Hand touching black KitchenAid® Air Fryer.

How to Use an Air Fryer: Instructions, Settings & Tips

Whether you’re searing steaks or crisping kale, air frying helps you hone your craft in the kitchen. Countertop ovens with air fry feature enough capacity to create whole chicken recipes and settings beyond air fry that make it easy to create nearly any recipe you can think of; all in the compact convenience of a countertop appliance. Use the guide below to walk through the process of how to use an air fryer countertop appliance from setup to cleanup. Then learn more about common settings on an air fry oven, helpful techniques and recipes that can elevate the way you make.

How-To-Use-an-Air-Fryer_Video
Meat and produce on air fryer tray with door open.

How to Use an Air Fry Oven

Its ease of use and ability to achieve crunchy, crispy results are obvious benefits, but air frying can also be a healthier alternative to deep frying. Using little to no oil, air fried recipes cook and crisp without immersing food in cups of oil so you can get the texture you want without deep frying.

If you’re new to air frying, get tips for beginners with our first-time guide to air frying.

Person placing air fryer tray inside of black air fryer.

1. SET UP YOUR AIR FRYER

Before you dive into your first recipe, take a few minutes to properly prepare your air fryer for use. Walk through the steps below to get started. 

  • Remove packaging materials and clean all parts and accessories.

  • Place the air fryer on a level, flat and dry surface.

  • Ensure proper clearance around the air fryer. Refer to your owner’s manual for setup instructions and specifics. 

When not in use, most air fryers are compact enough to store in the cupboard, but you may want to keep yours on your countertop for easy use. Plus, once you get started, you won’t want to store it away! Air fry ovens like KitchenAid® Countertop Ovens with Air Fry are especially countertop friendly and usually feature a low profile that easily tucks under upper kitchen cabinets or shelves.

Homemade pizza on granite board surrounded by ingredients.

2. PREPARE FOOD

How you prepare your food for air frying depends on which type of cuisine you're cooking up. Prepare proteins or vegetables by spritzing or brushing on a light coat of oil, and then your desired seasonings, before you place them in the basket. If you’re reheating foods, you’re welcome to skip the oil altogether. 

 

Lightly coat the basket of your air fryer with an oil spray to prevent sticking before placing food in the basket, then distribute food in one even layer across the bottom for an even bake. An air fryer can handle most foods you feel up to experimenting with, but there are a couple of outliers that don’t make the cut. Avoid air frying foods with wet batters—like beer-battered fish—or more delicate leafy greens that may just end up swirling around the basket.

 Close-up of air fryer settings menu.

3. SELECT SETTINGS

Some air fryers come equipped with a handful of additional settings like bake, roast or broil, but select KitchenAid® countertop ovens with Air Fry feature 9 cooking settings—including functions like proof, dehydrate and toast—that let you create a wide range of recipes in addition to air frying.

Close-up of person selecting air fryer settings.

4. PREHEAT

Not every air fryer requires preheating, so your air fryer’s manual will be your go-to source for finding out when and how to preheat. Generally, preheating an air fryer helps you get consistent results and only takes a few minutes. 

Close-up of person setting air fryer cooking time.

5. SELECT AIR FRYER COOKING TIME

Cooking time varies from recipe to recipe, but one perk you can usually count on is faster cooking times than a regular oven. If you aren’t working from a recipe specific to air frying, there are some general recipe conversion guidelines to get you through. 

  • Deep frying to air frying: Reduce the temperature of the air fryer 25°F below the instructed deep frying temperature, then cook for the same amount of time.

  • Conventional oven baking to air frying: Reduce the air fryer temperature to 25°F below suggested oven temperature, then reduce the cook time by 20 percent.

Refer to the cheat sheet below to eliminate the guesswork for popular air-fried foods.

PROTEIN

TEMPERATURE

TIME

Chicken Wings 425°F 18 to 20 Minutes
Whole Chicken 360°F 60 Minutes
Fish Fillets 450°F 12 to 14 Minutes
Steak 410°F 15 Minutes for Medium Done

FROZEN FOODS

TEMPERATURE

TIME

Taquitos 400°F 5 to 7 Minutes
Mozzarella Sticks 400°F 5 to 7 Minutes
French Fries 425°F 22 to 24 Minutes

VEGGIES

TEMPERATURE

TIME

Brussel Sprouts 425°F 10 Minutes
Broccoli 400°F 6 Minutes
Potatoes 425°F 20 Minutes
Zucchini 350°F 12 Minutes
Meat and vegetables in tray of open air fryer with wooden spatula.

6. SHAKE OR FLIP FOOD

Most air fryers require you to shake the basket at least once during the air fry process to ensure every bit is crisped and browned to perfection. Some recipes call for flipping or shaking every 5 minutes, so don’t stray too far from your air fryer while cooking.

 

KitchenAid® Countertop Ovens with Air Fry make it even easier to achieve crispy, browned dishes with help from the No-Flip Air Fry Basket. The 360° Air Fry System circulates heat around the basket from every angle, eliminating the need to flip ingredients halfway through the recipe.

Close-up of hand removing air fryer basket full of bread.

7. REMOVE FOOD

Once the air fry cycle shuts off, remove food using tongs, a spatula or a spoon. Use oven mitts if you choose to pull food out while in the air fry basket.

Person cleaning inside of air fryer with cloth.

