Kitchen Experts Share The Clever Air Fryer Hacks We Can’t Wait To Try
Air fryers have quickly become every home chef’s must-have kitchen appliance, and it’s easy to see why. These mini-ovens promise to cut down on cooking fat, save us time and energy, and — best of all — deliver perfectly crispy fries every time. But if you’re only using your air fryer for fries, you’re missing out. Food lovers and experts have revealed the genius tips that’ll show you how to make the most of these miraculous machines.
Eggs aren’t hard to crack
Making the perfect boiled egg can be a tiresome business — but did you know your air fryer could come to your rescue? All you have to do is heat your machine to 270 °F and stick a whole egg or four into the basket. For some soft-boiled beauties, you’ll want to cook them for about ten minutes. Hard-boiled eggs will need five minutes more.
Make a mean grilled cheese
When you think of air fryers, you might not immediately think of grilled cheeses. But they can actually give you flawlessly toasted sandwiches with those all-important gooey fillings. Just prepare your grilled cheese in the normal fashion and pop it into an air fryer set to 390 °F for four minutes. Flip that bad boy over and cook for four minutes more, and you’re done.
Think outside the box
You don’t only have to rely on specific air-fryer recipes for your fancy gadget. To expand your horizons, YouTuber Candice Hutchings gives a foolproof way of converting a recipe designed for an oven for an air fryer. She says all you need to do is reduce the suggested oven temperature by 25 °F and take about a fifth off the cooking time, and that should do the trick.
Go nuts for your snacks
The next time you want a hearty snack, you could turn to your air fryer to toast some delicious nuts. The bigger nuts can be flung straight into the device’s basket, but the smaller ones will need to be popped into a dish or some aluminum foil first. Either way, you’ll have beautifully toasted nuts in just a few minutes.
Small batch baking
Don’t just think of your air fryer as a device for fries and fried chicken. The appliance can make light work of sweet treats, too. The best thing is that you only need to bake small amounts of your favorite desserts. In the mood for a cookie but don’t want to make a whole batch? Air fry some frozen cookie dough in 15 minutes for a guilt-free fix.
Love your veggies
People sometimes complain that cooking frozen vegetables in the microwave leaves them in a less-than-appetizing state. So, the next time you’re after a side dish of beautifully cooked veggies, consider using your air fryer. Spread your desired amount of frozen veg into the basket, season and lightly oil, and then cook for 15 minutes or so at 400 °F. Et voilà!
Foil to the rescue
Aluminum foil is handy for any number of tasks throughout your kitchen — and your air-frying activities can benefit from it, too. If you’re cooking something in an air fryer that needs to stay still, for instance, foil could be your new best friend. Instead of buying an expensive accessory, secure your food in place with a strip of aluminum foil. You can even reuse it later.
Shake your basket
You may think that once your air fryer is cooking your food, there’s nothing you can do but hope for the best. But you’ll actually find you get better results if you open up your device and shake the basket halfway through cooking. The basket-shaking will help to keep things spread out and crisping up nice and evenly.
People have found that cooking food that gives off a lot of fat — like, say, bacon — can lead to your air fryer giving out plumes of smoke. It happens because the fat from the food is collected in the drip tray and then gets too hot. There is a simple way to stop this, though. Before you start cooking your breakfast bacon, add a touch of water to the drip tray to keep the grease cool.
Fast food at home
It’s been estimated that Americans will each spend about $1,200 on fast food every year. If that figure shocks you, your air fryer could help you save a bit of extra cash. After all, a lot of our favorite fast foods are often fried. We’re talking about those beautiful Chicken McNuggets, perfectly crispy french fries, and, well, anything from KFC. These are all foods that can be cooked just as well — and with less oil — with your air fryer.
A note on oil
The fat you’d usually put on food going into a regular oven — such as olive, avocado, or vegetable oils — is totally fine in your air fryer. But there are some flavored oils that you might want to consider leaving for a side dip. The Mayo Clinic warns that flaxseed, pumpkin seed, and walnut oils have relatively low smoke points and should probably be avoided in all forms of cooking.
