Do Air Fryers Use Oil – Everything You Need to Know

Do Air Fryers Use Oil

Curious about the popular kitchen appliance known as air fryers? One of the burning questions that often comes up is, “Do air fryers use oil?”  As a professional blogger and nutritionist, I’m here to shed some light on this topic. 

In this article, you will learn:

  • The role of oil in air fryers and how it impacts cooking.
  • The benefits of using oil in air fryers for flavor and texture.
  • Alternative cooking methods for using less or no oil in air fryers.
  • Expert tips and techniques for achieving crispy and delicious results with or without oil.

If you care about your health or want an easy way to cook, it’s important to know how oil works in air fryers.

What is an air fryer and how does it work?

What is an air fryer and how does it work

An air fryer is a kitchen appliance that creates the crispy texture and delicious flavors of deep-fried food by circulating hot air.

Air Fryer cooks food by quickly moving hot air all around it, and this makes the food cook evenly and taste really good.

It is similar to using an oven but smaller and faster. You can cook with very little or no oil in an air fryer, which makes your food healthier.

It has a fan and heating elements inside that make the air move fast. With its high-speed air circulation, the food is cooked and becomes crispy without requiring too much oil.

One popular example of an air fryer is the “Ninja Air Fryer Max XL”. With its roomy 5.5-quart capacity, this model enables you to effortlessly cook large amounts of food in one go. It offers a wide temperature range from 105°F to 450°F, giving you flexibility in cooking different recipes.

Benefits of using an air fryer

Here are some benefits of using an air fryer:

  • Healthier cooking with less oil, reducing fat and calories in your meals.
  • It provides versatility in cooking, allowing for frying, baking, grilling, and roasting.
  • Faster cooking time, saving you time in the kitchen.
  • Easy to use with user-friendly controls and pre-set cooking programs.
  • Easy cleanup with nonstick surfaces and dishwasher-safe components.
  • Energy-efficient, consuming less energy than conventional ovens.
  • Safe cooking without the risk of dealing with hot oil.
  • Consistent results with even cooking for crispy and delicious food.

The air fryer makes cooking healthier, saves time, and makes cleaning up easier. It also helps you cook a variety of foods, keeps you safe, and gives you deliciously crispy results every time.

Do Air Fryers Use Oil?

Yes, air fryers use oil but require much less oil than traditional frying methods.

The oil in the fryer makes the food crispy. It also gives the food a golden color on the outside.

You only need to use a small amount of oil, about 1-2 tablespoons, for most recipes in an air fryer.

Some foods may not need oil, as their natural moisture is enough to achieve desired results.

Using less oil in an air fryer helps make your meals healthier while providing a delicious taste.

The hot air moves around the food surface and cooks food. This helps the food become crispy and have a nice texture.

How to Use Oil in an Air Fryer Perfectly?

How to Use Oil in an Air Fryer Perfectly

Here’s a simple guide to using oil in an air fryer.

  1. Preheat the air fryer as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  1. For best results, select an oil with a high smoke point. Canola or vegetable oil are good options to consider.
  1. Before cooking, lightly apply a thin layer of oil to the food using a brush or spray.
  1. Use a small amount of oil, as air fryers require less than traditional frying methods to achieve the desired result.
  1. Place fatty foods like bacon or sausages on a perforated tray or use a parchment paper liner to catch excess oil drippings.
  1. Put the oiled food in the air fryer basket or tray.
  1. Follow the recommended cooking time and temperature for the food you’re preparing.
  1. Once the food in the air fryer reaches the crispiness you want, take it out.

Oil in an air fryer can help achieve that crispy texture while lowering the fat content.

Here is the explanation of how much oil to use in the air fryer

  • Check the air fryer manual for specific guidelines on oil usage.
  • Most recipes suggest using 1-2 tablespoons of oil for optimal results.
  • Start with a small amount of oil and adjust based on your cooking food.
  • If using a spray bottle, a few sprays are enough.
  • Consider the natural fat content of the food you’re cooking. Foods with higher fat content, like chicken wings, may need less oil.
  • Some foods, like vegetables, may not need oil due to their natural moisture.
  • Use a brush or spray to coat the food with oil, ensuring an even distribution.
  • When you use too much oil, the food can become greasy and not taste good.

Using the right amount of oil, you can enjoy crispy food from your air fryer while keeping it healthier.

