Game-changing Air Fryer Hacks for the Ultimate Recipe Makeover!

The air fryer has surged to join the slow cooker and toaster oven as one of the most common small appliances in home kitchens. These affordable countertop units promise crisp “dry-fried” foods, juicy proteins, and crave-worthy vegetables. Which means that it’s no surprise that this easy-to-use gadget has generated a flurry of air fryer cookbooks. But what if you want to make some of your old tried-and-true recipes in your air fryer? Can you convert recipes that were not originally designed with the air fryer in mind?

The short answer is yes, with a few caveats. Remember that every air fryer is different and will perform differently, especially with recipes not written specifically for your unit. So, err on the side of checking foods frequently for doneness, getting proper internal temperatures on proteins to ensure foods are fully cooked as you experiment with conversions. It can be helpful to keep notes as you go, to add to your recipes that indicate the temperatures, times, and techniques for air frying. And while air fryers can significantly reduce the amount of oil needed for cooking, for best results you will still need at least a light spray of cooking oil on your foods to help them brown and crisp properly.

Now, let’s look at three kinds of recipes–deep-fried, pan-fried, and oven-baked–and talk about how to adapt these recipes for your air fryer.

How to Convert Deep-Fried Recipes for Your Air fryer

Deep-fried foods are some of the most crave-worthy, and often least healthy, foods that people want to replace with air-fried versions. (Enjoying French fries, fried chicken tenders, onion rings, and other crunchy indulgences without the usual volume of fat and calories might be why you bought an air fryer to begin with!)

Temperature: Standard deep fryer recipes are usually done in 350°–375°F oil: the perfect temp to make things crispy and thoroughly cooked and hot enough to prevent greasiness. Because the circulating air of an air fryer will be in less intense contact with your food than hot oil, you’ll need to compensate by increasing your temperature a bit to around 390°F for anything that’s traditionally deep fried.

Oil: Get that crisp right with a small amount of oil. Begin with a light spray of a high-temperature cooking oil, like avocado or canola, and halfway through cooking, either flip over or toss and give a second light spritz.

Timing: Start checking for doneness about 2/3 of the way through the standard time in your original recipe. Make sure protein internal temperatures are safe before removing them from the air fryer.

How to Convert Shallow or Pan-Fried Recipes for Your Air Fryer

Whether you are making a stir fry or browning chunks of meat for a stew, if you can do it in a shallow pan, you can do it in an air fryer.

Pan: First, make sure you have the right accessory. If the recipe you’re making includes a sauce, use a non-stick accessory pan that fits inside the air fryer.

Oil: Making a battered item like onion rings or tempura? Place them in a single layer in the greased pan and lightly spray before flipping halfway through cooking.

Timing: During cooking time, be sure to stir well every couple of minutes to keep things cooking thoroughly and evenly. Begin checking for doneness 2/3 of the way through the standard time in your original recipe. Make sure protein internal temperatures are safe before removing them from the air fryer.

How to Convert Standard Oven Recipes for Your Air Fryer

This may be the easiest conversion of all! Just remember the number 25. Reduce the heat from your standard oven recipe by 25 degrees and reduce the time by 25%. You will still need to start checking for doneness about 2/3 of the way through the standard time in your original recipe and make sure protein internal temperatures are safe before removing them from the air fryer.