Air Fryer for Beginners – Cooking Healthier Food Made Easy

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Firstly, what is it…

An air fryer is an appliance that cooks food through the use of hot air circulated around it. It doesn’t require oil to cook, unlike deep frying. Instead, food is cooked with a minimal amount of cooking spray or any other small amount of oil, butter or margarine.

Every beginner should know…

When getting started with an air fryer, it’s important to get to know the machine and what it can do. This article will cover how to read an instruction manual, a few recipes that every beginner should try, how much oil is needed and what safety precautions should be taken. Oh, and simple and tasty recipes you can start using today!

How Does The Fryer Work?

An air fryer is a countertop electrical appliance that can be used as an alternative to deep frying. It works by circulating superheated air around food placed in a basket, allowing the food to cook with little or no added oil. Most air fryers also have a nonstick cooking basket that can be cleaned easily in the dishwasher. Sounds simple, right!?

How To Use An Air Fryer

It’s important to read the instruction manual before using an air fryer for the first time. Each brand and model of appliance may have a different set-up process, so it’s a good idea to follow the specific directions from your particular unit.

For example, some models have a timer that automatically turns the air fryer off when cooking time is complete, while others may require that you set the cooking time by pressing a button. Luckily they are all generally very easy to use, and you use them just as you would a traditional fryer, just without the oil (or not as much).

What To Expect The First Time You Use An Air Fryer

The first time you use an air fryer, it’s important to remember that the appliance is not a deep fryer. The food won’t come out as crispy as you might be used to from deep frying, but it tastes pretty good and can be healthier than other cooking methods.

brushing air fryer basket with oil

Air fried french fries for instance aren’t as crispy as those cooked in oil, but they are still delicious.

Meat

You can try cooking different cuts of meat in the air fryer. Chicken breast and pork chops cook well in an air fryer without adding much fat at all. The results will not be grilled or broiled, but they will be tasty nonetheless.

Veggies

If you are cooking some veggies for the first time, such as carrots or asparagus, then you should know that you don’t need to add any oil at all. The vegetables will come out steamed and crispy.

What Do I Need To Know Before Using An Air Fryer?

Just remember to place any food on a plate rather than directly into the cooking basket. This is better for foods like chicken because it will allow the heat to circulate more evenly around it.

Safety

When using an air fryer, there are some safety precautions that you should take before using the appliance for the first time. For example, it’s important to know that oil and water-based substances can spatter when heated.

It’s also a good idea to wear oven mitts while cooking with the machine, as steam will rise from whatever you are cooking. Other safety tips include not overcrowding the cooking basket, and not placing the cooking basket in water (water conducts electricity).

How To Set Up Your Air Fryer

Setting up an air fryer is simple! You just have to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before using it for the first time. Usually all you need to do is plug in the unit, place the plate on the cooking rack and add the desired amount of food.

It’s a good idea to remember that all baskets are different and they may hold more or less than another manufacturer’s basket. The key is to not overcrowd your air fryer when cooking with it for the first time because this will affect how well it cooks.

What Should I Make First In My Air Fryer?

Well, every beginner should first try some french fries. They come out so delicious and almost as crispy as those that are fried in oil. Or why not try cooking some chicken? It comes out tasting really great and there is very little oil involved.

15 Minute Air Fryer French Fries

fries and ketchup on a brown paper

1. Wash potatoes and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into 1/8-inch fries and place in a large bowl or ziplock bag. Add oil, salt and pepper and mix well by hand.

2. Preheat the air fryer to 400°F for 5 minutes. Place a half sheet pan with a wire rack into the machine and close the door. Oil the cooking rack using a silicone basting brush.

3. Carefully remove the rack from the cooker and distribute potatoes onto it evenly, making sure not to overcrowd them.

4. Once the timer reaches 15 minutes, check on your fries and flip them over if needed. Close the oven door and let sit for another 5 minutes. Remove from the machine and enjoy!

