How Does An Air Fryer Work? Surprising Answer

By Nick Evans •  Last Updated: 07/16/21 •  7 min read

Have you ever wondered how an air fryer works? Are you considering buying one for your kitchen?

This article is here to tell you:

  • What air fryers are
  • How air fryers work
  • The pros and cons to air fryers
  • Whether air fried food is actually healthy
  • If you have to put oil in an air fryer
  • The foods that can’t be air fried
how does an air fryer work

What Is An Air Fryer?

An air fryer is a countertop kitchen appliance that bakes food and is mostly used to create mock fried food. The food won’t be the same as your typical fried food, but more of an imitation.

This is because what the air fryer does is bake the food rather than frying it.

People buy air fryers for many reasons, but primarily because they are advertised as a healthier way to prepare food than traditional frying. Although this can be true, it depends upon what you’re making and how the food is prepared more so than the cooking method.

Air fryers can also be used to reheat food, especially after it’s been frozen. For example, many people bake vegetables in their air fryer for a great, crisp taste.

How Does An Air Fryer Work?

An air fryer’s main purpose is to mimic fried food, but it can also be used for baking food.

Food is placed inside a basket to cook in an air fryer. This basket has several holes to allow heat to enter every side of the container.

Hot air is blown on the food to cook it. Ideally, this heat is evenly distributed. This is done via a swirling motion, which cooks the outsides of the food evenly to create that crisp texture that we love in our fried foods.

The cooking space in an air fryer is small, which allows for more heat to build up in the space.

Some appliances, typically the cheaper ones, don’t cook as evenly as the more expensive brands. This is why it’s important to do thorough research before buying a new air fryer.

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What Are The Pros And Cons of An Air Fryer?

Buying a new kitchen appliance isn’t something to be taken lightly. The last thing you want is another useless item taking up space on your countertops or pushed to the back of the cabinet.

Let’s go over the pros and cons of air fryers so you can determine if it’s worth the purchase for your household.



Is Air Fried Food Healthy?

Air fried food can be healthy, and it can be unhealthy. All an air fryer actually does is bake your food while giving it a crispier outer layer than you would get in a traditional oven.

Just like baking in the oven, whether or not your food is healthy depends on what you’re cooking and what ingredients you use.

Air fried vegetables are going to be healthier than air-fried french fries. Unfortunately, this machine doesn’t magically make unhealthy foods nutritious!

Of course, fried food should be eaten in moderation no matter how it’s cooked. 

That being said, you can use less oil when air frying food. While oils aren’t inherently unhealthy, they do add some calories.

If this is important to you, air frying might be the way to go.

Do I have to put oil in an air fryer?

You don’t put oil in an air fryer directly, as it would leak through the basket and into the appliance. Foods baked in an air fryer are cooked with hot air, not oil.

Sometimes, though, it’s recommended that you put oil on the foods you’re cooking. This is optional but can improve the taste.

What can you not cook in an air fryer?

Air fryers do have their limitations and, unfortunately, can’t cook everything. The following is a list of foods that cannot be cooked in an air fryer. We will go into more detail on each item below.

Foods covered in liquid batter

Air fryers cook food in a basket that has many holes to allow for air circulation. Because of this, you cannot cook anything with liquid batter on the outside. The liquid would fall through the holes in the basket and make a mess of the machine.

However, freezing first might make some of the doughy foods more air friable, as they will then hold together better in the machine.

Seasoned foods

Just like with liquid batter, seasoning can fall off your food and into the appliance. So if your seasoning is very loose, you may have a big mess to clean up inside your air fryer and food that isn’t as seasoned as you’d like.


Anything with cheese on the outside has the same risks as liquid batter, where it will melt off and make a mess of your machine. 

Also like liquid batter, your cheese item can sometimes be frozen first to prevent this problem. However, this does add to your cooking time, and it can be inconvenient to have to plan ahead in this way.

Large meals

Air fryers are meant to bake small portions of food. The small cooking space adds heat and allows the appliance to work faster.

However, this does mean that large quantities of food can only be made through frying multiple batches. This can get tedious, and in extreme cases, the first batch might need to be reheated by the time you get to the last.

If you’re trying to cook for a big holiday meal or host a party, you should look into an appliance that handles larger quantities.

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