Save your bacon
We automatically think of the air fryer as a simple way of making healthier fried food. But, really, the possibilities are almost endless. Most people are delighted with how well the air fryer cooks bacon. All you have to do is line your basket with bacon — no touching! — and cook them for between eight and 13 minutes, depending on how thick your rashers are. No mess, no fuss.
Most people won’t want to invest in a dedicated dehydrator, so the air fryer is the next best option for dehydrating fruits and vegetables at home. If your air fryer has a dehydration option, then you’re already golden. But if not, you can just put the device on low and cook thinly sliced fruit and veg for 15 minutes at a time. Keep going until you’ve got the desired result.
Love your leftovers
We’ve been throwing our leftovers in the microwave for years, and the results have been infuriatingly inconsistent. But air fryer converts believe their beloved kitchen gadget could change all that. They’ll tell you that pizza tastes better when it’s re-heated in an air fryer because it keeps the crusts moist. You’ll also find that the machine can return your leftover fried food to its former crispy glory in no time at all.
Waste not, want not
Don’t think of your drip tray as only collecting stuff that’ll need to be thrown away later. The fat from roasted meat can often be turned into little flavor bombs for another day. One great example is homemade gravy. If you’ve stored the fat from a roasted turkey on Thanksgiving, you can use that to start a delicious, complementary gravy for your dinner.
Just add water... to your bread
It might sound a little weird to put your stale bread and pastries in an air fryer, but stick with us. When these baked goods are past their best, you don’t need to throw them away or turn them into breadcrumbs. Instead, put a drop of water (in place of oil) in your air fryer’s drip tray and reheat your beloved croissant in the basket. The added moisture should bring your pastry back to life.
Don’t be scared to add more oil
One of the major selling points of air fryers is that they’ll cook your fries with “90 percent less fat” than other appliances. It’s worth remembering this when you check on your food halfway through its cooking time. If your fries are not looking as crisp as you’d like, don’t be shy about giving them another spritz of oil. They’ll taste better — and you’ll still have used far less fat than a deep fryer.
Take a temperature check
If your fries aren’t achieving the kind of crispy goodness you want in an air fryer, it could be because the gadget is lying to you. It’s easy, after all, to believe that the temperature you set your air fryer — or any other kitchen appliance — to is exactly the temperature it’ll cook at. But the only way to be 100 percent sure your device is heating to the correct temperature is by using an oven thermometer. Check the temperature twice a year to make sure it’s all in working order.
More than just good looking
Even when those wings you’ve just roasted in the air fryer look finger-lickin’ good, it doesn’t mean they’re not hazardous to your health. If the meat beneath the crispy skin is uncooked, it could spell very bad news. To guard yourself against unwanted trips to the ER, invest in a meat thermometer. The USDA recommends that the internal temperature of cooked chicken should be 165 °F.
A little and often
Time is at a premium these days, and it can be tempting just to throw all of your food in the air fryer to cook as fast as possible. But this will most likely lead to a plate of food that is somehow raw and burnt at the same time. The best plan of attack is to cook your dinner a bit at a time, never letting your air fryer basket get overcrowded. Just keep the cooked stuff warm while you get on with the rest.
Room to vent
One of the many great things about an air fryer is that it only makes a small footprint in your kitchen. But don’t be tempted to leave the gadget in its stored space while it’s cooking your food. Manufacturers generally recommend that you have it no less than five inches away from walls or overhead cupboards. This gives your air fryer plenty of room to vent — and therefore work at its maximum capacity.
Cleanliness is next to godliness
We know it’s easy to think that you don’t need to clean your air fryer because you didn’t use much oil. But if you give the basket, drip tray, and drawer a wash, you’ll notice that you’ll often scrub away bits of food and residue. If these stayed in the air fryer for too long, they could burn or ruin your food. To keep it working like the lean mean machine it is, you should give it a clean after every use.
Preheated is forearmed
This hack might sound obvious — but you’d be surprised how often it has caught people out. You really do have to heat these gadgets up before you put any food into them. Most people recommend heating the device for ten minutes before you start cooking. The good news is that you can use those ten minutes to do all your prep.
