As you likely know by now, air fryers are an excellent alternative to oven and deep-fry cooking, as they make delicious food without the need for lots of oil. When you’re just starting out, you’ll probably need some air fryer recipes.
Some recipes ask for the air fryer to be preheated, while others don’t. You know that you usually must preheat a standard oven and toaster oven, but what about your air fryer?
Below we provide tips on figuring that out and explain how to preheat air fryer when the situation calls for it.
Should You Preheat Your Air Fryer?
We thought it would be best if we kicked off this discussion by answering what seems to be the first logical question – Should You Preheat Your Air Fryer?
There’s a great deal of debate around this topic. As mentioned above, there is a huge selection of air fryers on the market, meaning that a simple yes or no answer isn’t possible.
There is, however, a consensus that preheating isn’t necessary. If you don’t preheat your air fryer, then logically you would need to leave the food in for a little longer, if the recipe calls for preheating that is.
Air fryers on the smaller side would most likely not need to be preheated. This is simply because the heating element is so close to the food that preheating could burn the food.
That being said, sometimes preheating your air fryer yields better results depending on what you’re cooking.
As this question is a little nuanced and depends on a couple of factors, we’ve broken down when you should preheat vs not preheating around the ingredients you’re cooking.
Cooking Situations That Don’t Call For Preheating
Cooking Thick Raw Food
If you’re planning on using your air fryer to cook thick or thick and frozen meats like chicken breasts or pork chops, you shouldn’t preheat your air fryer. Thick foods will cook quickly on the outside, but the inside will remain raw on the inside.
Much like in a conventional oven, low and slow is the best course of action when cooking meat. The heat needs to build up in order to get to the center of the meat and cook it properly.
Cooking Pastries, Breads, Or Cakes
Ideally, when cooking quick breads or small cakes in your air fryer, the air fryer needs to start off cold. Again, slowly cooking the bread or heating the pastry is vital. By preheating, the bread/pastry will be crispy on the outside, but the inside will be raw.
Cooking Delicate Foods
If you’re cooking small cut vegetables or delicate foods, preheating the air fryer is unnecessary. In the case of small cut vegetables, they’ll most likely be burnt on the outside before they are tender on the inside.
Cooking Situations That Call For Preheating
Despite the fact that you shouldn’t preheat the air fryer for thick cut meat, cooking steaks is an exception. By preheating the air fryer, the steak will come out with a great crust and sear. It should also cook the outside of the steak quickly whilst leaving the middle on the rare to medium rare side.
Cooking Precooked Frozen Foods
Foods like French fries, cheese or fish sticks should be cooked in a preheated air fryer. This will ensure they are crispy on the outside.
How to Preheat Air Fryer
As we’ve stated, preheating your air fryer isn’t always necessary, but it is simple enough to do. There are a number of air fryers available that have a dedicated preheat button.
Checking your device’s instruction manual will tell you if it has a preheat button. If not, following these two steps will preheat your air fryer:
Set the temperature of the air fryer to the one recommended in the recipe or the temperature you wish to cook at.
Turn the empty air fryer on. If you own a smaller air fryer, 2 to 3 minutes is enough. For bigger models, about 5 minutes will do the trick. When the time is up, place the food into the air fryer and set it to cook for the required time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do You Preheat The Air Fryer With The Basket In Or Out?
The short answer is that the basket should be left in when you preheat the air fryer. That way the temperature will be even, and the cooking surface will be hot when you add the foods.
Should I Preheat The Air Fryer With Parchment Paper?
Put simply, no, you shouldn’t put parchment paper in when the air fryer is preheating. If the parchment paper isn’t being held down by food, it will swirl around the air fryer and is at risk of burning.
The pros and cons of preheating an air fryer are dependent on the cooking situation and the type of food you’re cooking. If your appliance comes with a preheat function built-in, simply setting the temperature and pressing the preheat button will do the trick.
Sometimes preheating your air fryer will improve the dish–like when you’re cooking foods like steaks or precooked frozen food such as French fries.
But, for the most part, preheating or not preheating your air fryer arguably makes only a small difference to the outcome of the food you’re cooking.
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