Learn EXACTLY how to use an air fryer and get your FREE printable air fryer cooking times chart with a FREE meal planner.
You’ll also learn the top 10 mistakes (and how to avoid them).
What is an air fryer?
An air fryer is a small, yet powerful kitchen appliance that was invented as a replacement for the deep fat fryer. It is a medium-sized countertop kitchen appliance that cooks like a small convection oven. It blows hot air using a fan to quickly cook food without the need for added fat.
You can cook a wide variety of meals, snacks and even desserts using an air fryer. You can even cook many items from frozen, so no defrosting is required.
This amazing kitchen appliance has become incredibly popular because they are quick and easy to use, economical and you can make healthy homemade fried food.
Those who follow the lazy keto diet LOVE using this kitchen tool to cook burgers or reheat quick meals.
How do air fryers work?
Air frying works by continuously circulating hot air around the food at high speed, without the need for large amounts of oil. Meals usually have less fat than deep-fried food and are crispier and juicier.
It is the perfect way for cooking food such as crispy chicken wings, burgers, and other fried foods because they give these items a crisp coating.
Are air fryers more healthy?
Cooking family meals this way can be healthy. It really depends on the recipe you use not the cooking method, no matter what diet you follow.
No oil is required to cook food, however, it is often added using an oil spray so food such as chicken nuggets, fish, vegetables, chicken parmesan and bacon remain crispy on the outside and do not stick to the basket.
Is an air fryer good for keto?
Yes, it’s you can cook keto-friendly foods with an air fryer. But it doesn’t matter which diet you follow, you can cook fat-free recipes, Whole30 recipes, dairy-free recipes, vegetarian and even vegan recipes.
WHAT you cook is more important than HOW you cook. So use your favourite healthy recipes and use the air fryer to make healthy family meals at home.
Can you lose weight by eating air fried food?
People often buy an air fryer because the meals cooked have reduced fat and reduced calories. But this may not be entirely true. Often people will overeat food if they think it is “healthy” and therefore not lose weight.
Air fried food is healthy and contains less fat than deep frying food, so the calories are lower too. But if you eat too much, you will never reach your weight loss goals. Especially if you are eating high sugar foods and high carb foods which will affect your blood glucose and may make you insulin resistant which encourages weight gain.
Whilst you can cook meals without fat, those of us who follow a low-carb diet or keto diet, do not worry about how much fat we consume, we worry about the type of fat we consume. Those on keto diets avoid unhealthy processed oils and only eat healthy natural fats.
Do they cook food faster?
Yes, cooking is fast and more efficient because it cooks from all sides using high-speed hot air. Cooking times are shown in the air fryer cooking times chart below and you can download your free copy to print.
Another advantage of using an air fryer to cook your meals is there’s no need to stand by the frying pan flipping burgers, turning bacon or moving chicken wings so they get cooked and browned evenly on all sides. And no more oil splatters on your clothes. How many shirts have you ruined with oil stains from cooking?
Do I need to add oil?
You don’t need to add oil to food when cooking using an air fryer but it does help to use an oil spray to coat the inside of the basket and wire rack to prevent the food from sticking. This makes life much easier when it comes to cleaning time.
Cooking food with a crumb coating, such as chicken nuggets, may become dry so using an oil spray over the food will help give it the fried taste, keep it moist and tender, but without excess oil.
Do air fryers make tasty food?
They might not make food tastier, but they make food fast, crispy, moist, juicy, and economical.
If you have never stepped into your kitchen before to make a meal, using an air fryer for the first time might be just what you need to get into the kitchen making delicious homemade meals and healthy fast food at home.
Can I make complete meals in an air fryer?
Yes, you can cook an entire meal if you utilise the space carefully and don’t overload food in the basket. Begin by placing your vegetables in the basket first then place your meat on top. This allows the meat fat and juices to soak into the vegetables below.
But in reality, most people will use their air fryer to cook the main part of the meal and it’s so hands-off that you can focus on preparing your side dishes while the main dish is cooking.
What type of air fryer is best for a family?
Before buying any new kitchen appliance you need to consider size, price and cleaning guidelines.
- Size – think about how you will best use your fryer. Will you cook the main meals? Snacks? reheat food? Buy the biggest air fryer that you think you will need but also consider your kitchen storage areas. Where will you keep it when not in use? Many people have 2 air fryers because they found that 1 was not enough. They use one to cook the main dish and the second appliance to cook the vegetables and side dishes.
- Price – the cost of air fryers has dropped considerably since they were first introduced. You can now buy an air fryer for $50-$300. Buy the best one you can afford and keep an eye on prices, there are usually special offers available all the time.
- Cleaning guidelines – see if you can read the instruction manual BEFORE buying your air fryer. Having removal parts that can be washed in the dishwasher is a HUGE advantage.
What can you cook in an air fryer?
If you are an absolute beginner, start by cooking something super simple like chicken wings or bacon strips. Then once you learn how to use your air fryer properly you can move onto more complicated recipes.
You can cook almost anything in the air fryer that you can cook in conventional deep frying. In fact, you can also cook more. Whole chicken, quiche, shrimp, salmon, and even mug cakes!
Which is the best air fryer?
