The Top 12 Air Fryer Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Air fryers have become all the rage in recent years, and for good reason! They make cooking dinners so easy, and save you time and effort while frying food!

If you follow me on YouTube, you know how much I love my air fryer! I love not dealing with a pan full of oil I need to figure out how to dispose of, and I love the ease and convenience of the air fryer. If you are new to the air fryer, be sure to read How to Use an Air Fryer!

You can also watch my YouTube video where I explain these TOP 12 mistakes in 10 minutes.

Before you start using your new air fryer, there are a few things you will want to know so you get THE BEST results from your air fryer. Rather than learning these mistakes the hard way, I put together this list to help you out!

Here are some of the most common air fryer mistakes that people make when using an air fryer.

1. You don’t invest in a good air fryer

If you feel like you’re doing everything right, but your food is still coming out burnt or weird, it might not be you that’s the problem. 

Buying a cheap or sub-par air fryer can be a way to help you shave off some dollars and get you this hot new appliance on a small budget. However, if you don’t buy a good one, you could end up with burnt or unevenly cooked food, ruined counters, or worse. 

Ensure that you take the time to read the reviews and invest in an air fryer of excellent quality. I use the Cosori Air Fryer and Philips XXL Air Fryer in my kitchen. However, if you’re ever unsure about an air fryer, read the reviews and stick to a trusted brand.

2. You’re overcrowding the frying pan

One of the most important rules of frying food is not to overcrowd the pot. This will lead to lousy cooking results and uneven cooking. The same is true with your air fryer! If you overcrowd your food, it will end up half-burnt, undercooked, and not right.

If you are making several large batches, it might be worth looking into a larger air fryer. Otherwise, you will need to cook your food in batches, just like you would do if you were frying your food in a pot.

A useful reference is to make sure that you never fill your air fryer more than about halfway. And when shopping for an air fryer, rather than focus on total quart size, I would focus on the perimeter size of the basket. My 5.8 quart Cosori basket is 9″ square and is a great size, without taking up a ton of counter space. 

3. You use too much oil or not enough

Margherita Pizza in the air fryer

A big selling point of the air fryer is that you can make “fried” food without using oil. However, most foods will require you to cook with some oil for a truly crispy finish. However, you can add too much oil and end up on the other side of the spectrum entirely.

There are two reasons you need oil when air frying food. 

Here are some important tips to keep in mind with using oil on air fryed foods

1. If you’re cooking foods that already have fat or skin on them, like chicken wings or air fryer bacon, no additional oil is needed. If you want something extra crispy, you can spray oil on the food near the end of the cooking cycle.

2. If you’re using your air fryer for baking, you won’t need any oil at all, since you’re using the air fryer more like a convection oven, than a fryer. You won’t need to use oil on foods like:

3. You will only need about 1-2 teaspoons for breaded items like fries. The hot air circulates in your air fryer, but without the oil, they don’t get crispy. Make sure that your food is well-coated, just don’t overdo it. And remember, you can always add more near the end of the cooking cycle if you want more crispness.

4. To protect your investment, it is best to avoid canned or pressurized propellant oil sprays. Why? If you look at the ingredients of these spray oils, you’ll see they contain propellants and chemicals. Not only is it not good for your health, these propellant oils have been known to make the lining of air fryer baskets start to peel and chip.

A simple solution is to purchase a spray bottle and put your favorite oil in it (see more below). I have this 18 oz Evo Oil sprayer. It’s pretty big, and if I were to purchase it again, I’d for sure go with a smaller bottle.

Whatever you decide, I recommend reading the reviews. Some users complain about the sprayers getting clogged. And if you have an oil sprayer brand you love, leave a comment below and let me know!

5. When air frying your food, you want to make sure to use an oil with a high smoke point. Never heard of smoke point? Smoke Point (or burning point) is the temperature at which an oil or fat begins to produce smoke. Every oil or fat has a different temp that they can safely be cooked to.

  • The smoke point of butter, coconut oil, and EVOO is 350˚.
  • The smoke point of avocado oil is 375-400˚.
  • Vegetable oil and Peanut oil has a higher smoke point of 45o˚
  • Canola oil has a smoke point of 400˚

I almost always use avocado oil personally. It has a higher smoke point than EVOO, is healthier than vegetable and canola oil, and doesn’t affect the food’s taste, like peanut oil tends to (plus we have a peanut allergy in our house).

You do you my friend, just be aware that if you use butter and cook things at 400˚, your air fryer might smoke up a bit more and be a bit unpleasant.

4. You don’t rotate or shake the food

Air fryers are almost hands-off cooking… but not 100%. 

For a perfectly cooked meal, you’ll want to flip or rotate your food at the halfway point of cooking. This ensures the food gets evenly crisped on both sides.

When cooking air fryer chicken and any other meats, you for sure want to peak in on it, using an instant read digital meat thermometer, to ensure your meat doesn’t overcook.

Cooking meats in the air fryer can vary because the thickness of your meat will vary with each batch. You can learn more about my three tips for cooking perfect chicken in an air fryer on my 3 minute YouTube video

You may also want to check on it from time to time to make sure it’s done and avoid overcooking.

