The Air Fryer Mistake You Didn't Realize You Were Making

air fryer on counter
air fryer on counter - Casezy idea/Shutterstock

Air fryers are a wonderful kitchen tool good for a surprising variety of cooking applications, which helps explain their meteoric rise in popularity. And while there are certainly downsides to cooking with an air fryer, they're still wildly useful, which is why professional chefs need to cool it with the air fryer hate. But just because they're helpful doesn't mean you can use them however you want and expect great results; like any other appliance, you have to be aware of pitfalls to avoid.

One of the biggest pitfalls also has one of the simplest solutions: Make sure to move food around when you're cooking it, rather than just leaving it sitting there. Leaving your food unattended is a surefire recipe for a patchy cook due to how air fryers function — specifically, where the heat is coming from and how it circulates. Luckily, there are easy ways to dodge this issue with a little care and attention.

Read more: The Best Kitchen Gadgets You Can Buy

Moving Your Food Ensures An Even Cook

fish in air fryer
fish in air fryer - rafa jodar/Shutterstock

Air fryers are advertised based on their ease of use, so it's understandable to think you can just pile everything in there and use the fire-and-forget method. But while they're easier to operate in many ways than a lot of cooking alternatives, that doesn't mean you just press a button and that's it. Since the heating element in an air fryer is typically located above where the food sits -- and since the bottom of the basket is going to block some heat -- if you don't move your food around, the top is going to get cooked more thoroughly than the bottom.

Luckily, this is an easy problem to solve. Just pause cooking partway through to move your ingredients around, exposing different parts to air and heat. If you're dealing with something relatively uniform and in significant quantities like vegetables or french fries, you can shake the basket to move them around. If you've got larger items like fish filets or chicken tenders, you'll want to use tongs to flip them over. Neither of these tasks takes long, and the end results speak for themselves.

Other Air Fryer Mistakes To Avoid

croquettes in air fryer
croquettes in air fryer - rafa jodar/Shutterstock

There are plenty of other big air fryer mistakes you really should look out for, too. While you definitely should use some oil, for perfectly air-fried food, use less oil than you'd think; too much oil leads to soggy, greasy food. You need to preheat, because, just like an oven, heating the air fryer while trying to cook is going to lead to uneven and possibly unpredictable results. You should also clean your air fryer after each use, since burnt-on bits can not only affect the flavor of future dinners but can actually be carcinogenic. Finally, one of the biggest mistakes you can make with an air fryer is simply overcooking; it's very easy to open an air fryer up, check if something is done, and then heat or cook it more if needed. Undershooting your target to be safe is generally a good idea because there's no undoing overcooking.

If you follow these rules, though, your air fryer will treat you well. Just be sure to move things around, and you'll get loads of use out of this appliance.

Read the original article on The Daily Meal.