Best Oils to Use in the Air Fryer

When it comes to using oils in your air fryer, several options can deliver excellent results. Here are some of the best oils to use:

Vegetable Oil

This versatile oil is often used for air frying because it has a neutral taste and can handle high temperatures without burning.

If you’re air frying vegetables or chicken or making homemade fries, vegetable oil is a common and dependable choice. It helps achieve a crispy texture and delicious flavor in your air-fried dishes.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil adds flavor and enhances the appeal of your air-fried food. Its high smoke point and natural sweetness make it ideal for savory and sweet recipes. It gives your dishes an enjoyable and tasty twist.

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Extra-virgin olive oil is popular with its rich flavor and many health benefits. It pairs well with Mediterranean-style dishes and brings a distinct taste to your air-fried food.

Canola Oil or Sunflower Oil

Neutral-tasting, high-smoke point oils are ideal for high-temperature air frying. These oils are frequently employed to achieve crispiness and enhance flavor.

Avocado Oil

Consider using avocado oil for air frying as it offers a mild taste and has a high smoke point, making it an exceptional choice. 

Peanut Oil

Known for its robust flavor, peanut oil adds a unique taste to air-fried foods. High smoke point, perfect for air frying and high-heat cooking.

Can You Use Pam in the Air Fryer?

Yes, you can use Pam cooking spray in the air fryer. Pam is a convenient and popular option for adding a thin layer of oil to your air-fried foods.

Apply the desired amount of Pam cooking spray to your food before placing it in the air fryer.

It helps prevent sticking and adds a touch of crispness to your dishes. However, ensure you read and follow the instructions on the Pam cooking spray can for proper usage.

Can You Use Olive in the Air Fryer?

Yes, you can use olive oil in the air fryer. Olive oil is commonly used to enhance the flavor of air-fried dishes.

To add olive oil to your air fryer, simply spray it onto your food. Not only does this assist in achieving a crispy texture, but it also enhances the taste of your dishes.

Remember, extra-virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point, so it’s perfect for air frying at lower temperatures. Using olive oil in the air fryer is a great way to enjoy healthier and more flavorful meals.

Best Oil Sprays For The Air Fryer

Here are some of the best oil sprays for the air fryer:

Avocado oil spray: Avocado oil spray is a healthier choice with a high smoke point that adds a delightful flavor to your food. 

Canola oil spray: A higher smoke point is ideal for air frying at higher temperatures without compromising taste.

Coconut oil spray: It offers a hint of tropical flavor to your air-fried dishes and works well with various recipes.

Olive oil spray: Olive oil spray provides a light and controlled application of olive oil, making it suitable for air frying.

Sunflower oil spray: Sunflower oil spray is perfect for air frying at higher temperatures due to its mild taste and high smoke point.

Does the Air Fryer Need Oil?

No, the air fryer does not need oil. The air fryer can cook food using hot air circulation, producing crispy results without added oil.

Adding just a small amount of oil can do wonders for enhancing the flavor and texture of your food.

Using a light coating of oil or oil sprays can help achieve a crispier and more browned outcome. Oil quantity varies based on the recipe and personal preference.

You can choose to use oil in your air fryer based on your dietary preferences and desired results.

What Foods Need Oil to Cook in an Air Fryer?

What Foods Need Oil to Cook in an Air Fryer

Several foods benefit from the use of oil when cooking in an air fryer:

Potatoes

Whether you’re making crispy fries, hash browns, or roasted potatoes, a light oil coating helps achieve a golden and crispy exterior.

Chicken

Applying a thin layer of oil on the chicken before air frying helps it get a nice brown color and keeps it juicy by sealing in moisture.

Breaded items

Foods like breaded fish fillets, chicken tenders, or onion rings require a light oil coating to achieve a crispy and evenly browned crust.

Vegetables

You can air-fry vegetables without using oil. But others, like Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, or zucchini, taste better and get crispy when you add a little bit of oil.

Pastries and dough

Some foods like frozen empanadas, puff pastry, or homemade doughnuts need oil to make them turn golden and become crispy. The oil helps them get that yummy brown color and crunchy texture.

Meats

When you air fry steaks, pork chops, or lamb chops, putting a little oil on them makes them taste better and gives a yummy crust. 

Keep in mind that the right amount of oil to use in a recipe can be different for each recipe and what you like. It’s essential to use oil sparingly to maintain a healthy balance.