5. You aren’t checking your foods temperature

To avoid getting undercooked or overcooked food, you’ll want to invest in a digital read food thermometer, if you don’t have one already. Doing this will insure that you are getting your food fully cooked. This is especially important for meats. Plus, it will help you learn and gauge the correct cooking time for your foods, since it varies with all air fryers.

6. You put your air fryer basket and hot fryer on the countertop

You might not feel steam coming from the air fryer basket, but it gets pretty hot! It’s like a tiny oven inside of a small appliance.

Ensure that your air fryer is lifted from the counter by little feet or that you have something underneath it to avoid ruining your counter. This goes for the basket too! Don’t set it on your counter when you’re done; put it on a heat-safe surface first.

7. You aren’t cooking fatty foods correctly

Not all foods will need oil, especially your fatty foods that already have oil. To help these foods cook properly you’ll want to add a little bit of water to the bottom of your air fryer. This will also prevent a gross smoky smell from cooking things like bacon.

8. You never clean your air fryer

You might think that cleaning the air fryer in between sessions can be a pain, but it’s actually not! Most air fryers have a non-stick coating so it cleans off quite easily with hot soapy water. And many air fryer baskets are dishwasher safe! Refer to your owners manual to be sure. If you take the time to wash it after each use, you’ll thank yourself later.

If you don’t clean your air fryer often enough, crumbs and leftover food get left behind in the basket and end up burning the next time you go to use your fryer. Not only is this a fire hazard waiting to happen, but the leftover oil can cause your drawer to smoke and ruin the food you’re cooking.

Every month or so, when the air fryer is completely cooled, wipe down the inside of the air fryer to remove any build up. You’ll likely also need to do a deep cleaning of your air fryer (more info coming on that soon).

9. You are cooking wet food

This is especially important with your proteins and veggies. If you don’t pat them dry you will end up with food that has been steamed. So be sure to pat your foods dry to give the crispy fried taste.

10. You don’t adapt your recipes

Air frying food isn’t a simple conversion process for translating baking instructions to frying instructions.

You will need to adjust the time and temp as you cook. An air fryer will most of the time require less time to cook food than a traditional baking method like ovens, since the heat is so condensed to the small air fryer chamber. Make sure that you take this into account when air frying your food.

A good rule of thumb is to decrease the temp 10-25˚ and cut the cooking time in half. Then increase cooking time as need. 

11. You are not using your air fryer to reheat leftovers

Thanks to air fryers, you can say goodbye to soggy leftovers. Air fryers bring leftovers back to life in a way that microwaves can’t. It may take a little longer in the air fryer, but it is way quicker than preheating in the oven. You can reheat just about anything to give your foods their crispy taste. Normally, I reheat foods at 350F for 3-5 minutes. Some of our favorite things to reheat in the air fryer are leftovers from restaurants, french fries, and pizza.

12. You aren’t using helpful tools

You can buy some air fryer accessories to get more out of your air fryer. But you don’t have to! You likely already have items in your kitchen that you can use! For example

  • you can use foil to make a foil sling that will allow you to easily place delicate foods in and out of your air fryer. This is great for cookies or delicate meats (like this air fryer salmon). Just be sure not to press the foil all the way to the sides of the air fryer basket, otherwise the air won’t be able to circulate.
  • you can also use air fryer safe parchment paper with holes to place at the bottom of your air fryer basket. This is great for foods like parmesan chicken or coconut shrimp that are a little more messy during the cooking process.

WARNING: NEVER use wax paper or paper towels inside your air fryer while cooking (because it could start a fire).

Another good rule of thumb; if it’s oven safe its air fryer safe. So you can use ramekins, cupcake liners, and oven safe glass dishes like Pyrex inside your air fryer.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are so many different ways to misuse your air fryer. But if you’re patient and keep testing things out, you’ll have perfect air fryer recipes in no time!

For more air fryer tips and tricks, check out some of these posts:

Meal Type: Tips
Categories: Healthy, Air Fryer

Comments & Reviews

  • Is a silicone pastry pad enough to protect my counter? That’s what it claims but I still don’t know. Not sure how to really test it w/o actually using it on my counter!

    • HI Vickie, We use a wooden cutting board underneath. Mine (Cosori) does not get that hot underneath. If you want to be cautious, use a cutting board.

  • Here is why I love you and watch all of your videos. I am 87 and do not have 20 min to listen for what I want or need, you get to the point. I do not need to hear how 50 times you did this or that on each point. Keep on being you. I gave your site to my many granddaughters and daughters. Okay, on to air frying, I love it!

    • Hi Phyllis! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your love and support with me. I greatly appreciate it! Happy air frying!

  • Cathy, I love your videos and recipes, and your family! I want to start weighing my ingredients rather than measuring them. Do you have a conversion cart on your website or in the works? You know, one that tells me that a cup of ketchup weighs x number of ounces. That would be super helpful!

    • Hi Linda, I don’t have anything specifically like that the website. However, the recipe cards on the site have a conversion button for metric that you can use. Hope this helps!

  • Hi Cathy,
    I just got blessed with a Milex XXXL Air Fryer and looked around on Youtube for help to start using it and came upon your videos. Oh my word what a feast. I cannot stop watching your videos and getting all the know how for my Air Fryer. I have started using it with so much success and all because of your wonderful videos. Thank you so much! You are a super star. Kindest regards, René from South Africa.

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