8 Foods That Don’t Air Fry Well
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Just because a food fits in your air fryer doesn’t mean it’s best suited for air frying.
“Air fryers are fast and easy—just throw everything in, and voila, dinner is served,” says Ilyse Schapiro MS, RD, CDN. And while Schapiro loves the convenience of an air fryer just as much as we do, she avoids using it to cook these eight foods.
Kale chips are all the rage, but sadly they don’t air fry well. “If you’re looking to make kale chips, stick with the oven since the air fryer will blow the leafy greens around and cook them unevenly,” says Schapiro. Instead of air-fried kale chips, she recommends eggplant bites: Simply cube the eggplant, spray with avocado oil (for unsaturated, heart-healthy fat), season, and crisp in the air fryer.
Foods coated with runny batter won’t crisp well as the batter runs off into the basket. Stick to heftier coatings like breadcrumb-coated chicken cutlets or healthy frozen aisle picks like Schapiro’s favorite, Alexia brand sweet potato fries. Here’s another tip for breadcrumb- and-parmesan crusted proteins: Only coat the top side of the meat to save on calories and cleanup.
Yes, you can melt cheese in your air fryer, but you’ll be left with a mess and it won’t crisp and bubble the same as it would in the oven. “If you’re looking to put cheese in the air fryer, try halloumi,” says Schapiro. Frying cheeses like halloumi and queso de freir hold their shape and don’t ooze like mozzarella or cheddar.
A whole chicken doesn’t cook evenly in air fryer—even if you’re using a large format air fryer. “There isn’t enough room for the air to circulate to fully cook your chicken, so if you’re roasting chicken, use the oven,” says Schapiro. Stick to chicken thighs, legs, breasts, and tenders if you’re using the trusty air fryer.
Rare or medium-rare burgers
If you like your burger rare or medium rare, it’s going to be near impossible to achieve in an air fryer. The problem is the internal temperature will reach medium rare before the external crust has a chance to get all crispy and caramelized. So you’ll either get a medium rare burger with a soggy exterior or a satisfying sear with a non-satisfying, well-done interior
Pre-made rice and grains
We hope we don’t have to tell you that you can’t cook raw rice in the air fryer… And the same goes for ready-made versions: Do not heat pre-made rice or grains in your air fryer. It’ll get dried out and taste stale. Just say no.
Because the air fryer cooks so fast, you run the risk of burning toast simply due to the short duration of time it takes to brown. To avoid burning your toast, go with a toaster instead. If you’re looking for a breakfast food that air fries well, Schapiro recommends breakfast potatoes or hashbrowns with a spray of avocado oil and a side of eggs for protein.
Crunchy broccoli is delicious, but it takes a lot of oil to get crispy broccoli in an air fryer. “Sauteeing or roasting broccoli yields a tastier, crunchier result with less oil,” says Schapiro. For a crispy air fryer veggie, try zucchini instead. “Thinly slice it and add a spritz of avocado oil and some salt and pepper to make delicious veggie chips,” she says.