Best Foods for Air Frying

You can enjoy a wide range of delicious foods when it comes to air frying. Here are some great options for various meal categories:

Appetizers:

Chicken wings: Get crispy and flavorful wings by air frying them with your favorite seasonings or sauces.

Mozzarella sticks: Air frying these cheesy appetizers achieves a gooey and crisp texture in every bite.

Spring rolls: Enjoy a healthier version of this classic appetizer by air frying them to crispy perfection.

Sides:

French fries: Make perfectly crispy and golden fries by air-frying sliced potatoes tossed in oil and seasonings.

Sweet potato fries: Air fry sweet potato slices for a healthier alternative to regular fries with a slightly sweet flavor.

Onion rings: Achieve that satisfying crunch by air-frying thinly sliced onions with a crispy coating.

Main Dishes:

Chicken breasts: You can make yummy and juicy chicken breasts by air frying them with the seasonings and flavors you like. This helps the chicken become tender and tasty when it’s cooking.

Salmon fillets: Air frying salmon helps retain moisture while creating crisp skin.

Pork chops: Enjoy juicy and flavorful pork chops by air frying them with your favorite rubs or marinades.

Apple chips:

  • Slice apples thinly.
  • Coat them lightly in cinnamon and sugar.
  • Air fry for a healthy and crisp sweet treat.

Churros: Make churros at home with less oil by air frying the dough until golden and coating it in cinnamon sugar.

Doughnuts: Create homemade doughnuts that are fluffy and golden by air frying them and then glazing or coating them with your desired toppings.

Make necessary adjustments to cooking times and temperatures depending on the specific recipes and the model of your air fryer.

Foods That Don’t Need Oil

Here are some fantastic options for foods without the need for oil:

Vegetables:

You can make crunchy and tasty vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus, by air frying them without oil.

Frozen French Fries or Tater Tots:

Frozen fries or tater tots often have enough oil already added, allowing them to cook in the air fryer without any extra oil.

Bacon:

The natural fat content of bacon makes it unnecessary to add oil for air frying. Place slices in a single layer and air fry until crispy, without the mess of stovetop frying.

Fish:

When air frying fish fillets, such as salmon or tilapia, the natural oils in the fish help it cook and develop a lovely crust without additional oil.

Toasted sandwiches:

You can make yummy grilled cheese or panini sandwiches in the air fryer without oil. This makes the bread crisp, and the cheese melts inside for a tasty treat. 

Essential Tips On Using Oil In Your Air Fryer

Here are some essential tips for using oil in your air fryer:

Choose the right oil.

When it comes to cooking, it’s recommended to choose oils that have high smoke points. Some examples of such oils include vegetables, canola, avocado, or peanut oil.

These oils are well-suited for air frying since they possess the ability to handle higher temperatures without burning. 

Use oil sparingly

The objective is to attain a crispy texture without an excessive amount of oiliness. Use a brush or oil sprayer to lightly coat the food, or drizzle a small amount of oil. This not only prevents the food from sticking to the basket but also imparts additional flavor to it.

Don’t oversaturate

To prevent greasy results, it is best to avoid using excessive amounts of oil in your cooking. Start with a small amount of oil and add more if needed. Remember, you can add oil later if you want to, but getting rid of too much oil is hard. 

Consider alternatives

Consider using cooking sprays or oil misters if you want a healthier option. These allow you to evenly distribute a thin layer of oil over the food without using as much.

Preheat the air fryer.

Before adding the food, preheat the air fryer for a few minutes. Doing this improves the cooking process by creating a good environment and spreading heat. As a result, the food turns out great with less oil needed. 

Experiment with marinades and seasonings

Instead of solely relying on oil, try marinating your proteins or tossing your vegetables in flavorful sauces or spice blends. This can enhance the taste and reduce the need for excessive oil.

Following these tips, you can effectively utilize oil in your air fryer.

Is Cooking with an Air Fryer Healthy?

Cooking with an air fryer can potentially offer a healthier choice. 

Using less oil in air frying reduces calorie and fat intake. Air fryers offer versatile cooking options for a variety of healthier meals.

Keep in mind that overall health is influenced by the selection of ingredients and cooking methods.

How Does Oil Make Food Crispy?

How Does Oil Make Food Crispy

Have you ever wondered how oil makes food crispy? Here’s a breakdown of the process:

Heat Transfer: When food is cooked in hot oil, the oil transfers heat to the food. This heat causes the water content in the food to evaporate, creating steam. The steam then escapes from the surface of the food, contributing to a crispy texture.

