Air Fryers are a healthy alternative to deep fat fryers and frying in a pan, they use very little oil and are perfect for creating that’s fried food experience with a fraction of the oil and fats. But as there is still a need for a little oil it can be hard to know where the best place to put it is.
When you’re using an air fryer, you’ll need to use a little oil. However, you might be a little confused about where to put the oil. Well, you can either apply it directly to the food and then add both of them to the basket, or you can pour the oil over the food when it’s already in the basket.
However, there’s plenty more to know about using oil in air fryers, and we’ve got everything you need to know right here.
Can You Use Any Oil In An Air Fryer?
There are an awful lot of different types of cooking oils out there, even in the local supermarket you’ve likely faced down a wall of intimidating bottles and tubs. Thankfully, the rules as to what you can and cannot put into your air fryer are very simple.
If oil or fat can go in your oven, it can go in your air fryer! The two are not so different, which means that you can generally rely on the safety of a given combination between oil and oven when using your air fryer.
With that said, some oils are better for use in your air fryer, and some are worse. The reason for this is that all fats have different smoke points. Essentially, a smoke point is a point at which a fat begins to burn. A good way to think about this is to consider butter.
When you’re frying with butter, you add an opaque solid to the pan, with time and what, the solid becomes a liquid, and goes clear, with some small deposits in it. The clear liquid is fat, and the deposits are milk solids. The smoke point of butter is defined as the point at which those milk solids start to burn.
While other, non-dairy, fats might not have milk solids in them. All fats do have compounds in them which will begin to burn at various points. You need to bear this in mind when using your air fryer, as the fryer will reach very high temperatures. For example, using butter in an air fryer would be unwise as the milk solids would start to burn.
While it would be safe, the flavor might be affected overall.
Generally speaking, the more refined an oil is, the higher the smoke point is. This means that extra virgin olive oil, for instance, has a higher smoke point than plain olive oil. The fats with the highest smoke points are vegetable fats, as these fats generally have very little in the way of solids, and are heavily refined as well.
The fat with the highest smoke point is avocado oil, which clocks in at 520˚F. However, avocado oil can be quite difficult to get your hands on, and quite expensive as well. If you’d rather avoid avocado oil or you simply can’t get your hands on it, vegetable oil is a cheaper, more widely available substitute that works just as well.
Where To Put Oil In An Air Fryer?
Well, as with all cooking methods out there, the oil is really a medium for the heat to pass through to ensure that the food is cooked evenly. This is why deep fryers are such an efficient way of cooking: all of the oil within the vat is the same temperature, which means that the heat is distributed well, and the food is evenly cooked.
To achieve good oil distribution when cooking with an air fryer, we’d actually recommend that you don’t put the oil directly into the appliance itself. While, in theory, it works perfectly well, there are slightly better ways to ensure that you can get good oil coverage.
We would recommend adding whatever you hope to air fry to a bowl while the air fryer itself is pre-heating. Then, toss the food with the oil that you will be cooking with, and make sure that the coating is even. You may need to mix for a little while to ensure that the coating is good.
Once the food is coated and seasoned, add it to the hot basket of the air fryer, and you’re good to go! You’ll be cooking in no time at all.
However, if you do want to keep dishes to a minimum and add the oil directly to the air fryer, that’s perfectly reasonable too. We would recommend adding in the food that you’ll be cooking, and then sprinkling the oil slowly over the food while it’s in the basket. Again, try to aim for a good coating, as the oil will help to achieve a crispy outer layer.
It’s worth pointing out, though, that it’s the combination of the small amount of oil and the extreme heat of the air fryer that combine to adequately crisp the outside of your food. Oil heats extremely rapidly during the cooking process, which means that the oil on your food will soon become hotter than the food itself.
This difference in temperature means that the outside of your food will cook more quickly than the inside, leading to a crispy outside and a gently cooked inside. What’s not to love?
How Much Oil Should I Put In My Air Fryer?
Well, this is a question with a couple of answers. When cooking with anything, not just air fryers, you need to consider the amount of fluid that a given food is likely to absorb or put out. For example, mushrooms will leak a lot of water during the cooking process, while bread will absorb any fats in the pan when it is frying.
This means that you’ll always need to adjust the amount of oil you’re using in order to get food that’s both well cooked and not overly greasy.
For most foods, you’ll only need about one to two teaspoons of oil when you’re using an air fryer. This is because that small amount of oil will become spread out over the surface area of the food within the basket, leading to a crispy surface, as we discussed above.
For foods that are quite absorbent, though, you will likely need more oil. For example, breaded items will need one to two tablespoons, as they will absorb some oil during the cooking process. A piece of breaded fish, for example, will absorb oil into the breadcrumbs that will be very hot.
In that case, the heat from the absorbed oil will help to adequately cook the breadcrumbs as well as the fish, leading to a better eating experience overall.