8 air fryer hacks to get the best cooking results

Want to get the best results from your air fryer? Learn how with our expert tips for cooking, cleaning and day-to-day care.

If you already own an air fryer or know someone who does, you’ll know they can do so much more than cook chips using little to no oil.

From air fryer crispy tofu to a full Christmas dinner, or air fryer banana and blueberry muffins, you might be surprised at just what you can cook in an air fryer. 

Join any air fryer ideas Facebook page and you’ll see members regularly singing the praises of this powerful countertop appliance. They will no doubt be sharing air fryer recipe ideas and tips with as much delight as Mary Berry watching a soufflé rise to perfection. 

Man tipping food into the basket of an air fryerCredit: Exceptional
Our expert tips will help you get the most from your air fryer

Air fryers have, in fact, come a long way in the past year in terms of design and functionality, so it’s no wonder they offer a popular way to cook for those in the know.

The best air fryers offer so much more than a single temperature dial to cook basic foods. With handy presets for dehydrating, roasting, baking, reheating and powerful max crisping, the latest air fryers have everything you need to whip up a three-course meal with all the trimmings.

So once you’ve invested in one of the best air fryers, the fun begins. With these eight air fryer hacks you need to know, we’ve included tips for how to produce the tastiest and most impressive results, and keep your air fryer looking stylish on the worktop.


1. Experiment with confidence

Don’t be afraid to try new foods

It’s not just beige food that does well in the air fryer. Chicken, chips and burgers may be obvious favourites, but you may be surprised at what else you can cook in one.

Some air fryers come with recipe booklets included in the box, but if not, it’s worth checking to see if the brand has a website or accompanying app that features inspirational recipes to try. 

“Don’t be afraid to try new foods in your air fryer,” says Clare Andrews, author of The Ultimate Air Fryer Cookbook. “I know when I first received mine I was so nervous, all I cooked was chips!

“But the more you use it, the more confident you will become and you’ll soon find you start to use your air fryer more in your day-to-day cooking. Mini sausage and red onion bite size tarts always make for a popular choice in my household, for example.” 

She adds: “When I first started using my air fryer, I was so surprised how well vegetables cooked. Not only do they keep their vibrant colour, but they also taste delicious. One recipe we love that is a firm mid-week favourite is my stuffed aubergines, served with a saffron and yogurt dip.”

Stuffed aubergine, served with a saffron and yogurt dipCredit: Clare Andrews
You can cook Andrew’s stuffed aubergines in an air fryer

2. Avoid wet batter

Sauce and batter may run off your food

While almost anything will work in the air fryer, there are some foods that will do better than others, and some you should avoid cooking in the air fryer

“A lot of food comes out beautifully in the air fryer, but you should avoid cooking anything that’s considered a ‘wet’ food,” says Rebecca Dixon, kitchen expert at Currys. “Anything saucy or with a batter is likely to run off the food.”  

If you do want to bake casseroles, lasagne or stews in your air fryer, it is possible if you use a small dish and tailor the temperature to suit the food.

The Karaca Air Pro Cook XL air fryer comes with a stew pot as part of the kit that sits inside the air fryer basket, for example.

Featured product

Karaca Air Pro Cook XL

RRP: £129.95

Karaca Air Pro Cook XL

3. Accessories

Invest in useful air fryer accessories

If there aren’t any air fryer accessories included with your machine, it’s worth investing in a few tools to aid your cooking.

A meat thermometer will come in handy for checking whether steaks and burgers are cooked, for example; while a baking tin that fits the size of your air fryer’s cooking basket will ensure you can switch from savoury food to making sweet treats too.

“I absolutely love my silicone moulds, and you can now buy them in a variety of different shapes and sizes,” says Andrews.

“I use them with almost everything I cook. They help to keep my air fryer clean, and I still get that same delicious, crispy texture of the food. For me, it’s a must have for when you’re cooking cupcakes and muffins.”

Sweet potato in an air fryer being picked up by tongs illustrating the best air fryer accessoriesCredit: Shutterstock/Romix Image
A good pair of tongs is indispensable when it comes to air frying

4. Use spray oil

Use spray oil for even and healthy results

Air fryers are known for their ability to produce similar results that you can get in a deep fat fryer, while using much less oil to cook.

“Using an air fryer can help you to create healthier versions of conventionally fat-heavy, deep-fried foods – fried chicken is one of my favourites,” says Izzy Goldstaub, recipe developer at recipe box company Gousto.

