Here's Exactly What You Should Know Before You Use Your New Air Fryer

For air frying newbies, this air fry guide covers everything you need to know to get started.

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What if we told you there was a machine that could fry foods into light and crispy perfection with little to no oil? Meet the air fryer. This cult-worthy countertop appliance cooks by circulating hot air around French fries, chicken wings, veggies, and more at a high speed, turning out crisp results with significantly less fat than what's used when cooking with a deep fryer. Favorite hangover foods like oven fries, are made healthier and faster.

Technically air fryers are mini convection ovens, though they work in a fraction of the time it would take your conventional oven and without heating up the whole house. Artichokes cook in about 15 minutes in an air fryer. In a pinch, the air fryer will produce bok choy with charred, crispy, frilly leaves and tender stalks in around 6 minutes. Also, one of the benefits of convection cooking is that it better promotes browning. The high heat of an air fryer help to get caramelized edges on acorn squash. The air fryer also gives corn on the cob the same effect as grilling, with crisp, browned kernels that require very little cleanup.

Whether you found your new air fryer under the Christmas tree or bit the bullet and bought one to kick your healthy cooking up a notch, you're in luck. With the turn of a dial, this trendy tool can cook up everything from bite-sized Trader Joe's appetizers to weeknight mains in minutes—with all of the flavor and none of the guilt. Whole spaghetti squash cooks to al dente perfection in 20 minutes. Roast beets for salad in even less time. Baking a potato in an air-fryer produces an ultra-crisp skin. You can even make poached eggs in an air fryer. Just brush up on these air frying pointers before you begin.

How to make the most of your air fryer model

When it comes to user-friendly appliances, it doesn't get much better. Most air fryer models have a drawer that pulls out that holds a metal basket inside. Just toss your food with a tablespoon or two of oil, place in the basket, then set the temperature dial and the timer to cook. And be sure to follow these simple air fry guide tips to get the best results:

Air frying guide

  • Don't overcrowd the fryer basket. In fact, the results are best when you arrange foods in a single layer if possible. This ensures foods like Trader Joe's shrimp pops (an employee favorite), come out with a light and crispy, non-soggy exterior.
  • Start air frying your food within a few minutes of tossing in the oil—the trick to getting TikTok parmesan potatoes wonderfully crispy.
  • Gently shaking smaller ingredients, like Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese Bites (a Trader Joe's pumpkin-forward fall product) in the fryer basket halfway through cooking (or every five to 10 minutes) will help prevent them from frying unevenly and will enhance their crispy texture.
  • When converting a recipe for something roasted or baked into an air fryer-friendly recipe, lower the temperature by 25°F but keep the cooking time the same. To cook turkey, just roast it at 350 degrees until cooked through. The best way to get tender juicy turkey breast with extra crispy and golden skin is to rub the surface with olive oil or softened butter first.
  • Pre-packaged frozen foods, such as frozen pizza, don't need additional oil before being air fried.
  • When air frying larger or delicate foods, like everyone's favorite freezer superfood salmon, use tongs to lift them out of the fryer basket. Otherwise, you can turn the food out directly into a serving bowl or plate.
  • You can also use your air fryer to reheat foods. Place in the basket and set the temperature to 300°F for up to 10 minutes. To reheat a baked potato, preheat to 350°F.

Air fryer safety tips

  • Because most air fryer models have a basket with a nonstick coating, avoid scraping the surface with metal utensils to preserve the finish.
  • Maintain caution when preparing highly greasy foods in the air fryer like sausage—excessive fat dripping into the pan can cause smoking.
  • It's OK to pull the basket out at any time throughout the cooking cycle to check on the progress—most models will automatically shut off while it's out and resume when the basket is placed back in. This is ideal for ensuring items like corn chip-crusted chicken tenders, a tasty Trader Joe's recipe hack, don't overcook and dry out. If food isn't sufficiently fried when the timer goes off, just set the timer for a few extra minutes and continue air frying.
  • Always set the basket, pan, and any accessories on a heat-resistant surface when frying is complete and maintain caution, as these tools get very hot during the cooking process.
  • Once food is removed, the air fryer is ready for another batch. But if you've been prepping fatty ingredients and excess oil has collected in the bottom of the basket, carefully pour it out after each batch.

The best air fryers

Since air fryers have become so popular, many appliance companies have started producing them. Unfortunately one company, Cosori, has had to recall 2 million air fryers due to fire risk. Nevertheless, air fryers do offer an overall safe and environmentally friendly method of cooking—an important consideration when there are concerns about the possible banning of gas stoves. If you haven't already purchased one, check out our guide to the best air fryers to consider.

Philips Air Fryer

air fryer

The Philips fryer is decked out with bells and whistles, like preset programs for making frozen fries, meat, fish and drumsticks; an LED-lit digital display; and a keep warm function that works for up to 30 minutes. It also comes with a splatter proof lid, recipe booklet, and it works with a compatible Philips Airfryer app that has over 200 recipes. The possibilities are endless—even cook oatmeal for breakfast.

Black + Decker Purifry

Black + Decker 2L Purify Air Fryer


This air fryer touts dual convection fans, knobs for setting cook time and temperature, and two indicator lights to show when the device is on and when it's preheated. Available in black or white.

Ninja Foodi

Pressure Cooker Steam Fryer
Courtesy of Amazon

The super-sized Foodi has two distinct baskets that can be set at different temperatures and cooking settings, so you can roast cauliflower while you air fry chicken. Or, make hamburgers and fries in less time and healthier than your favorite fast food joint—use using to 75 percent less fat than other air fryers.

Cleaning your air fryer

Follow these easy instructions to keep your air fryer looking and smelling like new. (We also have a full air fryer cleaning guide to help you keep yours in tip-top shape.)

Pro tip: Be sure that the appliance is off, unplugged, and cool before you start cleaning.

Cleaning the fryer basket and pan

Fill with hot water and add a few drops of dish soap and allow the pan with basket inside to soak for ten minutes. Wipe the basket walls and bottom with a moist cloth or non-abrasive sponge; allow to air dry before putting back into the device.

Washing the air fryer exterior

Clean the outside of the air fryer with a damp cloth, as well as the walls of the interior cavity that hold the fryer basket. If necessary, food residues stuck to the heating element inside may be removed with a non-abrasive sponge or soft bristle brush and wipe dry with paper towel. Avoid steel wool or hard bristles, as these tools can damage the coating on the heating element.

Air fryer recipes to try

While most people are eager to start their air frying journey with French fries, chicken fingers, and other fried foods, you can use this appliance to make everything from seafood to veggies crisp and delicious. Check out a few of our favorite beginner air fryer recipes below, plus 16 additional recipes to try.

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