Foil keeps things clean
One of the worst things about cooking at home is the hassle of cleaning up after yourself. It’s in your interest, then, to keep your air fryer as clean as possible at all times. And while the manufacturers of these gadgets don’t always recommend it, air-fryer devotees are fond of lining their devices’ baskets and drip trays with aluminum foil or parchment paper to make sure they stay spick and span.
Really press on those seasonings
If you haven’t properly breaded or seasoned your tenders, these toppings can get blown around the device and make one unholy mess. It’ll leave your food poorly seasoned, too. The best advice is to make sure your seasonings and coatings have been firmly pressed into your food before they go into the basket. You can even pin down loose ingredients with toothpicks.
Breaded not battered
Food that needs a wet batter — battered cod, say, or churros — will inevitably fall apart in your machine and wreak all kinds of havoc. The best alternative is to bread your fish or chicken to achieve an air-fryer equivalent. And, of course, the classic three-part breading process is the perfect technique to achieve lip-smackingly crispy tenders.
A little goes a long way
Despite its name, the air fryer does need a bit of oil to make your food delicious. As a rough guide, most foods will need somewhere between one and two teaspoons of oil — but breaded stuff will probably need twice as much. If you use too much oil, the device could leave your chicken nuggets too wet or too charred. But only putting in a dash of oil — or none at all — will dry out your nuggs until they taste like cardboard.
Don’t use spray oils
You might be used to giving your pans a spritz of aerosol cooking spray prior to making your dinner. But people have warned that this could be a mistake in an air fryer. It seems that these sprays have additives that can be harmful to your air fryer. They could even result in the non-stick coating of your air fryer’s basket breaking down.
Dry before you fry
The last thing you want from your air fryer is sad, wet food. These dreaded dishes could happen after you’ve popped moist vegetables or proteins into the air fryer basket. Dan Zuccarello from America’s Test Kitchen told Insider that the best thing to do is pat your food dry before you fry it. “A dry surface browns more quickly than a wet one since moisture on the surface will steam,” he explained.
If all else fails, try try again
Have you tried all of these hacks and still not gotten the best results? Maybe — just maybe — it could be worth investing in a new, more expensive machine. After all, if you’re using a budget air fryer as your main cooking appliance, it could be giving you a sub-optimal performance. But if a Fancy new fryer doesn't fit into your budget, it might be worth dusting off that trusty old crock pot.
Crockpots may be easy to use, but if you add the wrong foods, you could end up with a culinary nightmare. Ever had curdled milk? You have if you’ve ever eaten yogurt. When overheated, the proteins in milk clump up and create something new. But if you do it wrong, you could end up with a serious stomach ache. Opt to add dairy at the end of the cooking process instead.
Plop frozen meat in your slow cooker and congratulations: you’ve poisoned your dinner guests! Crockpots use a very low temperature that can leave your meat undercooked, risking the development of bacteria like Salmonella, E. Coli, Shigella, and Staphylococcus aureus. Yum!
Sometimes, the secret ingredient to your meal is a dash of liquor. While high temperatures cause alcohol to burn off, low temperatures won’t allow it to blend with your dish. Your dinner guests will end up disappointed with the taste… and mildly buzzed. Lose/win?
Eggs cook fast. When overcooked, they release a toxic gas called hydrogen sulphide that contaminates the whites. If the yolk appears green, you’ve gone too far. Always make eggs a final ingredient to your meal.
If you’ve been making your tomato sauce in your crockpot, don’t panic, but you may be contaminating your favorite pasta dishes. Tomatoes are filled with acids that can leech out the lead from your slow cooker. Lead poisoning from a lasagna? Mamma Mia!
Just like tomatoes, vinegar is extremely acidic. Slow cookers from back in the day were particularly guilty of using this toxic metal. If your crockpot was a hand-me-down, you might want to think twice before thanking grandma.
Peas are one of the worst ingredients to add to a slow cooker. They’re so small and mushy to begin with that cooking them too long will cause them to practically disappear. If you want to add veggies to your crockpot, opt for root vegetables like onions, garlic, turnips, carrots — the list goes on!
