Last year I got a gift for Christmas that I didn’t ask for. A gift I didn’t know I wanted. A gift I couldn’t do without now. I’m talking about an air fryer. It’s changed how… and what I cook.
As I’ve become more familiar with air fryers I’ve shared my experiences with friends and family on my Facebook page… and on this blog’s Facebook page. Some have called me an air frying expert… but I prefer the term air frying enthusiast because I’m still learning.
I often get questions about air fryers and my experiences… so I thought I’d combine them all in one place as a resource for those that want to know more.
What is an air fryer? Isn’t it basically a small convection oven?
Air fryers are kitchen appliances designed to cook food by circulating hot air all around it. The food sits in a colander-like basket that allows grease to drip off and be collected in a pan below.
As the name implies, with air fryers, you to cook with hot air and considerably less oil than traditional fryers… yet you get similar crispy results. And, yes, air fryers are basically small countertop convection ovens.
What can you make in an air fryer?
Pretty much anything you can make in an oven you can make in an air fryer. Steaks, chops, chicken, fish, shrimp, baked potatoes, roasted veggies, garlic bread, tater tots, cheese sticks, chicken, eggs, banana bread… the possibilities really are only limited by your creativity and willingness to try new things.
What size should I get?
In my opinion, when it comes to air fryers, bigger is better. My current air fryer has a 5.8 quart capacity and works great when cooking for my family of 4. I’d want this size even if I was only cooking for myself because it expands the amount/kinds of food you can make.
What air fryer do you recommend?
I started out with a Power AirFryer XL. It’s the “As Seen On TV” one and I used it pretty much daily until it died after 10 months. It only had a 60-day warranty so I went searching for a well-rated air fryer with a longer warranty.
That led me to the Cosori brand. It checked all the boxes; large cooking capacity, 4.5 star Amazon rating, and a 1-year warranty that gets extended to two years if you register your air fryer within 10 days of purchase.
In the short time I’ve used the Cosori air fryer I have to say that I absolutely love it. There are lots of little reasons that make it better than the Power AirFryer brand.
Where should I keep my air fryer?
If you have room, I always suggest finding a permanent spot on your kitchen counter for your air fryer. When it’s in operation, you’ll need to make sure you leave space around it. My current model suggests 5 inches. It does have warm air that comes out the back so you would definitely not want it pushed up against a wall.
Having it out and on your counter will increase the chances of you using it more… and finding creative ways to use it.
Do you leave it plugged in all the time?
I don’t. There is an outlet on the wall behind where it sits. When not in use, the air fryer is pushed to the back of the counter. Having to pull it out to plug it in ensures I’m always making sure it has the space it needs to safely operate.
Does the outside get hot? Do I need to set it on a heat resistant mat or on the stovetop?
The outside of the air fryer does not get hot so there is no need to set it on anything other than your regular countertop. I would not recommend placing it on your stove. I’ve seen pictures and heard the horror stories of other air fryer enthusiasts that have used theirs on the stovetop… only to have a burner accidentally get turned on, melting the bottom of their air fryer.
Are they hard to clean?
Not at all. I typically set the air fryer basket in the sink to soak in some Dawn while we eat, then wipe it out and rinse it off when we’re done. I haven’t done it yet, but the basket on my Cosori air fryer is dishwasher safe.
I just got a new air fryer. What’s the first thing I should make in it?
I recommend everyone make tater tots first. They are inexpensive and will give you an idea of how air fryers work and how fast they can cook things. I’ve seen others make an expensive steak first only to be disappointed because they ended up overcooking it.
What are my favorite things to air fry?
This is a really long list (and I’m sure I’ll forget something) but here goes… chicken thighs, whole chickens, fries (both homemade and frozen), garlic bread, meatballs, O’Brien potatoes, egg sandwiches, cookies and candy bars wrapped in crescent roll dough, doughnuts, grilled cheese sandwiches, leftover pizza, hard-boiled eggs, steaks, pork chops, asparagus, and tater tots. I love tater tots!
I’ve seen recipes that say to spray your food with oil. Will Pam work?
I recommend using extra virgin olive oil with a pump-type sprayer. Some types of Pam, and similar sprays, contain aerosol and this can stick and build up on the cooking basket… making it harder to clean and potentially harming the non-stick coating.
How did you learn so much about air frying?
This is an easy one. I joined several air frying Facebook groups. They are filled with other air fryer enthusiasts that want to learn… and share what they’ve learned through their own experiences with others.
Got any tips for an air frying newbie?
To answer this one… I enlisted help from my favorite air fryer group on Facebook. Here are some of their tips:
- Times and temps in recipes are just guidelines. They are not absolutes! Be attentive to what you are cooking until you learn how your air fryer cooks.
- Besides cooking great meals you will save money. Reheating leftovers taste as good as fresh. Leftover french fries and takeout leftovers that I used to throw away are now a great new meal.
- Preheat your air fryer. This gets the basket hot and helps produce the crispy results you want.
- Read the instruction manual that comes with your air fryer.
- Tape your preset & shortcut sheets on inside cabinet door near your air fryer. At one glance you can scan settings for what you are cooking.
- The presets are just recommendations. Get to know your air fryer and how it cooks.
- Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure your food is cooked to the proper temperature.
- Add a tablespoon or two of water to the bottom before cooking fatty foods like bacon. This will help prevent your air fryer from smoking.
- Get some accessories for your air fryer, like pans, to expand the options of the things you can make.
- Keep a cooking log with times and temperatures of food you make often.
- Let breaded or floured meat sit in the fridge for 30 minutes prior to air frying. That allows the coating to look right after air frying.
- Don’t be discouraged by one bad result. Keep trying!