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What not to cook in an air fryer

Portrait of happy young couple cooking together in the kitchen at home.
Posted at 7:51 AM, Jan 18, 2021

Air fryers have changed the way so many of us cook, offering a healthier take on fried foods. But Consumer Reports’ cooking pros say there are some foods that are better off not cooked in one.

You can make lots of foods, even desserts, in an air fryer. And most veggies that you would usually oven-roast come out perfectly in the basket if you pat them dry first, then toss with some oil.

But certain vegetables will disappoint. Although broccoli is delicious, it doesn’t do well in an air fryer because of the tough stems. The time that it takes them to become tender will leave the tops scorched and bitter-tasting.

The air fryer does a good job cooking meat, but you might not get the same sear you’d get from a fry pan or a grill.

Can you make a juicy burger? Yes, an air fryer will quickly cook one to medium-rare, but the gray surface pales in comparison with the tasty char you get in a cast-iron pan.

And is crispy chicken just a dream? It will cook through but the skin might not brown evenly and you won’t get the crispiness that pan roasting achieves.

Fish can come out nicely cooked but is apt to have hard, rubbery skin.
Grilled cheese sandwiches that are buttered or brushed with oil will toast nicely, but the cheesy mess in the bin and the basket might not be worth it.

And even though breaded foods do really well in an air fryer, battered foods are a recipe for disaster. The coating doesn’t set right away like it does when you cook in hot oil, which means that it can drip through the basket and even end up on the heating element.

Consumer Reports notes that you don’t have to spend a fortune for an air fryer. Good models can be had for $55 to $70. And when it comes to warranties, CR found a wide range. Some manufacturers cover for a year or two, but it also found warranties as short at 60 days. So that’s something to watch for.