10 Common Mistakes To Avoid When Using An Air Fryer

Avoiding these pitfalls could save your meal and your air fryer.

Air fryer fandom is strong, and rightfully so. This little kitchen wonder can make some of the crispiest and quickest dishes you've ever seen. When you finally get your hands on an air fryer it can be easy to want to dive right in, but you can't just toss foods into the basket all willy nilly.

The way an air fryer whips hot air around helps to create the aforementioned crispiness can also lead to some mishaps. Learn from these common air fryer mistakes to make the most of your new favorite kitchen gadget.

Don’t use loose aluminum foil

Using aluminum foil in your air fryer can help make for an easy clean up if done right, but if done wrong, you'll end up with a piece of aluminum stuck to the inside of the appliance. You'll recognize your mistake by the weird noise coming from your air fryer—when something is flying around in there, you will absolutely hear it.


If you're going to use aluminum foil or parchment paper, make sure the food you place on top of it is heavy enough to keep the piece of foil in place. If you're frying something lighter using a basket model, make sure the foil is tucked underneath the grate and not on top.

No shredded cheese

The air fryer may sound like the perfect appliance to achieve a picture perfect melt of cheese (the kind that stretches when you pull it apart), but you have to be careful about your cheese selection. Sprinkling a handful of shredded cheese onto anything in an air fryer and closing the drawer will result in melted cheese getting stuck to the bottom of the fryer and none on your food.


You should also be careful about using a single slice of cheese without properly securing it to the bread or other food item underneath. The same way pieces of shredded cheese will go flying around like snowflakes in a blizzard, as will a single slice of cheese.

Avoid lightweight bread when toasting

Toasting bread in an air fryer can be a great way to ensure your bread gets an even toasting on all sides, but you can't just toss two plain, light pieces of bread in there and hope for the best.

Place multiple slices edge to edge in a single layer might help prevent them from flying around, but there's no guarantee. Another way to possibly prevent the bread from being tossed around is by just using a very large, dense slice. Warning: Toasting bread will get crumbs all over the inside of your air fryer.


Don’t set it and forget it

The benefit of most modern kitchen appliances is the lack of babysitting needed to use them, but an air fryer does require some supervision. Sure, you could place something in the air fryer, walk away, and let it cook for the full set time. But your food will likely be extra cooked on one side and not so much on the other.


When using your air fryer, be sure to flip or toss your food around in the chamber intermittently as it will lead to a much better and more even cook.

Don’t overwhelm the air fryer

Some air fryers, like the Ninja Foodi XL, can handle pounds and pounds of food, but that doesn't mean you should fill them to the brim. Within the air fryer's compartment, you want there to be room for the hot air to circulate and actually cook the food.


Overwhelming the food compartment can lead to an uneven cook which is the exact opposite of why the air fryer is so loved in the first place. Let your food breathe in the air fryer. You can thank us later.

No loose seasoning

Well-seasoned food is key to a flavorful dish, but dry rubs and other loose seasoning will end up at the bottom of the air fryer instead of cooked into your food. If the food is well-oiled and the seasoning is actually sticking, then you're okay to place it in the air fryer.


Much like the shredded cheese tip, what you don't want to do is to just sprinkle a seasoning onto a piece of food without it having anything to adhere to. Once again, your efforts will be fruitless when the air fryer whips those dry herbs around.

Popcorn is not an air fryer food

To put it plainly, an air fryer is not a microwave (despite the misleading image above). Popping popcorn in this high-temp cooker might sound right in concept, but trust us, it's not a good idea in practice. Not only will you end up with kernels in the crevices of your machine, but you'll end up disappointed with mostly unaltered kernels rather than actual popcorn.


Don’t forget to keep it clean

Just like any other appliance, you'll want to clean your air fryer regularly to keep it in optimal, working order. In fact, you'll likely find yourself cleaning the food compartment more frequently than you would a stove or regular toaster.


Because an air fryer can make so many delicious dishes, you won't want to ruin each one by having bits of the last meal you made tarnishing the flavor profile of the next. Cleaning the air fryer often will keep each meal you make in it tasting fresh.

No liquids

No soup for you! Well, only if you plan to make it in an air fryer. This is one experiment you don't need to try. This seems like an obvious no, but we're sure someone out there is going to say, "screw it" and try to make soup in the air fryer anyway. We're telling you now, liquids, wet batters, and soup are not air-fryer friendly. The mess is not worth it.


Weigh it all down

Imagine yourself inside an air fryer (in the fashion of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids). It would be like trying to stand outdoors as a tornado approaches. The air will be whipping around you at such a crazy rate that anything not nailed down is going to get sucked right up. The rule of thumb here is that whatever you put in the air fryer must be dense enough to withstand those powerful winds.


Always keep this specific image in mind when making anything with your air fryer, and you'll be good to go.