13 Foods You Should Never Cook In The Air Fryer

Kitchen appliance trends come and go, maintaining popularity for a few years before they're pushed to the side when something new comes along. Just think about the slow cooker, which was all the rage for several years before being replaced by the Instant Pot. The air fryer, though, seems to have some staying power. The fact that it can cook and crisp your favorite foods without requiring a ridiculous amount of oil means that you can make your foods more than they would be if they were deep-fried, according to Healthline.

However, that doesn't mean that every single food you eat can be adequately cooked in an air fryer. In fact, there are some ingredients and dishes that you should never, ever cook in your air fryer — unless you want your dinner to burn and set off the smoke alarm. That's why we've compiled a list of several foods you should never cook in your air fryer. Take note of these ingredients, and make sure you find another way to cook them instead of putting them in your air fryer. By gaining a better understanding of what does and doesn't work in this appliance, you can ensure that you're using it in the smartest way possible.

Leafy greens

There are few vegetable dishes in this life that are more glorious than fried spinach, so when you're craving some of the green stuff, you may think that putting it in your air fryer is the way to go. But we're here to tell you that cooking leafy greens in your air fryer definitely isn't the best idea. While you might think that the air fryer would crisp your leafy greens quickly, that's not the reality. Because these kinds of greens don't have much weight to them, they get blown around by the powerful fan in your air fryer.

However, just because there are some leafy greens you shouldn't cook in the air fryer doesn't mean you have to avoid them completely. If you're interested in making kale chips, the air fryer might create the results you're looking for. Before you place the kale inside the air fryer, though, you're going to want to coat them with plenty of oil. That's because the oil makes the leaves heavier, preventing them from blowing around in the air fryer. Of course, this kind of negates the benefit of using less oil, but it is a quick way to crisp your greens if that's all you're going for.

Freshly battered foods

You may think that an air fryer is the best way to make your favorite battered and fried foods, but it turns out that it's actually not the best way to handle wet batters. If you're trying to cook battered food that's already been prepped and frozen, then an air fryer is the way to move. However, wet-battered foods, like fresh shrimp tempura, don't belong in your air fryer. That's because that batter needs to be cooked in plenty of oil, and since your air fryer doesn't require any oil, it won't come out how you might expect it to.

Instead, if you put a wet batter into an air fryer, you're just likely to end up with a big mess. That's because your air fryer's powerful fan is simply going to blow all that batter around, splattering the inside of the machine with difficult-to-clean gunk. Additionally, the excess batter can drip into the bottom of the air fryer and even begin to burn. Obviously, this is an issue you'll want to avoid — just deep-fry the dish if you're working with wet batter.


Just like a wet batter can make a big mess in your air fryer, so can cheese. That's because cheese melts easily. Instead of crisping up in the air fryer, most cheese will simply melt and drip into the bottom of the machine, potentially burning, smoking, and giving you an all-around huge mess to clean up. Therefore, you're generally going to want to avoid cooking cheese in your air fryer.

However, if you decide that you do want to give it a try, there are a few different methods for ensuring that your cheese doesn't melt and cause a horror. Your best bet is to make sure there's something to hold the cheese in place. For example, according to Wisconsin Cheese, you can make air fryer cheese curds by breading the curd to ensure there's something to prevent the cheese from dripping. Frozen mozzarella sticks can be handled the same way. For unbattered cheese, a dense grilling option like halloumi may work.

In general, though, cheese and air fryers are a no-go. If you want to make your air-fried dish cheesier, simply add some on top after it's already come out of the machine — it should melt right away.


Of all the things you may assume you can cook in your air fryer, it may seem like toast is an obvious choice. After all, shouldn't it just crisp your bread up in a matter of a few minutes? Although some claim that toasting bread in an air fryer really isn't a big deal, we'd like to take this time to inform you that it's not ideal. David Jarvis, the Executive Chef for air fryer maker NuWave, told Mashed that among the foods never to cook in an air fryer, bread is one. The fan in air fryers simply blows bread — which doesn't tend to weigh very much — around the chamber of the air fryer.

Luckily, when it comes to toasting, using an air fryer generally doesn't offer much benefit. Toast is a notoriously quick-cooking food anyway, so throwing it in your toaster or toaster oven probably won't take much longer at all. Don't have a toaster? No problem. You can always use a standard oven, and even an electric grill is an option if you're really on the hunt for an alternative.


Popcorn needs to be really, really hot before it starts popping. According to Jolly Time, that temperature needs to get up to 400 to 460 F before your popcorn pops. When you're making your popcorn on the stove, it's easy to reach this level of heat. But with your air fryer? Not so much.

Per Air Frying Foodie, air fryers can reach a max of 400 F, but most air fryers are not going to go above that temperature. Although there are plenty of air fryer popcorn recipes out there, chances are, you're going to be left with plenty of unpopped kernels if you decide to take this route.

Although it would be convenient if you could make popcorn in your air fryer, there are better ways to do it. First of all, you could cook your popcorn on the stove. While it does take a bit more work than just using microwavable bagged popcorn, it doesn't take too long, and it's a relatively easy process once you get the hang of it. Additionally, you could put your popcorn into an oiled paper bag to make microwaving easier.


Rice: It's one of the most versatile grains, and you can pair it with pretty much anything to make a heartier, more filling meal. Admittedly, rice can take a while to cook, so if you're looking to cut down on that cook time, you may be tempted to use your air fryer for cooking your raw rice. Unfortunately, that's probably not going to work out well for you. There's a reason rice won't cook in an air fryer, and it's because the machine won't get hot enough to boil water, which is needed to soften the rice. That means you should probably avoid the air fryer when trying to cook your rice.

