Air fryers are great for all sorts of things, from warming up day-old food to crisping up raw meat. One common question people have about air fryers is whether or not they can put water in the food basket. So, can you?
Yes, you can put water in the food basket of an air fryer. However, if you put too much water in an air fryer, the high-speed fan may cause it to splatter and touch the device’s electrical components, possibly resulting in irreparable damage to the device. At most, you can add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water to an air fryer at a time.
In this guide, I’ll explain why you should avoid putting water in an air fryer, what can happen when you add too much water at a time, and how to prevent water damage to your air fryer.
What Can an Air Fryer Do?
So, what’s the fuss about air fryers? After learning what an air fryer can do, you’ll see what the fuss is all about!
Baking—Do you have a craving for cookies, pizza, or soufflé? You can make any of these recipes, and a whole lot more, in an air fryer. This device can accommodate cake pans, pizza stones, and baking molds to make any baked dish you have in mind.
Reheating—You can turn frozen food and stone-cold leftovers into a delicious meal in an air fryer. Just make sure you use an oven-safe mold when reheating leftovers.
Broiling—This is a cooking method that requires placing the tops of food underneath a cooking element or open flame. If you prop your food up with a ramekin, you can add an additional layer of color and crunch to your dishes with an air fryer.
Grilling—Forget about turning on the backyard grill to grill meats. Instead, preheat your air fryer to the highest temperature and grill your meats without added oils and grease.
Roasting—Although air fryers are much smaller than traditional ovens, you can still place sizable slabs of meat in their food baskets and roast them to perfection. With a roast pan, you can retain the juices of your protein while crisping the exterior for delicious texture contrast.
Dehydrating—High-end air fryer models come with a dehydrating function. It removes moisture from fruits and meats by heating up to 175°F and cooking your food for hours at a time.
Basically, anything your convection oven can do, an air fryer can do. Best of all, you don’t have to add pats of butter or glugs of oil to crisp up your food!
Can You Put Water in an Air Fryer?
To put it simply, an air fryer is a portable convection oven. You place your food in the food pan, which goes inside the food basket, which you push into the air fryer base. The air fryer uses heating coils to raise the temperature in the food basket, while a fan distributes the air across the entire basket for even cooking.
And, just like a convection oven, you are more than free to put water in the air fryer. However, there are certain rules you should follow when doing so.
How to Put Water in an Air Fryer
One of the best ways to crisp up bread in a convection oven is to spray some water inside the oven with a spray bottle. Alternatively, you can fill a ramekin or oven-safe bowl and place the container inside the oven. When the oven’s temperature increases, it will turn to water to steam to promote browning and crisping.
You can use the same methods when putting air in an air fryer. In addition, you can also add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water directly into the air fryer’s food pan. If your air fryer comes with a drip pan, the pan will capture all of the juices that come out of your food. You can use the juices to make gravy or as a basting base, or you can toss them away.
Alternatively, you can place your meat in a silicone liner for your air fryer. The non-porous liner will prevent water from leaking into the air fryer’s fan, so you can enjoy hot and juicy meats without the hassle of deep-cleaning the inside of your air fryer.
Why Would You Put Water in an Air Fryer?
Some of you are probably wondering, “Why would I even want to put water in an air fryer?” The simple answer is, water in a super-heated environment, such as an oven or air fryer, turns to steam, which can promote browning and crisping.
If you want your loaves of bread to have that satisfyingly crunchy exterior like a French baguette, the best way to do so is to introduce water into an oven. Steam also helps by allowing the yeast to leaven your dough better, so you end up with a delicious texture contrast between an airy, chewy inside and a crisp exterior.
The one thing you should avoid doing is putting too much water in an air fryer.
What Happens When You Put Too Much Water in an Air Fryer?
I’d like to reiterate that if you want to place water directly into your air fryer, you should limit it to just 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time. If you overdo it, you may end up with the following:
Ineffective heating coils
If you take a look inside the food basket port, you’ll find the heating coil on the inner ceiling. The heating coil is responsible for introducing heat into the small cooking cavity of the food basket.
Placing too much water inside your air fryer can turn it into steam, which will float upward and possibly cool down the heating coil. When this happens, the heating coils might deliver heat unevenly inside the air fryer, or they might turn off altogether.
Excessively dirty air fryer
I don’t have to tell you that water and high-speed fans don’t mix. If the water gets into the air fryer’s fan, it might get splattered all over the place. Best-case scenario, you’ll have a lot of cleanup work to do to get your air fryer fit for use again.
The easy part is cleaning the food basket and pan. All you have to do is dunk them in a basin of soapy water and scrub the grease and solid food particles off their surfaces. However, cleaning the inside of the air fryer base is a lot trickier since there are several nooks and crannies to get to.
Broken electrical components
The absolute worst-case scenario that could happen when putting too much water in an air fryer is that it gets all over the device’s inner workings. When this happens, the best you can hope for is the air fryer will automatically shut off as a safety measure. However, the much more realistic outcome is that you end up shorting the device and have to replace it completely.
You can prevent this from happening by getting a drip pan for your air fryer. While it may get in the way of the high-speed fan, it will protect your air fryer from splattering hot liquid all over its electric motor.
Do Air Fryers Boil Liquid?
No, they don’t. An air fryer will raise the temperature of the water, but it won’t cause it to boil. So, feel free to use your air fryer to reheat gravies, soups, and stews without worrying about the liquid spilling over and getting into the air fryer’s fan.