Useful air fryer tips

Don’t crowd your air fryer.

It used to be that owning an air fryer was such a novelty, and everyone was in awe of how it worked.

Imagine being able to fry stuff without using oil! Wow!

It revolutionised the way we worked in the kitchen and these days, it seems like every other household owns one.

Besides being touted as a healthier option of deep-frying, it cuts cooking time and is a lot easier to clean up as you don’t have to deal with oil splatter.

But if you are not a fan of fried foods, surely there is no point in investing in an air fryer right?

Well, it turns out that an air fryer has a lot more going for it besides frying food.

Here are some air fryer hacks to help you along.

Put a bit of water at the bottom to prevent a smoky situation. — Photos: PATSY KAMPut a bit of water at the bottom to prevent a smoky situation. — Photos: PATSY KAM

1 Preheat the air fryer

Just like how you should heat up the oven first before baking a cake, you should also heat up the air fryer before putting in food to cook.

This ensures that your food cooks properly and more evenly, and cuts actual cooking time.

2 Shake the basket

Just like how you should flip over the chicken or rotate the potatoes when cooking in the oven, you should similarly do this when cooking with an air fryer.

When making French fries, for example, take out the basket midway and give the contents a good shake.

This will help to brown the fries more evenly.

When you’re frying fish, flip it over to the other side halfway through just like you would in a pan.

You’ll find that both sides get crisp nicely.

Cook in ramekins for smaller portions.Cook in ramekins for smaller portions.

3 Use the leftover juices

When you’re cooking meat, you will probably see meat drippings at the bottom of the container.

This is the leftover juices, a rich mixture of meat oil, seasoning and spices.

Don’t throw it away, you could add a tablespoon of this to your vegetable dish for more umami, or even mix some into your rice.

Voila! Instant fragrant chicken rice that’s flavoured by natural juices rather than commercial sauces!

4 Smoky air fryer

Depending on what kind of dish you’re cooking, sometimes you might end up with a smoky situation, especially when cooking meat and there’s grease build-up.

If this happens, don’t panic, there is a real simple solution for it. Just add a bit of water to the bottom of the container before you start cooking.

This will absorb the fumes before they escape and pollute your kitchen.

5 Cook small portions

Why don’t you use your air fryer more often? Is it because the basket seems so big and you are only cooking for one or two people?

It’s actually possible to cook smaller portions in an air fryer – use silicone cupcake moulds or small ramekins, fill them with the raw ingredients and place them in the basket, then cook as you normally would.

6 Use parchment paper

When it comes to baking, lining the container with parchment paper is great as it makes it a cinch to remove the cake or biscuits from the tray, and cleaning up afterwards is easier too.

You can still use parchment paper in the air fryer so that it’s less of a hassle to clean, but just ensure there are small holes in the paper or ventilation at the sides so that the air can circulate and the paper doesn’t get burnt.

Alternatively, you can use aluminium foil.

Make sure there is ventilation at the side when using parchment paper in an air fryer.Make sure there is ventilation at the side when using parchment paper in an air fryer.

7 No to non-stick sprays

Such sprays may be a boon to baking in the oven or shallow frying in a pan, but definitely not recommended for an air fryer.

Contrary to what people think, you still have to use oil when cooking in an air fryer if you want to crisp up your food, but just very little.

Non-stick sprays, however, tend to stick to the air fryer’s surfaces and clog up the vents, and in the long run, disrupt the effectiveness of the air fryer.

Use vegetable oil such as olive, coconut or sunflower oils, and put this in a spray bottle to oil the food.

That will be good enough for “frying” in the air fryer.

8 Give it some space

Sometimes, we try to make the most of our kitchen as not everyone has the luxury of space.

You might have squished your air fryer into a corner along with a host of other appliances. Make sure you take it out and place it in a more spacious area when cooking.

Air fryers can get very hot and need space around it for the air to circulate.

Otherwise, if it is stuffed into a tight corner, you might find that it won’t perform as efficiently in the long term.

The high heat can also cause nearby plastic containers to melt!

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