If you’re a fan of the air fryer craze, you may wonder if any foods aren’t destined for the crispy, golden perfection this kitchen appliance promises.
From French fries to chicken wings, the air fryer seems capable of transforming anything into a healthier, oil-free version of its original self.
But are there culinary casualties that don’t fare well in the air fryer? Let’s find out.
1. Dairy Products
1.1 Yogurt-based Dishes
You may want to exercise caution when cooking yogurt-based dishes in an air fryer. While some recipes may work, it’s important to note that yogurt has a high moisture content and may not achieve the desired results in an air fryer.
The hot air inside the fryer may cause the yogurt to become watery and lose its texture. It’s best to stick to traditional cooking methods, such as stovetop or oven, when preparing yogurt-based dishes like curry or yogurt-marinated meats.
1.2 Cheese-based Dishes
Cheese lovers, beware! While many cheese-based dishes can be cooked in an air fryer, choosing the right type of cheese is essential. Soft or crumbly cheeses, like feta or goat cheese, may not hold up well in an air fryer.
The high temperatures and circulating air may cause them to melt and lose their shape, resulting in a messier dish. However, harder cheeses like cheddar or mozzarella can handle the heat and come out deliciously melted and golden. So, when making cheese-filled snacks or cheesy sandwiches, opting for harder cheeses to ensure your dish turns out well is best.
2. Foods with High Moisture Content
2.1 Raw Vegetables
Air fryers are known for their ability to crisp up foods, but when it comes to raw vegetables, it’s best to give them a pass. Raw vegetables typically have a high water content, and cooking them in an air fryer may cause them to become dry and shriveled. Instead, consider steaming or sautéing your vegetables for a more enjoyable texture and taste.
2.2 Leafy Greens
While leafy greens like kale or spinach can be deliciously crispy when baked, they may not fare as well in an air fryer. The high heat in an air fryer can cause the already delicate leaves overly dry and brittle. To retain the freshness and tenderness of leafy greens, it’s recommended to stick to traditional cooking methods like sautéing or roasting.
2.3 Raw Meat
When cooking raw meat in an air fryer, it’s essential to consider its moisture content. Raw meat typically releases a significant amount of liquid during the cooking process, and in an air fryer, this can lead to a soggy or steamed texture instead of a crispy one. To achieve that desired crispy exterior, it’s best to use alternative methods such as grilling, pan-searing, or baking in a conventional oven.
3. Foods Coated in Wet Batters or Sauces
3.1 Tempura or Lightly Breaded Foods
While air fryers can create a crispy exterior on foods, they may struggle with dishes that require a wet batter. Wet batters, like those used in tempura or specific fried chicken recipes, typically must be submerged in hot oil to achieve that signature texture. The batter may not evenly coat the food in an air fryer, resulting in an uneven finish. It’s best to reserve these dishes for deep frying or follow traditional cooking methods for the best results.
3.2 Wet Marinades or Sauces
When cooking foods marinated in wet sauces or covered in wet marinades, caution should be exercised with an air fryer. The excess moisture can interfere with the air circulation and prevent the desired crispiness. While you can still achieve delicious results with dry rubs or minimal sauces, saving the wetter marinated dishes for other cooking methods, like grilling or baking is best.
4. Foods with Delicate Texture or Thin Slices
4.1 Soft or Crumbly Cheeses
Soft or crumbly cheeses like feta or goat cheese may not hold up well in an air fryer. The high heat and circulating air can cause these cheeses to melt and lose shape, resulting in a messy and potentially unappetizing dish.
If you’re aiming for a melted cheese topping or filling, using harder cheeses like cheddar or mozzarella that can withstand the heat and maintain their structure is recommended.
4.2 Thinly Sliced Fish or Meat
An air fryer may not be the best choice when working with delicate proteins like thinly sliced fish or meat. The intense heat and rapid air circulation can cause these thin slices to overcook quickly, resulting in a dry and tough texture.
It’s best to opt for other cooking methods, such as pan-searing or grilling, for more precise control over the cooking process and better texture retention.
5. Foods that Require Deep Frying
5.1 Traditional French Fries
While air fryers are often touted as a healthier alternative to deep frying, it’s important to note that certain foods cannot replicate the same results.
Traditional French fries, for example, rely on immersion in hot oil to achieve their crispy exterior and fluffy interior. While air fryers can produce a similar texture, managing expectations is important as the result may not be identical to deep-fried fries.
5.2 Deep-fried Doughnuts
Like traditional French fries, deep-fried doughnuts depend on hot oil to create their iconic light and airy texture.
