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How to nail the classics using an air fryer 

Oil, no oil or spray and cook? From the prefect crispy roast chicken to really putting the humble potato to the test and more, here’s the lowdown on this modern-day convection oven. 

The dos and don’ts  

Use this definitive list to help you get the most out of your air fryer – that way, there’s nothing stopping you from preparing the most delectable dishes. 


  • Ditch the microwave for reheating. It does a way better job at reviving deep fried foods, pizza or left over fries (any left overs really) and helps retain that crispiness and texture that often lacks when using a microwave. 
  • Shake it! Give the basket a shake or turn your food halfway through cooking to ensure it not only cooks evenly but crisps up on all sides. 
  • Use it for baking and roasting alike. (RULE OF THUMB: When adjusting recipes that would normally be prepared in the oven, reduce the cooking temperature by 20°C) 
  • Clean after each use. Warm soapy water and a sponge does the most and is basically all you need. For more stubborn sticks and burns, simply soak the basket for a few hours or overnight. 
  • Keep an eye. You don’t want anything to burn or go too dark while cooking. 
  • Use oil over butter. Oil is a great medium for heat and ensures food browns and crisps up evenly (spray and cook often has a few ingredients that you won’t consume on a regular basis, so avoid this for using on the actual food).


  • Preheat your air fryer, it’s not needed! It’s quick to heat up due to powerful heat circulation and it’s compact size.  
  • Block the air flow! When you line the bottom of your basket with foil, baking paper or even an air fryer paper basket, it blocks up the air flow and results in undercooked or not as crispy dishes. (THE EXCEPTION: paper baskets come in handy when cooking something delicate such as flaky fish, as it makes it easier to remove when ready to serve).  
  • Cook anything that has been battered (wet battered). The batter will drip right off the food before it even has chance to cook through and crisp up. Coating or crumbing in breadcrumbs (or panko) is advised for best results. (THE EXCEPTION: This only really works with frozen items like onion rings)  
  • Douse your food in oil for cooking! Less is more and that is the beauty of an air fryer – all you need is a very light coating of oil. Be sure to pay attention to the fat content of food items, the fattier the less oil it needs.  
  • Overfill or overcrowd! Food items such as chips, chicken nuggets and veggies cook best when in a single layer.  
  • Air fry food that is light weighted. Avoid items such as spinach, kale and poppadoms. They tend to fly around, and get stuck on the heating element. 

Words: Gail Damons

Photography: Zhann Solomons

Also read: 3 noteworthy air fryer recipes by Louisa Holst 

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