You’ve most likely already heard that an air fryer can be used to make all sorts of tasty dishes. But when you want to add a bit of crunch to your already crispy fries, is it alright to use a bit of flour before cooking them in an air fryer?
You shouldn’t have any issue using flour in an air fryer, as long as the flour is used as a coating. Try adding a few tablespoons of different spices to season your flour before cooking your food in an air fryer for an added kick in the taste buds.
If you’re here to learn more about cooking breaded recipes in an air fryer, I’ll tell you all about it. Below, I’ll talk about how to dredge your food in seasoned flour before popping it into an air fryer, as well as the signs of adding too much flour to your air fryer.
How Air Fryers Crisp Food
An air fryer is a unique kitchen appliance that turns drab food into fab food. It works on the same principle as a convection oven—a heating element raises the temperature of the cooking chamber while a fan moves the air around. The result is evenly cooked food on all sides.
If you take a look at the food pan, you’ll find that it has a perforated base. The holes allow heated air to penetrate your food from below, so you don’t end up with steamed bottoms, even without flipping your food over.
And perhaps the greatest selling point of an air fryer is that it crisps up food with little to no added oils. All the air fryer needs to do is provide a continuous flow of heated air to penetrate your food from all angles. What you’ll end up with is food with a crispy exterior and a soft, juicy interior.
Can you Use Flour in an Air Fryer?
Without oil, you can still enjoy super-crispy chicken and French fries in an air fryer. But what if you want to dredge your chicken and fries in seasoned flour? Will an air fryer cook the flour?
Yes, it will. You are more than free to add a breaded crust to your food prior to sticking it in the air fryer’s food basket. The same applies to starches, too.
The main reason people ask this question is that they’re unsure whether or not heated air will cook the flour. The good news is that the super-high heat of an air fryer (400°F or higher) will more than cook the flour thoroughly, but it will also give it a golden-brown hue.
So, if you want an extra crunch with your Buffalo wings, shrimp cakes, or even veal cutlets, your air fryer is more than equipped to deliver.
How to Bread Food for an Air Fryer
Breading food for an air fryer is much like breading food for a deep frier or a convection oven. Covering food in flour is a 3-step process that requires the following:
A plate of unseasoned flour—The initial coat of flour offers a dry surface for the beaten eggs to stick to.
A bowl of beaten eggs—The eggs create a sticky surface for the seasoned flour to stick to.
A plate of seasoned flour—A mix of flour and your choice of seasonings to give your food a crunchy, flavorful exterior. You can mix or even substitute flour with cornstarch or breadcrumbs.
Here’s how you prepare your air fryer for breaded food:
- Prepare your breading station.
- Preheat the air fryer to the desired cooking temperature.
- Pat your food dry to get rid of excess moisture. Doing this will allow the unseasoned flour to stick to your food.
- Dredge the dry food in the plate of unseasoned flour and shake off the excess flour. Make sure the food is completely covered in the flour, or there will be bare spots on your food when it’s done cooking. Place the dredged food to the side and continue doing this until all of your food is covered in unseasoned flour.
- Dip the flour-coated food in the bowl of beaten eggs and shake off the excess. Immediately proceed to the next step.
- Dredge the egg-coated food in the plate of seasoned flour. Again, make sure the food is completely coated in the flour.
- Dip the flour-coated food back in the beaten eggs before dipping it for a second time in the seasoned flour. This step is optional but will produce a thicker crust.
- When the air fryer is heated up, remove the food basket and carefully place your food in the basket. Spread the food out in a single layer.
- Cook the food for as long as you like.
If your air fryer cannot accommodate all of your food in a single cooking cycle, only add a flour coating to the food that you want to cook immediately. After the first cooking cycle is complete, continue flouring the rest of your food for the next batch.
How Much Flour Is Too Much for an Air Fryer?
The following signs are indicative of adding too much flour to your food:
- Your air fryer is covered in flour. The fan of an air fryer is powerful enough to move light, tiny objects around, such as flour particles. If the flour isn’t stuck onto your food properly, it will get caught in the draft and possibly contaminate the inside of your air fryer.
- The food’s exterior is cooked before its interior is cooked. A thick layer of flour will prevent the air fryer’s heat from penetrating the inside of your food efficiently. What ends up happening is that your food will look golden-brown and delicious on the outside but raw on the inside.
- The flour gets stuck to the food pan or rack. This is especially true if there isn’t enough of an egg binder to keep the flour coating in place. You can prevent this from happening by reducing the thickness of the flour coating or by flipping your food upside at the halfway point.
Can You Air-Fry Battered Food?
Surely, if an air fryer can crisp up the flour exterior, it should be able to give the batter a golden-brown hue, right? After all, both food coating types are flour-based!
Unfortunately, this is not the case. A batter consists of a flour and liquid mix (beer, carbonated water, etc.). It’s because of the high concentration of water compared to the rest of the ingredients that batter will not cook completely in an air fryer. Instead, what you might end up with is a cakey mess that falls off your food the second you try to pull it out of the air fryer’s food basket.
If you want to fry battered food, the best (and only) technique is to submerge it in a bath of hot oil—a.k.a., deep frying.
Air Fryer vs. Deep Fryer
There are several differences between air fryers and deep fryers, namely:
- Deep fryers require enough oil to submerge food, whereas air fryers require little to no oil.
- The oil from deep fryers immediately cooks the outside of your food to give it a crispy exterior that locks moisture in, whereas air fryers cook your food at an even yet slower rate.
- Air fryers can roast, grill, dehydrate, bake, and air-fry food, whereas deep fryers are used only for deep frying.
When it comes to working with breaded food, deep fryers are a lot more versatile, and they guarantee juicier results. Also, you can actually fry battered foods in a deep fryer, which is a bonus for those who want to make corndogs from scratch, not reheat store-bought corndogs.
So, these tools are not interchangeable, although air fryers can sort of do what a deep fryer does, at least in terms of frying breaded food.