The Benefits Of Using An Air Fryer

There are a lot of benefits to using an air fryer, including:

  • It’s healthier than traditional frying with oil. Your fries will come out crispy and delicious without all of the extra calories and fat from oil and grease.
  • It uses less electricity than a traditional oven or stove top.
  • You can cook multiple foods at once with just one appliance, which can save you time and energy.
  • It’s great for single people or couples who may not need to cook food in bulk. You can still make a whole meal without using up so much space on the stove top or oven.
  • It cooks food quickly, so it can save you money on electricity bills.
  • It’s a good way for beginners to ease into not using cooking oil in their food, because you can still get that crispy fried texture that you crave without the extra fat.

3 Air Fryer Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make

There are some mistakes that people often make when using their air fryer for the first time. For example…

1) Cooking too much food in the air fryer at once can result in undercooked or overcooked food because it cannot circulate enough heat around it to do both things effectively.

2) Also, you should not expect your french fries to come out as crispy as those that are fried in oil. This is because oil and water-based foods will come out steamed and crispy, as opposed to fried with a full-on crunch.

3) Another mistake that people make is cooking food at too low of a temperature. It’s important to remember that the lower the temperature, the longer it will take for your food to cook, but if you leave it in there for too long then it can end up overcooked.

These are just a few of the most common mistakes made when using an air fryer for the first time. Remember, it’s a learning process and you will get better at using your machine with time!

Can An Air Fryer Cook Everything?

One of the benefits of an air fryer is that you can use it to cook a lot more than just fries and chicken. You can also bake cakes, make macaroni and cheese, prepare meatloaf or salmon patties, even prepare desserts like chocolate covered strawberries!

raw chicken breast on air fryer

However, an air fryer can’t cook all types of food. For example, it can’t cook pizza, lasagna, or any kind of casserole dish. It also can’t cook foods properly that absorb or release a lot of water, like pasta or rice.

You have to remember that an air fryer is different from a traditional oven in that it uses high heat and air circulation to cook food instead of radiation. You can’t just put any kind of dish into there and expect it to come out perfect.

What Should You Not Cook In An Air Fryer?

There are some foods that you shouldn’t attempt to cook in your air fryer. For example…

1) Steak

Although it is possible, It’s not really recommended. It is extremely difficult to get a steak cooked all the way through on the inside while getting it crispy and charred on the outside without overcooking it. Furthermore, because steaks have a high fat content, cooking them in an air fryer can result in an unpleasant greasy taste.

2) Creamy Sauces/Foods

Sauces like Alfredo or cheese sauce are simply too creamy for an air fryer to properly cook. This is because the cream in the food cools down too quickly and doesn’t get hot enough to boil/cook properly.

3) Burgers

For the same reason that you should not cook steak, burgers are just too fatty to be cooked properly without burning it on the outside or undercooking it on the inside.

4) Rice And Pasta

Most recipes for rice and pasta involve cooking it in boiling water. Because air fryers use high heat but low steam, forget about ever coming close to getting your pasta al dente with an air fryer.

5) Pizza

The key to pizza is the crispy crust; something that you will never get unless you cook it on a really hot pan or stone. An air fryer requires too much precision to cook something as finicky as pizza.

5 Tips For Making Healthy Foods In Your Air Fryer

There are some tricks you can use to make healthy foods in your air fryer.

1) Marinade or brine your food first…

Cut down on the amount of oil that it takes by marinating or brining your food before cooking them.

2) Room temperature…

Let your food sit out at room temperature for a while after removing it from the fridge – Letting your food sit at room temperature for a while not only helps to reduce the cooking time, but it also ensures that the inside of the meat is cooked all the way through.

3) Cutting calories…

Cut down on calories by coating your food in olive oil or replacing butter with vegan/fat-free spreads (like Earth Balance) or cooking sprays. 

Oils are better for you than butter, because they contain unsaturated fats that help to reduce cholesterol. Plus, if you use oils or spreads with lower fat content then you generally end up cutting out a lot of the calories.

4) Use healthy cooking sprays in place of oil…

Vegetable cooking sprays are a great alternative if you want something to help your food brown or let it “stick” to the pan. Just remember that whatever you spray should be fat-free because otherwise, if there’s excess oil in the air fryer, then your food is going to end up tasting greasy.

5) Cook small amounts of food at a time…

The best way to ensure that your food finishes cooking before the outside becomes too charred is by not overcrowding your basket. If you’re cooking for one or two people, then cooking small amounts of food at a time is the best way to get the most out of your air fryer.

