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    18 Air Fryer Tricks You Should Know About

    Everything you need to know about using your air fryer — from cooking perfectly crisp veggies to how often you should actually be cleaning it.

    If you've never used an air fryer before, they can seem intimidating. How long does it take to cook things? Do you need to clean it? It can feel overwhelming.

    So we went ahead and rounded up 15 helpful cooking tips so you can get the most out of your air fryer.

    1. Preheat your air fryer before adding your food.

    2. Make sure to grease your air fryer basket with oil so nothing sticks.

    3. But don't use nonstick aerosol cooking sprays, as they can cause damage to your air fryer.

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    Many nonstick cooking sprays contain additives that can "damage the nonstick coatings on some air fryer baskets," so you'll want to avoid using them. An easy alternative is to purchase a spray bottle and fill it up with your own oil.

    4. Instead of reheating food in the microwave, do it in the air fryer for crispier, tastier leftovers.

    Brussels Sprouts heating up in the air fryer.
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    You can reheat anything from leftover veggies and pizza to roast chicken and salmon in the air fryer. Just set it at a lower-than-usual temperature like 350°F for so the air fryer heats up your food without over-cooking it. After about a minute, the leftovers will be hot and crispy, never soggy or bland.

    5. Add water to the air fryer drawer when cooking fatty foods (like chicken thighs or bacon) to prevent smoking...

    6. And utilize the drippings that collect in the drawer (like bacon fat!) to make pan sauces and gravies.

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    That fat that's in that pan (even if it's mixed with a bit of water), is perfectly useable and filled with flavor. You can stash it in a Tupperware or a jar for later use and make gravies, pan sauces, and other recipes with it — so don't let it go to waste!

    Learn more: Check out 15 delicious ways to cook with bacon fat.

    7. Shake the basket a few times during cooking to make sure everything is browning evenly.

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    To make sure your items are cooking evenly, give the basket a few shakes during cooking. You can keep the air fryer running and just remove the basket without any problems. This is especially useful for small items that you want to crisp all over, like fries or small roasted veggies. A few shakes should be enough, and it'll help ensure everything turns out crisp and consistent.

    8. Rather than douse food in olive oil, use oil sparingly to achieve the crispiest food.

    9. Make sure you don't overcrowd your air fryer basket.

    10. And for larger items (like whole chicken cutlets or pork chops), cook them in a single layer and don't stack them.

    11. From chicken nuggets to cauliflower gnocchi, you can cook just about any frozen food in the air fryer.

    12. Use foil or parchment paper to make cleanup easier.

    13. Make sure there's at least 5 inches of space around your air fryer.

    14. Ditch the oven and toast nuts in your air fryer.

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    The air fryer's hot circulating air is the perfect thing to quickly toast up a batch of nuts. Just throw them in the basket with whatever seasoning you'd like and let them toast until they're golden and start making popping noises. Just remember to pull them out when they're still a tad lighter than you'd like — the nuts continue cooking after you remove them.

    Learn more: Get a recipe for garlicky roasted almonds made in the air fryer.

    15. Mix your seasonings with oil before adding them to your foods to prevent them from blowing around.

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    Because the air circulation within an air fryer is so strong, lightweight spices have a tendency to be blown off of food. One way to avoid this is to mix your spices with oil, and then coat your items in that mixture. The oil helps weigh them down and glue them to the food.

    16. Clean your air fryer after every use — but not in a dishwasher.

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    After using your air fryer, you'll want to let it cool and clean it. You'll need to clean the basket, the drawer that collects any oil/drippings, and the machine itself. If you notice smoke starting to come out of your machine as you use it, this is a sign that your air fryer has oil buildup and needs to be cleaned. Cleaning the machine is fairly straightforward and can be done with regular soap and water; just avoid sticking the pieces in a dishwasher.

    Learn more: See how to properly clean your air fryer.

    17. Don't limit yourself to savory things. "Baking" in an air fryer is not only possible, but super practical.

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    Some air fryers come with a special pan you can use for baking — and even if yours doesn't, you can just use a standard oven-safe pan to bake all kinds of things. Cakes, brownies, and doughnuts are all perfect examples of desserts you can "bake" in an air fryer. Just think of your machine as a super-strong convection oven. The fan is stronger than a typical one, so keep an eye on your baked goods so they don't brown too quickly. And even if they do, just cover them with foil and keep "baking."

    Learn more: Get a recipe for brownies "baked" in an air fryer.

    18. And you can "hard-boil" eggs in an air fryer, too.

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    Just place your eggs directly in your air fryer basket or on top of the wire rack that comes with some models and cook for 12 to 16 minutes at 250°F — 12 minutes if cooking on a rack, 16 minutes if cooking directly in the basket. As soon as they're done cooking, place them in an ice water bath to quickly cool down. (Note: You may want to test this method using just one egg at first. Cook times may vary depending on your air fryer model.)

    Learn more: Get step-by-step instructions for making "hard-boiled" eggs in an air fryer.

    Looking for more helpful cooking tips? Check out these posts:

    12 Expert Slow Cooker Tips You'll Wish You Knew About Sooner

    14 Instant Pot Tips For Beginners

    17 Things You Can Make In A KitchenAid Mixer