Ahh the trusty air fryer. It might be the latest addition to your kitchen appliance lineup, one that you’re quite unsure how you ever lived without. For whipping up crispy Brussels sprouts to taking your kids’ frozen chicken nuggets to new (almost gourmet) heights, there’s nothing this little egg can’t handle. Or is there? Turns out, there are a few things that are better left for other preparation methods. Whether you should skip the air fryer due to mess, uneven cooking, or just the plain-old fact that there are better or more efficient ways to cook said item, the air fryer isn’t the one-and-done appliance you might have thought it was. (Though, rest assured, it certainly deserves its place in your coveted kitchen cabinet lineup.)
Take a gander of this list of top foods that should never make their way into your air fryer.
Those beer-battered onion rings, fries, fish cutlets, plus tempura veggies and more are not well suited for a crisp in the air fryer. The batter will drip down into the base of the machine, making a big mess to cleanup afterward, not to mention, it could even set off the alarm on models with alert systems. You’re better off either skipping these foods altogether or frying them up in batches the old-fashioned way—you know, in oil.
For the same reason that it’s best to avoid battered foods, it’s also a smart idea to skip cheesy items where melty goodness might be an issue. That doesn’t mean that all cheese has to be kept out of the air fryer, just make sure it won’t drip while it cooks.
Large, Bone-In Meat Cuts
This sounds amazing in theory. A super crispy, done-in-a-flash whole chicken that’s primed for your prettiest platter and a central spot on the dining table? Not so fast. A whole chicken (as well as other large, bone-in proteins) is actually better off roasting in the oven as you’re unlikely to get an even cook in the air fryer.
Some baked goods fare decently in the air fryer, but the category is by no means foolproof. Try our Air Fryer Donuts which call on store-bought biscuit dough for a not-too-wet (or dense) batter. Muffins get tricky, as they can dry out as they cook, as do donuts with a wet batter for the reasons outlined in the wet-batter section above.
Brussels sprouts in the air fryer? An absolute yes. Spinach, collard, or chard leaves? Better not. Light leaves might get a little flighty during the cooking process, resulting in uneven cooking. Another green to avoid? Broccoli, which tends to dry out during the cooking process.
Too Much of Anything
Even the most recommended of air fryer foods can become a no-no if you overpack your appliance. Air fryer magic is all about air circulation. If you overstuff your basket, air won’t be able to circulate as it should, which means your food won’t cook appropriately. If you’re serving for a crowd, it’s better to batch cook to ensure everything cooks evenly and browns properly.