Do Air Fryers Need Oil?

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Air fryers may seem like a new trend but in truth, these miniaturized convection ovens have been around for almost a decade. Using air to simulate fried food, this kitchen appliance claims to make healthy food with drastically less fat needed to cook your food. So, does that mean you need oil to cook in an air fryer? Let's take a look and answer the question, ''do air fryers need oil''. 

Can You Use Oil in an Air Fryer?

So, can you and should you are really two different questions. With the way that the air fryer works you do not need oil to get tasty results, but yes you can use oil in an air fryer. The decision is solely up to your discretion, but there are a few things you need to know about utilizing oil in your air fryer.

  • You must mix oil with your ingredients
  • You cannot put oil directly into the frying tray
  • If you chose to utilize cooking spray or oil you will get an extra crispy layer on your food.
  • If you want to use some oil you can use most common cooking oils

So, we just said that you can use oil in your air fryer, but which ones are the best to use? Let’s look at some of our options and what we need to consider when using them.

Oils that Can Be Used in an Air Fryer

So, you want to stay healthy but still use oil? The first thing most people reach for is that non-stick cooking spray, but this is a bad choice with an air fryer. Most air fryer accessories come coated with a nonstick material and these sprays can be detrimental to non-stick surfaces. So, if you are going to use an oil opt for a real oil instead.

As we mentioned above, the options are open when considering which oil to use while cooking in your air fryer. The only thing you need to understand is the smoking point of the oil you choose.

These kitchen appliances do not allow smoke to escape very well and with the constant airflow used to cook, if you use an oil with a low smoke point you may wind up with a very smoky meal.

So below we are going to give a quick reference guide to some of the smoke points of the most common cooking fats/oils.

What is Smoke Point?

The smoke point is exactly what it sounds like — the temperature at which a certain oil or fat begins to produce smoke. For oil used in an air fryer, the best thing is to look for one with a high smoke point. This means that the smoke point is 400° F or higher.

Here is a quick reference chart of oil smoke points:

  • Lard = 370˚ F
  • Extra Virgin olive oil = 325˚ F
  • Vegetable oil = 400 - 450˚ F
  • Peanut oil = 450˚ F
  • Butter = 350˚ F
  • Coconut oil = 350˚ F
  • Avacado oil = 520˚ F
  • Grapeseed oil = 420˚ F
  • Safflower oil = 510˚ F

The important thing to keep in consideration is that this rule is only applicable to oils used on the surface of your food. If you are using your air fryer to bake the oil/fat needed for the recipe is perfectly safe to use.

That’s right — your new air fryer can do way more than just make crispy goodness you can use it for other cooking applications.

Different Ways to Use an Air Fryer

Oil can be used to fry and bake and all kinds of other cooking methods, so here are a few ideas of ways you can use your new air fryer:

Grilling

No need to continually stand at the grill to flip the chicken breasts. Just remember to shake the tray/basket halfway through the process.

Baking

You can make anything from muffins to brownies to bread. Remember though the oil used in the recipe does not warrant any consideration to the smoking point. Only the stuff used to grease or proof the pan.

Roasting

Tired of having to wait endless hours for that chicken to roast? While you will still have to wait for your food to cook, you will have to wait far less if you use your air fryer to roast. Just remember to pay attention to the smoking point of the oil you use on the outside of that bird.

Frying

After all, it is right there in the name right. Once again just pay attention to the oil you use if you decide to use any at all.

Conclusion 

So, do air fryers need oil? Not necessarily; the use of oil is solely up to you. If you do decide to give a little extra crispness to your meal, just make sure you are using oil that will not leave your chicken with a funny smoke flavor that you did not want.

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