How to use an air fryer

Everywhere you turn, there’s an air fryer – on the television, on social media and even on your best friend’s kitchen bench. This versatile kitchen gadget has revolutionised the way we cook, offering a healthier alternative to traditional deep frying. Whether you’re a cook or a chef, a gourmet or a gourmand, or just want to see what all the fuss is about, this guide is designed to help you make the most of your air fryer. And if you’re not sure which air fryer might suit you best, we have a few suggestions which are available to buy with Qantas Points or cash from Qantas Marketplace.

But how do air fryers work exactly?

Air fryers have become increasingly popular due to their ability to replicate the crispy texture of deep-fried foods without all the fat. But the burning question is how? They work like this: a heating element produces hot air, which a fan then circulates around the food. In essence they act as a very small convection oven – anyone who grew up in the 1980s will remember the daytime infomercials. This creates a crunchy outer layer with much less oil than conventional frying methods, making meals healthier and speeding up the cooking process. They are also super versatile kitchen appliances, with the ability to grill, roast and even bake! So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty…

Step 1: Preheat the air fryer

Let’s start at the very beginning (it’s a very good place to start). Before you begin cooking, make sure to preheat your air fryer to the desired temperature – check to see if it has a digital display or a dial, and adjust it accordingly. One of the best things about air fryers is that unlike traditional ovens, they only require a few minutes to warm up. And if you're unsure about the ideal heating temperature, consult the recipe. And what better time to sort your mise en plus, which is just a french way to say pulling all your ingredients together and having them ready to go. This is an especially good idea if you’re a beginner.

Step 2: Add a small amount of oil to your food and place in the basket

While we wish it were possible to fry without any oil at all, air fryers do need a little to make your food crispy. Toss your food with a small amount of oil to coat it evenly, a tablespoon or less, then add it to the air fryer basket. You can also consider a nonstick cooking spray made with oils that have a high smoke point, like avocado, canola or peanut oil. Ensure everything is spread out, avoiding overcrowding, for the best results. It's better to cook in batches to ensure everything cooks evenly and is crispy, which is kind of the point! Quick side note on the issue of oils, we’re not saying you can’t use olive oil in the air fryer. However, it does have a much lower smoke point so you’re best using it for recipes that require cooking temperatures of 190 degrees or less.

Step 3: Set the time and temperature, and be prepared for a half-time show

Check the recipe. We repeat, check the recipe. Air fryers are not one size fits all situation – so, adjust the cooking time and temperature using the digital or dial controls. Now here’s the pro tip: set an alarm on your phone for half the cooking time. Most recipes will require you to stir the food or gently shake the basket during cooking. And if you’re preparing food higher in fat like chicken wings, it’s best to check the bottom tray a few times to remove any excess fat.

Step 4: Clean up after yourself

We might be preaching to the converted, but it's important to clean your air fryer after every use as a build up of oil can make the unit smoke. In some instances, you can simply wipe off the drawer with a paper towel. Helpfully, most models have parts that are dishwasher safe – be sure to check this in your manual first.

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Top tips

  • Shake the basket halfway through cooking to ensure even browning.

  • Keep an eye on delicate foods to prevent overcooking.

  • For crispier results, lightly coat your ingredients with oil or use cooking spray.

  • Try using inserts for baking.

  • You can pull the basket out at any point and the unit will turn off automatically.

And really, it’s that simple. Go forth and deep dive the far reaches of the internet for any and all air fryer recipes that take your fancy. Truly exceptional ideas include potato gems, fried chicken or even the humble brussel sprout (trust us on this one). Head to Qantas Marketplace and discover our range of air fryers, we know you’ll find one that suits you.