My air fryer has been my dinner hero for a while now. Of all my kitchen appliances — and I’ve got a lot of ‘em — it’s the one that I use most often. It cooks things that I’d normally make in my oven in half the time, and it gives fried, crispy foods that never seem to crisp up properly in a skillet, the crunch they need. The one downside of my air fryer is cleaning its main unit and removable parts once they’re covered in baked-on grease and gunk.
Unlike cooking in the oven, I wouldn’t recommend just putting a sheet of parchment paper on the inside of the air fryer and letting it catch the stuck-on food. There are no shortcuts here: You just have to let it get covered in caked-on food and clean up the mess afterward. While this is a drawback to air-frying, the efficiency and convenience of the air fryer far outweigh the time spent on cleanup. If you’re thinking of buying an air fryer or just bought one and need to know how to clean it, you’re in luck: Here’s how to clean your air fryer in three easy steps.
Step Zero: Turn Off the Air Fryer
You’ll save yourself a ton of time and effort if you give your air fryer a quick wipe down after each use. You need to let the hot air fryer cool down, though, before cleaning. Scalding food particles are no fun (speaking from first-hand experience). To do this, turn off your machine, unplug it, and let the heating coils cool for a while. (But don’t wait too long… once fried food residue has crusted onto the grill, it’s much harder to clean.)
Step One: Scrub the Basket and Pan
Remove the basket and pan in your air fryer and scrub them out. The simplest and easiest way to do this is by hand-washing with a soft sponge or damp cloth and a bit of dish soap. Simply dampen the sponge with hot water, add soap, and scrub away. (A little elbow grease goes a long way.) If your mess is more stubborn than water and dish soap can handle, soak the basket and pan in warm soapy water for a while. You can also run them through the dishwasher if your air fryer is dishwasher safe. (Check the manufacturer’s instructions to find out.) Soaking the pan and basket will loosen crusted grime and make cleaning easier. If the grime still won’t come off, use a scrub brush or old toothbrush and some baking soda.
Step Two: Clean the Bottom Chamber
Once you’ve removed the pan and basket, it’s time to work on the bottom chamber of the air fryer. This part can be tricky because it’s where all the drippings and residue from your meals end up. To make it easier, turn the bottom chamber upside down to shake out all of the crumbs and bits of food, then use a damp paper towel (with soap!) to wipe up spills and residues. Be sure to get in the corners and cracks. Once you’ve wiped the chamber down, take a dry paper towel to get any remaining crumbs and grime out.
Step Three: Finishing Touches
Finally, you’ll want to take a damp and soapy (but not dripping) rag to the heating element in the air fryer. Be sure that the fryer is completely cool before doing this! Once done, allow all of the pieces of your air fryer (pan, basket, bottom chamber, and heating element) to fully dry before reassembling.
How Often Should I Clean My Air Fryer?
It’s up to you, but experts recommend cleaning your air fryer after every few uses. Grease, drippings, and splatters can build up and make your machine less safe and effective. Even just wiping it down after every use and doing a deep clean once a week will ensure you’re keeping your machine clean enough for regular use.
Air Fryer Cleaning Tips and Tricks
There are a ton of tricks for cleaning air fryers. Below are the most effective.
Inserts and Gadgets
First, there are a ton of different inserts and gadgets you can use to quadruple the use you’ll get out of your air fryer. You can buy pan inserts for things like pumpkin bread and cakes; skewers for spit-roasting veggies and meat; and racks to cook multiple foods at the same time. A basic air fryer is sort of like an oven, but adding the different inserts turns it into a grill, barbecue skewer, bread pan, and more. Speaking of bread pans, don’t be afraid to use your air fryer to bake a loaf. It might seem odd — air fryers usually aren’t advertised as bread bakers — but really, they’re just small, intense ovens, which makes them ideal for baking cinnamon rolls and banana bread.
Coating Your Food
Coat your food items in a little olive oil and seasoning before cooking — just like you would before putting anything in the oven. This helps prevent burning and imbues foods with an oven-roasted taste. However, don’t spray non-stick cooking spray into your air fryer; it can reduce the efficacy of the non-stick coating that’s already in the basket.
Avoid overcrowding the air fryer basket. Your fryer can fit a lot of food, especially with a second rack, but overcrowding the basket yields uneven cooking.
No Pasta, Please!
This might be a no-brainer, but it’s worth saying that you shouldn’t use your air fryer to cook foods that need to absorb water, like pasta or rice. The air fryer will never be able to get the water hot enough to boil the pasta or rice, and dumping that much water into your air fryer is dangerous. Instead, cook rice and pasta on the stovetop.
Best Air Fryer Recipes for Home Cooks
So you’ve got your air fryer and know how to clean it. Now it’s time to cook! Here are a few delicious air fryer recipes.
- Roasted Veggies. Use your air fryer to roast veggies! Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and squash all do well here. Simply toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and let them roast for seven to 10 minutes. Easy, simple, and satisfying.
- Crab Cakes. If you want to get a little fancier, try these air fryer crab cakes. You’ll need an egg, mayo, chopped red pepper, chives, parsley, Dijon mustard, breadcrumbs, and seafood seasoning for the batter, as well as chipotle sauce and crab meat. This recipe is a bit more complicated than simply throwing in some veggies to roast, but the exceptional taste is worth it.
- Fried Pickles. Another delicious (though slightly more complicated) air fryer recipe is for fried pickles. Just like the crab cakes, you’ll make the batter, bread the pickle slices, and fry them for eight minutes. (This is a personal favorite air fryer recipe.)
- Banana Bread. As mentioned earlier, you can make nearly any type of bread in an air fryer. Banana break, however, is the classic, and baking it in an air fryer adds a slight tasty crunch.
Become an Air Fryer Pro
So, what recipe will you try first? The world is your oyster — just remember to wipe down and clean out your air fryer after each use. Actually, cleaning your fryer might be the most important step in any air fryer recipe, because it ensures that your food tastes exactly the way it’s supposed to (and not like the drippings from a previous meal). Honestly, I couldn’t live without my air fryer, and I’m sure you’ll feel the same way once you get the hang of cleaning yours.