Why You Should Use Caution When Cooking Cheesy Food In The Air Fryer

One of the biggest draws toward air fryers is their ability to make greasy comfort food a little healthier for those who crave it. Hello, air fryer pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches! However, just because it's possible to make our favorite cheese-laden snacks in an air fryer, doesn't mean we shouldn't be careful when doing it.

First thing's first: if you're using an air fryer to make a cheesy treat healthier, pay attention to the type of cheese you're using. Some cheeses are more nutritious than we think, sure. But if the recipe you're using calls for American cheese — whether you're using an air fryer or a greasy pan — you're in for a not-so-healthy treat. Healthline notes that while this particular variety of processed cheese contains an impressive amount of protein, it's also loaded with saturated fat. 

Even if you're using another kind of cheese for your air fried treat, it's also advisable to look through the recipes out there before trying them. As one food writer over at Insider realized, the recipe they found for a grilled cheese used a ton of butter — effectively nixing any of the health benefits of using an air fryer in the first place.

That said, most of us love a cheesy snack from time to time, and as long as we're mindful of the recipes we're using, an air fryer can help in making the meal a lighter one. However, there's still a good reason to proceed with caution.

It'll probably get messy ... unless you use the right cheese

AllRecipes cautions against air frying cheese — not so much for health reasons, but more so for clean up purposes. Pointing out that cheese melts incredibly quickly, the outlet suggests sticking to foods that effectively hold the cheese in place. Good news: that means grilled cheese sandwiches are safe (as long as the cheese isn't sticking out of the crusts)! Another plus? If you really must have a grilled cheese filled to the brim, AllRecipes notes that you can just pop in baking paper, a baking tin, or air fryer liner to cut down the post-cooking cleaning time.

However, if you were planning on air frying cheese on its own, most experts advise to think again. Or, at least, think carefully about the type of cheese you're going for. Speaking to CookingLight, registered dietitian Ilyse Schapiro suggests going for cheeses that are known for staying firm, even when cooked. "Try halloumi," she suggested. It's a similar suggestion to one made by Tom's Guide, which points out that frozen cheeses like mozzarella sticks will be less likely to burn as the air fryer works its magic. As a bonus, both halloumi and mozzarella are typically considered among the healthier types of cheese out there, per GoodtoKnow.

So, there you have it. Air frying cheese is doable, but messy — and if you pick the right cheeses, it might even end up being a healthy treat after all.