How to Use Oil in an Air Fryer

The air fryer is one of the most popular pieces of kitchen equipment to come along in recent years. It’s a great way to get flavor and crispiness without the use of a lot of oil—which is great news for the health-conscious among us.

It’s perfect for those who want to lose weight, with dietary restrictions, or anyone who just wants something healthier than what’s normally served at fast food joints. 

However, there is still some confusion about how to use oil in an air fryer. Air fryers are not, as some think, always completely oil-free. It’s simply not possible to achieve that crispy texture without the use of some oil. 

So, what is the low down on oil and air fryers?

Kenwood Large Air Fryer Oven - HFP90

Kenwood Large Air Fryer Oven – HFP90

To Oil or Not to Oil?

If you’re cooking battered foods, then you’ll want to use a little bit of oil before you start cooking. This will ensure that your meal turns out crunchy and crispy but not dry. A quick drizzle or a spritz with a (non-aerosol) oil is all you need for that delicious final finish. However, if you’re cooking a fatty meat cut such as lamb or pork chops, you won’t need much, if any, oil.

Another top tip for using oil in an air fryer is to grease the basket before you start cooking, which will prevent your food from sticking. 

You’ll also want to use just enough oil for what you’re cooking—too much will cause things like French fries or chicken wings to get soggy instead of crispy! For best results when using an air fryer with a nonstick coating, use a neutral-flavored vegetable oil like canola, sunflower, or coconut oil.

Top Tips for the Best Air Fried Meals

  • Keep a close eye on your food! Air fryers are fast and furious appliances, and if you don’t regularly check your dinner, you can end up with hard or dry fare quicker than you think. 
  • Don’t overload the basket. Efficient cooking and tasty results rely on the movement of hot air around your food items. Therefore, if they’re pressed up against each other, you’re going to end up with soggy patches.
  • Shake up your food while you’re cooking. This will allow for even cooking and all-over crispiness. Yum!

Choosing the Right Oil

Because of the heat and speed at which an air fryer cooks, it’s important to choose oils with a high smoke point. The higher the smoke point, the better it can withstand the heat of air frying. You should avoid cooking with butter and margarine because these fats have low smoke points.

What is a smoke point? 

The Foodie Physician defines it simply for us. “The “smoke point” of an oil is the temperature at which an oil begins to break down and emit smoke as it is heated. When oil reaches the temperature at which it begins to smoke, a chemical breakdown occurs. This results in the release of a gas and other byproducts. This chemical breakdown can cause the oil to develop an undesirable, burnt flavor.”

Oils with a high smoke point are avocado oil, extra light olive oil (not virgin olive oil), coconut oil, and peanut oil. 

Don’t Put Oil in the Bottom of the Air Fryer

The air fryer is not designed for “wet cooking” like a deep fryer is. You only need to put your oil directly on the food you’re cooking and allow the dry heat to do the rest. Too much oil on your food will drip into the tray below. This can cause it to smoke, which can affect the taste of your food. 

Using Oil in an Air Fryer?

If you’re aiming for healthy, tasty (and fast!) meals, then an air fryer is going to be your best kitchen buddy! 

However, while oil-free cooking is a noble goal, it’s not always viable if you want texture and taste. A little oil isn’t always a bad thing, and air frying allows you to use just a teaspoon or two to get the same result as a deep-fried meal. 

Take a look at our range of air fryers and enjoy the versatility and speed of this fabulous kitchen tool!