You might be thinking, “Wait a minute, I LOVE adding fresh herbs to my slow cooked meals!” While those spots of green may look pretty, letting herbs sit in a slow cooker for too long can strip them of flavor. Add them at the tail end of the cooking process for that straight-from-the-garden gusto.
If you can handle the spice, chillies can be a delightful addition to any meal. Add these peppers to your crockpot too early, however, and you’ll be ramping up the spiciness to extreme levels. This is fine if your dinner guests love the heat, but you’ll be overpowering all the other ingredients you’ve worked so hard on.
Lemons are full of acidic citrus that can pull the lead from your slow cooker, especially if it’s an older model. Lead poisoning can cause stomach pains, vomiting, and constant visits to the bathroom. Better to leave the lemon out altogether.
Did you know dry kidney beans can be toxic? Add them straight to a crockpot, and you’re asking for disaster. It’s better to boil them on high heat before mixing them into your meal. About ten minutes should do the trick.
Don’t worry — you can still add spinach to your favorite crockpot dish. However, make it one of the last things you put in. If cooked for too long, spinach becomes total mush. It may not be dangerous to consume, but you’ll certainly be missing out on all those key nutrients.
Chicken is the #1 cause of food poisoning across the world. Unlike other meats, poultry is extremely dangerous to consume if undercooked. Prepare your chicken separately and wait until serving time to combine it with your meal.
There are so many ways to cook bacon: on a frying pan, in the oven, even in the microwave. But when you add bacon to a slow cooker, you won’t be getting that same, crispy goodness. Instead, you’ll end up with soft lumps of meat that can ruin your entire meal.
Fillet steak is one of the most delicious cuts of beef in the world. But that tender, flavorful meat is far too thin to prepare in a crockpot. That is, unless you like chewy bits of leather. If you’re dying for red meat, go for a thicker cut instead.
Nobody likes overcooked broccoli. It’s mushy, stringy, and not nearly as healthy. To avoid stripping broccoli of its nutrients and ruining your meal, add your greens near the end of the cooking process.
People these days love their couscous. This North African dish is as fun to eat as it is to say. But for those perfect little beads, it’s best to cook separately, especially when making broth. All you’ll get is a pile of mush that would make any African hang their head in shame.
Undercook your seafood, and you’re looking at a slimy mess. Overcook it and you end up with fishy rubber. With such a finicky cooking time, it’s best to prepare seafood separately from your slow-cooked meal.
Cultures all over the world love their rice. For thousands of years, people have managed to get that perfect texture without using crockpots. If you’re really feeling lazy, it’s better to invest in an electric rice cooker that you can easily step away from.
Pasta is easy to prepare and provides a simple, delicious meal to home cooks in a hurry. When overcooked, however, pasta becomes soft and looses those shapes and textures that everyone loves.
This trendy superfood is a great addition to any health nut's pantry. However, if you want it to retain its ideal consistency, avoid sticking it in the slow cooker, where it will absorb excess amounts of liquid, becoming mushy and flavorless.
Cheap vanilla extract
Since vanilla extract is alcoholic, the same rules apply as to other forms of booze. Its flavor will be more distinct when heated in a slow-cooker, and for that reason, you should always opt for the nicer brand.
When in doubt, go for less liquid than you think you need when slow-cooking. These machines are very good at retaining moisture, meaning excessive use of ingredients like chicken stock will leave your dinner swimming in juices.
If a Crockpot recipe calls for vegetables you'll notice that they're usually of the heartier variety, like sweet potatoes or carrots. That's for good reason, too. Vegetables like asparagus are easily overdone and won't hold up well during a long slow cook. If you really want to use them, make sure to only add them in at the end.
Leftovers are inevitable, but it's important to avoid using your slow-cooker when going in for seconds. Instead, try reheating the food by steaming it on the stove or a microwave oven and then placing it in a preheated slow-cooker to keep hot for serving.
Slow Cooked Cran
This one you actually should do! Cranberry sauce is a national favorite, but you don’t have to buy it in a can if that's not your thing. Instead, mix cranberries in a saucepan with water and sugar. For a smoother, more luxurious consistency, throw ‘em in the slow cooker!
