An air fryer is a popular kitchen appliance that is used to cook food by circulating hot air around it. This gives the food a crispy texture, similar to what you would get from frying it in oil.
In some cases, you might look to add some water to the bottom of your air fryer to increase the moisture of the ingredients you’re cooking.
You can put a couple of drops of water into your air fryer’s basket safely. In fact, water in this way can often be beneficial to your cooking. However, adding more than just a couple of drops of water inside your air fryer could be dangerous since an air fryer is an electrical appliance.
Of course, if you’re anything like I was when I first bought an air fryer you’ve likely got several follow up questions such as;
What do I do when I clean the appliance then? or where should I put the drops of water?
For that reason, I’ve gone ahead and broken this post down into detail to explain everything you need to know about adding water to your air fryer safely.
Can You Put Water In An AirFryer?
In short, you can add some water to your air fryer draw.
However, adding water to your air fryer should be done with extreme caution since an air fryer is an electrical appliance.
As such excessive amounts of liquid inside an air fryer can result in overheating which in turn could cause damage to yourself, your kitchen and / or the appliance itself.
When To Add Water To An Air Fryer?
There are two key times I find myself adding water to the inside of my air fryer draw when cooking;
To Minimise Smoke From Fatty Foods
Adding water to an air fryer has the notable benefit of decreasing smoke production when cooking certain foods.
Smoke from your air fryer can lead to stained walls, smoke inhalation, and unpleasant smells. You’ll want to avoid this as much as you can.
Foods that make the most smoke are those with a lot of fat and grease, such as bacon, sausage, or ground meat.
The grease from these foods drips down and collects at the bottom of the air fryer, where it burns.
When the grease burns, it creates smoke. Any grease or oil that ends up at the bottom of the chamber will lead to smoke.
The residue from added oils and crumbs will also likely end up at the bottom of the chamber and burn.
The smoke is then expelled out of your fryer’s air vent and into the surrounding area.
Luckily, the easy solution is to add water to the bottom of the air fryer. The water cools down the grease, preventing it from burning, which in turn diminishes smoking.
To Rehydrate Dried Out Foods
However, leftovers can often be dried out, especially if they were cooked in the oven or on the stovetop.
You can easily remedy this by adding a little bit of water to the bottom of your air fryer before reheating the food.
The added moisture will help to rehydrate the food and make it more palatable.
Just be sure not to add too much water, or you’ll end up with soggy food. A couple of tablespoons should do the trick.
How To Add Water Inside An Air Fryer?
When adding water to your air fryer, it’s important to take caution since the appliance is electrical.
The best way to add water safely is to use a measuring cup or spoon to pour a small amount of water into the drawer of the air fryer.
Avoid the water coming into contact with any of the appliance’s electrical components since this could cause damage to your machine.
What To Do If You’ve Added Too Much Water To Your Air Fryer?
If you accidentally find that you’ve added too much water to your air fryer or you’ve added water close to an electrical component it’s important you act quickly to avoid any further damage.
First, ensure the appliance is switched off and unplugged from the main power socket.
Then attempt to remove any water that you can with either a cup or a cloth.
Once you’ve removed what you can manually it’s then best to let the air fryer dry out naturally.
Depending on the circumstances this can take anything from a couple of minutes to a couple of hours.
Only plug the air fryer back into the power supply when you are happy with the amount of water (if any) inside the appliances draw.
If in doubt, I recommend waiting rather than risk causing damage to yourself, the appliance and / or your kitchen.
How Much Water To Add To An Air Fryer?
The amount of water you use on or inside your air fryer is likely going to depend on what you’re using the water for;
Using Water When Cooking
If you’re planning on cooking in your air fryer with some added water then you want to be sure to add no more than a couple of drops.
Air fryers are unable to expel water from food the way a deep fryer can.
Meaning that most of the water you add to your air fryer will end up in the finished product.
As such any more than a couple of drops of water added to your air fryer will not only increase the risk of causing damage but also leave you with soggy food.
Cleaning Your Air Fryer
If you’re looking to clean your air fryer with water then you’re likely going to need more than a few drops.
Instead, to minimise the amount of water coming into contact with the appliance it’s best to use a damp cloth.
Where To Put Water In An Air Fryer?
When you’re cooking with water inside an air fryer you want to put the water either onto the food itself or into the draw of the appliance (provided you stay away from any of the appliance’s electrical components).
For safety reasons, I often choose to add the water to the ingredients themselves before I start cooking by either spraying or sprinkling water onto the food before adding it into the air fryer’s draw / basket.
Can Adding Water To An Air Fryer Cause It To Break?
The short answer is yes, adding water to your air fryer can result in it breaking.
However, provided that you don’t add too much water and you only add water either to the food or into the appliances draw / basket (provided it’s not connected to the electrical components) then you should be safe.
If you’re nervous or unsure about adding water to your air fryer, don’t do it.
Instead, try and cook the food without the additional liquid and add moisture in a different way if required.
