Air Fryer Common Mistakes

14 Common Mistakes People Make When Using Air Fryers That Need To Be Stopped


If you own an air fryer, chances are you’ve used it frequently to cook comfort foods after a long and exhausting day. It’s irresistible to make simple air tasty air fryer recipes since you’re able to munch down fried foods without thinking about the consequences because they’re healthier than fatty deep-fried foods.

Yet, as with any other household appliance, there are correct and incorrect ways to use an air fryer. While using your air fryer toaster oven combo correctly can supply you with a marvelous and crisp crunch bite, one error can create a mess or, worse, shorten the lifespan of your equipment. With that in mind, we at DaDongNY present the 12 most common air fryer blunders and how to avoid them.

The Air Fryer Revolution

With the arrival of air fryers in the market, a small revolution entered every American household. According to The NPD Group, over the last two years alone, about 25.6 million air fryers have been sold in the market. It’s no surprise given that this kitchen appliance has been a great alternative to oven-cooked and deep-fried foods since air fryers reduce calories and fatty food. Not to mention, an air fryer is so much more than “frying .”Despite its compact size, it can almost do anything an oven can, such as roasting, baking, broiling, and so much more.

And, with energy prices rising all the time, an air fryer is a fantastic gadget that warms quickly, requiring less cooking time and a lower electricity bill. Let’s look at common air fryer mistakes you make to get the most out of your kitchen appliance.

Mistake #1: Failure To Read Your Air Fryer Instruction Manual

When you buy an air fryer, the first thing you should do is read the instructions manual. Because let’s admit it, no one likes reading a manual. A study by the Civil Aviation Authority reported that roughly 19% of British adults hardly read the instruction manual of their new gadget or appliance, while 26% consider the manual the least entertaining activity. Furthermore, Bristol Street Motors discovered that roughly 60% of car users seek help from sources outside the instruction manual when encountering a problem.

And while we understand why you don’t want to, the information in an air fryer manual is worth reading because it includes cooking recommendations, warnings, cleaning steps, and tips on troubleshooting your appliance. If you lose your booklet, you can easily get a copy on the manufacturer’s website. Having to understand your air fryer microwave oven combo before turning it on means you’ll be making mouthwatering foods anytime soon.

Mistake #2: Failure To Preheat Your Air Fryer

Much like the traditional oven and deep fryers, preheating your air fryer will provide the best results you desire. An air fryer is a small countertop convection oven with a heating element and fan that blows rapidly hot circulated air on your basket. Preheating your air fryer allows the air to circulate quickly and evenly before you begin cooking your favorite frozen food snacks.

Even though your air fryer’s instruction manual does not specify preheating, it is recommended that you do it for taste and food safety as temperatures between 40 to 140 °F are where bacteria and microbes grow fastest, according to Houston Methodist. Furthermore, preheating appliances means less time spent cooking your food.

Preheat your air fryer for at least three to five minutes for the best results. However, we recommend consulting the manual because each air fryer model has its preheating procedure.

Mistake #3: Failure To Leave Enough Countertop Space

Despite their small size, air fryers require space to operate properly. As previously stated, an air fryer works similarly to a convection oven, blowing hot air into your meal. As a result, continual airflow is required to achieve optimal preheating, which is accomplished through ventilation. The equipment’s air outlets and inlets allow it to expel hot air and smoke while drawing in the fresh air.

When you place your air fryer over a corner, it may not get enough airflow, causing it to overheat and not only burn your food but also shorten the lifespan of your air fryer.

By leaving enough countertop room for your air fryer to breathe, you can minimize risks to yourself and your equipment. We recommend providing at least 5 to 8 inches of space around all corners and positioning it near an open window if possible. We also recommend using a silicone pad to protect your countertop’s surface from excessive heat.

Mistake #4: Failure To Clean Your Air Fryer

Cleaning dishes and appliances can be challenging at times. But, if this is not done, food scraps will accumulate in your air fryer over time if it is not maintained on a daily basis. This might result in burning, an unpleasant stench, and smoke, all of which can be harmful to one’s health. According to New Dynasty Pacific Grove, unclean air fryers are a breeding ground for bacteria, posing a risk to everyone.