The most common air fryer is the basket fryer. They are small to medium-sized, cheap and easy to use and easy to store. They have limited space to cook large family meals.
Multifunction air fryers look like small ovens and hold more food than basket air fryers. These are more difficult to clean and take up more countertop space. They are more suitable for a large family or for those who like to do meal prep.
Top 10 air fryer mistakes (to avoid)
- Overfilling your basket – overfilled baskets will stop the high-speed hot airflow. Your food will steam rather than air fry and go crispy.
- Not turning or shaking food – you will get uneven baking and browning of your food as you would do with any cooking method.
- Cooking the wrong food – you can’t cook food with wet batter, food that requires boiling in water and soft delicate food such as cheesecakes, kale or popcorn.
- Not cleaning each time – every time you use the air fryer, oil and food splatters onto the perforated basket and insides. If you use it again without cleaning first, the oil and food will get baked on making it even harder to clean the next time.
- Cooking at the wrong temperature – too high and the food will burn, too low and the food will take too long to cook and dry out.
- Not using any fat – your food may dry out if no fat is used in the cooking process. Some food will dry out quickly, may burn and any coatings may simply fall off.
- Using too much fat – excessive fat will drip from your food and the high speed hot air will splatter the oil and grease onto the cooking element and may start to smoke and burn.
- Not spraying your basket before cooking – this prevents food from getting stuck onto the perforated tray.
- Setting the incorrect temprature – the rapid rise in temperature and high cooking heats make it easy to overheat and burn food if you are a beginner.
- Placing it in a tight space – don’t put your air fryer in a cupbaord or in a corner when cooking. Do not place it on a surface that is not heat proof. All cooking appliances require space to ensure proper ventillation and to prevent overheating or risk of fire.
Before choosing which air fryer is best for you, always check their cleaning instructions. The best models are the ones where you can clean the removable basket, tray and wore racks using the dishwasher.
You must clean your air fryer frequently after use. Most models have washable parts so please read the instruction manual that came with your model. You can just wipe the drawer out with many brands and then dry it with a paper towel.
An air fryer’s downside is that it’s not compatible with cooking food covered in liquid batter. All the liquid batter will drip all through the air fryer wire rack, burn and make a massive mess.
You can cook almost anything in the air fryer but do not cook these foods:
– fried food with a very wet batter (the batter will drip off before cooking)
– rice (it requires boiling in water)
– a whole chicken (it is incredibly difficult to cook it right to the centre)
– popcorn (they will pop and get stuck to the heating element)
– vegetables that need boiling in water
– leafy greens (they’ll just fly around in the high-speed hot air)
– soup (who fries soup?)
There are also limitations on how many portions you can cook at once. In a regular oven, you could use all 3 wire racks to cook 3 different recipes. However, in the air fryer, you are limited by size and capacity.
Always read the instruction manual and guidance given by the brand of air fryer that you have bought.
An air fryer is so small it heats up rapidly. There is a light that indicates when it has reached the temperature you have set. It is often recommended to preheat, but most people don’t wait for the light to go out. Turn it on and set your temperature, prepare your dish and it’s probably almost reached the desired heat by the time you are prepped and ready to cook.
But test both methods and see what works for you and your air fryer recipes.
Place your poultry skin-side up to get that beautiful delicious crispy chicken skin and to prevent the skin from sticking to the wire rack. Place chicken evenly into the basket or tray with a clear space around each piece. If food is too close together it will stop the hot air from penetrating and cooking the food.
If you are cooking thicker chicken breasts, cut each breast to similar sizes and need the same cooking time. You don’t want undercooked or overcooked chicken.
Always make sure the meat is properly cooked and you test with a meat thermometer or cut in half to visually check there are no areas of raw meat.
Fish can be more delicate to cook in an air fryer and easier to break apart when lifting from the tray inside the cooking basket. You can make a foil basket (or sling) that helps to remove the fish intact.
You can also cover areas that would cook faster than others with a small layer of foil to protect them from the high heat. To prevent any fishy smells from transferring to the next meal, always wash in hot soapy water extra vigilantly after cooking fish or seafood.
Always use an oil spray to coat the crumbed food. This will ensure the crust sticks to the food and cooks to a golden brown. Spray the bottom of the perforated basket to make clean up time easier. Any crumbs that fall from the food can be wiped away easily.
Crumbed food should be turned once during the cooking time Do not shake otherwise you risk all the crust falling off the food. Turn gently with a pair of kitchen tongs. Coat with oil spray again.
Always preheat before cooking steak. Brush with oil on both sides of the meat and season with salt and pepper.
Cook for the desired time to get a rare, medium-rare or well-done steak.
Air fryer cooking chart PLUS bonus meal planner
Cooking times printable charts
These are the cooking temperatures and cooking times for the most common keto air fried food. You can cook chicken, pork, lamb, salmon, seafood and vegetables.
All temperatures and times assume that:
- the basket or tray is not overloaded
- food is moved or shaken once or twice throughout the cooking process
- food is cooked from fresh, not frozen foods.
- when cooking from frozen, you must use the cooking times as stated in that recipe for guidance
- all food should be cooked entirely and meat can be tested using a meat thermometer.
Download the air fryer cooking times chart for quick reference in the kitchen. Use the guide as a quick handy reference for air frying and meal planning.