Foods you should avoid putting in the air fryer or risk ‘sloppy mess’

Air Fryer cleaning hack using a dishwasher tablet

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Unlike deep fat fryers where food is submerged in hot oil, an air fryer uses convection heat. It t circulates hot air to cook the food, similar to a fan oven and relies on a chemical process known as the Maillard reaction to crisp up the exterior of food, with tasty results. Air fryers can pretty much cook anything, but there are a few exceptions. 

TikTok users Steph shares her cooking tips and recipes on her profile @stephcooksstuff. 

She told her 269,000 followers the five foods you should avoid placing in an air fryer. 

Steph said: “Here are five things you probably shouldn’t cook in the air fryer. 

“Crazy, right? Everything goes in the air fryer – but some things not so much.

“The last one is controversial, so stay with me.” 

The first food Steph advised against cooking in an air fryer was popcorn. 

“It just doesn’t get hot enough, it won’t work,” she added.

David Jarvis, executive chef for air fryer brand NuWave explained why it doesn’t work.

Speaking to Mashed, he said: “You have to get up to 400 degrees for the popcorn to pop, and most air fryers don’t get that high of heat. That’s one we’re just not able to do.”

The second food Steph said shouldn’t be cooked in an air fryer is “grains like rice”. 

“It just doesn’t get hot enough to boil the water, it’s not going to work,” she commented. 

Another item you should avoid placing in the air fryer basket is “things that have got batter on them”. 

Steph said it will “just end up in a sloppy, soggy mess”. But “if it’s already pre-fried and you want to re-heat it? The air fryer is perfect”. 

Most vegetables can be cooked in an air fryer but leafy greens don’t turn out great. 

Steph said “they just turn shrivelled and crunchy” which is “perfectly okay if you want kale crisps, but otherwise not so great”. 

“And the last thing? Steak,” Steph remarked. “I completely disagree with this because I think steak cooks beautifully in the air fryer but a lot of people don’t.” 

Tips for using an air fryer to cook 

Preheat the air fryer before adding food. Turn the dial to the temperature needed and set the timer for two to three minutes. When the timer goes off, the air fryer has been pre-heated and is ready to cook. 

Invest in a kitchen spray bottle. Spraying oil on food is easier than drizzling or brushing and allows less oil to be used. 

Use aluminium foil to make it easier to take food in and out of the basket. It also helps with the clean-up. 

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