We recommend cleaning your air fryer after each usage for safety reasons and because it will be easier because leftover foods will not have set it. But remember to let your air fryer cool before removing the baskets or racks to clean them. 

Keep them elevated so that any dirt you brush off falls to the bottom of the air fryer rather than being caught up in the mesh and heating element. Using a soft-bristled brush, scrub and remove burnt particles from the mesh covering the heating element, then wipe with a moist clean dishcloth or paper towel.

Related Article: Air Fryer Cleaning: Simple Hacks For Getting Grease And Food Out

Mistake #5: Failure To Inspect Your Air Fryer

An air fryer is not a kitchen appliance you can “set and forget,” much like a slow cooker. Since cooking time depends on what you’re making and what air fryer you are using, leaving it unattended can cause your food to be overcooked or, worse, burnt and inedible.

That is why we recommend checking your air fryer frequently, like what you would always do to an oven, deep fryer, or just about any appliance in your kitchen. Also, if you’re air frying a slice of meat, you might want to consider using accessories such as a food thermometer to make sure that it’s cooked all the way through, inside and outside. 

Mistake #6: Failure To Flip Or Shake Your Food

Your air fryer shouldn’t be the only thing you should move. While an air fryer and its oven counterparts pump hot air, you can’t simply place the food in the basket until it’s done cooking. According to America’s Test Kitchen, the air within your air fryer basket can only go in a certain area.

The heating element, normally positioned above the basket, directs heat directly on your food while it sits through to mesh, allowing some air to flow. This indicates that if you do not flip or shake it, there’s a good chance that your food will not be cooked evenly. 

Almost all air fryer manufacturers recommend occasionally moving your food when cooking to achieve the desired brown color and crunch. This is why we recommend moving your food so that every inch is exposed to heat and cooked thoroughly. You can flip large-sized foods and shake the smaller ones halfway through cooking time.

Mistake #7: Using The Wrong Oil Type And Amount

One big selling point of an air fryer is that you can “fry” food without using oil. Although we hate to spoil the magic and debunk one of the most common air fryer myths, this kitchen equipment does not always cook your food using only air. Adding a bit of cooking oil will help you achieve the brown color and crispy texture you want in your food. The only trick is knowing how much and what kind of oil to use.

We suggest you use about one to two teaspoons of oil or a quick spritz of Misto Oil Sprayer on almost all the foods you cook. Insufficient oil may not provide the desired deep-fried results, while too much oil will drip into the bottom tray, causing messes and potentially smoke. But if your air fryer has a non-stick finish, avoid using aerosol cooking spray directly on it because it causes the coating to deteriorate and can result in a sticky mess, which can lead to bigger problems.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind when using oil on air-fried foods:

  1. You don’t need to add extra oil if you are frying fatty foods like chicken wings or bacon.
  1. If you want your food to be extra crispy, drizzle it with oil at the end of the cooking cycle.
  1. You won’t need any oil if you use your air fryer for cooking baked goods like lava cakes, cookies, and so on because you’re using it more like a convection oven than a fryer.
  1. Avoid using pressurized propellant oil sprays since they contain harmful chemicals that can jeopardize your health.

Mistake #8: Overcrowding Your Air Fryer

Sometimes, we laze around and stack a lot of food in the air fryer to get it done in one go. Unfortunately, doing this as a habit can pose a problem. As previously stated, air fryers distribute hot air to cook. By extension, air must contact the food in order for it to cook and brown. And because the hot air can only reach some of the food, it will only be cooked evenly, leaving your fries tepid and soggy instead of hot and crispy.

We recommend you buy a large-sized air fryer in order to accommodate your cooking needs or cook in separate batches if necessary. According to CNET, your air fryer should be at least one quart per person in your household. If you live alone, a one-quart air fryer should be enough, but you’ll need a larger one for a family of four or if you often host gatherings.  

