4 Things You Shouldn’t Cook in an Air Fryer
No, you can't cook everything in an air fryer.
There’s no small appliance that’s more popular than the air fryer right now. These countertop cookers make life so much easier, allowing you to skip the oven and even “set it and forget it” for some dishes. Best of all, air fryers can be easier to clean than a stove or oven.
Because air fryers are useful for cooking a variety of foods—such as chicken, steak, and even doughnuts—many of us are under the impression there isn’t anything you can’t cook in them. While this is technically true, it doesn’t mean that everything you try to cook in an air fryer will turn out its best or that you won’t potentially risk ruining your treasured air fryer if you use it to make certain dishes.
Here are the foods you should avoid cooking in an air fryer, according to Laurie Klein, chef and consumer test kitchen specialist at Hamilton Beach Brands.
Related: 16 Best Air Fryer Recipes That Are *Almost* Too Good to Be True
Anything Breaded or Battered
“Air fryers are magical ovens that can cook just about anything. However, it's best to leave anything wet-breaded to other small kitchen appliances that are more suited to the unique cooking needs [of breaded foods],” Klein explains. The problem with cooking breaded foods like shrimp tempura or beer-battered fish in the air fryer is the risk of dripping, which can complicate cleanup or potentially damage your machine.
It’s important to eat your veggies, and while there are many ways to cook them—the air fryer isn’t a good choice for leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, bok choy, Swiss chard, and kale. This is because the speed of the air causes them to heat unevenly. The one exception to this rule is that air fryers are great for making veggie chips from these types of vegetables.
On the other hand, vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini taste delicious when cooked in an air fryer.
Thinking about putting heavily-coated chicken wings or perhaps a steak dripping in marinade in the air fryer? Klein suggests thinking again. “The worst foods for air frying have sauces or batters," the chef says. The problem isn’t the cooking so much as the cleanup. Air fryer baskets have holes in the bottom or wire mesh for air circulation. Sauces fall through the openings and cause a messy disaster to have to clean up,” Klein explains.
Cheesy foods like grilled cheese, mac and cheese, or potatoes au gratin are also a no. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule: Frozen foods that have already been fried such as mozzarella sticks can be re-heated in the air fryer.
Even if you aren’t using your air fryer to cook any of the foods listed above, you still need to be mindful of how you use your machine. Klein tells me, “For the best results, no matter what the food, be sure to arrange in a single, even layer. Piling certain foods, like fish and hand-breaded items, in the air fry basket will increase cooking time and reduce the crisping of food.”
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