Air fryers have become a popular kitchen appliance in recent years, as they allow people to enjoy their favorite fried foods with less oil and fewer calories. But while this may be the case, it’s still important to choose the right oil for the best results.
The best type of cooking oils to use in an air fryer are those with a high smoke point—i.e., the temperature it takes before it begins to release smoke. Examples include avocado oil and culture oil.
In this article, we’ll help you understand the key factors to consider when choosing the perfect oil for your air fryer.
Factors Affecting Oil Choice in Air Fryers
When selecting an oil for your air fryer, consider its smoke point, flavor, and health benefits. The smoke point is the temperature at which an oil starts to break down and produce smoke.
Oils with a high smoke point are better for air frying because they can handle the high temperatures without breaking down. The flavor of the oil can also impact the taste of your food, so choose one with a neutral flavor that won’t overpower your dish.
Lastly, consider the health benefits of the oil, such as its fat content and nutritional value, to make a choice that aligns with your dietary needs and preferences.
Best Oils for Air Frying
Now, let’s dig deeper into the various types of oils that have high smoke points, neutral flavors, and excellent health benefits.
High smoke point oils
Oils with a high smoke point are ideal for air frying because they can handle high temperatures without breaking down and producing smoke. When oil has a high smoke point, it’s less likely to create harmful compounds or give your food a burnt taste.
1. Avocado oil
With a smoke point of around 520°F (271°C), avocado oil is one of the best options for air frying. It’s also rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, making it a nutritious choice for your meals. Avocado oil has a mild flavor, so it won’t overpower the taste of your food.
2. Cultured oil
Cultured oil is a type of cooking oil that is made by fermenting and culturing a blend of vegetable oils with live bacteria. The fermentation process creates a creamy, buttery flavor that is similar to that of clarified butter, making it a popular vegan alternative to traditional butter. It has a high smoke point of 485°F (251°C), making it a worthy choice for baking and air frying.
3. Peanut oil
With a smoke point of about 450°F (232°C), peanut oil is another good option for air frying. It has a mild, nutty flavor and is high in monounsaturated fats. Peanut oil is also more stable than some other oils, which means it won’t break down as quickly at high temperatures.
4. Vegetable oil
Vegetable oil, like canola or soybean oil, is a common choice for air frying because of its high smoke point, around 400°F (204°C) to 450°F (232°C). It has a neutral taste and is relatively inexpensive. However, some vegetable oils are highly processed and can be high in omega-6 fatty acids, which may not be ideal for a balanced diet.
Oils with neutral flavors
When air frying, it’s best to choose an oil with a neutral flavor that won’t affect the taste of your food. Some neutral oils include canola oil, sunflower oil, and grapeseed oil.
1. Canola oil
Canola oil has a smoke point of up to 450°F (232°C), making it a good choice for air frying. It has a mild flavor and is low in saturated fats, which is beneficial for heart health. Canola oil also contains omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Sunflower oil
Sunflower oil has a high smoke point of about 450°F (232°C), and its light, neutral flavor makes it suitable for air frying. It’s high in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, which helps to protect your cells from damage.
3. Grapeseed oil
Grapeseed oil has a high smoke point of around 420°F (216°C) and a mild, neutral flavor. It’s high in polyunsaturated fats and antioxidants, which can help protect your heart and lower inflammation.
Healthiest oil options
Some oils are rich in healthy fats, antioxidants, and other nutrients that can benefit your overall health.
1. Extra virgin olive oil
While extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point of around 410°F (210°C), it can still be used in air frying for recipes that require lower cooking temperatures. It’s rich in monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds, making it one of the healthiest oil options available.
2. Almond oil
Almond oil has a smoke point of about 430°F (221°C), making it suitable for air frying. It’s high in monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and other nutrients that support heart health. Almond oil has a mild, nutty flavor that can add a pleasant taste to your air-fried dishes.
Tips for Using Oil in Air Fryers
Using oil in your air fryer can help you achieve crispy, delicious results while still keeping your meals healthier than traditional frying. In this section, we’ll share some helpful tips for using oil in your air fryer to make your cooking experience even better.
1. Preparing the air fryer
Before you start cooking, make sure your air fryer is clean and dry. Preheat the air fryer to the desired temperature, as this will help the food cook evenly and prevent sticking. If your air fryer has a non-stick surface, you may not need to add any oil, but for other surfaces, a light coating of oil can help prevent food from sticking.
2. Spraying vs. brushing oil
There are two main ways to apply oil to your food when air frying: spraying and brushing.
Spraying oil evenly coats your food and is quick and easy. You can use a store-bought oil spray or invest in a reusable oil sprayer to fill with your preferred oil.
Brushing oil onto your food allows you to control the amount of oil and ensures even coverage. Use a silicone brush or a pastry brush to lightly coat your food with oil before placing it in the air fryer.
3. How to prevent food from sticking
To prevent food from sticking to your air fryer basket or tray, you can use a few different methods.
First, make sure your air fryer is clean and preheated before adding the food. Apply a thin layer of oil to the food or air fryer surface to help create a barrier between the food and the surface.
You can also use parchment paper or air fryer liners specifically designed for air fryers, which will help keep the food from sticking and make cleanup easier.