Can You Use Air Fryer Without Rack/Tray?

I have been thinking of using my air fryer without the tray.

There are times I don’t want my food to be super crispy. Sometimes I want the food to be a little moist or a little steamy. 

Without the tray, I will have more room inside the air fryer for cooking. However, I do not know if we can use the air fryer without the tray/rack. Is it possible?

Can You Use Air Fryer Without Rack/Tray? 

Yes, You can use the air fryer without the tray or rack in most models. The Philips air fryer is one such example.

However, some models do not turn on unless you use the tray. One such model is the Cosori air fryer. 

But you don’t have to worry. There is a way out.

All you have to do is unscrew the handle from the tray and place the unscrewed handle where it is supposed to fit in the compartment. 

An air fryer tray helps in good air circulation allowing evenly cooked food. Without the tray, you may need to toss and flip the food in intervals if you want to achieve even cooking. 

What to Expect When You Cook Without the Tray/Rack?

When the food is suspended in the air, it drips down excess oil, fat, or butter. If you cook in an air fryer without the tray, you will not get a ‘shrunken fat cut appearance’

As the fat will collect at the bottom, the food will remain greasy.

Any excess grease that usually drips down from meat during cooking will be collected as a pool around the food.

To get rid of extra grease sticking to the base, you might want to place a liner before putting your food. 

Without the air circulation beneath the food, the texture will be less crispy and more moist or steamy. 

Are All Air Fryers Equipped with Trays? 

Yes, whichever air fryer you purchase, you will surely get the crisper tray. Sometimes you will get a single rack depending on the model.

I would urge you to look at all the accessories you get when you buy the air fryer. You will not have to go looking for things accessories for particular food recipes.

Finding one that fits inside the compartment can be a tough job. The more goodies your brand gives, the more variety you will be able to make. 

Another reason for brands to give accessories is the inability to find stand-alone parts for your air fryers.

There is no particular standard size that fits all air fryers. Every air fryer manufacturer has a different size, design, capacity, and signature dimensions for its product. 

The crisper tray or the hanging basket has many holes at the bottom. The holes help to circulate the airflow better and drain the excess grease from fatty foods.

How to Cook in the Air Fryer Without the Basket Tray? 

It is quite simple 

  • Preheat your air fryer according to recipe instructions 
  • Place the food with or without any accessory
  • Enter the settings. Flip or toss halfway through the cooking
  • Remove and enjoy once cooked

Let us proceed toward some reasons why you would be cooking without the air fryer tray/rack

Reasons to Cook Without the Air Fryer Tray/Rack

There could be multiple reasons why you would want to air fry without the tray/ rack. Some of them are 

More Space

Depending on the model of air fryers, you might want to remove the air fryer tray to cook a good quantity of food.

This usually happens when you have a small gathering of people you have to feed. 

Tray suspensions in some models can take up a lot of space. To utilize every inch of air frying space, chuck the tray out 

Less Crispy Results 

At times we are not in the mood for crispy food. As I mentioned earlier, if you want less crispy food, you might have to flip or toss the food in between cooking.

Flipping the backside will ensure even cooking. 

Certain Food Recipes

Some food recipes do not require fat cutting or dripping down, they have to be done with slight moist results.

One example is mashed potatoes. There is no excess grease that has to drip down and there is no specific side that needs to turn golden brown. 

A well-done mashed potato can be cooked without the tray by just flipping halfway for an evenly cooked meal from all sides.

You can also place the potatoes in an air fryer-friendly container and then place the tray inside. 

Baking in Molds 

At times our baking molds don’t fit the tray due to their shape.

In all such cases when you want a specific shape for a cake, cupcake, or cookie, chuck the tray out and place the mold directly into the air fryer compartment. 

One word of caution here. The baking molds should be air fryer friendly. The best option would be silicone, steel, or ceramic.

Anything that can go in the oven can go in the air fryer. The only catch is that its dimensions should fit inside the compartment. 

A Useful Tip

While you could put the mold or whatever you are baking directly inside the compartment of the air fryer, I would strongly advise placing a liner.

A liner will protect the non-stick layer base of the basket.

The Best Air Fryer Option Without the Tray

The best air fryer to get if you don’t want to use the tray would be the Ninja Airfryer. You can easily remove the crisper tray inside this air fryer.

It has multiple options for cooking- you can air fry, dehydrate, reheat, and roast with this air fryer. The basket and the crisper plate are both dishwasher-safe. 