8. CLEAN YOUR AIR FRYER OVEN

Now that you’ve learned how to use your air fryer, it’s time to master keeping it clean for its next use. Every air fryer is different, but most consist of two removable pieces that include a basket and crumb or drip tray. Clean your air fryer after each use to prevent flavors from mixing between recipes. After allowing your air fryer to cool, see the steps below to learn how to clean your air fryer

 

  • Unplug your air fryer.
  • Remove the crumb tray and air fry basket, then clean with warm, soapy water using a non-abrasive sponge or rag.
  • For stuck-on foods, soak parts in warm and soapy water to loosen grime before cleaning and use a soft bristle brush to clean the mesh of the air fry basket.
  • With the basket and tray removed, use a cloth dipped in warm water to wipe out the inside of the air fryer, then dry the inside with a soft cloth.
  • Wipe down the exterior with a damp cloth. 
  • Dry and replace the crumb tray and air fry basket.

 

Close-up of air fryer settings control panel.

Air Fryer Settings Explained

From delicate dishes to fried favorites, you can bring your most delicious ideas to your plate by getting familiar with every setting. While many air fryers simply feature an air fry setting, air fryers like the Digital Countertop Oven with Air Fry from KitchenAid come equipped with additional settings like bake, broil, dehydrate and more.

Shrimp in air fry basket.

AIR FRY

An air fry setting combines hot air and heating elements to prepare crispy foods without the oil required by deep frying. Air fryers like the Digital Countertop Oven with Air Fry from KitchenAid feature a No-Flip Air Fry Basket that doesn’t require you to flip contents halfway through cooking the way most air fryers do.

Cake in pan with parchment paper.

BAKE

Air fryers function a lot like convection ovens as they combine a heating element with a fan to circulate hot air, but standalone air fryers are often less versatile and baking-friendly than countertop ovens with air fry settings. The heat intensity of air fryers isn’t ideal for moist or delicate bakes like cakes or soufflés, but countertop ovens with an air fry setting often feature bake functions that are up to the task, including those that can deactivate the convection bake fan to execute a conventional baking cycle.

Broiled steaks.

BROIL

Some countertop oven air fryers, like options from KitchenAid brand, feature a broil setting that only exposes food to intense heat on one side, making it easier to get a grill-like sear on steaks, a browned and bubbly cheese topping on pizzas and flaky, moist fish filets.

Chicken pasta dish.

REHEAT

Reheating food with an air fryer is a quick way to help restore its crispy exterior. Use this setting to reheat your favorite chicken tender, roasted vegetable or fries recipes.

Salmon and brussel sprout dish.

KEEP WARM

Use the “keep warm” setting to keep food feeling fresh out of the oven as you finish each dish. Some air fryers even allow you to set a timer for the warming setting.

Grilled cheese.

TOAST

Brown breads to the perfect color when you use the toast setting on your countertop oven air fryer, selecting your desired toast shade from light to dark. Or, create delicious crostinis with just the right amount of crunch.

Toasted bagel.

BAGEL

This versatile appliance can tackle intricate dishes and simple tasks alike, including evenly toasting a bagel every time.

Rolls

PROOF

All air fryers can bring the heat for the ultimate crisp, but the Countertop Oven with Air Fry from KitchenAid brand also features a proofing setting that gently warms the air fryer cavity and allows bread or dough to rise in a controlled environment. Then, once proofed, the air fryer can be set to bake and finish the job with the press of a button.

Dehydrated veggies.

DEHYDRATE

Versatile air fryers like the Digital Countertop Oven with Air Fry from KitchenAid brand can be set to a low temperature over a long period of time to dehydrate foods like veggies, fruits, jerky and more. Use this setting to add dehydrated salmon jerky to your next charcuterie board, dried bananas to granola or dried cinnamon apple rings to your favorite seasonal cocktail.

Open air dryer with tray full of food.

Air Frying Tips for Optimal Results

Now that you’ve mastered the basics of air frying, it’s time to add a few air frying tips to your culinary arsenal. Read on for air frying best practices that can take your cuisine to the next level.

1. Balance Your Basket

Don’t overcrowd your air fryer basket. The circulating air should come into contact with as much of your food as possible.

2. Use the Right Basket

Use the perforated basket or pan that came with your appliance. The holes in these types of baskets or pans allow for better airflow.

3. Don’t Overdo the Oil

Don’t use too much oil. Follow your air fryer recipe or lightly spray or brush fresh foods with cooking oil.

4. Convert Cooking Time

Adjust cooking time. When using a non-air fryer recipe, make sure to shorten your cooking time since air fryers tend to finish off foods faster than a conventional oven or deep fryer.

5. Avoid Non-Stick Sprays

Only dab or spray cooking oil onto foods or the basket base, as non-stick sprays have ingredients that may contribute to chipping the air fryer’s coating.

Egg rolls on dish next to dip.

Air Fryer Recipes

Air fryers can tackle just about any dish you can dream up. Skim the recipes below for air-fried favorites including dinner and dessert ideas.

Air Fryer Chicken Katsu Sandwiches

Create perfectly crisped, katsu chicken filets in your air fryer with this air fryer chicken katsu sandwich recipe from Yummly.

Air Fry Pork and Shrimp Spring Rolls

Experiment with Chinese cuisine and air fry these pork and shrimp spring rolls with hints of ginger, sesame and chili from Yummly.

Air-Fried Strawberry Hand Pies

Use your air fryer to create perfectly browned, flaky pie crusts enveloping fresh strawberry filling with these air-fried strawberry hand pies from Yummly.

Explore a range of settings, take advantage of large capacity and create stunning air fried creations with a KitchenAid® Countertop Oven with Air Fry.

MASTER THE ART OF AIR FRYING WITH THESE TIPS