However, this doesn't mean you can never put rice in your air fryer — you just need to make sure it's already cooked. Using your air fryer is actually an excellent way to make fried rice.

Cooking rice on the stovetop is the easy answer, but for many people, it's not ideal. After all, you have to keep a close eye on it, and it can be difficult to tell when it's actually done. If you're looking for an appliance that will ensure you get perfectly cooked rice every time, it may be time to invest in a rice cooker.


Technically, yes, you can cook bacon in your air fryer. The question is whether you should or not. You'll find countless air fryer bacon recipes online, but what these recipes don't tell you is that air-frying bacon means you're signing yourself up for a big mess. Bacon is a particularly fatty food; when you heat that meat, the fat drips. Just think about how much bacon fat ends up in your pan after you make a single batch on the stove. That bacon fat drops into your air fryer, making for a sizzling, greasy situation that will be tough for you to clean up later.

Bacon grease is notoriously difficult to clean. If you feel like taking the time to scrub the inside of your air fryer after an early morning breakfast, you can cook as much bacon in it as you want. But if you want to avoid that kind of mess — and the smell of burning drippings that can sometimes ensure — you're better off cooking your bacon in the oven or on the stove.

Anything too saucy

Like so many of the other dishes and ingredients on this list, when it comes to super-saucy foods, you have to worry about the drip. Of course, it's fine if you add some oil or a bit of dressing to the foods you're cooking in your air fryer. However, if things get too saucy, get ready to spend your time scrubbing out the bottom of your appliance for who knows how long. When the fan in your air fryer turns on, there's a good chance all that sauce will get blown around the inside of the chamber. This can cause hot splatters that make cleaning less than enjoyable, it can lead to sauce loss in your actual dish, and it can lead to future foods developing a slight essence of your last meal's would-be toppings.

If you still want to add sauce to the food you're cooking in an air fryer, you just have to make sure you limit the amount you're using. One good way to go about it is by brushing the sauce onto your food. This will prevent those unsightly splatters that you probably don't want to deal with anyway.


Lots of veggies taste amazing when they're cooked in an air fryer, but there are some that don't stand up well to the hot, dry heat. Unfortunately for all the cruciferous veggie lovers out there, broccoli is one of those veggies. Therefore, cooking your broccoli in the air fryer generally isn't the smartest idea. Because the air fryer produces such dry heat, it can cause your broccoli to turn hard and leathery. In some cases, it might even become crunchy — and not in a good way. Think of a hardened stem with brittle ends.

Although you're better off just using a different method, like steaming, boiling, baking, or even broiling to cook your broccoli, you can make some recipe adaptions to ensure you're not going to end up with less-than-edible broccoli. One solution is to use frozen broccoli, which is par-cooked and softened already. That extra bit of moisture will prevent the veggies from drying out and producing smoke.


Really? You want to cook your pasta in an air fryer? Listen, air fryers are amazing, and they can handle a ton of different ingredients and dishes. But this appliance and pasta don't mix. It's a big air fryer mistake. Just think about it: You're going to need plenty of water to cook your pasta in to soften it, even if you tend to like your pasta relatively al dente. And although you can put a small amount of water in an air fryer to ensure your food doesn't get too dried out, you can't add enough water to cook pasta adequately. But if you ask us, it's really not that much of a problem — heating up the stove is a quick and efficient method for cooking pasta anyway.

However, if you have some already-cooked pasta on hand and want to give it a bit of a crisp, using your air fryer might not be too bad of an idea. Just remember to take it easy on the spices, the sauces, and the cheese, and you should be good to go without any problems.

Some baked goods

If you have a serious sweet tooth (or you really like dinner rolls), you should be happy to discover that there are a few baked goods that you can reliably make in your air fryer. For example, it's possible to make cookies in your air fryer. However, some baked goods just don't mix with the air fryer. According to King Arthur Baking, these kinds of baked goods include anything that needs to be evenly baked, or in other words, any baked treat that has the same texture on the exterior as it does on the interior.

This will include baked goods like a traditional cake. While it may sound easy to mix up a cake mix and throw it in your air fryer, the outside cake is likely to burn or turn brown before the inside is even cooked all the way through. You don't want to be left with runny batter in the center of your cake, nor do you want to deal with the smoke that starts emanating from your air fryer when that outer layer gets too crisp. Want to make the best possible baked goods? Just use your oven instead.


Here's the thing: You technically can cook a hamburger in an air fryer, but it's just not going to come out with that lovely medium-rare burger temperature you're likely going for. It turns out that you don't need to heat a burger very much for it to reach the level of doneness that most of us enjoy. According to the USDA, burgers only need to reach 160 F for the harmful bacteria to die. Because most air fryers are so powerful, the burger will reach that temperature rather quickly.

However, since most burger patties are relatively small, the burger will cook through in a matter of minutes. That means that achieving that pink tint in the middle of the burger is nearly impossible. So, sure, if you want to indulge in an overcooked burger, you can certainly try making one in your air fryer, but there are certainly better ways.

Anything with too many seasonings

We all want our food to be well-seasoned, which usually means seasoning before you actually start cooking a dish. However, when it comes to using an air fryer, you may not want to pack on the seasonings right away. That's because dry spices and air fryers don't mix, for many of the reasons we've already discussed. Unless you use a decent amount of oil, all of those dry spices are just going to blow around the chamber of your air fryer the second you turn it on. Instead of actually seasoning your food, they're just going to whip around the machine in a spice gale, doing very little to add any flavor to your food.

Additionally, if you're using powdered spices or dried herbs, you risk burning them in the air fryer's powerful heat. If you decide to use dry seasonings, you'll want to pair them with plenty of oil or add them after taking your food out of the air fryer.