Most air fryers come with a shelf or basket which has a non-stick coating, but some sticking can still occur. To keep your air fryer in the best condition and to ensure food doesn’t stick to it, there are a few different things you can try.
This includes spraying the inside of your air fryer with oil, or brushing your food with oil. You can also get silicone trays or baskets to sit inside your air fryer and keep your food from directly touching the cooking chamber walls, or you can make your own air fryer hammocks from aluminum foil.
Here we look at the best ways to keep an air fryer from sticking.
Why is Food Sticking in Air Fryer?
Although air fryers usually have a non-stick coating on their baskets, it won’t always prevent food from sticking. Over time, the non-stick coating can wear down, especially if you have been putting your air fryer basket through the dishwasher to clean it, or hand washing it with a rough scouring pad.
When the non-stick coating gets worn down, then, of course, there is nothing in place to stop the food from sticking, and you are going to encounter more incidences of food sticking to the surface of the basket. Even with new air fryers, some foods are more prone to sticking than others, such as chicken parmesan, and you might find that they still stick in spite of the new non-stick coating.
How To Prevent Sticking in Air Fryer
When food sticks inside an air fryer, you are faced with having to scrape the food off the surface while trying to keep the food intact so it can be served and eaten, followed by the task of cleaning the remnants from the air fryer.
It’s a good idea to take steps to prevent this from happening, so the process of serving your food and cleaning your fryer is easier, and it will also help to keep your air fryer in its best condition so its lifespan can be prolonged.
Oil the air fryer
One way to stop food from sticking in an air fryer is to season the air fryer with oil. You can do this by spritzing oil onto the surface and walls of the air fryer basket using a spray bottle. Alternatively, use a pastry brush, or silicone brush dipped in oil and swipe this around the inside of the air fryer basket.
This should be done before you have switched the air fryer on to avoid potential burns. When the food is then placed inside the air fryer, there will be an additional non-stick barrier between the food and the air fryer to stop it from sticking.
Oil the food
Some people prefer to oil the food rather than oiling the air fryer, as this will help the food to crisp up and also gives you better coverage to stop the food from sticking.
You can oil foods like french fries or chicken breasts by putting them in a bowl, drizzling oil over the top and shaking the bowl, or get right in there with your hands and turn the food over while rubbing the oil into it. The food can then be put directly into the air fryer without the worry of sticking.
Use silicone inserts
Silicone inserts can be purchased in a range of shapes and sizes to fit most types of air fryers. You put your food inside the inserts, and this creates a barrier between the inner air fryer surfaces and your food, preventing any sticking.
You won’t need to use oil inside the silicone insert because food doesn’t stick to silicone. However, if you want your food to develop a nice golden shade with a crisp texture, then adding oil is a good idea.
Use rack inserts
Rack inserts can be bought to use in conjunction with an air fryer. They are small metal racks, similar to those you might cool cookies on, with legs to raise the rack an inch or two from the base of the air fryer. This ensures good air circulation for even cooking, allowing your food to crisp up on all sides.
The rack prevents the food from coming into contact with the air fryer, therefore preventing sticking. Racks are great for cooking larger items such as chicken wings or pies, but they don’t work well with smaller foods like fries, which could fall through the gaps. If you find that food sticks to the rack itself, you can oil the food or the rack to stop this from happening.
Use paper liners
Disposable paper liners can be bought to use inside an air fryer, which serves the purpose of preventing sticking and also keeping your air fryer clean. The liners are made from parchment paper, so they have a non-stick coating to which food will not stick to.
You don’t need to use oil with these liners, which is great if you’re trying to minimize your fat or calorie intake, though it will mean your food won’t crisp up quite as well. The paper liners can be disposed of after each use, revealing a perfectly clean air fryer basket that never needs to be cleaned.
Make foil hammock
If you want to keep your food off the surface of your air fryer basket yet still allow the air to circulate all around the food, then you can make an aluminum foil hammock. Do this by folding a length of oil into a rectangular shape that is at least twice as long as the base of your air fryer basket.
You can then lay the foil over the basket and fold it over the sides while pushing down lightly on the middle of the foil to create a dip. This will result in a hammock-like foil basket in which you can put some foods, such as salmon or chicken, to cook without sticking.
Best Oil to Stop Sticking in Air Fryer
Air fryers are touted as a healthy method of cooking because they use less oil than other alternatives, however this doesn’t mean that you can completely give up on using oil. A small amount of oil is needed in an air fryer to get the golden skin and crisp texture that we are all looking for on our fries and chicken wings.
When considering which oil to use, you should factor in the taste and the smoking point of the oil. The smoking point is the temperature at which the oil stops sizzling and instead starts to smoke. This can fill your kitchen with smoke and also create a burnt or bitter taste in your food because the oil is starting to break down.
Ideal oils for air fryers
Since most air fryers can reach temperatures of around 400ºF, you want an oil with a smoking point of higher than 400ºF. This includes avocado oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil.
Oils to avoid in air fryers
Oils with a smoking point of lower than 400ºF should not be used in an air fryer. This includes extra virgin olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, unrefined sesame oil, and butter.