Alternatives of the Air Fryer Tray/Rack

Let us now look at some of the alternatives we can use instead of the rack/tray. 

A Metallic Rack insert

If you wish to space out your food or cook one food on top of other food, use the metallic rack insert.

The grease will drizzle down on the food and make it absorb all the flavors.

The food on the rack insert will end up crispy due to good airflow. I would recommend getting this three-piece set of racks.

Air Fryer Rack Air Fryer Accessories 6'' Set of 3 Multipurpose Double Layer Rack with Skewer Round Cooking Rack Toast Rack Fits Most 2.5QT or Above Air Fryer

It has a multi-purpose steaming rack, a skewer rack for kebabs, and a toaster rack for your slices of bread. 

A Liner 

Ditch the crisper tray and try the liner. It will give you a lot of cooking space. If you have a big air fryer, you can cook a whole roast. 

A liner is available in various materials. It will protect the non-stick layer and prevent the sticking of food and ugly clean-ups.

I recommend disposable parchment paper liners. These are 100% food-grade parchment papers with double-sided silicone oil.

Air Fryer Paper Liners,125Pcs Parchment Paper, Air Fryer Disposable Paper Liner for Microwave, Non-Stick Air Fryer Liners Square Free of Bleach (8IN)

They are shaped like a bowl. Use them for air frying, roasting, or simply holding the raw food. 

Silicone Pot  

Another useful alternative is a silicone pot. You can find them made of different shapes and capacities.

WAVELU Air Fryer Silicone Pot - [UPGRADED] Food Safe Air fryers Oven Accessories | Replacement of Flammable Parchment Liner Paper | No More Harsh Cleaning Basket After Using Airfryer (5.3QT or bigger)

They hold and protect food as well as the non-stick base of the air fryer. Use them to save yourself from the difficulties of cleanups afterward. 

The best part about silicone pots is that they are heat resistant, non-toxic, and made of food-grade material. They are also reusable and dishwasher-safe. 

Some more accessories you could use inside the air fryer instead of the tray are the baking tin, baking pan, and grill pan.

Whichever option you choose, make sure it fits the dimensions of the air fryer compartment. You do not want to damage the air fryer.

Things to Remember While Using the Air Fryer Without the Tray 

Let us proceed now with some useful suggestions while using an air fryer without the tray

Leave Some Gap 

The tray is designed to hang mid-air. This gives good airflow, cooking food evenly from all corners.

To make sure your food gets good airflow without the tray, space out your food, leaving gaps in between. 

The space will help the airflow and reach all parts. 

Flip Halfway or Toss and Shake the Compartment 

Flip, shake, or toss halfway to cook the bottom of your food evenly.

Turning the bottom of food on top will ensure you get a well-done and crisp result all across the food surface. 

Cut Your Meat

If you have to cook a big piece of meat, it is best to cut them into small parts.

By cutting them down, you will get better results as air will flow more freely around the small pieces. Don’t forget to space the pieces so you have gaps in between.

Use a Thermometer to Check the Food Temperature

I always recommend using a good thermometer for cooking food. It will let you know which parts are done and which are not done. 

Sometimes the top portion gets cooked faster while the inner portion cooks slowly.

If you remove the food halfway you might end up getting food poisoning due to uncooked food. 

If you are skipping the tray, do not think of skipping the thermometer. You can thank me later. 

Where to Buy an Air Fryer Tray? 

As I mentioned earlier, each brand has signature dimensions of the tray that fit inside a particular model.

The height, length, width, and capacity differ for different products even under the same brand umbrella. 

You may not be able to find a standard tray that fits all air fryer models. Your best bet would be to look up the website of your manufacturer.

You can reach out to the brand directly and ask. You may have to pay for the shipping cost along with the product cost.

Conclusion 

As you now know, it is possible to cook in the air fryer without using the tray or rack. 

At times we want the food to be less crispy, have more space to place food, or cook certain recipes with accessories. In all these cases, you can cook without the tray/rack. 

You have to remember a few things like placing food at a distance to allow good airflow. Place a liner or use an air fryer accessory for certain recipes.

You also have to keep an eye out and flip the food halfway for even cooking. Use a thermometer to make sure the food is cooked inside and out. 

Don’t forget to go through the alternatives to the crisper tray/rack mentioned above.

If you frequently cook without the tray, I would suggest you get the ninja air fryer. It will assist you in cooking food without the crisper tray and by different methods like dehydrating, roasting, etc.

Crisp up your food without cracking on the crisper tray. Happy cooking!’

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