A Recipe Developer Explains Why You Can't Sear In An Air Fryer

sliced cooked steak with herbs
sliced cooked steak with herbs - Zoya Miller SVG/Shutterstock

Air fryers are a wonderful creation: It's a great appliance for anyone who wants to cook food rapidly and easily. Even if food cooked in an air fryer isn't really fried, it's still a useful, versatile appliance, which is why professional chefs need to chill with the air fryer hate. But while an air fryer is great for many things, what it's not ideal for is getting the best possible hard sear on something like a steak or pork chop. Indeed, according to Hammed, a recipe developer and creator of the food blog The Prince Eats, food that requires a hard sear is the single biggest thing to avoid cooking in an air fryer.

Hammed is no air fryer hater, saying that they're "a great supplement to the traditional kitchen appliances that have worked well for decades." But for searing? Not so much. He says, "I do not recommend [using] the air fryer to achieve [a] gorgeous sear ... Some cooking processes work better with traditional cooking appliances." The reason why has to do with how an air fryer heats food compared to the way a stovetop does it.

Read more: The 13 Best Steaks For Grilling

Air Circulation Heat Is Not The Best Way To Get A Hard Sear

steak searing in a pan
steak searing in a pan - Andrei Iakhniuk/Shutterstock

The problem is the nature of air fryer heat compared to direct heat. An air fryer cooks food evenly by the rapid circulation of hot air; this even cooking is kind of the whole point. Direct heat, by contrast, heats one specific surface of a food, rapidly browning its edges and searing it thanks to the Maillard reaction. It's true that there's some direct heat coming from an air fryer's basket, but as Hammed makes clear, stovetops are way better for achieving a good sear.

According to Hammed, though, that doesn't mean an air fryer can't be part of the process. "I recommend searing for a few minutes on the stove and finishing the cooking process in the air fryer to achieve your desired internal temperature," he says. Much like an oven, an air fryer is great for finishing something that already has a sear -- just not for the sear itself. You can also partially cook food in an air fryer, then sear it after -- a technique known as a reverse sear that's often used on meat cooked in an oven. You've got options here, but as Hammed notes, there are times when the traditional methods are the best ones.

Read the original article on Daily Meal