Burnt toast from air fryer - familyguidecentral.com

Why Is My Air Fryer Burning Food? (Reasons Why and Fixes!)

You have a lot of questions about your air fryer, and we’re here to answer them.

You probably already know that an air fryer is a type of cooking device that uses hot air to cook food. It’s also known as a convection oven or convection microwave. But did you know that it can burn your food?

It’s true! Indeed, if you’ve been using your air fryer for a while and have noticed that some of the food you’ve cooked in it tastes burnt, this could be the reason.

In this blog post, we’ll explain what causes food to burn in your air fryer and how to avoid it, so you can continue to enjoy delicious meals without worrying about whether they’ll taste burned or not.

Key takeaways

  • Avoid cooking certain foods, like wet batter, in the air fryer as they may dry up and burn.
  • Use the bake function or lower fan speeds for delicate foods like cakes to prevent drying and burning.
  • Check for damage to the non-stick coating and use silicone heat-resistant mats to prevent food from sticking and burning.
  • Keep a close eye on the air fryer while cooking to ensure safety and prevent burning.
  • Take precautions when cooking raw vegetables, such as freezing them beforehand to retain moisture and prevent burning.

Why your air fryer is burning food

1. You’re not using enough oil

In most cases, when you’re using an air fryer, about 1 to 2 teaspoons of oil is really enough to coat most of the food. You don’t need any more than that.

All you have to do is make a really light coating of this oil all over your food. There’s no need to have it drenched in oil.

Too much oil can potentially create flames that will eventually burn your food.

2. The temperature is too high

Air fryers can reach temperatures above 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the type of food you’re cooking, you’ll need to adjust the time it takes to cook any type of food within a certain temperature range.

Not every meal needs to be cooked at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Pizzas, for example, can be cooked at around 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Chicken wings can be cooked at the same temperature as well.

Keep an eye on those high temperatures. If you want to sear a steak, 500 degrees Fahrenheit is good.

3. You’re not cleaning your air fryer properly

Cleaning your air fryer and making sure there aren’t bits of old food in it not only helps prevent the burning of your food but also keeps you safe from contamination.

It is critical to clean your air fryer on a regular basis or after each use because if there are still crumbs of old burned food inside, it can begin smoking and catch fire.

At the very least, you might start seeing smoke coming out of your air fryer.

Cleaning your air fryer is usually very easy, and it only involves some hot water and scrub with dishwashing soap.

4. The food is not being cooked evenly

One of the reasons for burnt food is that it does not cook evenly. If one side of your meal is directly in front of the heating element, it may take up all the heat and eventually burn while the other side doesn’t get cooked at all.

Just make sure that all of your food is cooked evenly by spreading it out throughout the air fryer tray. Make sure that all the pieces are similarly shaped as well. This helps with evenness.

Turn your food over halfway in between cooking times to allow both sides of your food to spend adequate time directly underneath the heat.

5. There’s no ventilation

Like almost every cooking appliance, your air fryer needs a place to vent out all that heat. Otherwise, it would just hold all of that heat within itself and build up pressure until it burned your food.

Make sure you are not using your air fryer in a closed container. Avoid setting it down in a place with four walls that cover it.

Putting it in a small space with little room for air circulation may cause your air fryer to overheat, causing your food to cook faster than expected.

When you’re using it, you want it in an open space, preferably on your kitchen counter, away from any obstructions that may block the heat that needs to be escaped.

I recommend keeping your kitchen well-ventilated. If there are doors in your kitchen, open them. If there are windows with screams, slide them up.

6. You’re cooking with high-fat foods

Foods that contain a lot of fat tend to heat up really fast. Bat chemicals easily burn over high heat, and it might even result in some smoke as well.

It’s important to try cooking with lower-fat foods to prevent this issue.

Another trick you can try is placing a bed of water underneath the cooking tray inside the basket.

The water will usually catch any running fat that drips from your meal and prevent it from burning as it makes contact with the water.

7. You’re using a cheap air fryer

When you’re buying a cheap air fryer, one of the most neglected components is the heat element regulator. This is what stabilizes the heat inside your air fryer.

Cheaper air fryers might not have a well-calibrated heating element, which makes cooking with them hard to predict.

Buying a more expensive model of air fryer can help keep the heat consistent when cooking. These models are made with better materials which improves insulation and are better designed for circulation and efficiency.

