There’s no denying that air fryers are hugely popular right now. An energy efficient kitchen gadget that can be fairly inexpensive, buying the best model for your kitchen routine can be a game-changer. They can add a moreish layer of crispiness to meat, fish or vegetables without heaps of oil and added calories – it’s no wonder that they’re a slimming-friendly cook’s best friend!
Things go wrong in the kitchen from time to time, and preparing food with an air fryer is no exception. From soggy chips to crumbly nuggets, we couldn’t have honed our air-frying skills (or our cooking skills!) without a hitch or two along the way.
The good news is that they all taught us a new handy hint or tip to bring to the kitchen next time. We’ve laid out some of our favourites that might just help you too…
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Why is my food overdone or burning?
One of the most important things to know about air fryers is that they cook faster than an oven. It might seem like a no-brainer, but it can be easy to underestimate how powerful and efficient your air fryer is. Keep an eye out for whether or not the food you’re air-frying needs more than one cooking temperature; this can be tricky to achieve with some models, as they may have one fixed temperature setting.
The Pro Breeze Air Fryer’s easy-to-use digital display allows you to choose the best temperature to cook foods, so you have some flexibility to experiment with.
To get our Air Fryer Parmesan Pork Skewers just right, you’ll want to preheat your air fryer to 190°C. They cook quicker than they would in an oven, and you can trust them to be irresistibly juicy with a moreish coating of crumbly Parmesan.
It’s safe to place the tender pork chunks into the air fryer basket on their skewers, as long as you make sure to soak your bamboo skewers in some cold water ahead of time. This should protect them against catching and burning up.
You’ll need to put in some effort and open up your air fryer a few times to crisp our oh-so-fiery Cauliflower Hot Wings to perfection, but they’re worth every minute! To make our cauli bites into a quick-bake snack, we’ve coated them in a tantalising batter made from spices, garlic, flour and coconut milk.
After you’ve taken them for a dip, make sure the excess batter drips from the wings before frying. If the batter is laid on too thick, it may drip inside your air fryer and cause a tricky-to-clean mess that catches and burns easily.
When our florets are coated in a sticky layer of hot sauce, we dab them onto any stray panko breadcrumbs on our baking tray so that they crisp up nicely on top of our ‘wings’ – rather than inside our air fryer basket. Winner!
If you’re finding that the meat you’re cooking in your air fryer tastes somewhat overcooked or dry, coating them in a marinade can be a tasty way to lock moisture in. To get the best from our Ginger and Orange Chicken Kebabs, plan ahead and make sure you’ve got the time to marinate them overnight. The aromatic combination of ginger, chilli, zesty orange and zingy lime is well worth the wait.
Why is my food not crispy?
You can’t talk about air fryers without talking about crispiness. Whether you’re loading your air fryer basket with chips, meat or veggies, there’s nothing more disappointing than serving up a soggy plateful when you’re in the mood for a crunchy treat.
Our takeaway-style Salt and Pepper Chips wouldn’t be anywhere near as magically crisp without patting our potato slices dry with kitchen roll. This step draws moisture from them, so that oils can stick to them better during cooking for an even crispier finish!
If you find that your chips still aren’t as well-cooked as you’d like, try spreading them evenly and baking them in a single layer on your tray. This will give your chippies and their Chinese-inspired toppings plenty of room to breathe and crisp up.
The clue is in the name with our Crispy Green Beans. To make sure they’re crispy time and time again, we preheat our air fryer nice and high at 200°C prior to cooking. It’s easy to want to rush this step (we love them too!), but it’s well worth that little bit of patience to have our cheesy, breadcrumb-coated greens ultra-crispy after just 10 minutes.
Speaking of the breadcrumb coating, if you find that yours isn’t quite as tasty as it should be, you may need to be a little more generous with the low-calorie cooking spray.
A few spritzes here and there will freshen things up and help the coating to stay firm.
Why isn’t my food cooking evenly?
Taking note of how your food is doing in the air fryer can vary depending on the type of model you have. Air fryer ovens usually have a door with a window so that you can check in on your food, without losing any heat by opening it up.
Air fryers with a basket are even easier to check on, as you can remove the cooking basket entirely and give your food a good shake, shake, shake! You’ll need to make sure there’s enough breathing room inside your air fryer for this fun step to be effective – don’t overcrowd it.
The florets in our Cauliflower Katsu should be crispy with a little ‘bite’ to them, before they’re served in our veggie-filled Katsu-style sauce. They won’t cook evenly if you invite too many cauliflower pieces to the party; if you have a smaller air fryer, divide the florets and cook them in smaller batches.
It’s always worth checking on your food in the last few minutes of the cycle – you might find that the veggies are already crisped to your liking.
To make sure we’re serving our tender Salt and Pepper Chicken Burgers at their crispy best, we lay them side by side with a temperature probe inserted into the thickest part of the chicken.
While not all air fryer units have a built-in temperature probe, they’re a really useful tool to have handy in the kitchen – they offer an accurate measure of whether meat is cooked properly throughout.
If you’re not flipping or moving your food, you need to! Recipes like our chicken burgers will need turning over halfway through so that they’re evenly cooked.
Why is my food making a mess?
Made to be dunked and dipped, there’s no way you’ll miss the meat with our veggie-filled Vegan Nuggets. We’ve used fresh cauliflower, carrots and red peppers to load them with delicious goodness, for far fewer calories.
Our veggie nugs are then bathed in a mixture of panko breadcrumbs and coconut milk before they’re air-fried until flawlessly crisp.
If you find that your nuggets are crumbling, they may have been submerged for too long in the milk and breadcrumb batter. You’ll want to make sure they’re coated all over without too much of the mixture soaking in – if not, the vegetables might not be sticky enough to hold firm as they’re heated.
It’s hugely important to keep on top of how clean your air fryer is; any bits of grime that build up over time may cause damage that affects how well your food cooks.
When preparing our Air Fryer Full English, plenty of room and a clean unit are both key ingredients. The bacon medallions and sausages will be piled and pushed together against the edge of the air fryer’s basket or grill tray, so you’ll want to avoid any sticky grime that could make them difficult to remove after cooking.
There’s quite a bit to squeeze inside in one go, and we’ve used tidy little tin foil pouches and bowls to separate our foods without causing a mess.
While our Ninja Foodi MAX Health Grill is roomy enough for us to do this, not all air fryers are as generous. If yours is a smaller model, simply cook your breakfast bits in batches until they’re all ready to serve up.
Cooking with an air fryer can take a bit of getting used to. If you’re looking for some slimming-friendly dinner and snack-time inspiration, our Top Air Fryer Recipes are a great place to start.
Are you an Air Fryer Pro or an Air Fryer Newbie?
Whether you’re a dab hand with an air fryer or new to the air fryer scene, we’d love to see what you’re making in everyone’s favourite kitchen gadget. Join the discussion over in our Facebook group where we have almost 1 million members waiting to support you on your slimming journey.
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