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Learn how to preheat an air fryer with or without a preheat function using this easy guide. Plus, get expert recipe tips for when and why you might preheat an air fryer before cooking.
It is common knowledge that preheating your oven is great when baking desserts or cooking food like my baked fried chicken wings. However, is it the same for air fryers? Experts believe that the simple step of preheating your air fryer enhances crisping and cooking results. But, is it really needed?
Besides that, if you do, how long do you need to preheat since air fryers come in different models, and each model has its own settings?
In this article, I’ll give answers to some common questions like how do you preheat an air fryer (with or without the preheat button); how long are you supposed to do it? Is there a specific way of preheating the Ninja Foodi?
Some Benefits of Preheating
Air fryers are great for crisping your food and allowing you to have a deep-fried food crunch without submerging your food in oil (my air fryer fried chicken wings are proof).
They have a built-in fan that is designed to push the heat around the interior of the air fryer, which ensures your food is evenly cooked.
Preheating helps to circulate hot air around the cooking equipment. For things like my air fryer steak, a preheated air fryer ensures that your food begins to cook immediately, which can be the difference between having a seared look or a gray one.
Preheating can also reduce your total cooking time because moisture is quickly removed from your food surface, something essential to giving your food a golden-brown and crispy finish.
Lastly, when a recipe specifically requires it as part of the cooking process, preheating is important to ensure you get the best cooking results.
When You Should Preheat
Are you in doubt about whether or not you should preheat an air fryer?
You can preheat an air fryer under the following conditions:
The user manual states you should preheat
One of the reasons that I love my Ninja Foodi air fryer is that it does not require preheating.
But, different brands may have different instructions. So, it is essential to adhere to the instructions, especially, if this is your first time using a new air fryer.
When you want to prepare crispy foods
Depending on the type of food you’re cooking, it may be great to preheat your air fryer.
The same is true when making an air fryer roasted whole chicken because preheating helps the chicken skin to not stick.
The recipe requires preheating
One other reason for preheating is if the recipe instructs you to do so. Achieving the desired recipe outcome is possible if you follow the instructions it provides, which may include preheating your air fryer before use.
When in doubt, preheat
Still not sure about whether to preheat or not? Then, the most appropriate thing to do is preheat the air fryer. It typically doesn’t harm your air fryer, but it can better-tasting and crispier result.
Times You Shouldn’t Preheat
Even though there are definitely some benefits and reasons to preheat, there are some times when it’s unnecessary, such as, if:
The manual says you should not preheat
While some air fryer models may permit preheating, some air fryer manuals may instruct you not to preheat the device. Since no one knows your specific model like the company that made it, it’s a good idea to follow these instructions.
However, what if your air fryer manual does not mention anything about preheating? In this case, and with the Ninja Foodi, it is completely optional.
The recipe says you should not preheat
Most trusted air fryer recipes have written instructions on how to achieve the best-tasting final dish. However, preheating a recipe against the authors’ instruction will generally affect the cooking time and produce unwanted results.
I find that air frying leftovers generally takes 3-5 minutes. So, preheating is optional (and not worth the time).
How to Preheat an Air Fryer
Air Fryers with a Preheat Function
The following steps may be used to preheat an air fryer with preheat settings.
- Find out if the preheat feature is automatic or manual. Some Air fryers (like my oven-style air fryer) have in-built preheat time features that allow automatic preheating once you program the cooking time and the temperature. However, some air fryer models may require you to use the air frying setting to preheat the air fryer manually.
- Ensure the removable basket and all other removable parts are clean, dry, and placed in the unit. Then, depending on the instructions from your air fryer manual, you can select your cook time to preheat setting or allow the device to preheat automatically.
- Allow the air fryer to preheat for the required period. a five-minute preheating time is recommended for larger air fryers, while 2-3 minutes is recommended for smaller air fryers.
Air Fryers without a Preheat Setting
Some air fryers like my Ninja Foodi do not have a preheat setting. Here is how you can preheat those models:
- Check the air fryers’ operating manual to ensure that the device does not have a preheating setting.
- Once it is confirmed that the air fryer has no settings, you can set the temperature to the recommended recipe temperature or the temperature at which you intend to cook your food. It may be unnecessary to remove the basket.
- After setting the air fryer to the desired temperature, the next thing is to turn on the empty air fryer. You may preheat the air fryer for two to three minutes for smaller air fryers. Five minutes may be recommended for preheating larger air fryer models. Once the preheating time is up, you can place your food inside the air fryer and cook it as called for in the recipe
How to Preheat the Ninja Foodi Air Fryer
The steps to preheat a Ninja air fryer are similar to other air fryer products. However, the ninja air fryer comes in different models.
Therefore, it is essential to determine if your Ninja air fryer model has a manual, automatic, or no preheat setting and follow the aforementioned preheating process.
My Ninja Foodi that I use for recipes like air fryer frozen broccoli, air fried bbq chicken breast, and air fryer chicken thighs does not require preheating. I do preheat my model for steak because it looks more appetizing this way, but it’s totally unnecessary.
Preheating your air fryer helps to reduce cook time, create crispy meals, and more. Whether your air fryer has a preheat setting or not, you can always preheat the device by following the device instruction manual or setting the cooking time to your desired temperature for a period before you start cooking.
How to Preheat An Air Fryer
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- Ninja Foodi or other air fryer
- 1 Air Fryer Recipe
- 1 Air Fryer Manual
With a Preheat Setting
- Use your air fryer manual or Google to find out if the preheat feature is automatic or manual.
- Use the manual or automatic preheat setting to set the time and temperature
- Allow the air fryer to preheat for the required period.
Without a Preheat Setting
- Check the air fryers' operating manual to ensure that the device does not have a preheating setting. Once it is confirmed that the air fryer has no settings, set the temperature to the recommended recipe temperature or the temperature at which you intend to cook your food.
- Turn on the empty air fryer with the cooking basket inside for the amount of time required in the recipe
- Once the preheating time is up, you can place your food inside the air fryer and cook it as called for in the recipe
The nutrition facts come from entering the recipe ingredients into Spoonacular API, a database of food ingredients. They may vary for any recipe based on the exact product used. The keto sweeteners I use have 0g net carbs & are not included because sugar alcohols do not impact most people. This is provided as a courtesy, but you can do your own calculations if you wish!