For Crispier Air Fryer Food, Re-Imagine Your Counter Space

An air fryer is an impressive tool. Effectively, they're a cross between a deep-fryer and an oven, perfectly capable of "frying" just about anything to a delicious crisp within 20 minutes. The air fryer has become a typical sight in modern kitchens, to the point that we take it for granted the same way we do the miracle of modern refrigeration or the microwave oven. But it's worth taking the time to remember what's truly unique about this machine, and the incredibly simple method by which it operates .

Your air fryer, no matter what make, model, or year, will always rely on one key factor to prepare your food: hot air. Within your air fryer is a heating element that heats the air to an incredibly high temperature. A compact fan blows that same superhot air around the interior of the basket. Using nothing more than hot air and a fan, air fryers have gone on to revolutionize how we prepare our food, combining the speed of a deep fryer with the compactness of a microwave. But there are still right and wrong ways to use your air fryer. Specifically, they require plenty of space to be fully taken advantage of. The current placement of your air fryer may actually be restricting its cooking potential.

Your air fryer needs space for air to circulate

Where is your air fryer in your kitchen? Is it tucked under a particularly low cabinet, or placed up against your microwave? While your air fryer might seem to run perfectly fine in any of these locations, you could actually be suffocating it — and we mean that somewhat literally.

As you just read, the air fryer uses incredibly hot air to cook your food, employing circulation to ensure it's cooked evenly throughout, rather than just on the top or the bottom. In order to ensure that the air circulates as much as possible, your air fryer needs a bit of space, so that the vents on its sides and back are clear. If these vents are clear, air flow happens normally and the air fryer operates to the best of its ability. When the air fryer is pressed against a wall or another appliance, however, these vents are blocked, suffocating the flow of air in and out of the machine. This is why you may have noticed your food still seems somewhat moist or undercooked: The airflow isn't properly circulating throughout the fryer or the basket.

To remedy this problem, you should give your air fryer space on all sides: front, back, left, right, and top. A good rule of thumb is that each side should have about five inches of unobstructed space, free from any appliances, walls, or other foodstuffs.

Blocking up the vents can also be a fire hazard

Putting your air fryer in a small, enclosed part of your kitchen is one of several common and easy-to-make Air Fryer mistakes. But non-crispy food isn't the only potential outcome of a lack of circulation. This mistake can also be a serious fire hazard.

As your air fryer runs, it produces an enormous amount of heat. As this heat builds up, it's released through the vents on the sides of the fryer. This prevents an excess of hot air from collecting inside of the machine or the air fryer basket. If these vents are obstructed or blocked, that hot air can't escape, thus increasing the internal temperature of the air fryer. Not only can this damage the machine's components, it can also lead to the air fryer or surrounding materials catching fire. Neither outcome is uncommon: Issues ranging from melted plastic to smoke damage have all been known to happen.

None of this is to imply, however, that your air fryer is dangerous or shouldn't be used often. So long as you ensure it's well-maintained and in a clean and open space, you should have no problems. Just be careful to keep it in the right spot.