10 Air Fryer Mistakes to Avoid

I often use the air fryer to cut down on calories and enjoy food with less oil. It was difficult for me to cook in the beginning. I have gradually learned from the mistakes I made while air frying. 

Now I can whip up almost anything with the air fryer. Is your food coming out soggy, burnt, and uncooked? Is lack of experience frightening you to stay away from the air fryer? 

Do not worry. With a few tips, you, too, will become an expert in air frying and enjoy delicious oil-free foods.

10 Air Fryer Mistakes to Avoid 

Let us explore 10 common mistakes everyone makes with the air fryer. Avoid the following air fryer mistakes, and you are sorted.

I will also mention how to avoid each air fryer mistake.

Mistake 1 – Forgetting to Preheat the Air Fryer 

Preheating ensures the basket is warm and ready for even cooking. It is like exposing the food to an evenly heated hot chamber. If the heat is even, the cooking will also be even. 

Preheating also helps to crisp up the food. The result is similar to what you get when you place food into smoking hot oil for deep frying. It is the sudden intense heat that crisps up the food.

Forgetting to preheat may cause food parts to undercook and moist (not so crispy) results. 

How to Avoid 

Prepare the raw food and set it aside. Give the air fryer five minutes to preheat before placing the food contents inside.

If the recipe does not require a lot of preparations, do it while preheating the air fryer to save time

Also read: How Long Does it Take to Preheat an Oven?

Mistake 2 – Not Reading the Manual 

I cannot stress this enough. An air fryer is like a well-set robot. The right settings through which the robot operates are written in the manual. 

Every recipe requires a different temperature and time duration. The settings are all there. You have to know which one works for which dish.

Using the wrong settings can lead to uncooked, overcooked, and burnt food with a bland taste. Not to forget your broken heart and wasted efforts as a chef. 

How to Avoid 

Always follow the Do’s and Don’t’s of the manual. Read the entire manual, including the warnings and operating instructions.

Learn the temperature and timer settings. Go through the preset menus and what they stand for.

If you have lost the manual, go online to download the pdf version. For any queries, reach out to the manufacturer’s website or call customer care.

Also read: Why is My Air Fryer Not Cooking Properly?

Mistake 3 – Overfilling the Basket 

Each air fryer has a specific capacity. Overfilling the basket beyond its optimum working capacity will give you overcooked/undercooked results. 

Almost all manufacturers recommend some gap or space between food pieces for evenly cooked food.

The gap or spaces will give access to good airflow between the food.

How to Avoid 

Do not overcrowd the basket. It is best to leave some gap or space between food. Cook the food in a single layer.

You can stack some food like fries but do not overfill the basket more than ⅓.

While choosing an air fryer, do keep the capacity in mind. If you are a large family, opt for large-capacity air fryers.

The Instant Vortex plus air fryer is a good option as it has two independent baskets. If you are a small family go for the standard 4L capacity. I have a family of four and can comfortably cook in Phillips 4.1 air fryer.

If you already have an air fryer, cook in batches for bulk cooking. It is also a good idea to air fry beforehand and then toss the prepared food in the basket and keep it warm.

This way, you will not have to struggle or wait for serving.

Also read: Air Fryer Error Code E1 | Air Fryer Error Code E2 | Air Fryer Error Code E3

Air Fryer Mistake 4 – Forgetting to Shake the Basket Halfway

It is a bad idea to leave the air fryer and come back to check when it is done cooking. An air fryer needs you to assist it halfway once to shake/flip the food. 

The heating element is situated on the top. The air goes throw the holes beneath the basket with the help of a high-speed fan. 

Just like barbeque, we need to flip the food once for an evenly cooked surface. Stacked foods like fries need a good shake for even cooking. 

If we forget to shake/flip the food, the food surface near the heating element becomes overcooked, while the surface facing the holes will remain slightly soggy or undercooked.

How to Avoid 

Set the settings to half. As soon as the air fryer beeps to signal the end of setting time, open it and shake/flip the food.

