How To Reheat Meat In The Air Fryer Without Drying It Out

Air fryers aren't just for cooking — they're also excellent tools for reheating leftovers, especially when you want to bring a little crunch back to something that was once crispy. Fried chicken, pizza, french fries and more all come beautifully back to life when popped into the fryer basket for a few minutes. The only downside: the air fryer can dry out foods that have been in the fridge, especially meat. Meat can be delicate when reheated, and if it's overcooked, it can go from tender and juicy to dehydrated and stringy in an instant.

There's a simple solution to combat this: add a little extra oil or butter before heating. It may seem counter-intuitive to add something wet to the air fryer, which is traditionally a dry-heat cooking appliance, but that bit of moisture and fat will keep the meat basted and prevent it from losing its flavor. When the meat's done reheating, it'll taste as good as the day it was first cooked.

A little butter and oil goes a long way

Air fryers work by circulating hot air around food in all directions; due to the small size of most air fryers, it takes less time for the hot air to circulate, allowing the food to cook faster. Air fryers also draw moisture out of food as they cook, which is part of how they get items like frozen french fries so deliciously crispy. But if the food in question doesn't need to lose moisture — like, say, a refrigerated piece of cooked steak or chicken — then as it cooks in the air fryer, it may start to dehydrate.

One way to combat this is to lightly coat your meat in a thin layer of olive (or other) oil. You can also place a small pat of butter on top of the meat, so as the heat rises, the butter melts and coats it. This helps rehydrate the meat if any moisture is lost during the reheating process, and is an especially good way to reheat steak.

Use tinfoil as a tool

Another tip that can help keep meats from losing moisture is to protect them with a physical barrier from the dry heat of the air fryer. Using tinfoil helps keep moisture locked in and around the meat, preventing over-evaporation. Simply wrap the meat in the foil; the indirect heat will also heat the meat up much more gradually, preventing overcooking. For additional moisture, you can still add some oil and/or butter to the meat before wrapping it, or even baste it with some sauce.

Leftover meat wrapped in foil will take longer to reheat than unwrapped meat will, so account for this when estimating cooking time — you might want to add a few additional minutes. The meat will be warmed through but won't directly come in contact with the hot surface of the air fryer or the circulating air, which means you'll be left with succulent meat that's up to temp in no time.