What is an air fryer, anyway? It’s basically a countertop convection oven with a heated coil (usually at the top), a mesh or metal basket, and a fan that circulates the heat around the foods at convection oven rates. Cooking food in an oven creates steam, and deep-frying works by flash-cooking foods in hot oil, but the air fryer cooking method creates an efficient, intense environment of heat that consequently cooks foods faster and more evenly. This results in crisp, browned exteriors and juicy, tender interiors. It’s much healthier, safer, and cleaner than deep-frying foods, but it doesn’t stop there—with an air fryer, you can also roast vegetables and fish, bake muffins and quiche, reheat leftovers, and heat up frozen foods. It basically does the work of an oven, a deep fryer, and a microwave—all in one.
CHOOSING AND USING YOUR FRYER
- Air fryers come in different shapes and sizes, from compact cylindrical countertop styles with a fryer basket (and some even have built-in rotisseries) to convection toaster oven–style fryers. Toaster-style air fryers are larger than most basket-style models, so you can cook most recipes in one batch, which is convenient for larger families. The downside to that is they tend to take up more counter space. Basket-style air fryers, on the other hand, are more compact and come in a variety of sizes. If you’re cooking for just one or two people, a 3-quart basket-style fryer is perfect. If you’re cooking for a family of three or four, you’ll want a model that’s at least 5.5 quarts and up.
To get consistent results, preheating the air fryer for three minutes is key. If your air fryer doesn’t come with a preheat function, before you begin cooking, simply set the air fryer (with the basket inserted) for three minutes to the temperature you plan on using.
- Cook times will vary slightly depending on the wattage and brand of your air fryer. All the recipes in this book were tested with the Skinnytaste by Vremi 1,700-watt air fryer and the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven. For the best results, get to know your air fryer and make adjustments as needed. And don’t be afraid to open the air fryer to check your food—some models will shut off when opened, but they will continue to cook once you close the lid again.
An air fryer is also a great tool for reheating foods, much like a microwave, but without making food rubbery. There are really no rules for reheating food in the air fryer—I usually set the temperature to 400°F and check often on the progress of cooking, until the food is hot.”
TIPS FOR FRYER SUCCESS
- Use olive oil spray. Even though air fryers can cook without oil, foods that are typically deep-fried or breaded will taste best if they’re sprayed with olive oil—and a little goes a long way. For best results, spray both sides of your food with a light spray of olive oil before putting it in the basket. You can purchase an oil mister and fill it with your favorite oil, or you can buy a propellant-free olive oil spray with no additives, such as Bertolli 100% Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Spray.”
- Don’t forget to flip. Since the air fryer heating element is usually at the top, flipping your food halfway is essential for evenly cooked and browned food on both sides. For smaller foods, such as french fries or vegetables, shaking the basket a few times (rather than flipping) will result in everything getting evenly browned and crisp.”
- Don’t overcrowd the basket. Always cook food in a single layer. If an item doesn’t fit, cook the food in batches to avoid overcrowding the basket. Overcrowding prevents the air from circulating around the food and keeps it from browning and turning crisp. To ensure food comes out hot and at the same time, once all the food is cooked and browned in batches, you can put it back into the basket and heat it together for one to two minutes.”
AIR FRYER ACCESSORIES
Investing in some accessories opens up your possibilities for making more dishes, such as frittatas, small cakes, skewers, casseroles, and more! Chances are, you may already have some: Any oven-safe baking dish or cake pan that fits in the air fryer without coming into contact with the heating element will work. Disposable mini foil pie pans and cupcake liners are also great for baking.”
CONVERTING RECIPES TO YOUR FRYER
For traditional oven-baked recipes, you can convert them for the air fryer by reducing the temperature by 25°F to 50°F and cutting the bake time almost in half. You can also refer to the chart on this page to determine the best cooking time for foods.