You can also have a look at the progress midway while shaking. It will give you an idea of how much more you want to cook. 

Enter the rest of the settings and let it cook until done. You could also keep an alarm and come back once half the time has elapsed. 

Air Fryer Mistake 5 – Leaving the Basket Dirty

You would not want to eat on a dirty, used plate. Why? The previous food crumbs would have turned bad, and you will get a bad taste.

There will be a mix of flavors between the old and new. You might even fall sick due to bacterial contamination of the dirty used plate. 

A dirty air fryer basket will give you the same results. Clean your air fryer basket to remove crumbs, leftovers, lingering smells, and bacterial contamination.

Not to mention the smoke. The leftover crumbs burn and give out smoke the next time you use the air fryer.

Bacteria, my friend, is in the air. Wherever there is leftover food, there are bacteria. You cannot stop the contamination. So you do what you can to prevent it – clean it up.

How to Avoid 

Keep the air fryer clean. If air frying food does not leave anything behind, wipe it with a wet kitchen towel followed by a dry wipe.

Dry wipe the electronic parts and the display setting buttons.

If the basket is soiled, handwash using warm soapy water. Let it dry up naturally before placing the basket back.

Turn the air fryer upside down and place it on a flat surface. Remove all the stuck food particles from the heating element, if any. 

If you are out of time or the basket needs a good cleaning, use a dishwasher. Check if the basket is dishwasher safe before doing this step.

The electronic parts of the air fryer should always be cleaned with a dry cloth. Don’t expose them to water. 

Mistake 6 – Placing the Wrong Food Inside

The air fryer has a high-speed fan inside next to the heating element.

If you place lightweight items like green leaves, seasonings, popcorn, etc, they will blow around and can damage the air fryer.

The air fryer is also not designed to cook wet foods like cheese, wet batters, rice, etc.

How to Avoid 

Do not place green leaves, herbs, popcorn, cheese, or wet batters inside the air fryer. 

If you have no option and have to air fry lightweight foods, weigh it down with a portion of solid food with a toothpick or a trivet.

If you wish to add seasoning of herbs, coat them in oil and then apply the coating to the food.

Always fill the food according to the specified quantities in the manual.

For example, even if a whole chicken somehow fits inside the basket, it will not cook evenly inside a cramped air fryer basket.

Don’t overwhelm or force the basket to do what it is not designed to do.

Also read: Can You Put Butter in an Air Fryer?

Mistake 7 – Using the Wrong amount of Oil

This is a common mistake for beginners. Some people may use no oil or too much oil. An air fryer just needs a teaspoon or two, nothing more or less.

It is not designed to handle a lot of oil. 

The oil will seep down and not be absorbed much by the food.

Unlike deep frying, it does not give good results if you have added too much oil. The food will be soggy instead of extra crispy.

Your air fryer will also begin to smoke due to excess oil that would have fallen down from the holes to the chamber below.

How to Avoid 

Food crisps up evenly with a light coating of oil.

A teaspoon or a dash of oil spray helps to bond the seasoning and herbs to the food with delicious results.

Adding a bit of oil halfway to the other side after flipping will give extra crispy and juicy results.

Try using oil that has a high smoking point like olive oil or avocado oil.

Some manufacturers of air fryers ( like ‘goWise’) recommend adding oil before placing the food in the chamber. According to them, the non-stick cooking spray can peel the basket layer. 

Also read: Do Air Fryers Need Oil? (Best Oil for Airfryer)

Mistake 8 – Wrong Positioning of the Air Fryer

The air fryer needs space to breathe out. Manufacturers recommend the air fryer be at least 5 inches away from the wall and all other appliances. 

An air fryer has a vent at the back through which the smoke comes out. Stifling the vent can lead to overheating and damage to your air fryer.

It is also recommended to keep the air fryer at a distance from stovetops and other appliances. These can overheat the air fryer and cause damage.

