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34 Easy Air Fryer Hacks That Will Make Your Meals Taste Delicious

You don't have to go to culinary school to make amazing meals at home. It helps to learn how to use an air fryer, though. It's a great tool to have, whether you want to make crispy vegetables, chicken wings or even dessert.

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Preheat for Juicier Chicken

Part of the appeal of an air fryer is the fact that it cuts cooking time in half for most entrees. While this is true, it also helps to preheat your air fryer similar to how you would an oven. This hack will ensure that air-fryer chicken is thoroughly and evenly cooked.

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Home Made Fish And Potato Chips With Air FryerGrandbrothers/gettyimages

Avoid Sticking in the Basket

There is an easy way to avoid a sticky mess—and it’s not in the instruction manual. You’ll want to grease the bottom of the basket with an oil that has a high smoke point (such as safflower or soybean oil). Most air fryers come with a non-stick coating, but this is an extra layer of assistance for easy cleanup after dinner. Plus, you can put foil in an air fryer if you follow these tips.

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air fryer hacks Bags with frozen vegetables in refrigerator, closeupAhanov Michael/Shutterstock

Thaw Your Vegetables

This is one of the most common sense air fryer tricks. Before attempting to air-fry your frozen vegetables, it always helps to allow them to thoroughly thaw out. The excess ice around the veggies can hamper the air-frying process and the final result will not be as desirable.

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air fryer hacks Stacked containers of leftoversAmy Newton-McConnel/Shutterstock

Reheat Leftovers

Do you ever feel like you don’t want to reheat leftovers in the microwave because they come out mushy? Well, the air fryer is a great way to reheat leftovers and bring the original dish back to life. Reheating in the air fryer is especially effective with precooked fried food, such as leftover french fries.

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air fryer hacks Man Cutting Vegetables In The Kitchen At HomeRaul_Mellado/Getty Images

Air-Fry Your Fresh Vegetables

Practically every household has a picky eater, and getting them to eat veg can be a pain. The air fryer adds such a delightful texture and flavor to vegetables, so if you air-fry fresh vegetables using the quick setting, you’ll please even the pickiest eater.

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Using the microwave air fryer hacksRostislav_Sedlacek/Getty Images

Use the Air Fryer Instead of the Microwave

Kids love mini pizzas as a quick meal, but microwaving can create a mushy dish and using the oven can take a lot of time. I can air-fry frozen pizzas in less than 20 minutes and the crust will come out perfectly crisp! The finished pizza will taste like it came from a pizzeria, but you made it right at home!

(Or make this homemade air-fryer pizza recipe!)

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Copy Your Favorite Fast-Food Recipes

Craving McDonald’s fries or Wendy’s chicken nuggets? Well, your air fryer can replicate those recipes right at home. Using the low setting, you can quickly heat homemade french fries or chicken nuggets. Not in the mood for either of those options? Try these other air-fryer copycat recipes.

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Kathy’s Herbed CornTaste of Home

Enjoy Juicy Corn on the Cob

One of the best things about summertime is the fact that you get to enjoy grilled corn on the cob. But, what if you don’t want to wait until summer? Well, crank that air fryer up to 400ºF and coat the outside of the corn with cooking spray and seasoning. Cook for 10 minutes, flipping at the 5-minute mark, and you’ll have perfect corn on the cob.

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Make Perfect Bacon

You might not realize this, but the air fryer is the best way to get crispy bacon. Who wants to spend all morning in front of a hot frying pan? Simply place a few slices of bacon on the air fryer rack and preheat to 375°F. Set the timer to 2 to 3 minutes, then flip the bacon and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. The bacon should be crisp in 4 to 5 minutes total.

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The best ever grilled cheese sandwichTaste of Home

Use Mayo for Ooey Gooey Grilled Cheese

Don’t make the mistake of just using your air fryer for chicken and french fries—there is so much more that you can do! Preheat the air fryer to 360º F and spread mayonnaise across two pieces of bread, placing the cheese in the middle. Set to air fry for 3 to 5 minutes and you’ll have pure bliss. This is why making grilled cheese with mayo works so well.