“For the healthiest choice, spray oil works well. Spray oil also seems to achieve the most even distribution, and one spray equates to about 0.03 tbsp of oil, so that’s a lot less than the drizzle or several tablespoons required for oven cooking.” 

One air fryer hack that ensures your food doesn’t stick to the basket and make it harder to clean, is to spray the basket grill with oil.  Even if the recipe doesn’t call for it, it’s a good way to ensure even cooking results.

Mini sausage and red onion bite size tartsCredit: Clare Andrews
Andrew’s mini sausage and red onion bite size tarts is another air fryer option

5. Set the temperature

Get the temperature right

It can take a while to work out just how powerful your air fryer is and what foods work well at certain temperatures. Many of the best air fryers come with preset cooking modes for certain foods, which makes things easier. But remember that these are only a guideline and often need tweaking as they can be a little hit and miss. 

If you want to achieve a very crispy finish, then look for an air fryer with a wide variable temperature control dial, as these can vary from model to model.

The Ninja Speedi has a temperature control that goes up to a powerful 240C (464F) for example, while most air fryers stop at around the 200C (392F) mark. 

“Just 20 minutes in an air fryer equates to around 35 minutes in an oven, so they can save time and energy,” says Goldstaub. “But be careful with foods such as chicken, which can cook much more quickly than others. Be sure to check on your food regularly to avoid it drying out or burning.”

Featured product

Ninja Speedi 10-in-1 ON400UK

RRP: £249.99

Ninja Speedi 10-in-1 ON400UK

6. Check for reminders

Look for an air fryer with useful reminders

Deep-fat fryers work by submerging food in oil, while air fryers work much like a traditional oven, circulating hot air around your food. As with oven cooking, you’ll need to check in on your food when cooking in an air fryer to ensure even results.

“If you’re making fried food alternatives in an air fryer, you’ll need to remember to shake the basket every five minutes or so to make sure they’re super crunchy,” continues Goldstaub.

“If you’re someone who prefers to set and forget, look for an air fryer that comes with a useful reminder so that it beeps halfway through the cooking cycle when your food needs a shake. A design with a viewing window will make it even easier to keep tabs on your food without having to disturb the cooking cycle.”

Cosori Dual Blaze 6.4L Smart Air Fryer touchscreen controlsCredit: Exceptional
The Cosori Dual Blaze Smart Air Fryer comes with smartphone app reminders

7. Preheat

Preheat your air fryer before use

The beauty of an air fryer is how quickly it can cook, and waiting around for the interior to heat up can be rather tedious – especially when you’re in a hurry to get dinner sorted. 

That said, the air fryer capacity is much smaller than a conventional oven so it will get up to the required temperature much more quickly than an oven. But while you don’t need to preheat your air fryer before use, for best results it’s advisable that you do.

“I know lots of people who don’t preheat their air fryers at all and their food comes out perfectly fine,” says Andrews. “But I find that a couple of minutes to bring the air fryer up to temperature achieves much more even cooking results.”

Not all air fryers have preheat settings built in, but if you’re keen to preheat before cooking and want to make the whole process easier, look for a design that does, such as the Cosori Lite.

Featured product

Cosori Lite air fryer

RRP: £99.99

Cosori Lite air fryer

8. Keep it clean

Wash your air fryer interior as soon as it cools down

To keep your air fryer looking sparkling and box fresh on your worktop, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of cleaning it regularly after each use.

“The best method for cleaning your air fryer will depend on the type you have,” says AO.com’s air fryer expert, Thea Whyte. “Before cleaning, make sure the air fryer is unplugged and left to cool completely. Then remove the grill or drip tray and wash any grease away with dish soap and warm water.”

She adds: “Before replacing the racks and drip tray, wipe down the inside of the air fryer with a wet paper towel to remove any build-up inside. If you find the air fryer needs more of a deep clean due to grease or sticky residue building up, simply wash your air fryer as usual then mix baking soda and water together to make a thick paste. Put the paste on a damp dish cloth and use it to gently scrub the affected areas. Then rinse and dry.”

Read our step-by-step guide on how to clean an air fryer. 

Emily Peck

Written by Emily Peck


During her 20+ years as a lifestyle journalist, Emily has held inhouse positions as features editor at Ideal Home and a features writer at the BBC. A freelancer for Saga, she regularly writes for publications including Livingetc, GQ, Ideal Home, The Telegraph, Tom’s Guide, TechRadar and Wired to name a few. She covers everything from design and interiors, gardens and food, to fitness and health.