Nowadays, the best air fryers are common staples in most households, but they can appear a little daunting if you’ve never used one before. While air fryers are seen as miniature ovens and have much of the same functionality, they perform in a very different way and cook food in a much faster time.
Once you get used to how your air fryer performs, the meal possibilities are endless but you need to take that first step in understanding how to get the most out of your air fryer. So, what is the secret to cooking perfect air fryer food every time?
To find out more, I spoke to Sam Milner, an air fryer expert and co-author of The Complete Air Fryer: 140 super-easy everyday recipes and techniques. Sam has been air frying for 12 years, but when she first started, the air fryer was totally unknown.
The trick she recommends is focusing on frozen food when you first start using an air fryer. “I give the same advice to people with air fryer fear and an air fryer that’s just sat in its box: focus first on either frozen food such as chips, chicken, onion rings, vegetables, or a one ingredient recipe like sausages,” says Sam. “There’s less pressure on you for the preparation and you can focus on seeing how your air fryer cooks and experimenting.”
The secret to air frying frozen food
As a smaller and quicker version of the best oven, an air fryer makes light work of cooking frozen food. However, as the method of cooking is different, it can put some people off, as the heat is more intense and circulates rapidly throughout the chamber.
While this heat distribution might sound too intense and furious for certain foods, it cooks your meals faster and uses little to no oil while still giving food that crispy texture. Plus if you’re cooking straight from frozen, either you don’t have to wait for the food to defrost or you can defrost it in a rapid amount of time, meaning your weeknight meals are much faster and stress-free.
To avoid food waste and get the best out of your food, Sam suggests prepping your meals ahead of time before popping them in the best freezer for future use. If you enjoy meal prepping or find it hard to make time to cook in the evening, Sam recommends spending a morning to batch cook your favourite meals, snacks and sides for future use in your air fryer. “My favourite is to batch the ingredients of a sausage casserole into a bag, freeze it, defrost in the air fryer (the ideal temperature for an air fryer defrost is 120°C) and then air fry,” says Sam.
Sam Milner has been air frying for almost 12 years and is the co-author of the Sunday Times bestseller, The Complete Air Fryer: 140 super-easy, everyday recipes and techniques.