Air Fryer Recipes for Beginners

The first step to mastering your air fryer is to start off with easy recipes that don’t require too much precision. Here are 4 deliciously tasty and easy recipes for beginners…

Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Breast

cooked meat with broccoli and sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon of pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of dried oregano leaves

Instructions:

  Step 1: Mix 3 ingredients in a bowl and brush chicken with marinade. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Step 2: Put chicken in the basket and spray with cooking spray.

Step 3: Cook at 400 F for 25 minutes or until juices run clear (internal temp reaching 165 degrees F).

Chocolate Chip Cookie In An Air Fryer

chocolate chip cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter softened 
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions:

Step 1: Mix together butter and brown sugar until creamy. Whisk in the egg and vanilla extract.

Step 2: In a small bowl, mix together baking soda and salt with the flour until well combined. Add this in with the wet ingredients and mix just until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Step 3: Spray your air fryer basket with nonstick cooking spray or use a silicon mat that comes with the machine. Pour the dough onto the bottom of the basket and spread it out evenly.

Step 4: Air-fry covered at 360 degrees for 3 minutes. Flip over the cookie using a fork or spatula, then air-fry uncovered for another 2 to 4 minutes.

Jalapeno Poppers In An Air Fryer

stuffed peppers

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 6 yellow or white jalapeno peppers halved lengthwise with seeds removed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:

Step 1: Mix together the almond meal, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl until combined. Beat in the eggs.

Step 2:Pour the olive oil into the bottom of your air fryer basket or on top of a silicon mat (which comes with some machines, like the Philips). Spread out the peppers onto your basket in a single layer and fill each pepper cavity with 1/6th of the egg mixture. Coat the jalapeno poppers with more oil.

Step 3: Air-fry the poppers uncovered at 360 degrees for 5 minutes, then flip them over to air fry for another 1 or 2 minutes on the other side until golden brown.

Spicy Chicken Wings In An Air Fryer

spicy chicken wings and dip

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 12 chicken wings

Instructions:

Step 1: Mix together the almond meal, garlic powder , onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl until combined. Beat in the eggs.

Step 2: Place the chicken wings into your air fryer basket in a single layer, skin side up. Pour the remaining oil on top of the chicken wings. Sprinkle more oil on top of the wings.

Step 3: Air-fry uncovered at 360 degrees for 12 minutes, flip the chicken over and air fry another 8 minutes or until golden brown and no longer pink inside.

Tips For Cleaning Your Air Fryer

A clean machine is a happy machine. After each use, take out any parts of the air fryer that can be washed in the dishwasher or by hand with warm water and soap, rinse them well, shake off excess water and dry with a towel before storing. 

The basket gets greasy after cooking, so make sure you scrub it thoroughly between each use. If you need to clean the non-stick coating of your air fryer basket or other parts, simply wipe them down with a wet paper towel and dry thoroughly before putting away.

Tips For Keeping Your Air Fryer Going Longer

If the outside is covered in oil splatters, spray it first with some cooking oil before you turn it on. If you do this, you won’t see oil splatters all over the walls of your kitchen while cooking.

If food starts to stick to the basket or surface, spray with cooking oil before using again. This problem should resolve itself after a few uses, but if it doesn’t, upgrade to a better quality machine that has a non-stick surface.

The more you use your air fryer, the better it will become at cooking certain items. 

If something takes too long to cook or is not turning out as crispy as you like when using your machine for the first time, try putting in less food and then gradually adding more over time to see what works best for you.

If your machine starts making strange noises or not turning on, make sure all parts are connected properly and that the bottom is clean and flat before using again. If the problem persists, contact customer service for a replacement.

Conclusion

There are several different brands of air fryers on the market perfect for beginners, including Cuisinart, Polar, and Philips. There are also several different sizes of air fryers available.

Many people prefer bigger air fryers because they can prepare bigger batches of food at once. However, if you live alone or just want to use the machine to make single servings, then a smaller one is probably more convenient for you.

At the end of the day, all air fryers function in basically the same way.

The choice is ultimately yours when deciding which one to buy. Either way, just remember that an air fryer is a great investment for any beginner in the kitchen.

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