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Your guide to air fryers

Whether you're a recent convert or thinking of investing in an air fryer, our guide has the know-how you need to make the most of your new kitchen pal.

Air fryer on the kitchen slab

Why do I need an air fryer?

Many people think of this appliance as a healthy twist on a deep-fryer, but it’s so much more than that. Air fryers are like mini fan-forced ovens. They’re great for cutting down on added oil, but they’re also ideal for batch cooking in small quantities or cooking popular convenience foods from frozen. They heat up quickly, saving you time, and free up your oven whenever you need to bake more than one thing at different temperatures at the same time.

How does an air fryer work?

An air fryer works by combining a fixed heating element with a fan to blow hot air over food, cooking it more quickly than in an oven. 

Before cooking, you’ll need to set the cooking time on the air fryer. Some models have simple dials for you to set the time and temperature, while others have a digital display with preset times and temperatures for cooking popular foods. 

To help food cook evenly during cooking, you may need to shake or turn it. The air fryer will turn off temporarily once you open it, but should start again automatically when you close it.

Which air fryer should I buy?

Keep these things in mind when choosing your air fryer. They come in a few different sizes and styles.

Choose a size: Before you buy an air fryer, look at the space you have on your benchtop, or in your cupboards if you want to pack it away between uses – this may be difficult with larger, heavier models. 

Air fryers generally come in three sizes: small (about 0.5L-3.5L); medium (about 4L-6.5L); and large (about 7L+). Larger sizes are best if you want to make a meal for 4 people. If you’re short on kitchen space, you can use a medium air fryer and cook in batches. Check the capacity label carefully when choosing which air fryer to buy – the maximum capacity of the drawer without the basket is different from the capacity of the basket itself.

Select a style: As well as the size, air fryers come in a few different styles. For example, some models have shelves similar to ovens and some open with a lid. However, most air fryers use a pull-out drawer containing a basket with a handle. There are also air fryers that include built-in stirrers or rotating baskets, which may be handy if you want to set and forget.

Safety first

1. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to use your air fryer safely. Place it on a heatproof surface, allowing plenty of space for hot air to escape.

2. If you want to line the basket, use silicone baking mats or foil. Like when cooking under the grill, baking paper may burn if too close to the element.

3. Air fryers tend to stay cool on the outside, but be careful not to touch the hot surfaces inside the air fryer.

Ready to start cooking with your air fryer? Try the recipes below.