Why You May Want To Add Water To Your Air Fryer Drawer

It's hard not to love the air fryer. This handy countertop appliance, first introduced in 2010, has quickly become a favorite among home cooks, who laud the air fryer for its ability to produce crispy "fried" items using hot air, not oil (via Kalorik). As of 2020, according to the New York Times, about 36% of American households owned an air fryer, with that number estimated to be higher today. The appliance can handily cook up everything from pork chops to chicken wings, and it's also a great choice for reheating leftovers such as ribs and baked potatoes.

For the most part, an air fryer is a set-it-and-forget-it appliance that doesn't need much fussing with. But it's still possible to commit common air fryer mistakes like not preheating it and overfilling its basket. In some cases, not adding a small amount of water to the appliance's drawer could also be a mistake. Here's why.

Splattering fat can cause the air fryer to smoke

Have you ever been happily cooking away in your air fryer, only to become alarmed when the unit starts to smoke? According to Air Fryer World, this is a common occurrence when greasy foods — primarily meat — drip fat onto the appliance's heating element, where it burns and produces smoke. Allrecipes suggests adding a thin layer of water to the air fryer drawer, which is located beneath the fryer's basket. This can prove helpful when cooking fatty meats like bacon and help protect the heating element, reducing the amount of smoke produced. Alternatively, the method can also be achieved by using slices of bread instead of water, according to Air Fryer World.

The best protection against a smoking unit is to keep your air fryer nice and clean because cooked-on grease and stray crumbs will cause the appliance to consistently become smoky when it's in use, as noted by Air Fryer World. The outlet suggests starting with a cool, unplugged unit, then using a rag or sponge to wipe the inside of the fryer and its heating elements.