Everything you need to know about air fryers


I like to think I know my stuff when it comes to the air fryer. Well I hope I do, because I have a full-on recipe book dedicated to it hehe. Then again I thought I knew all about potatoes until Jamie from Sorted absolutely destroyed me in the ‘Identify the ingredient‘ challenge on YouTube. Is he now the Potato King? I don’t know, but it still hurts.

Since I lost my spud crown, I’ll focus on the air fryer until I can look my potato fans in the face again. I do have a lot of love for air fryers though and that’s all thanks to my mom. She introduced me to this wonderful appliance during lockdown when I was made redundant and temporarily moved back home. So, why the obsession? Where do I begin…it’s speedy, convenient, compact and there is so much less washing up! I HATE washing up and would always make that fatal mistake of leaving it til the morning, then coming back downstairs to instant regret.

For those of you who own an air fryer or are considering purchasing one, here are some of the most frequently asked questions that pop up in my DMs…


Will it save me money?

Yes and no, mainly yes probably. Yes when it comes to electricity usage as it prevents you having to heat a full oven, which is super handy if you’re only cooking for 1 or 2 people. You also don’t need to wait for it to pre-heat so you save time and money there. The only no is that you have to invest in the air fryer, so it depends how fancy you go! luckily, the market is now flooded with affordable options and you don’t need a super snazzy top-of-the-range one to create amazing food. I have a few models for testing recipes and haven’t had an issue with any of them.

Is it healthier?

If you’re using it to melt marshmallows and chocolate then no (but I love this), however it is in general healthier as you don’t need to use as much oil, if any. Due to the way the heat circulates, there is less need for oil/fats so it’s ideal if you’re into fried foods but want to create a healthier version. I feel weird even saying this as so many of my videos are of me dousing stuff in butter hehe oops.

Why use the air fryer over an oven?

If like me, you’re typically only cooking for yourself or one other, it saves you having to heat a full oven. It’s also much quicker as there’s no faffing with the temperature, pre-heating or making sure you don’t open the door at the wrong time, so if you’re impatient and always hungry, this is the perk that will probs win you over.

How do you clean an air fryer?

Always check the manual you got with your air fryer. I usually give mine a quick clean after each use in case any loose foodie bits were left over from the last use.  The last thing you want is these leftover bits burning during the next use. You may also find some of the compartments are dishwasher friendly. Don’t forget to spray down the outside too.

What inserts/tools can I use?

Dependent on the type of air fryer you have (drawer, trays etc) you can purchase reusable liners, silicone hand protectors and all sorts of bits and pieces. Liners are handy at reducing your overall mess. I try to adapt what I have but you may find you need smaller trays/dishes if you’re cooking things like yorkshire puddings, cupcakes and lasagne. If I’m baking cupcakes, one tip of mine is to use scrunched up bits of tin foil between the cases to help keep them sturdy. Love a good hack.

Can an air fryer replace the microwave?

The air fryer is amazing for reheating leftover pizza as it goes beautifully crisp, rather than soggy, however I wouldn’t advise using it for saucy dishes. Keep your microwave for reheating anything liquid-y.

Can I use it to toast bread?

If your air fryer has a grill setting then yes, you can use it to make toast. I also find it super handy for hard/soft boiled eggs as you’re not faffing about with boiling water. Basically get your full brekky in it and feel super organised and smug.

Can I cook without oil?

Yes, you can. I prefer a lil drizzle of oil purely for flavour but always check the recipe if you’re unsure.

What are the best things to cook in an air fryer?

Chips are one of my go-to quick recipe are they go beautifully crispy and golden in minimal time. I now prefer cooking them this way rather than oven cooked. A whole roast chicken is AMAZING too. It’s actually easier in the air fryer and stays beautifully moist. I also love the rolled pork belly recipe which has herbs and spices in the middle – the crackling gets really crispy.

I also found an air fryer an absolute life saver for Christmas day dinner, as instead of playing tetris with the oven, I could cook my honey roasted carrots and pancetta sprouts in the air fryer, leaving more oven space for all those delicious roasties and turkey. It made working out timings way simpler and there was not a soggy sprout in sight. Saying that, the air fryer makes a bloomin lovely roastie too.

What should I avoid cooking?

Popcorn. Definitely avoid the air fryer for this one! The fryer can’t reach a high enough temperature to pop the corn, and instead, the kernels will just get blown around by the current of hot air and could lead to a fire hazard. Not ideal for movie night or your local firefighters.

Also, beware of some types of cheeses. You may end with a cheesy mess very quickly and I tend to avoid cheese on toast as it’s just a little disappointing tbh. Despite this, you can bake Camembert or halloumi easily, however, a lot of cheese has a low burning temp so cooking in the air fryer is not the best option. Just keep an eye on it if you do decide to go for something melty.

What size air fryer do I need? 

I’d say you need a 2 litre air fryer if cooking for 1-2 people and a large dual drawer air fryer for families of 4-6. If you shop around, you’ll be able to gauge space and see what works best for you.

Should my air fryer be smoking?

Noooooo. Definitely not. If yours is doing this it could be due to a build up of oil/grease around the sides so give it a good clean. If it’s still not right, contact the manufacturer/store.

Any tips?

  • Don’t overcrowd the basket, you may have to cook some things in batches so that they can crisp up more evenly and then you can chuck it all back in at the end if you need to reheat anything.
  • If you have an ovenproof or pyrex dish that fits into your basket then you can enjoy family favourites like shepherds pie or pasta bake without turning on the oven!
  • Make sure to give your air fryer basket a good shake halfway through the cooking time to achieve a more even cooking.
  • Get your bake on – check out some of the other settings on your air fryer, you can make some seriously impressive bakes. Cinnamon buns and doughnuts are some of my absolute faves.

For some foodie inspo, you can find my recipes here or in my book, Poppy Cooks: The Actually Delicious Air Fryer Cookbook