I love my air fryer — these are my dos and don’ts for using it

Sizzling success

An air fryer on a yellow wavy background
(Image credit: Future)

There’s one thing that has transformed pretty much everyone’s kitchen over the past few years: the air fryer. Whether yours is a big or small air fryer, it has definitely made your life a lot easier, right? I spend so much time at friend and family gatherings hyping up the beautiful appliance, which has literally changed my cooking game.

Whether I’m cooking a meal or making a midnight snack (fries after midnight always taste better TBH), I’ve found that air fryers can pretty much do it all. Everyone seems to have become obsessed with them ATM, and there are so many reasons why.

That being said, there are things that you should and shouldn't do when putting it to work. I’ve rounded up a range of ideas, covering aspects such as cooking and cleaning, which are all super useful.

So, say hello to living your best air fryer life (they're legit a whole lifestyle) and take note of these best practices.

Dos and don’ts when using your air fryer

You can screenshot these tips for when you’re using and maintaining your air fryer.

Air fryer dos

Do: Cook frozen food with it

Just like the oven, you can put frozen food in the air fryer as well as regular food, and it will cook through perfectly. In fact, I find that frozen food goes super crispy when it's in the air fryer as opposed to the oven. You won’t need to go down to Mcdonald's once you’ve put your nuggets and fries in here, trust me.

Do: Fry vegetables in it

I used to spend so much time letting vegetables sizzle on the frying pan or roasting for ages in the oven. For some dishes, this is still totally fine, but if you want to speed up the process — say if you’re having fajitas — the air fryer is incredible at frying veggies. I love to put peppers, sweet potatoes, and zucchini in mine, as it gives them gorgeous flavor and makes them caramelize super quickly.

Do: Clean it after every use

Air fryers aren't like your microwave where you can get away with cleaning it after a few uses. This is because the food goes directly into the air fryer without any casing. If you ignore cleaning it, crumbs and grease can build up, which will contaminate your other dishes. These can also harden, making them harder to scrub. So you don't forget, just add it to your post-meal cleaning checklist, along with washing your plates and surfaces, and it will become part of your routine. 

Otherwise, if you're not a fan of cleaning your air fryer (ugh that smell) then you can buy some air fryer liners like these ones from Amazon. Then you need only clean these after each use. They can also go in your dishwasher.

Do: Wash the tray with soapy water

Soapy water is the best way to get your air fryer tray clean. To do this, I take the tray out — mine splits in two, but yours might not or may even have multiple compartments. Then place the part or parts in a fresh bowl of soapy water. My fave dish soap is Method’s, which you can get from Amazon. Once you’ve got the tray in the bowl, wash it with a sponge (not a metal scourer as this could scratch it), then hand dry it with a towel. 

Do: Wipe down the front with an all-purpose cleaner

The front of my air fryer always gets a little sticky, especially since I tend to check the food and change the timer as I’m cooking other items. To clean it, I wipe it down with a damp microfiber cloth and an all-purpose cleaning spray (at Real Homes, we love Mrs. Meyer’s from Amazon). Then, I go over it with a dry microfiber cloth, as water can have major amounts of bacteria in it when used on its own. There, all done. 

Air fryer don'ts

Don't: Cook anything saucy in it

Look, I love me a bit of soup and my favorite pasta sauces, but you should definitely not put these in an air fryer. The saucy liquid may spill over your tray and seep into the machine, which will be both a pain to clean and could even harm the appliance. Instead, heat these kinds of food in either the microwave or over your stovetop. So much easier, so much cleaner.

Don't: Wash it with bleach

Bleach is obvi great for cleaning things that we don’t eat from (like the toilet), but in terms of kitchen appliances and utensils, you’re better off using something non-toxic and more natural. White vinegar (shoutout to Heinz’s vinegar, which you can get on Amazon) and lemon are both great natural cleaners that have the acidity needed to get rid of any nasty stains. They’re also easy to wipe down the inside and outside with if you don’t want to soak all the components.  

Don't: Overfill it

I know that feeling — you want to just fill the air fryer with food, so you can come back around in half an hour or so and have a full dinner. But if you overfill it, not only will your food come out poorly cooked, but you could also break your air fryer by overworking it. Boo. Instead, assess what food needs cooking, and think about what can be cooked well without oil in the air fryer. For example, chicken might be better pan-fried, while fries might taste better from the air fryer. Tastier food is always a win.

Don't: Overcook anything in it

It may be a miracle cooking appliance, but if you leave something in there to cook for longer than you should, you’re going to have a serious mess. Just like microwaves and ovens, air fryers can burn foods and make them inedible, so keep an eye on the food when you’re cooking. If you do end up burning your dinner, use a non-abrasive scourer, like the Scrub Daddy, to clean it. He’ll save the day on all your tough grime and stains, promise.

Don't: Use oil

One of the biggest benefits of the air fryer is that you can cook foods without using oil, making your meals healthier. Some recipes may call for a spray of or a toss in oil, but when cooking in the air fryer, using the slippery stuff is deffo unnecessary. Just have patience, and let your air fryer do the frying. If you are worried about your food sticking, you can line your air fryer with parchment paper, which is safe to use and will also keep your air fryer a little bit cleaner. 

Need a new air fryer?

If you don’t have one already, we highly recommend the air fryers below.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.