them correctly.

Here the top 5 mistakes to avoid when using air fryers. 

5.) Mistakes to Avoid Before Cooking in an Air Fryer

chips in the air fryer

lidiasilva / Shutterstock

Overcrowding the Basket

It may be tempting to throw a load of food into the basket of the air fryer if you are cooking for a family. This is one of the most common mistakes that you need to avoid when using air fryers.

If you overload the basket, the food will cook unevenly. The family meal you’ve all been looking forward to all day will end up ruined.

Instead, give your food room to breathe by distributing it evenly in the basket to allow it to cook through evenly. Shaking the air fryer basket halfway through cooking can help overcome the problem of cooking unevenly.

You can even cook your food in batches back-to-back. Cooking in an air fryer is faster than frying or roasting, so you don’t need to worry about cooking everything all at once.

Not Giving It Room to Vent

It may be tempting to keep your air fryer under a cabinet or pushed back on top of a counter. Don’t do this because it will cause problems with the appliance.

Air Fryers require a vent to function correctly and crisp food. For the air fryer to do this, the exhaust vent needs space around it to allow the air to flow through.

Keep your air fryer on a level and heat-resistant countertop with enough space behind it (allow 5 inches) to allow it to vent correctly.

4.) Mistakes to Avoid When Adding Oil to an Air Fryer

white air fryer and chips

Delaram / Shutterstock

Using Too Much or Too Little Oil

The joy of air fryers is that you can achieve the deep-fried food result without deep frying the food in a load of oil. However, most air fryer recipes taste better with the addition of a little oil. The hot air venting through the appliance will cook the foods without oil, but it can end up dry, burnt, and leathery.

It can be hard to judge how much oil to add to your air fryer. You’ll usually need half a teaspoon of oil. Fresh vegetables, chicken, and steak may need more oil. This will ensure that the food will get golden and crisp when air frying.

If you add too much oil, the food can become burnt soggy and even a fire hazard.

Top Tip: Add a coating or spray of oil to the air fryer basket to give an added layer of protection and to stop messes becoming more troublesome and easier to clean. Some air fryer models already have a non-stick basket. Check your air fryer manual to make sure that you can do this.

Cooking Fatty Foods Without Water

Another common mistake many of us do when using an air fryer is not to add water hen cooking fatty foods like bacon or burgers. By adding some water the drawer underneath the fryer basket, the drippings of grease from the fatty foods won’t smoke.

Top Tip: Cover the air fryer bottom tray with aluminum foil to make it easier to clean.

Read Air Fryer Reviews

3.) Mistakes to Avoid Before Adding Food to an Air Fryer

forgetting to preheat your air fryer

Delaram / Shutterstock

Forgetting to Preheat Your Air Fryer

Many models of air fryers state that they do not require preheating before use. However, if you find that food is frequently undercooked when you use your device, you may need to preheat the appliance.

Preheat your air fryer before use. Set the air fryer to the desired temperature three minutes before cooking. Preheating the air fryer will allow for a better cooking experience as the temperature and air flow to reach the correct level to cook your food evenly and to a crisp.

Top Tip: If you forget to preheat your air fryer and have already started the cooking process, add three minutes to the cooking time for best results.

Neglecting to Weigh Down Light Foods

Flyer food can be a common occurrence in an air fryer due to the powerful fan at the top of the appliance. Smaller or lighter foods can get swept up in the fan and start flying around inside of the machine.

Weigh food down when cooking to stop this from happening.

Top Tip: The air fryer basket divider can be used as a weight to hold the food down when cooking.

2.) Mistakes to Avoid When Cooking With an Air Fryer

trying to cooking raw vegetables in an air fryer

lidiasilva / Shutterstock

Only Use it for “Fried” Foods

Using an air fryer for cooking frozen foods like French fries or chicken nuggets, you are essentially frying foods that have already been fried. Air fryers can be used to cook more than fried food. If you are only using them to fry frozen foods, you are certainly missing out!

Top Tip: Although microwaves can heat leftover food, the foods often get soggy and soft. Use your air fryer to heat leftovers to give it some extra crispiness.

Not Baking With It

If you’re not already baking with your airy fryer, you’re missing out on a variety of delicious options.

Baking in an air fryer is an excellent alternative to using a conventual oven. It is more energy efficient, and it means that you’ll be able to get cake fix without turning your whole kitchen into a boiling hot oven.

Air fryers can be used to bake healthy meals such as casseroles and desserts.

Top Tip: Invest in some pans that will fit inside your air fryer basket such as a 6″ round baking tray. You can then drop then baking tray into the airy fryer basket and use it for baking.

Trying to Cook Raw Vegetables

Yes, you may have bought your air fryer to help kick start your healthier lifestyle and aid you in cooking fresh foods. However, you are better off using frozen vegetable in an airy fryer than fresh ones.

Raw vegetables can scorch in the air fryer before they are cook all the way through and you are left with a charred exterior while the insides are frozen. Frozen vegetables, on the other hand, already contain moisture which allows them to cook full all the way through before they start to brown.

1.) Maintenance and Setting Mistakes to Avoid When Using an Air Fryer

close up of air fryer settings

Trong Nguyen / Shutterstock

Setting it and Forgetting About it

Air fryers are a great convenient kitchen appliance that is simple and easy to use. There are, however, a few things that you need to do to keep them functioning correctly and safely.

Unlike slow cookers, you can’t put your food into an air fryer, set the timer, walk away, and do something else while it’s cooking. For the best results, you should flip the food halfway through the cooking process to ensure that both sides are crisp and evenly cooked on both sides.

Check on food now and again to see how well it is cooking. If you find that the food isn’t as browning as much as you’ll like, add a little more oil to aid in the browning process.

Never leave you fryer unattended because this is a fire hazard. Check on the progress on your food and for signs of any trouble. These signs are:

  • Black smoke means that food is burning inside.
  • White smoke means that excess grease or oil is too hot and in danger of catching fire.

Top Tip: Add water to the air fryer drawer to keep things cool and prevent oil from catching fire during cooking.

Washing It Infrequently or Incorrectly

Many of us are guilty of leaving the airy fryer sitting on the side of the counter for days still dirty after use. This is a massive mistake that must be avoided.

Most air fryer models require that you wash them by hand. Yes, this can feel like a massive chore, but it is essential to maintain and keep your air fryer functioning at its optimum.

  • Follow these simple tips avoid washing the air fryer incorrectly:
  • Wash by hand after every use.
  • Use soap and water.
  • Soak and scrub the air fryer occasionally.
  • Don’t put the air fryer into the dishwasher.

There is always food crumbs stuck in the basket after use. If the air fryer isn’t cleaned frequently and correctly, these crumbs will cause the airy fryer to smoke and smell. This, in turn, will ruin the food and your meal.

Top Tip: Clean the air dryer by hand after every use. The food will be easy to remove if it is done straight away.

The next time that you’ve got your air fryer out to cook up a feast, follow these top 5 tips to avoid making any mistakes.

Want to know the differences between airy fryers and deep fryers? Read the next article to read everything you need to know.

Air Fryer vs. Deep Fryer: What's the Difference? Air Fryer vs. Deep Fryer: What's the Difference?