How Do Air Fryers Work Without Oil?

Air fryers are the modern era’s saviors. With changing lifestyles, we have become more conscious about our oil intake.

The Air fryer is marketed to work without oil and give results just like deep frying. As mind-baffling as it sounds, the technique is pretty simple (and the result quite tasty).

Let us find out how the Air fryer can cook without oil.

To understand the workings, allow me to tell you about the parts of an air fryer briefly.

Parts of an Airfryer

  • An air fryer has a heating element coil that is placed high above the basket
  • A blower fan is placed right above the heating element
  • A cooking chamber forms the main body of the air fryer. It has an air guard at the bottom of the chamber that helps to move the air upwards
  • A removable basket is placed on top of the cooking chamber
  • At the back of the air fryer, there is an exhaust through which excess air is removed. The exhaust helps to stabilize the internal pressure

How Do Air Fryers Work Without Oil?

An Airfryer works on the same principle of hot air convection technology.

The working is similar to that of a convection oven. The heating element on top gets heated up.

The fan, located on the top of the heating element draws the air from outside. This air is circulated and passed through the heating element into the cooking chamber.

When the air touches the heating element, it turns hot. As a result, hot air is blown into the chamber.

There are two things at work inside the Airfryer

  1. Heat is being radiated from the heating element
  2. Hot air is circulated from top to bottom with the help of a high-speed fan. The air is then passed down to up with the help of an air guard at the bottom of the cooking chamber.

Both heat and hot air work together creating a uniform environment throughout the cooking chamber.

This is what gets your food “air fried” or “baked” with hot air.

The excessive air pressure gets released into the outside air with the help of exhaust at the backside of the air fryer.

How Much Oil Do I Need to Add for Air Frying?

You can add a spoonful of oil to the batter or a teaspoon on top of your food for a moist interior and a crispy exterior.

The quantity depends if you want a little dryer or a little oil.

If you want your food to be juicy and oily, drizzle two and a half tablespoons on the food. If you want a healthier version and don’t mind a little dry, use one to 1 ½ teaspoon.

In my personal experience, the food from the air fryer seems slightly dry as compared to deep-fried food. This is understandable as I avoid adding any oil to the food. But there is no harm is adding a little oil to enhance the flavor

Tips to Cook Food in the Air Fryer Without Oil

Let me walk you through step by step so you get delicious food with a crunchy exterior and a moist interior

  • Season your food. It is best to add a teaspoon of oil to the batter. This will help prevent drying. You can also add a few drops of oil on top of the raw food.
  • Before placing it in the basket, add a small teaspoon of water to the cooking chamber beneath the basket. This will also prevent your food from drying up and also prevent smoking.
  • Preheat your air fryer for 5 minutes at a temperature suitable for your recipe. The most common preheating temperature is 350 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Remove the basket and put your food. Do not overfill your basket with food. Make sure there is space between each piece so the air reaches all corners and you get a perfect texture everywhere.
  • If your basket is small compared to the quantity of food, I would strongly urge you to cook in batches.
  • After putting the food, place the basket back and enter the required settings, and press start. Once you press the start button, you will hear a beep full stop the beep signals that the set program cycle has begun.
  • Halfway into cooking, shake up your basket or flip the raw food inside. This will ensure the food gets cooked evenly on all sides.

Foods You Can Cook in Your Air Fryer

Here I am sharing some delicious favorite recipes you can make in your air fryer with just a few drops of oil

Crispy Chicken Wings

Prepare the batter and season according to the recipe. Preheat your air fryer to 350F for five minutes.

Take the tray out. Place your meat. Drizzle two drops of oil on your wings. You can also brush the oil on top.

Halfway into cooking, take the basket out. Flip your meat and brush them again with two or three drops of oil. Put them back and cook until the set timing is complete.

If you do not want to brush or coat your meat with oil, you can add a tablespoon to your batter. Follow the same technique for crispy chicken pieces.

French Fries

Take raw potatoes. Cut them into the shape of french fries. Soak them in water for 30 mins.

Drain the water and place them on a towel so it absorbs the excess moisture.

Place the fried in a bowl. Season with one tablespoon of olive oil.

Place your fries at 185 F for 25 minutes.  After the first 10 minutes. Remove the basket and shake the fries up a little.  Watch the video here for clarity.

Roasted Vegetables

Cut your favorite veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, etc. Make sure the cut veggies are of equal bite size.

Season them up with your choice of spices. Add salt, paprika, garlic powder, pepper, chili flakes, etc.

Add a spoonful or two of your favorite oil. The best option for an air fryer is extra virgin olive oil. Add a teaspoon of lemon. Mix nicely so all the pieces get coated well. Leave for 15 minutes.

Preheat the Airfryer at 400F for three minutes.  Dump your seasoned veggies into the basket. Make sure to spread the veggies evenly.

Don’t worry about overlapping.  Set the temperature for 12-15 minutes at 400F. Halfway into cooking, stir your veggies. This will help in giving you evenly cooked food.

Reheating Fried Food

An Airfryer is an excellent way to prevent and remove sogging. You can reheat fried food and it will end up crispier!

Depending on how cold it is and how crisp you want it to become, you can reheat it for anywhere between 3-5 minutes at 180° F.

Here are some frequently asked questions

Where Should I put Oil in the Air Fryer?

The oil should not be put on the Airfryer. It is not designed for oil. You will end up damaging your Airfryer appliance.

Instead, you can add a few drops of oil to the batter or brush a few drops of oil on your meat.

What Oil Should I Use in an Airfryer?

Always choose an oil that has a high smoking point. In simple terms, these oils burn and give out smoke at a very high temperature.

A good example is extra virgin Olive Oil. You can use this comfortably in the air fryer.

The next batch of oils you can opt for are coconut oil, peanut oil, avocado oil, and grapeseed oil.


Summing up, the air fryers work without oil through hot air convection.

The heating element along with the high-speed fan in a small chamber cook food at a high temperature.

When it comes to oil, you can put a tablespoon or two into the batter or brush a few drops on the food.

This way food will not dry up completely and remain juicy on the inside. Never put oil in the Airfryer. You will end up damaging your appliance.

Armed with the knowledge above, You can cook meats, vegetables, reheat food, and even bake muffins in the Airfryer. The results will just be like deep frying. That is a promise! Take care.

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I’m Jueria and I am a regular contributor on 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!