When the weather gets cold, life gets a lot more complicated, but the cold months don't have to be sullen if you simply adapt to them, which can help you save time and money. Cooking a different meal every night can get tiring, which is part of why meal prep is making its way into the mainstream. Making meals in bulk can keep food from going bad in your fridge and give you more time to do the things you really care about.
Buy in Bulk
Buying groceries in bulk can save you hundreds of dollars a year. Instead of shelling out money over unreasonably small and expensive items at the grocery store, get a Costco membership and start saving!
The quality of fresh produce always goes down in the winter, but you can make sure your greens last longer in the fridge by wrapping them in tin foil. The tin foil helps vegetables retain their moisture so they don't brown as quickly.
Another preservation tip, but this time with herbs. Whether your herbs are fresh or almost expired, you can mix them with olive oil, freeze them in an ice cube tray, and plop one or two into a skillet at your own convenience.
Ice Cream Scoop
You might not be in the mood for ice cream during the winter chill, but your ice cream scoop doesn't have to collect dust. The same utensil is great for carving seeds out of your favorite winter squash (and yes, it works for pumpkins, too)!
A crockpot is definitely a worthy investment. What's better than a magical pot that cooks all of your meals for you? Simply dump the ingredients in and turn it on. Say goodbye to mountainous stacks of dishes!
It’s officially soup season, but there's an element to soup that's far more important than hunks of vegetables or meat. The key to a cozy, warming bowl is the broth, so don’t skimp on flavorful broths for optimal taste.
Fresh Frozen Foods
Much like how farmers of yesteryear used to stockpile bases and ingredients for the winter, you can totally create entire soups, freeze them, and warm them up on the stove anytime during the cold winter months.
Juicy and Delicious
When you're hunkered down during a blizzard, nothing hits the spot quite like stew. The key to a good stew is to make the liquid contents as flavorful as possible, and for a more dynamic taste, you can swap the water or broth for sherry or apple cider.
In a similar vein, you can totally use an apple or onion chopper to quickly breeze through the normally time-consuming chore of cutting potatoes. Your mashed potato and Shepherd's pie recipes were just cut in half. You’re welcome.
Rolling Pin Hack
The holiday season means baking is in your future, but buying all the required tools can be expensive. Instead of spending money on a rolling pin, you can easily use something we know you already have: an empty bottle of wine!
A cold, dull knife can be the difference between a beautifully sliced dessert and one that's been hacked to death. If you want your slices to be perfect, run some hot water onto the knife before slicing. You’ll thank us later.
With cold weather comes harder sticks of butter. Microwaving it is a tricky game, and some containers are unhygienic. Instead, put it through the cheese grater! It's melt faster and keep your frustration levels in check.
If you finish cooking a meal but your guests are late, don’t let it get cold! Instead, turn the oven on at a low setting and pop those suckers back in. They'll stay warm without getting overcooked, and your guests will think their meal is fresh out of the oven.
Smells Like Winter
For an easy and delicious way to make your home smell like the holidays, fill a pot with cloves, cinnamon, and citrus. Add in the apple cider and red wine, and you have yourself a wonderfully pungent (and tasty!) mulled wine.
There's a way to make hot chocolate even cozier than you thought. For the adults in the room, adding some red wine may sound strange, but it mixes quite well with chocolate! Adding marshmallows is always encouraged, of course.
You might think of snow as an annoying obstacle, but it can actually satisfy your sweet tooth! Pour some maple syrup onto (CLEAN) snow, and you'll find that maple taffy plays nice with ice. It's also a great activity for kids!
Spice Up Coffee
If you want to really warm up this winter, why not experiment with some untraditional coffee drinks? Try swapping your latte for a dirty chai next time. Adding more spice to any warm drink is sure to make you sweat!
Free the Frozen Foods!
Frozen vegetables get a bad rep, but as Food Network recommends, feel free to use frozen vegetables in winter meals. When cooked in soups and stews, they taste just as good as fresh vegetables. Plus, they obviously won't brown as quickly as fresh veggies!