Do You Always Need To Preheat Your Air Fryer?

Air fryers are wonderful little appliances that you can fry, bake, roast, and even grill foods with and you don't even need a kitchen. These little fryers are countertop appliances that are inexpensive and efficient. Since they were first introduced in 2010, the air fryer has exploded in popularity (via Family Guide Central). Hundreds of cookbooks have been written about them, and there are now many different types of air fryers on the market.

According to Food & Wine, you can buy the traditional round air fryer that looks like R2D2, or you can buy an air fryer that looks like a toaster oven. You can even find dual air fryers with two baskets. They all work the same way — by convection. That means a fan is used to push hot air around the food, cooking it quickly with dry heat so the exterior crisps without oil while the inside cooks. The food is either in a perforated basket or on racks so the air comes into contact with every side.

You can just throw food in the air fryer and turn it on, but for the best results, there are some things you need to know. And the first starts before you even add the food.

To preheat or not to preheat?

Whether or not you preheat your air fryer depends on the type you have and the recipe you are following, per Insider. The most important thing to do before you even start cooking is to read the manual that comes with your air fryer. One model from Philips, for instance, calls for preheating.

Other more simple models, with just a few manual controls, will probably need to be preheated. You plug in the air fryer, turn it on, and let it preheat for three to five minutes. The more complicated versions, with digital controls and presets, often have a preheating cycle that happens automatically, and that time is included in the setting.

Additionally, the recipe may call for preheating. You should preheat for recipes with shorter cooking times for more even browning and crisping, and when you are cooking food straight from the freezer, per Air Fryer World. And the food you are cooking comes into play too. Larger foods, such as a whole chicken, don't need a preheated air fryer simply because the cooking time is longer. And you don't need to preheat the appliance when you are heating up leftovers. But since the preheating only takes a few minutes, why not do it anyway? Your food will get off to a great start.

Making perfect air fried food

If you don't have an air fryer but want one, you can read about the best air fryers to buy in 2023. Once your air fryer is ready to go — you'll know whether or not you need to preheat because you are familiar with your machine and you have read the recipe, too. So, what are you going to make?

For a fast and delicious dinner, make air fryer chicken parmesan, with a crisp flavorful coating and lots of cheese. Try air fryer salmon, with a crisp crust and super tender and juicy interior, flavored with paprika, garlic, and onion. Air fryer Brussels sprouts are delicious, too, and if you've never been a fan, might even change your mind about the veggie. They are crisp and golden and sweet. For a special appetizer, make air fryer crab rangoon, fragrant with toasted sesame oil, or make air fryer shrimp with garlic and paprika. And for dessert, make air fryer cannolis with, believe it or not, premade pie crust! Enjoy every bite.