Place it on a stable surface but not on the stovetop. If the burner accidentally switches on, your air fryer will catch fire.

How to Avoid 

Read the manual and follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the correct positioning of the air fryer.

Keep a gap of at least 5 inches all around the air fryer to prevent overheating.

Keep the kitchen well-ventilated when using your air fryer. Place it on a stable surface.

To protect your countertop and give your air fryer a stable non-skid surface, you can place a ceramic tile, silicone mat, insulated metallic pad, or a wooden board beneath the air fryer.

Also read: Where to Put Air Fryer in Kitchen?

Mistake 9 – Blocking the Holes

An air fryer has holes in the basket that play an important function. They help in a free flow of hot air all across the chamber. 

These holes get blocked if you use liners like aluminum foil or parchment sheets.

As a result, the food facing the liner will be less cooked compared to the food facing the heating element. 

Even though a liner will require less cleanup later, if the food doesn’t crisp up, then the effort is wasted.

To avoid this, use perforated liners that are specially designed for air fryers. 

How to Avoid 

Buy liners fitting the dimensions of your basket and make sure they are perforated to allow for good airflow. You can also create perforations yourself.

Just make sure not to block all the holes while using a liner. Leave a few holes, and you are good to go. 

For dry foods and reheating, skip the liner and wipe the basket with a paper towel after use.

Also read: Air Fryer Won't Turn On

Air Fryer Mistake 10 – Limiting the Food Recipes

An air fryer can do much more than chicken nuggets and fries.

Don’t limit yourself to frozen foods. You can make veggies and meat, reheat, and even bake in the air fryer!

How to Avoid

You can find many recipes online on different types of food you can make in the air fryer. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

You can also purchase a thermometer to know exactly when your food is done. 

Also read: Can You Spray Air Fryer Basket with PAM?

How to Avoid Mistakes Everyone Makes with Air Fryers

I have made a small table here as a reminder. You can take a print and stick it somewhere until you get the hang of air frying.

Always Preheat your Air Fryer for 3-5 minutes.
Read the instruction manual. Find out the correct temperature and time duration for your recipe.
Cook food in a single layer. Leave a gap in between food. For stacking fries, fill only till ⅓ or ½ Don’t Overfill the basket. Cook in batches for bulk cooking.
Shake the basket or flip the food halfway into the cooking
Clean your air fryer after cooking and allow it to dry up naturally before reusing it.
Do not air fry wet batters, lightweight objects, or wet liquid foods. If you wish to add herbs and seasoning, add them to the oil and then coat the oil on the food.
Use a teaspoon or two of oil and baste your food for crispy and juicy results. Add a teaspoon halfway for extra crispiness.
Leave a gap of 5-6 inches all around the air fryer when using it for cooking. Place it on a stable, anti-skid surface.
Use perforated liners. Skip the liners when you can
Try different food recipes. Purchase a food thermometer.
Also read: Are Air Fryers Bad for Birds?

Final Words 

Wrapping up, air fryers are pretty easy to manipulate once you get to know them. To get crispy, delicious foods, go through the point above. 

Read your manual, preheat the air fryer, and cook food in a single layer with gaps for good airflow.

For fries, stack them up to ⅓ or ½. Shake the basket/flip your food halfway.

Keep your air fryer clean. Do not place lightweight objects without something to hold them down. Use a teaspoon or two of oil to coat your food.

It is essential to give some space to the air fryer when it is cooking. This will prevent it from overheating and damaging itself.

Use perforated liners and skip the liners when you can for crispy results. Don’t be afraid of trying different recipes. Use a food thermometer to know exactly when your food is ready. 

As long as there is electricity, you don’t have to feel guilty about fried foods. An air fryer brings delicious oil-free foods to your table. Bon Appetit!

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I’m Jueria and I am a regular contributor on cookeryspace.com. In my articles, I share time-saving techniques, appliance wizardry, and health-friendly recipes to bring taste and wellness to your table. So raise a glass (or a spatula) with me, to good health and good food, made easy!