How can you prevent your air fryer from burning food?

Use the right amount of oil

As stated before, you may need to add about 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil to your recipe if you’ve noticed that your recipes normally get burned.

A simple, light coating of oil on top of your proteins and veggies will help create a barrier between direct heat and the surface of the food itself. This can help prevent burning.

The only thing I would suggest is not using too much oil because it can burn well under certain temperatures.

Use the right type of oil

The type of oil you choose is also very important in preventing food from burning.

All types of oils have some kind of tolerance or degree of resistance to burning themselves. It’s important that you find an oil with a high smoking point. The higher the smoke point, the more heat it can tolerate.

It may also help to ensure that your food does not burn inside your air fryer.

Another thing that oil does well is to prevent food from sticking to the surface material of your air fryer. Even though your air fryer is probably made of durable material, there’s still a chance that, with extreme heat, food can get stuck on its surface.

A layer of oil will create an additional nonstick surface on your food.

Don’t overload your air fryer

This may be one of the most common reasons why someone’s food ends up burned.

If you pile a lot of food in your air fryer and stack it on top of each other, the heating element will most likely only reach the top layer.

If the food you’re stacking gets too high, it may actually be in direct contact with the heat from the heating element. Just make sure that none of your food is in direct contact with the heating element.

In order to cook food evenly, you want to spread out all your food in one layer. Don’t stack them on top of each other. Give each piece of food plenty of space so that the air can circulate around and between them.

Avoid cooking frozen food unless necessary

We all know that air fryers are famous for turning frozen chicken into perfect meals. Heck, French fries from the freezer turn out nearly perfect in an air fryer.

It’s a tricky method of cooking, but not all frozen foods should be immediately cooked in an air fryer.

When cooking frozen foods, you may discover that you need to leave them in the air fryer for a few minutes longer.

Because the center of the food is still almost frozen, you might leave it in the air fryer for a few extra minutes, which will likely cause the outer surface of your food to burn.

What I suggest is that if you’re cooking frozen foods, leave them out for about 30 minutes so they can thaw.

If that’s not an option, then put it in your air fryer and set it to a much lower temperature. Perhaps 25 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit less, and then add more time to it.

This will give your air fryer time to even out and fully cook your meal.

Always preheat your air fryer

Another important thing you should always do is preheat your air fryer before you start cooking.

Pre-heating your air fryer usually takes between 5 and 10 minutes, and it will help cook your food faster.

In most recipes, the cooking time usually starts after you’ve pre-heated your air fryer.

If you were to actually put your food into your air fryer before preheating it, you may find that it’s a little undercooked, and as a result, you may end up adding more minutes to your air fryer to make sure it’s fully cooked.

This may be an error that causes your food to burn.

Clean your air fryer regularly

We always recommend that you clean your air fryer after every meal. Cooking in a dirty air fryer may end up creating smoke because what you’re doing is reheating old, burned food from your previous meals.

After a certain amount of time and many different cooking sessions, these crumbs may end up being really dry and catching fire. will likely start smoking in most cases.

Season your food properly

Seasoning doesn’t just add flavor to your food. In many cases, it also keeps the surface of your food from getting burned when cooking.

A regular, light seasoning of salt and pepper should be the bare minimum of what you would need to coat your proteins in an air fryer.

As long as you’re seasoning your food correctly, it will prevent your food from burning on the surface.

Also, make sure your seasoning is secure on the surface of your meal. Air fryers have a very powerful fan, which causes a very controlled flow of air throughout the chamber.

If the seasoning on your meal is loose, you may end up finding it flying around inside your air fryer. Some of the seasonings may become stuck in the crevices of the heating element while it is turned on, causing smoke and burning.

Lay your food on the tray properly

As stated in the tip to not stack your foods on top of each other, you should lay them out evenly on your air fryer tray.

With each individual piece of food in your air fryer, try to avoid allowing them to touch each other. This will allow the air to circulate around and between them, cooking them evenly.

Also, it does help if you cut up your food into equal sizes and shapes.

If one thing is too big and several other little pieces of your meal are too small, you may end up burning the small ones before properly and fully cooking the big one.

Don’t cook for too long

This is probably the most common mistake I find when people are new to air fryers. They just don’t know how quickly air fryers cook, so they’ll put something in there for 30 minutes, which is often way too long for most recipes.

