Credit: Grandbrothers/Getty Images

Welcome to Air Fryer Month! Throughout September, our team will be sharing healthy air-fryer recipes and tips and tricks to help you get meals on the table in less time with fewer dishes, courtesy of everyone's favorite appliance. Visit us weekly for the latest Air Fryer Month content.  

The air fryer has become the go-to kitchen appliance for its ability to make quick and easy meals that taste great but are lower in fat and calories than deep-fried foods like crispy fried chicken and French fries. If you just bought an air fryer or want to pick up some new tips, here are a few things every new or budding air fryer chef should know. 

Don't forget you can air fry plant proteins, too.

Yes, you can use your air fryer for plant proteins like tofu, tempeh, and more. “The best plant-based food to make in an air fryer is definitely tofu. If you don't like the soft texture of tofu, air fryers make it crispy and delicious without a deep fryer,” says Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, author of "Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Prep" and "How to Eat to Beat Disease Cookbook." Hultin recommends marinating firm or extra firm tofu in soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, and cayenne pepper. “Let it marinate but discard the excess sauce before putting the tofu in the air fryer basket,” she says. Hultin also suggests air frying cauliflower florets tossed in buffalo sauce for a plant-based hot wing alternative. 

Clean your air fryer after every use. 

Use a non-abrasive sponge and soapy water to clean the air fryer basket and allow to air dry completely before reinstalling. To avoid scraping the basket too hard, which could lead to pieces of the non-stick coating coming off, use parchment paper as a barrier when cooking messier foods. Also, don't forget to give the exterior of the air fryer a wipe-down after every use, making sure to empty any crumbs that may have fallen inside the unit. Hultin recommends a paste of baking soda and water to remove stuck-on food and stains. Get more air fryer cleaning tips here

Get creative with recipes like air fryer French toast. 

The best part about air fryer French toast is you get all the crispiness of the traditional recipe without added butter or oils. “You make it like you normally would: Mix milk and egg with some cinnamon or other spices, dredge the bread, making sure it's coated but not too drippy, and then air fry it,” she says. "It turns out very crispy!" Get more air fryer recipes like loaded Greek fries and General Tso's chicken here

Don't use non-stick sprays like Pam.

Aerosol sprays like Pam contain ingredients that can cause chipping to the coating of the air fryer. Instead, use an oil mister or regular jarred oil to prevent sticking and add crisp. To that end, oiling food before it goes in the air fryer and once more in between yields a crispier texture. It also helps to preheat the air fryer. “I like to preheat the air fryer at 400 degrees for about three minutes before adding the food,” says Kara Myers, food blogger at Sweetly Splendid.

Avoid overcrowding the basket.

“It can be tempting to put as much as possible in there, but you want the air to be able to circulate around all of the pieces, and if you fill it too full, the middle of the basket will end up steaming instead of air frying,” says Myers. Leave some room inside! 

More Air Fryer Favorites: 

8 Foods That Don't Air Fry Well

How To Air Fry Salmon Without Drying It Out 

6 Trader Joe's Frozen Foods That Air Fry Perfectly