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Spicy Air-Fryer Chicken BreastsTaste of Home

Use Corn Starch to Batter Chicken

Half of the fun of owning an air fryer is learning about all of the wonderful recipes that you can make. Slice boneless and skinless chicken breasts into 1-½ to 2-inch chunks, and preheat to 400°F. Coat the chicken in corn starch and cook for 7 to 9 minutes. To finish the meal, simmer in your favorite sauce for 5 minutes.

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Hard Boiled EggLaurie Ambrose/Getty Images

Use Your Air Fryer to Make Hard-Boiled Eggs

Yes, you read that correctly—you can make hard-boiled eggs in an air fryer! The process is simple; just place around five to six cold eggs in the basket and preheat to 250°F. The process should take about 16 minutes, and the final product should be easy to peel.

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Save the Juice for Homemade Gravy

Do you find yourself disregarding the juices that are left over in the air fryer basket? Well, these can be saved in your refrigerator and used to make delicious gravy and sauces. Whether it be chicken, pork or beef, the juices contain excellent flavor.

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Olive oilSebastian Duda/Shutterstock

Use Oil Sparingly

Olive oil is an excellent ingredient that adds surprisingly good health benefits to a dish. But with an air fryer, you can be light-handed when it comes to using oil. Just a light coating will generally add a new dimension of flavor without being overwhelming.

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Give Casseroles a Shot

Though your air fryer doesn’t have a shelf for baking, there is a rack that can accommodate most small baking dishes. You’d be surprised how well baked macaroni and cheese will come out air-fried! You could also do baked ziti, eggplant Parmesan and other mini casseroles. Don’t miss our best air fryer recipes.

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Apricot glazed hamTaste of Home

Bake an Amazing Glazed Ham

Did you know that you can prepare your entire holiday feast in the air fryer? You can, and this glazed ham recipe will take it to the next level. To air-fry the ham, it needs to be cooked 10 minutes for every pound at 300°F.

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Air-Fryer Coconut ShrimpTaste of Home

Take Snacking to the Next Level

We all love to sit back and enjoy a nice snack after a hard workday. Traditionally, the microwave has been the go-to option, but an air fryer will take your snacks to the next level. These air fryer apps and snacks will satisfy the taste buds!

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Air-Fryer Carrot Coffee CakeTaste of Home

Don’t Forget Dessert!

In addition to making apps, sides and entrees, you can make delicious baked goods with your air fryer as well. These air-fryer desserts will delight kids and adults alike.

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Air Fryer Chiken Wingsnymphoenix/gettyimages

Reduce Crumbs and Cooking Residue

If there is one thing that I dislike about air-frying, it’s the leftover mess. As with frying any food, there are a lot of spatters and crumbs in the cooking area. Layer foil along the basket’s interior to have a quick and easy clean-up. Here are more ways to clean an air fryer.

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Avoid Overcooking Your French Fries

Probably the first thing that you’ll make with an air fryer is french fries. It’s important to keep the temperature around 375°F; otherwise, you run the risk of burning them. Allowing frozen french fries to thaw out for a few minutes also never hurts.

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Garlic-Herb Fried Patty Pan SquashTaste of Home

Go Easy on the Butter

The air fryer will make amazing roasted vegetables, of course. But, staying light on the butter will make all the difference in the world when it comes to roasting your veg. Zucchini, especially, will begin to brown a lot faster with too much butter on it.

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TORONTO, CANADA - 2016/10/23: PAM: cooking sprays in store shelf. PAM is a brand name by Conagra Foods which an American Company. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)Roberto Machado Noa/Getty Images

Avoid Nonstick Aerosol Cooking Sprays

It can seem like second nature to use nonstick cooking spray in your air fryer, but many cooking sprays have additives that can cause damage to the unit. Instead, fill a spray bottle with normal olive oil and give the unit a light spray before each use.

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Air Fryer Fried Chicken Thighs4kodiak/gettyimages

Add Water to Avoid Burnt Poultry

Because of how fast the air fryer heats up, things like poultry tend to start smoking or get burnt. You can remedy this by adding a cup of water to the bottom of the air fryer before every use. The water will catch most of the grease and fat that can start smoking.