Frozen French fries only need to be air fried for about 10 to 12 minutes. Frozen chicken nuggets will be fully cooked on both ends if you leave them in your air fryer for another 12 minutes.

Flip your food over in the middle of cooking

Many air fryers usually have the main heating element on the top of the fryer. That heating element will direct most of its heat toward the top surface of your food.

Even though air fryers are great for circulating this heat, the direct and initial heat comes strongest from the top.

This means that you should always at least flip your food over once. This will allow the bottom area of your food to have some direct heat exposure just like the top, resulting in much more even cooking.

In many cases, stopping the air fryer halfway through cooking your meal would not be a problem.

If you’re cooking something like a steak in your air fryer, you’ll want to give both sides of the steak equal heat exposure, or else one side will be burned and the other will be undercooked.

Use a high-quality air fryer

High-quality air fryers have plenty of functions that can accommodate many different types of meals.

These air fryers are also built with more premium materials, and their mechanics are much more focused on efficiency and safety.

There are even meat thermometers that come in the more expensive air fryers that will allow you to check and see what the internal temperature of your food actually is.

Use a food thermometer

If anything, these things are amazing. Just pull them out and stick them into the meat part of your meal. It will monitor the temperature and, in some models, connect to your cell phone and tell you when it is at the right temperature.

Once the internal temperature is just right, your meal is ready. There’s not much else you need to worry about.

Adjust the cooking time as necessary

When the book tells you to make small or big changes to a recipe, you should also change the amount of time it takes to cook. It’s critical to remember that if you add more food than the recipe calls for, you should increase the cooking time by a few minutes.

However, be very careful and monitor any additional minutes you put into your air fryer due to changes in the recipe.

Air fryers cook really fast, often faster than expected. You could end up burning your air fryer at the very end just because you added too many minutes to the recipe.

Avoid cooking with the wrong food

Some foods, such as wet batter, may end up drying up and getting burned if you’re not careful.

There are air fryers with the ability to bake. What this does is slow down the fan so that the moisture can stay inside the dough.

If you end up using just the regular air-frying mode or perhaps even the steering mode, it will turn up the fans to the maximum to heat up every corner of your cake.

It’s going to dry it up and even potentially burn it as well.

Your air fryer’s non-stick coating is damaged

Sometimes, when your air fryer is really old, the non-stick coating on it may wear off. When this coating wears off, you’ll notice that a lot more of your food gets stuck to the corners of the tray that doesn’t have the coating material anymore.

In this case, I recommend getting yourself one of those silicone heat-resistant mats. These silicones even come in bowls that are completely fire-safe and heat-resistant.

They’re also naturally non-stick and easy to clean.

Always keep an eye on your air fryer

Always monitor and keep an eye on your air fryer while it’s cooking. You never know when it will be done until it’s done, and it’s always dangerous to leave it alone.

Air fryers use a lot of heat, and that could be dangerous if you’re not carefully monitoring it while it’s on.

You’re cooking raw vegetables in the air fryer

Cooking raw vegetables inside an air fryer may increase the likelihood that they will burn.

Instead, try freezing your vegetables before you air fry them. The cold will keep more moisture inside your vegetables and prevent them from burning.

You’re not using the bake function

Once again, baking actually lowers the fan speed, providing more moisture in your food.

If you are actually baking a cake, for example, then I would recommend you use the bake feature.

If the fan were running at maximum speed, it would very well dry and crisp the outer surface of your cake, and nobody wants that.

Move your vegetables around

Moving your vegetables around frequently during a cooking session will help prevent burning and promote even cooking.

You have to determine if your vegetables are actually light in weight or if they are heavy. Something lightweight would be considered leafy greens, and unfortunately, you’ll have to deal with how the fan interacts with such light objects inside your air fryer.

There’s a likely chance that your leafy greens will end up flying around inside the chamber, which is not a good thing. Try to play something over them if you can. Find something heavier.

You can also boil or steam your vegetables so that they will add water and extra weight before you air fry them.

Liquids and sauces don’t go well in the air fryer

Cooking with liquids or sauces in your air fryer can lead to food safety risks as well. This is because sauces caramelize and begin to burn much sooner than the meal itself.

Once all the water has evaporated from the sauces, they will likely harden to the point where they are likely to burn or even catch fire if left in the air fryer long enough.

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