While an air fryer can still yield a tasty doughnut, it may lack the same fluffiness and delicate crispness. So, if you’re craving that classic deep-fried doughnut experience, it’s best to stick to deep frying in hot oil.
6. Foods Containing Excessive Oil
6.1 High-Fat Meats
Air fryers excel at removing excess oil from foods, making them a popular choice for those looking for healthier cooking options. However, high-fat meats, such as marbled steaks or fatty cuts of pork, may not be the ideal choice for this cooking method.
The excessive fat content can lead to a smoke-filled kitchen or even cause the air fryer to malfunction. It’s best to trim any excess fat or opt for leaner cuts of meat when using an air fryer.
6.2 Greasy Fast Food
Air fryers can transform greasy fast food favorites into healthier alternatives, but not all food items suit this cooking method.
Some fast food items, like heavily breaded onion rings or crispy chicken tenders, may not cook evenly or achieve the desired texture in an air fryer.
It’s always beneficial to check the manufacturer’s instructions for specific food items or consider alternative cooking methods if you’re aiming to recreate fast food at home.
7. Foods Requiring Extensive Cooking Time
7.1 Large Roasts
Air fryers are designed to cook quickly and efficiently, making them perfect for smaller portions or time-sensitive meals. However, an air fryer may not be the best choice when it comes to large roasts or cuts of meat that require a significant amount of cooking time.
The limited cooking space and rapid cooking process can lead to uneven cooking or result in the outer layers becoming overly dry before the center reaches the desired doneness. For large roasts, it’s recommended to use a conventional oven or slow cooker for more even and controlled cooking.
7.2 Whole Chickens
Like large roasts, whole chickens may not be the most suitable food item for an air fryer. The limited space and intense heat may make it challenging to ensure that the entire chicken cooks evenly and reaches a safe internal temperature.
Moreover, the concentrated heat can cause the skin to become excessively crispy or burnt before the chicken is fully cooked. Using a traditional oven or rotisserie method is often the preferred choice for cooking whole chickens to achieve delicious and evenly cooked results.
8. Foods with Loose Coatings or Toppings
8.1 Crispy Coating Mixes
While air fryers are great for creating crispy exteriors, specific coating mixes may present challenges. Coating mixes with a loose or crumbly texture may not adhere well to the food during cooking.
This can result in coating patches falling off or uneven coating distribution on the food. To ensure a more even and consistent coating, it’s recommended to use coating mixes that have a finer or more adhesive texture.
8.2 Loose Breadcrumbs or Grains
Like loose coating mixes, loose breadcrumbs or grains may not adhere properly when cooked in an air fryer. The circulating hot air can cause these loose ingredients to blow away or become scattered, resulting in an uneven or incomplete coating.
If you’re aiming for a crispy breadcrumb or grain coating, it’s best to press them firmly onto the food or consider alternative cooking methods that allow for better adherence.
9. Foods with Liquid-filled Centers
9.1 Stuffed Mushrooms
Foods with liquid-filled centers, such as stuffed mushrooms, may not be the best fit for an air fryer.
The intense heat in the air fryer can cause the liquids to heat up rapidly, potentially causing the food to burst or become overly soggy. To enjoy perfectly cooked stuffed mushrooms with a flavorful filling, it’s best to use traditional cooking methods like baking or broiling in the oven.
9.2 Molten Chocolate Cakes
While an air fryer can create deliciously moist cakes, molten chocolate cakes may not be the best choice.
The intense heat and circulating air can cause the delicate centers to overcook quickly, resulting in a fully cooked cake instead of a gooey and indulgent molten center. It’s best to rely on traditional baking methods and keep a close eye on the cooking time and temperature to achieve the desired molten texture.
10. Foods that Tend to Splatter or Release Excess Fat
Bacon lovers, beware! While air fryers can cook bacon, the intense heat, and circulating air can cause the bacon to splatter and release excess fat, resulting in a messy clean-up and potential damage to the air fryer.
If you’re craving crispy bacon, it’s best to use traditional stovetop methods or bake it in the oven for a less messy and more controlled cooking experience.
Like bacon, sausages can release excess fat and splatter when cooked in an air fryer. The hot air circulation may cause the fat to spray out, resulting in a greasy and potentially dangerous situation. To cook sausages safely and to minimize splattering, it’s recommended to use alternative cooking methods like grilling or stovetop cooking.
In conclusion, while air fryers are versatile and convenient kitchen appliances, certain foods may not achieve the desired results when cooked in them.
Whether it’s due to their moisture content, delicacy, cooking time, or the need for deep frying, it’s essential to consider alternative cooking methods for these particular foods.
By understanding the limitations of air fryers, you can make informed decisions about which cooking techniques will yield the best results for each unique dish. Happy cooking!