What Happens If You Put Too Much Sauce In An Air Fryer?

With its booming success in the past few years, it's hard to believe that the air fryer was invented more than a decade ago — 2010 to be exact (via Kalorik). But when it did catch on, it immediately took off: the Philips Airfryer was the number one low-fat fryer in 2015. The pandemic increased consumers' desire to make healthy meals with minimal effort but maximum flavor, and the air fryer proved capable of doing just that. In 2022, The NPD Group reported that air fryer sales saw a 76% jump over the previous two years, and people used air fryers 60% more for dinner during the same timeframe.

Part of the air fryer's appeal is its astounding versatility. Sure, you can use it to lighten up typically fried foods, like french fries, chicken nuggets, and jalapeno poppers. But you can also make whole chickens, oatmeal, brussels sprouts, and cookies. According to The New York Times, it's even possible to make an entire cheesecake in an air fryer in as little as 20 minutes, as well as pumpkin pie and filet mignon.

With seemingly everyone proclaiming the benefits of an air fryer, it's understandable to assume that you can cook everything in this appliance. However, when making foods with sauce and other liquids, there's a good reason to stick to more traditional cooking methods.

Stick to the stove

While you can make everything from pasta chips to crispy bread in the air fryer, you'll want to stick to the stove to make a big pot of marinara. According to Homes and Gardens, air fryers are not meant to hold sauces and other loose liquids, and filling yours with these kinds of foods could actually cause a fire. Air fryers heat up food using a fan, which quickly circulates hot air around the food, causing it to crisp up, according to the Chicago Tribune. They can work even faster than other devices, like convection ovens, because of their small size. Using air fryers to make sauce will result in the liquid simply blowing around the basket, which can be messy and potentially dangerous (via BBC Good Food). And who wants crispy sauce anyway?

Some advise against putting saucy foods in the air fryer as well. According to Ideal Home UK, sauce tends to fall off food in the air fryer, taking the flavor with it. For an alternative air fryer method, try coating your food in a batter and applying a glaze. It's also important to keep your sauce's consistency in mind, as a too-thick sauce can turn runny in an air fryer, and a thin sauce can seep all over the basket, causing the same issues as loose sauce (via Family Guide Central). While it can be done, the safest option is to leave sauce out of the air fryer altogether.