Should You Be Preheating Your Air Fryer?

When air fryers first hit the market and quickly became a small appliance staple in many home kitchens, there was a learning curve to implementing them. Many people needed recipes that were designed specifically for the air fryer to ensure they cooked the food through without drying it out. While there are now many resources available on air fryers, people still continue to wonder whether or not they should preheat their mini convection ovens before adding food to the basket. And that's why the issue has become one of the biggest mistakes people make with their air fryers.

According to The Kitchn, you should always preheat your air fryer. Insider similarly says, when it doubt, go with preheating. The primary reason you should do so has to do with just how crispy the food you cook in the air fryer can get (of course, this tip only applies to crispy foods). Without preheating, the air fryer could steam the food rather than give you the perfectly crispy crunch you expect from the cooker.

These are the foods that really require preheating the air fryer

While The Kitchn suggests preheating the air fryer every time you use it, not everyone believes this is necessary. Air Fryer World, for example, tested out 13 different brands and models of air fryers with various kinds of foods to find out just how necessary preheating actually is. The conclusion the website reached was that preheating is not always necessary — but it can provide major improvements for most types of foods.

As Insider notes, air fryer owners should really defer to their model's manual. While some air fryers preheat automatically, others need to be manually set. The outlet says you should preheat the air fryer if the manual says so, the recipe calls for it, or if the food being cooked is meant to be crispy.

Per Air Fryer World's test results, preheating helps foods that are thin enough to cook through and crisp well, like thinner cuts of meat or precooked frozen foods. On the other hand, foods that are too thick can potentially burn on the outside before they can fully cook on the inside when you preheat. In such cases, that's why you either need to avoid preheating or pay close attention to the cook time.

So, consider the food you plan to pop in the countertop appliance before setting the temperature for preheating. As you can see, the answer to air fryer preheating is not as simple as "Yes" or "No."