Related Article: Air Fryer: Find The Right Size For You And Your Family

Mistake #9: Cutting Food Into Small Bits

You don’t want to waste your time preparing a meal only for it to fall through the cracks. Regardless of what air fryer you use, almost all have a basket with perforated holes or wire mesh on the bottom, improving ventilation while allowing excess oil, fats, and moisture to drain out. Unfortunately, those aren’t the only things that fall out. Small chunked foods like fries and vegetables end up in the bottom tray with the leftover gunk.

Although sizes of an air fryer vary, we recommend that each piece of your food be at least ¼-inch on both sides. You can also place the food in the basket and shake it to see if anything falls through. Additionally, buying a tray would also be a terrific choice. However, you may need to adjust the cooking time and temperature because the bottom part would not be cooked evenly.

Mistake #10: Cooking Lighter Foods And Loose Seasonings

Another common mistake is failing to compensate for lightweight foods and loose seasonings. According to Philips, an air fryer can spew hot air at 70 kilometers per hour, fast enough to cause a car to skid while driving.

That being said, you might want to avoid cooking lightweight foods like leafy greens because they don’t have enough weight to remain intact, causing them to move around, cook unevenly, or even get caught on your heating element. Loose seasonings, on the other hand, have the same issue since nothing is holding them in place. Herbs and spices will be blown around and create a huge mess.

In order to enjoy these foods, we recommend you use toothpicks or a metallic rack to keep lightweight foods from flying around your air fryer basket. Meanwhile, you should add a little bit of cooking oil to foods where herbs and spices stick or blend the spices with the olive oil before you apply it, so you don’t have to settle for bland dishes.

Mistake #11: Cooking Food With Wet Batter

Wet batters are such a staple in deep frying. After all, onion rings, chicken, and shrimp wouldn’t taste good without the batter. Unfortunately, these wet coatings don’t go well with an air fryer. The batter will most likely drip through the holes of your air fryer basket and end up causing a sticky mess, which is such a pain to clean. Nevertheless, reheating frozen battered foods such as frozen chicken nuggets, onion rings, and hashbrowns is fine as the coating is already intact.

If you want to produce battered food in an air fryer, we recommend using a mixture of flour, breadcrumbs, and egg mixture to get that crunchy layer without ruining your equipment. 

Mistake #12: Limiting The Food You Cook

When you have an air fryer, it’s easy to stick to what you know, especially if you don’t feel confident in the kitchen. But by limiting what air fryer recipes you cook, you could be missing out on a possibility of a new favorite. The possibilities for air fryer cooking are endless, especially if you have a larger air fryer. You can make pizzas, cookies, falafel, or macaroni and cheese with a little extra crunch. 

If you need help coming up with a new recipe to create, many resources can assist you. Several air fryer manufacturers also provide extensive online recipe books for free.

Mistake #14: You’re Not Investing In A Good Air Fryer

If you believe you are doing everything correctly, but your food is still coming out strange, the problem may not be you; it may be the air fryer. While buying a cheap or subpar air fryer will save you money, you risk getting burnt or unevenly cooked food and ruined countertops. Or much worse, if you don’t buy a good one.

Here are some of our top picks for air fryers that you should consider purchasing:

  1. Best Air Fryer Toaster Oven Combos
  2. Best Air Fryers For A Four-Person Family
  3. Best Air Fryers For Chicken Wings
  4. Best Air Fryer Microwave Combos

Mistake #14: You’re Not Using Air Fryer To Reheat Leftover Foods

You can say goodbye to sloppy leftovers thanks to air fryers. Air fryers revive yesterday’s leftovers in ways that microwaves cannot. Although it takes a little longer in the air fryer, it is much faster than preheating in the oven. You can reheat almost anything to give your foods a crunchy flavor. We recommend reheating leftover dishes at 350 °F for three to five minutes. 


As you can see, there are so many ways people use their air fryers incorrectly without them knowing. This article will help you name and avoid them so you can use your kitchen appliance to its maximum capacity in the long run instead of spending a fortune to buy a new one.

To explore more about air fryers, follow the link to learn everything you need about this posh kitchen appliance.