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How to Use an Air Fryer

Air Fryer parts
If an air fryer isn’t yet on your Christmas wish list or even on your radar, it’s only because you don’t know what it can do for you yet. Once upon a time, you weren’t completely convinced you needed a slow cooker or an Instant Pot™, and now you’re not sure you could get through a weeknight dinner without them. Once you start to air fry your food, you’ll never go back—from making your favorite products to cooking your favorite dinners, you’ll be surprised at what your air fryer can do for you!

First and foremost, before you use your air fryer for the first time, make sure you take the time to read the user manual to familiarize yourself with the parts and how it operates. Air fryers differ from brand to brand and model to model, so understanding how your particular fryer works is essential, even though they generally work the same.

Here’s everything you need to know about your new air fryer or what you need to know before you buy one.

What is an Air Fryer?

Air Fryer

While the air fryer has only recently seemed to gain popularity, the Philips Electronics™-patented kitchen appliance has actually been around since 2010. So what is an air fryer, exactly and what does it do? An air fryer is a countertop appliance that uses convection-like air to “fry” foods. It produces similar results to a deep fryer, but unlike a deep fryer, an air fryer does not need to be filled with oil to fry the food—thus making the case that it’s a healthier way to enjoy fried food. Rather than use heated oil to fry foods, it uses hot air and a fan to distribute heat for quick cooking and the circulation makes the food crisp. It takes the same amount of time as deep frying, but does the cooking without the mess, excess oil and cooking hazards.

What is an Air Fryer Used For?

Think of your favorite fried foods. These fried foods are excellent candidates for the air fryer. French fries, chicken wings, fried fish, and fried chicken are no-brainer foods to cook in an air fryer, but you might actually be surprised to learn all of the capabilities your air fryer has. Beyond your favorite typically-deep-fried foods, basically any food you like cripsy can be cooked in the air fryer, including some of your favorite products.

  We tested Pillsbury™ biscuits, crescents and cinnamon rolls in an air fryer and had exceptional results. The dough had a slightly crispy exterior while keeping the inside soft and warm. We also tested Old El Paso™ soft-shell tortillas and hard shell tacos and found the air fryer is a brilliant way to heat them up without having to turn on your oven. Our favorite finding was that Totino’s™ pizza rolls were the perfect product to make in the air fryer. While the oven and microwave work fine, it takes a bit of personal testing to find the right time to make the perfect pizza roll. The perfect pizza roll keeps all of the goodness on the inside while having a crispy, fried outside, and we achieved that in minutes with an air fryer. And we cooked 40 of them at a time!

The air fryer is also able to bake, grill and roast food so beyond parties and game day, you can use it for weeknight dinners!

Different Types of Air Fryers

Philips™ Electronics Company first developed the air fryer concept back in 2010 and is credited for introducing the original air fryer to the market. Since then, several companies have launched their own air fryer products, including GoWISE, Black+Decker, Avalon and Farberware.

Beyond choosing what brand to buy, there are different versions and size variations to choose from. You can find air fryers ranging from three to five quarts. Less than three is considered small, three- to four-quart fryers are average size and five quarts or larger is an extra-large size. The size that is right for you obviously depends on how large your family is or what you intend to use your fryer for. The average or regular size works well for cooking fries or side dishes, and small-batch recipes. The larger size is better for family cooking, but it will take up considerable more counter space.

You also must decide between a manual air fryer or a digital. A manual air fryer will have a dial to adjust the temperature and time, while a digital fryer will have push-button controls. It’s important to note that there’s a vast amount of variance between brands when it comes to temperature options. Some brands allow you to select temperatures in 5-degree increments while others offer 10-degree increments. Don’t worry, although this seems like a huge discrepancy, follow the recipe and the guidelines in your manual and your food will turn out like it’s supposed to!

Air Fryer Parts

Despite the variances between air fryer models, they all have three basic parts: the air fryer base, the basket and the basket base.

Air Fryer parts

The air fryer base is the main component of the air fryer. The basket base is the bottom of the fryer that holds the basket. It catches oil and crumbs that fall through the holes of the basket. The fryer basket attaches to the base and actually holds the food. It has round holes or a mesh base, depending on the brand and model. Both the basket base and actual basket can be washed in the dishwasher for easy cleanup. Although accessories do not come with the air fryer, there are racks available to purchase. Racks are helpful for cooking larger batches of food.

How to Use an Air Fryer

If you know how to use an oven, you know how to use an air fryer. Nevertheless, you should read the manual of your particular air fryer before using. Since the models vary drastically, the buttons and operations will also vary.

We’ll demonstrate how to use an air fryer with our recipe for air fryer breakfast biscuit bombs. For reference, we used a Philips Viva 3.5-quart air fryer to make this recipe.

What you need:

  • Cooking parchment paper
  • Cooking spray
  • 10-inch nonstick skillet
  • Air fryer


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ¼ lb. bulk breakfast sausage
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 can (10.3 oz) Pillsbury™ Grands!™ Flaky Layers refrigerated biscuits (5 biscuits)
  • 2 oz sharp Cheddar cheese, cut in ten ½-inch cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water


Step 1: Cut two 8-inch rounds of cooking parchment paper. Place one round in bottom of air fryer basket. Spray with cooking spray. Set the other aside.

parchment paper

Step 2: In 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook sausage in oil for 2 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to crumble, until no longer pink; using slotted spoon, transfer to medium bowl. Reduce heat to medium. Add beaten eggs, salt and pepper to drippings in skillet; cook until eggs are thickened but still moist, stirring frequently. Stir eggs into sausage in bowl. Cool 5 minutes.

Step 3: Meanwhile, separate dough into 5 biscuits; separate each biscuit into 2 layers. Press each into 4-inch round. Spoon 1 heaping tablespoonful egg mixture onto center of each round. Top with one piece of the cheese. Gently fold edges up and over filling; pinch to seal. In small bowl, beat remaining egg and water. Brush biscuits on all sides with egg wash.


Step 4: Place 5 of the biscuit bombs, seam sides down, on parchment in air fryer basket. Spray both sides of second parchment round with cooking spray. Top biscuit bombs in basket with second parchment round, then top with remaining 5 biscuit bombs.

place biscuits on bottom and another piece of parchment on top

Step 5: Set to 325°F; cook 8 minutes*. Remove top parchment round; using tongs, carefully turn biscuits, and place in basket in single layer. Cook 4 to 6 minutes longer or until cooked through (at least 165°F).

cook biscuits and remove with tongs

*Air fryer temperature control settings vary according to brand and model. If your air fryer does not have the exact temperature setting called for in the recipe, consult your manual for suggested temperature settings.

Air Fryer Biscuit Bombs

Best Air Fryer Recipes

If you’re not sure where to start with your new air fryer or need some convincing on why you need one, here are a few of our best air fryer recipes to get you started:

You can also make some of your favorite products in minutes using the air fryer, like cinnamon rolls, crescents and pizza rolls!

Air Fryer Tips

  • Air fryer temperature control settings vary according to brand and model. If your air fryer does not have the exact temperature setting called for in the recipe, consult your manual for suggested temperature settings.
  • If the food is in more than one layer, shake the basket every few minutes. French fries and wings are a perfect example of foods that are usually piled on top of each other. Shaking the basket ensures even cooking.
  • If the food is in a single layer, turn it over about halfway through the cooking process. This ensures even browning and cooking.
  • While you can preheat your air fryer, it’s not necessary.
  • Cutting parchment rounds and spraying them with cooking spray helps prevent food (especially dough and breaded foods) from cooking into the holes in the fryer basket.