Does Water Evaporate In An Air Fryer?
Water doesn’t evaporate in an air fryer and instead dissolves into the food you’re cooking.
The best example of this is cooking frozen vegetables inside the appliance.
You may assume that in this case, the water from the frozen vegetables evaporates as it melts and the appliance heats up.
However, this isn’t the case.
Instead, the water goes into the food causing it to become soft and moist as it heats up.
Can You Clean An Air Fryer With Water?
Knowing that you should only add a couple of drops of water to your air fryer when cooking may question how you safely clean the appliance.
After all, you want the appliance to be clean to prevent a build-up of grease, grime and bacteria which could cause food illnesses.
Luckily, there is a way you can use water to clean your air fryer safely.
The exact process comes in two parts;
Cleaning The Interior Of The Air Fryer
The interior of your air fryer is known to get incredibly grimy over time.
As such any area of the appliance without an electrical component that can be removed from the appliance safely can be washed and submerged in water.
The exact air fryer components suitable for washing vary between models and manufacturers so if in doubt be sure to check your instruction manual.
Once you have gone ahead and washed the components be sure to let them dry before re-inserting them back into the air fryer.
Cleaning The Exterior Of The Air Fryer
The exterior of your air fryer is likely to require cleaning more frequently than the interior since it’ll not only get dirty from use but simply from being out on the countertop.
When cleaning the exterior of your air fryer you want to ensure it’s unplugged from the mains power and then wiped down using a damp cloth.
Do not submerge any part of the appliance in water unless it can be safely removed from the air fryer and does not have an electrical component.
Remember, air fryers are electrical appliances first and foremost and therefore cleaning them should be done with the utmost safety and precaution.
Can You Steam Food In An Air Fryer?
You can not steam food in an air fryer.
This is because steamers and air fryers work in different ways.
Steamers heat water in order to create steam to cook foods whereas fair fryers use circulated hot air to cook food.
If you wish to steam anything it is best to use an alternative appliance such as an instant pot or steamer.
If you’re unsure as to which appliance you need to cook with keep in mind that air fryers are mainly designed to cook food and make them crispy and dry whereas steamers use hot water to penetrate the foods to cook them.
Can You Boil Water In An Air Fryer?
An air fryer is unable to boil water for two key reasons;
Firstly, the appliance basket where food is inserted to be cooked isn’t sealed since air needs to come in to cook the food.
As such large amounts of water placed here in an attempt to boil it would only result in the water draining through into the appliance and causing severe damage to the appliance.
Second, an air fryer does not reach a temperature high enough to boil water.
If you want to cook foods using boiling water then it’s best to either use a pan on the stovetop or an Instant Pot / pressure cooker instead of an air fryer.
Can You Cook Rice In An Air Fryer?
There are several reasons why you are unable to cook rice inside an air fryer.
Firstly, the air fryer is unable to reach a temperature hot enough to cook rice.
Secondly, even if the appliance could reach a high enough temperature it still wouldn’t be able to cook rice evenly since there is no way to seal the air fryer basket and stop steam from escaping.
And finally, cooked rice needs to be immersed in water for an extended period of time in order to cook properly which is impossible to do inside an air fryer.
Instead, if you’re looking to cook rice you’ll want to either use a microwave, steamer, rice cooker or instant pot / pressure cooker instead of an air fryer.
Can You Add Oil To An Air Fryer?
While you can add oil to an air fryer when cooking you don’t have to.
Adding oil to an air fryer can have it’s benefits both in adding flavour and in preventing food from sticking to the side of the basket when cooking.
However, you don’t have to use oil when cooking with an air fryer since the appliance uses circulating hot air to cook the food it spreads the oil evenly over the food.
In any case, if you choose to add oil to your air fryer it only needs to be a small amount both for the benefit of your food and the safety of your appliance.
I’ve found in most cases three sprays of an oil spray or three drops of oil is more than enough for most air fryers (although feel free to adjust as you cook based on the specific size of your appliance and your taste)
Since air fryers require no oil to cook with (or a small amount if you prefer) they are significantly healthier (and in my opinion tastier) to cook with when compared to a deep fat fryer and in many cases an oven.
Can You Put Any Other Liquids Into An Air Fryer?
We’ve covered water, we’ve covered oil, but what about those other liquids you might be tempted to add to your air fryer?
Well, in most cases I’d advise against adding any other liquids or sauces to your air fryer when cooking.
This means skipping the BBQ sauce – or at least waiting until later.
This again comes back down to the way in which the air fryer cooks food with hot air circulating at speed.
Of course, adding a large volume of sauces or seasoning to your air fryer basket is likely to not only cause a real mess but potentially leak through the air holes into the interior of your appliance causing severe damage.
Again, if you’re in doubt it’s best to reference your specific instruction manual since recommendations vary between appliance models and manufacturers.
Hi all! I’m Cora Benson, and I’ve been blogging about food, recipes and things that happen in my kitchen since 2019.