If you’re looking to cook with oil in your air fryer, you may be wondering where to put it.
Putting oil in the wrong area of your air fryer can cause some serious damage and even break it.
Oil should be either applied directly onto the food either before putting the food in the air fryer or on top afterwards. Alternatively, you can put the oil into the bottom of the basket provided that it doesn’t come into close contact with any of the appliance’s electrical components.
However, keep in mind that you don’t have to use oil when cooking in an air fryer, and if you choose to add some oil the amount added should be significantly less when compared to frying.
Where To Put Oil In An Air Fryer?
There are a couple of places you can put the oil when cooking with your air fryer;
Firstly, you can apply the oil directly onto the food before placing it into the air fryer.
If you choose to do this consider using a basting brush to minimise the mess and maximise the coverage.
Alternatively, you could add the oil to the top of the food once the food has been added to the air fryer basket.
If adding the oil directly to your food doesn’t suit your needs you could add the food into the air fryer basket provided that it doesn’t connect directly to any of the appliance’s electrical components.
If you’re unsure about whether or not your basket comes into direct contact with the air fryer’s electrical components, or where to put the oil in your air fryer specifically go ahead and reference the appliance’s manual since best practices change a lot between models and manufacturers.
Where To Put Oil In A Ninja Foodi?
A Ninja Foodi is similar to an air fryer in the sense that the appliance is able to do a number of cooking processes, including air frying.
If you choose to air fry in your Ninja Foodi then you can add the oil either onto the food directly using a basting brush before then moving the food to the draw for cooking.
Alternatively, you can gently add a couple of drops to the top of the food once the food has been added to the food draw provided.
You could also opt to add the oil to the bottom of the food draw before placing the food on top.
However, I’ve found that this sometimes causes the oil not to circulate as well, especially when air frying in the Ninja Foodi since the air is pushed in from the top of the appliance.
How Much Oil To Add To Your Air Fryer?
If you do choose to add oil, then it’s important not to overdo it.
Since air fryers work by circulating hot air around the food, adding too much oil can cause the food to become greasy and oily while also causing damage to your appliance.
A general rule of thumb is to use about a teaspoon of oil per pound of food.
So, if you’re cooking a half-pound of food then you would use about half a teaspoon of oil.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to add oil to your air fryer and you can cook without it if you wish.
Can You Use Any Oil In An Air Fryer?
The type of oil you use when cooking with your air fryer can make a difference in the flavour of your food and the potential damage you can cause to your appliance.
Some oils have a higher smoke point than others, meaning that they can withstand higher temperatures before beginning to smoke and potentially catch fire.
The table below highlights the different oils you might consider using when cooking with your air fryer and the associated smoke point.
As such avocado oil is the best oil to use when cooking in an air fryer since it has the highest smoke point with butter and extra virgin olive oil being the two worst oils to use since they have the lowest smoke point.
|Smoke Point (℉)
|Smoke Point (°c)
|Extra Light Olive Oil
|Vegetable Oil / Canola Oil
|Extra Virgin Olive Oil
|200℉ – 250℉
|90°c – 120°c
If you use your air fryer at a higher temperature than the oils smoke point when using said oil then you will experience some smoking (the exact amount will depend on the amount of oil used and the temperature your appliance reaches)
This can cause damage to your appliance, cause your food to smell and taste funny and potentially cause a fire.
As such make sure you align your oils with your cooking temperature and cooking needs accordingly when using your air fryer.
Can You Use PAM Cooking Spray In An Air Fryer?
PAM cooking spray should not be used in your air fryer (or any non-stick surface) since the spray can ruin the basket’s non-stick coating.
I actually lost an air fryer to PAM around a decade ago now, as using the spray unknowingly caused the baskets coating to almost melting off and go into the food.
Despite multiple attempts at cleaning it off, I had to resort to getting a new air fryer altogether.
I did want just a new basket but the make / model was out of production and therefore spare parts weren’t available.
What’s The Healthiest Oil To Add To An Air Fryer?
The healthiest oil to add to an air fryer when cooking is olive oil since it produces less toxic compounds than most other oils.
However, since olive oil has a relatively low smoking point it’s not the best oil to use in the air fryer, especially when cooking on high heat.
Instead, my go-to for my own health and the health of my air fryer is either;
Avocado oil because it has a smoke point of 570°F
Canola oil (also known as vegetable oil) which contains less saturated fat than most other oils alongside higher amounts of phytosterols which can help reduce your body’s absorb cholesterol.
Best Oil For Air Fryer Chips & Fries?
Air fryer chips and fries are a staple for most new and long-standing air fryer lovers.
Adding oil to your chips and fries can be a great way to add in texture and flavour, however, choosing the right oil here is key.
I’ve found the best oil for cooking chips and fries in an air fryer to be canola oil (also known as vegetable oil).
Canola oil (vegetable oil) doesn’t just tick the health boxes, being that it contains less saturated fat than most other oils alongside higher amounts of phytosterols which can help reduce your body’s absorb cholesterol.
However, it also ticks the safety box since the smoke point is 400°F, significantly higher than the 340°F you’ll likely be cooking your chips / fries in when using your air fryer.
Do You Have To Preheat An Air Fryer Before Adding Oil?
No, you don’t have to preheat your air fryer before adding oil. In fact, most air fryers will come with instructions telling you not to do so.
However, I’ve found that preheating your air fryer for a minute or two before adding oil can help to create an even cook.
This is especially the case when cooking smaller items like chips / fries which can tend to stick and burn if not cooked evenly.
The Benefits Of Adding Oil To An Air Fryer?
While you don’t have to add oil to your air fryer when cooking there are a number of benefits to doing so;
- Adding oil can help to create a crispy texture on the outside of your food.
- Oil can also help to seal in moisture, resulting in juicier food.
- Adding oil to your air fryer can also help to prevent sticking and make cleanup easier.
- Oil can also be used as a flavor enhancer.
What Foods Should You Add Oil To When Cooking In An Air Fryer?
Of course, some foods need the benefits of oil more than others. In this case, I’ve found the best foods to add oil to when cooking in an air fryer are;
- Chips / Fries
- Vegetables (when roasting)
Adding oil to foods when cooking in an air fryer really comes down to personal preference.
It’s likely going to be trial and error as to what you add oil to when cooking in your air fryer and how much you add to get a taste / flavor that best suits you and your family.
What Foods Should You Not Use Oil For When Cooking In An Air Fryer?
Of course, some foods don’t need as much if any oil when cooking in an air fryer. Foods I skip using oil include;
- Frozen foods
This is because in most cases there’s already oil or a natural oil inside the foods that will work well in the air fryer. Adding more oil can then instead just cause the food to turn soggy.
Can You Use Butter Instead Of Oil In An Air Fryer?
You can use butter instead of oil in an air fryer.
However, butter has a lower smoke point (200°F – 250°F) than most oils which means it’s not the best choice for cooking at high temperatures.
However, if you’re looking to add flavor or create a more indulgent dish then using butter instead of oil can be a great way to do so.
Just bear in mind that if you’re using butter, you’ll likely need to use less than you would oil as butter can contain up to 80% water.
This means it’s not going to coat your food as well and could result in sticking.
Hi all! I’m Cora Benson, and I’ve been blogging about food, recipes and things that happen in my kitchen since 2019.