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Have you ever cooked something in your air fryer only to pry it off the bottom of the basket? The food might taste nice but won’t feature in a cuisine magazine. And then there’s the “non-stick” basket that needs to soak all day before cleaning. So, how do you keep your fryer from sticking?
- Prepare The Air Fryer To Keep Food From Sticking To It
- Preparing Food So It Doesn’t Stick To Your Air Fryer
- Monitoring The Cooking Process
- Cleaning And Maintenance Of Your Air Fryer
Prepare The Air Fryer To Keep Food From Sticking To It
You can stop food and sauce from sticking to your air fryer in several ways. For instance, you can prepare the fryer before cooking so the food doesn’t stick. Additionally, you use non-stick accessories during cooking and prepare the food carefully to reduce sticking. Finally, regular care and maintenance also play a vital role in keeping your fryer from sticking.
However, let’s start with the first option: preparing your beloved appliance. Can you prepare your fryer so that food doesn’t stick to it? The short answer is yes. By preparing it before cooking, you can reduce the chances of food sticking to the basket, tray, or sides. Here are four ways to do just that:
1. Preheat the Air Fryer
It’s essential to preheat your appliance before adding or reheating food in your fryer – especially for the first time. Doing this will help the non-stick coating in the fryer to cure correctly and eliminate the chemical smell that usually accompanies these appliances.
However, it’s good practice to preheat your fryer every time you use it, especially since you’re probably using less oil. So, just like with conventional ovens, preheating the air fryer ensures even cooking and helps to prevent sticking.
2. Use Cooking Oil
You can use cooking oil in some ways to reduce sticking. For instance, applying a light coating of neutral cooking oil to the basket or tray before adding food can significantly reduce sticking. Only a little oil is needed to create a barrier between your food and the cooking surface.
Alternatively, you can use cooking oil to season your air fryer basket or tray to improve its non-stick properties. To do this, you can lightly coat the surface with neutral-smelling cooking oil and heat it in the fryer for about 5 minutes at about 350°F. Allow it to cool, then wipe off the excess oil with a paper towel. This process can help create a more reliable non-stick surface.
Whether preparing the fryer parts for single use or seasoning, opt for a high smoke point oil such as canola, grapeseed, or avocado oil. These oils are less likely to burn at the high temperatures used in air frying. However, you should avoid using a non-stick spray on non-stick surfaces as it can negatively affect the coating over time.
3. Adjust Cooking Times And Temperatures
Certain foods might require specific cooking temperatures. Lower the temperature for foods that tend to release more moisture (e.g., vegetables like prepping Brussels sprouts) to prevent sticking. Higher temperatures are suitable for foods that need a crisp exterior (e.g., chicken wings or air fryer turkey burger).
4. Accessories That Stop Food From Sticking To An Air Fryer
Ok, so you know how to prepare your fryer for use – but what about cooking accessories? Many air fryers come with accessories like grill pans, baking dishes, or silicone cups. These accessories can provide additional non-stick surfaces and help prevent food from sticking to the main cooking components.
If your fryer didn’t come with accessories, you should be able to purchase some. Before you do, check your fryer’s user manual for recommended accessories and their usage. For instance, you can use parchment paper or put aluminum foil in your air fryer. Just be sure the liner doesn’t cover the entire basket or block the air circulation.
Note: I’ve found that using liners when I cook fish in an air fryer helps a great deal, as my meal prep ideas for fish are delicate. I haven’t baked in my fryer yet, but I suspect liners would be helpful for pastries too.
Preparing Food So It Doesn’t Stick To Your Air Fryer
Since food is the usual sticky suspect, it makes sense to prepare it to prevent it from doing so. Here are five ways to do just that:
1. Dry The Food Surface
It may sound odd to dry your food before cooking, but there’s a method to the madness: moisture on the food’s surface can contribute to sticking. So, grab some paper towels and pat dry items like healthy chicken marinades or vegetables before placing them in the air fryer. Doing this will help the outer layer of the food crisp up nicely, reducing the likelihood of sticking.
