The Actual Rules For Preheating Your Air Fryer

While some people have gotten pretty familiar with their air fryers over time, this trendy kitchen gadget should still be considered something of a modern marvel. This thing can heat up all kinds of food in as little as 10 minutes, giving it a deliciously crispy, perfectly fried texture without any added fats or excess time. Still, because it's so new, there's probably a whole lot you still don't know about your air fryer. For instance, have you ever tried preheating it for better results? You might have to preheat an oven before you cook in it, but did you ever consider that the same logic could apply to an air fryer too? 

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This cooking tool is a relatively new invention, so it's possible that we've all been doing it wrong from the start. But is this really an air fryer hack we wished we'd known sooner or an unnecessary step in the cooking process? Well, the answer depends on what you're cooking. While some foods might benefit from preheating, others would not. For example, some foods that usually benefit from some extra sear and charring, such as grilled foods like burgers, might taste even better after some preheating as that warm, circulated air will leave the outside extra crispy. Foods that you'd like to be extra crispy and fried too, such as chicken nuggets or french fries, could also do well with the added heat. 

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How to preheat your air fryer for better results

While some foods taste even better in the air fryer after a little preheating, other options will certainly not. For example, if you're simply reheating leftovers such as pizza or potatoes, skip the preheating step. Foods that are prone to drying out like fish or juicy chicken cutlets should also skip this optional addition. And finally, any foods that would benefit from lower and slower cooking times, such as baked potatoes, should not experience the added heat either so that they can retain their moisture — so don't make the big air fryer mistake of preheating here either.

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Now, if you do want to give preheating your air fryer a try, the process is almost the same as with an oven. Simply set your air fryer to the temperature your recipe calls for and let the machine heat up. Make sure to leave the basket in the machine. Now, after letting the fryer warm up for a few minutes — between 3 to 5 minutes is best — you're ready to get cooking. Every air fryer is different, and some models even have a preheating setting, so use this if it's available. 

This simple process has the benefits of both cooking food faster and making the end results even crisper and crunchier. Still, if you do decide to preheat, make sure to take the added temperatures into account, as most air fryer recipes assume your machine is starting off at room temp.

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Other helpful air fryer hacks for better food

If you're a fan of how preheating your air fryer elevates your food, here are some other air fryer hacks you'll wish you knew sooner. For starters, let's talk quantity. Even if you can fit six potatoes in your air fryer at once, that doesn't mean you should cook them all at the same time. An overcrowded fryer basket can lead to unevenly cooked food, leaving your meals tasting limp and lifeless instead of extra crisp. So, to ensure the best meals possible, don't add so much food that it's all overlapping, and consider cooking food in batches or taking advantage of the space in your oven as well as the air fryer. 

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Another way to ensure even, crispy cooking is to clean your air fryer regularly. Built up oil and breadcrumbs can prevent proper air circulation in the basket, again making for unevenly cooked food, so be diligent about cleaning it every time. Then hopefully, with a few of these tips in mind, your air fryer meals will just keep on getting better. 

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