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Air FryerPlan Shooting 2 / Imazins/gettyimages

Shake the Basket During Cooking

The air fryer does not always evenly cook food. Most air fryer models are quite finicky, but there is a quick hack to fix this problem. Simply shake the basket once or twice during the cooking process to ensure that food is heated evenly.

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Home-made french fries in modern airfryerBeer5020/Shutterstock

Don’t Try to Cook Too Much

It should come without question that crowding your air fryer’s basket can spell trouble! Yet, many of us try to cram a lot into the basket. Instead, cook your items in batches and leave at least ½-inch of space between items like air-fryer corn dogs.

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Image Of Golden Brown, Fresh, Crunchy, Homemade, Breaded Chicken Nuggets Cooked In Air Fryer, Healthier Alternative To Snack Cookingmtreasure/gettyimages

Don’t Stack Food

Larger cuts of meat need to be cooked individually or in sets of two. Otherwise, the sides that are touching will end up undercooked. You always want to make sure that meat is cooked thoroughly to food-safe temperatures.

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Air Fryer Machine Cooking Potato Fried In Kitchen Home. New Normal Cooking At Home Lifestyle. Technology Eco Friendly Home Smart Device. Air Fryer Machine With French Fried Conceptpaulaphoto/gettyimages

Keep the Counter Clear

The rapid circulation of hot air that cooks food in an air fryer is pulled into the unit with a vacuum. You’ll need about 5″ of clearance on all sides, and you can move any neighboring items back once you are done cooking. Learn more about how an air fryer really works.

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paleo snacks handful of nutsTetra Images/Getty Images

Toast Nuts for a Healthy Snack

Did you know that you can use your air fryer to make a healthy snack? This recipe for roasted cashews will keep you coming back for more. You can also roast a selection of other nuts, such as almonds and walnuts. When you hear the popping sound, that means they are ready.

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Row Of Spice JarsStewart Waller/Getty Images

Mix Seasonings Before Air Frying

Remember that an air fryer uses air circulation to fry the food on the rack. This means that you don’t want powdery seasonings blowing around inside of the unit! If you have the opportunity to mix the seasonings with oil and create a wet rub, it will work much better.

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Woman unloading clean yellow dishes from dishwasherANDREY_POPOV/SHUTTERSTOCK

Skip the Dishwasher

Although the dishwasher makes cleanup easy, you never want to put air fryer pieces in the dishwasher. Instead, use a wet rag on the rack and inside of the unit. Most air fryers already have a nonstick coating which makes cleaning an easy task.

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Cover Baked Goods

The air fryer can be used to make all kinds of sweets and confections. But, the high heat and the fast-moving air circulation will quickly burn things like cookies and brownies. Covering your baking dish completely with foil to ensure that you get warm and even cooking.

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English breakfast with grilled ham, fried egg and french fries.gkrphoto/Shutterstock

Make Eggs for Breakfast with Ease

You can make a complete breakfast using your air fryer, it just takes a little bit of practice. Keep the heat even around 375°F and you can cook a fried egg fairly easily. It generally will take about 3-5 minutes—the key is to keep an eye on it and make sure that the egg isn’t burning.

These ham and egg pockets are delicious as well!

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Philips Air FryerTaste of Home

Don’t Forget to Preheat

One of the most common mistakes that can negatively affect your air-frying is failing to preheat. It only takes about 3 minutes—and you’ll thank me later. The food will come out thoroughly cooked and you’ll notice that the setup time is a lot less as well.

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cleaning air fryerTMB Studio

Clean Your Air Fryer After Every Use

Notice that your air fryer is smoking a lot more than usual? This could be caused by infrequent cleaning, a common air fryer mistake. Leftover oil and batter residue will build up at the bottom of the air fryer, and over time this will start to smoke. Make sure to give your air fryer a quick cleaning after every use.

Check out our Test Kitchen’s recommended air fryers.

Cameron Eittreim
Freelance writer and yoga instructor. I have been writing online since 2006, and my experience includes vintage video gaming, yoga, and automotive. My work can be seen at Motor Junkie, Auto Wise, and Medium. My latest project has been MyRetroGamer.com, which is the premier source for vintage video game content.