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Food & Recipes

Absolutely Do Not Use Your Air Fryer Without Preheating — Here’s Why

This step ensures the crispiest foods imaginable.


It’s hard to believe that I used to cook and reheat foods without an air fryer. From cooking bacon to warming up a cheesy quesadilla, I now use this handy appliance almost every day. When I first got my air fryer, I made the mistake of not preheating it beforehand. This surprisingly common error caused the food to take longer to cook and not crisp up as much as it should. Thankfully, learning how to preheat my air fryer does wonders for whipping up tasty meals even when I’m short on time.

Are you supposed to preheat an air fryer?

In short, yes, you do need to preheat your air fryer before using it. Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, author of the Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook (Buy from Amazon, $9.99), explains to Cooking Light that this step allows for the machine to heat more evenly. As a result, your food will cook more quickly and won’t end up soggy. “Preheating the air fryer is best for optimum cooking [because] the temperature and air flow will be at [the] right levels and food can cook to crispy air fried perfection,” she says.

Thanks to this simple step, those leftover French fries, slices of pizza and healthy fried pickles can finally get that extra crunchiness. The best part is, an air fryer takes way less time to heat up than your oven!

How To Preheat Your Air Fryer

Some air fryer models come with a handy preheat setting to make this step easier. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s manual to see if your appliance has this function. If your machine doesn’t come with this feature, Angelo White suggests setting it at your desired temperature and letting the machine heat on its own for about three minutes. Afterwards, it should be fully heated and ready to cook or reheat the food. However, you can give your machine an extra minute or two to preheat if the heat isn’t evenly distributed when you gently bring your hand close to the surface.

Whether you’re making breakfast, dinner, or a side dish in the air fryer, taking a few minutes to let the machine preheat goes a long way. And if you’re like me, a mouthwatering meal at any time of the day is always worth the wait! (Click through to learn how to cook frozen meatballs in your air fryer!)

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