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Can You Fry Wet Batter in an Air Fryer?

After hearing about all the great and wonderful things an air fryer can do, you’re probably wondering what it can’t do.

One of the Specialties of deep frying is the ability to work with wet batter. It’s a combination of flour, egg wash combined with water or milk. Wet batter, as the term implies, turns out to be extremely wet and will drip anywhere it goes.

So, this begs the question of whether it is suitable to be used in an air fryer.

Can you cook wet batter in an air fryer?

No. According to Sciencemeetsfood.com, wet batter is deep-fried at 350°F to 375°F. Submerging the batter in the oil triggers a series of reactions known as the Maillard reactions, named after the chemist Louis Camille Maillard. During this process, the sugars and proteins in the food break down, and the surface of the batter dries out.

This changes the texture of the batter and also its flavor. The batter develops a sweet taste and a crunchy texture. While the outside of the batter hardens, the inside (the protein or vegetables) continues to cook. Air fryers have become very popular because they do not require nearly as much oil as deep frying.

A few teaspoons are enough to coat the food. However, this is a problem when frying wet batter. An air fryer uses rapidly heated air that does not allow the batter to set. This causes the batter to simply drip off the food during the cooking process.

Why you should use an air fryer for wet batter

There are some medical and health reasons why people choose to prepare wet batter in an air fryer rather than using conventional kitchen equipment. The number one reason is that it is a healthier option for cooking food. 

Ecowatch.com points out that a diet of unhealthy fats, such as those found in vegetable oil, is not ideal. The alternative would be to use coconut oil. However, coconut oil does not have much of shelf life when fried. Therefore, if you are craving fried food, the best alternative is to use a hot air fryer, only slightly altering the cooking technique for the wet batter.

Why you shouldn’t use an air fryer for wet batter

The wet batter comes in a variety of consistencies. The batter on fish may be less firm and lighter than the batter on a corndog. When you put a wet batter of any consistency into a hot air fryer, the batter drips off the food into the perforated basket at the bottom of the air fryer.

The food inside will still cook, but the batter will create a mess. If you do manage to cook the batter, it will not have the same texture or taste as batter fried in hot vegetable oil. Contrary to what the name suggests, an air fryer is not the same as a conventional deep fryer. It is a smaller, more compact convection oven that bakes food faster because of its small size and circulating hot air.

What could go wrong when you air fry wet batter?

As mentioned earlier, the only problem with air frying wet batter is that it will either drip into the drawer below if it is a thicker batter, or splatter on the inside of the air fryer if the consistency is a bit thinner. The air fryer is equipped with a drawer under the basket to catch drippings from greasy food. So, if the batter drips off, it should not be too much of a problem.

However, if the batter splatters into the air fryer and comes into contact with the electronics of the air fryer, it can short out the unit and damage it. Also, if the splatter comes into contact with the heat source of the air fryer, it can cause a lot of smoke, which is bad for people with allergies and asthma.

If you must, how would you air fry wet batter?

If you must fry the wet batter in the air fryer, there are some simple changes you can make. A few changes to the recipe will ensure that the food comes as close to the texture it would have when using a traditional deep fryer.

According to Growitcatchitcookit.com, you simply need to increase the consistency of the batter and make it as thick as possible. You can do this by increasing the flour and decreasing the liquid (milk or water) in the batter mixture.

  1. Place the food items in the wet batter and let it chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  2. Take out the foods dipped in the batter and dust them generously with flour. This is the secret to air frying wet batter.
  3. After dusting the foods with flour, lightly spray them with a little oil. Any oil will do, including coconut oil, olive oil or vegetable oil.
  4. Then place the food back in the refrigerator to cool further for a few minutes before air frying.

This technique cooks the batter on the outside quickly enough and prevents it from falling off the food.

Tips on how to best air fry wet batter

Make sure that the consistency of the batter is not too runny. Add a little water to the lower drawer of the air fryer. Any batter that does end up dripping to the bottom will not cause any smoke.

Also, the process should be done at a lower temperature for a longer period of time as this works best. And remember that items should be turned frequently and a spray of oil should be sprayed over the food to ensure that the food does not dry out completely.

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