2. Use A Little Bit Of Cooking Oil
Yes, I know air fryers are meant to use the oil within the food to cook, but that’s the issue. By the time those delicious juices have escaped the food in your fryer, the food’s already stuck to the basket. So, to avoid this, coat the food with a bit of cooking oil before putting it into the preheated fryer.
Remember, oil isn’t the same as moisture so it will form a barrier between the food and the cooking surface.
3. Coat The Food In Breadcrumbs Or Flour
Another way to prevent food from sticking to your air fryer is by coating it with breadcrumbs or flour before cooking. Such a coating creates a barrier between the food and the cooking surface, resulting in a crispy texture without sticking.
We’ve tried this with potato fries (battered with seasoned corn flour) with great success. No sticking, and absolutely delicious!
4. Avoid Sugary Sauces Early In Cooking
Sugary sauces and marinades, although delicious, can caramelize and cause sticking. This is especially true if the sauce is applied to the food early in cooking. So, if you use a sauce or glaze, consider applying it during the last few minutes of cooking to prevent sticking.
5. Arranging Food In The Air Fryer
Did you know how you arrange food inside your air fryer can impact its cooking and sticking tendencies? I knew about even cooking, but not about the sticky aspect. Here are some food-arranging tips to reduce sticking:
- Avoid Overcrowding: Leave enough space between food items so that hot air can circulate around the food. This promotes proper, even cooking and minimizes sticking. If your fryer is small, rather cook your food in batches.
- Use Cooking Racks: Some air fryer models have cooking racks that allow you to cook multiple layers of food simultaneously. This arrangement prevents the food from sticking together and ensures uniform cooking.
Monitoring The Cooking Process
While air fryers are convenient, keeping an eye on the cooking process is essential to prevent sticking.
- Shake the Basket or Flip the Food: During the cooking process, occasionally shaking the basket or flipping the food can help prevent sticking. Moving the food around ensures it cooks evenly and doesn’t adhere to the basket or tray.
- Adjust the Cooking Time: As we know, different foods have different moisture levels, densities, and cooking times. Therefore, monitoring the cooking process and being prepared to shorten the cooking time if needed to prevent overcooking or sticking is good.
Cleaning And Maintenance Of Your Air Fryer
Finally, to keep your fryer in top-notch non-stick mode, it’s advisable to clean and maintain it properly. Doing this will also contribute to its longevity and your sanity in the future.
Cleaning The Air Fryer
Consider the following tips when cleaning your fryer:
- Allow it to cool down before cleaning. This will prevent you from getting burnt, plus it will help to maintain its non-stick coating.
- Hand wash the basket and tray with warm, soapy water using a soft sponge or brush to remove any residue gently. Avoid abrasive materials that could damage the non-stick coating.
- Avoid using abrasive cleaners on stubborn stains. Instead, use a mixture of baking soda and water or a non-abrasive cleaner designed for air fryers.
- Remember to clean the heating element to prevent food debris from burning and causing sticking issues.
Maintaining The Air Fryer
Over time, the non-stick coating of the fryer basket or tray may wear off or become damaged. Therefore, inspecting the coating for scratches or damage regularly is recommended. If you notice any signs of peeling or scratching, consider replacing the accessory. A damaged coating can lead to sticking and may pose health risks if the coating gets mixed with the food.
You can prevent food from sticking in your air fryer by carefully preparing your appliance, accessories and cooking food. Proper maintenance and thoughtful cooking practices will prevent sticking and ensure that your fryer remains a reliable kitchen companion for many years to come.
Richmond Howard started Meal Prepify in 2019 and has helped over a million people learn how to meal prep, get better at meal planning, and create a kitchen they love to use. He’s an avid home chef and loves to bbq, grill out, and make awesome food for family and friends. He’s been featured on MSN, Renaissance Periodization, and Good Financial Cents.