Maillard Reaction: When food gets fried in hot oil, its surface dries up, and something special happens. It’s called the Maillard reaction, making the food taste and smell good. 

During the Maillard reaction, proteins and sugars create unique compounds in the food mix. These compounds make the food taste yummy and give it a nice golden-brown color.

Frying Process: The oil forms a protective barrier around the food, preventing direct contact with the air. This slows down the escape of moisture and helps maintain a crispy exterior.

Oil Absorption: While the oil contributes to the crispiness, it gets somewhat absorbed into the food. This absorption can add moisture to the interior of the food and enhance its overall texture.

Deep Fryer vs. Air Fryer

Deep Fryer vs. Air Fryer, in simple terms:

Oil Usage: Deep fryers need a lot of oil to cook food by submerging it, but air fryers use very little or no oil. This makes cooking with air fryers healthier. 

Cooking Method: Deep fryers use immersion in hot oil to cook food, while air fryers utilize hot air circulation to achieve a crispy texture.

Texture: Deep fryers make food feel rich and greasy, like the classic way of frying. But air fryers make food feel lighter and have less oil. 

Cooking Time: Deep fryers cook food quickly because they have high heat and the food is fully immersed in oil. But, air fryers use hot air that circulates the food, so they may take a little more time to cook. 

Health Considerations: Air fryers are healthier because they use less oil, resulting in less fat in the food. Deep fryers absorb more oil and have more calories, making them less healthy. 

The Common Mistakes You’re Making With Your Air Fryer

Here are some common mistakes people make with their air fryers:

  1. Not preheating the fryer.
  1. Skipping the oil.
  1. Using too much oil.
  1. Using the wrong size air fryer.
  1. Overfilling the basket.
  1. Trying to cook wet food.
  1. Lack of knowledge of the model’s specific features and peculiarities.
  1. Not adapting recipes for the air fryer.
  1. Failing to leave sufficient space around the outer perimeter of the fryer.

To get the best results:

  • Don’t forget to preheat your air fryer prior to cooking.
  • Enhance the texture and flavor of your food using a small amount of oil. 
  • Prevent greasiness by avoiding excessive oil usage. 
  • Select an air fryer that suits your specific cooking needs. 
  • Maintain proper air circulation by keeping the basket clean.
  • Avoid cooking foods with high moisture content to maintain crispiness.
  • Take time to learn about your specific air fryer model’s features.
  • Modify recipes specifically designed for the air fryer.
  • Allow enough space around your fryer for adequate ventilation and safety.

7 Easy Air Fryer Recipes You’re Sure To Love

Here are seven easy air fryer recipes that you’re sure to love:

1. Simple Home Fries:

Simple Home Fries recipes

Ingredients:

  1. Potatoes (2-3 medium-sized)
  1. Olive oil (1-2 tablespoons)
  1. Salt (to taste)
  1. Paprika (optional, for extra flavor)

Preparation:

  • Wash and dry the potatoes, then cut them into small cubes.
  • Take a bowl and coat the potato cubes evenly by tossing them with olive oil, salt, and paprika (if desired)
  • Before starting the cooking process, make sure to preheat your air fryer to 400°F (200°C) for a few minutes.
  • Take the seasoned potato cubes and carefully arrange them in a single layer within the air fryer basket.
  • Cook for 15-20 minutes, shaking the basket occasionally for even cooking.
  • Remove potatoes from the air fryer when golden and crispy on the outside.
  • Serve hot as a tasty side dish or for breakfast.

2. Air Fryer BBQ Ribs:

Air Fryer BBQ Ribs recipes

Ingredients:

  1. Pork ribs (1 rack)
  1. BBQ sauce (1 cup)
  1. Salt (to taste)
  1. Pepper (to taste)
  1. Garlic powder (optional for extra flavor)

Preparation:

  • Season the ribs on both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (if desired).
  • Preheat the air fryer to 375°F (190°C) for a few minutes before cooking.
  • Put seasoned ribs in an air fryer basket without overlapping.
  • Cook ribs for 20-25 minutes, flip, and cook for 15-20 more minutes.
  • Brush the ribs with BBQ sauce, making sure to coat them evenly.
  • Cook for 5-10 minutes to create a sticky glaze as the sauce caramelizes.
  • Remove ribs from the air fryer after they become tender and the sauce becomes sticky. 
  • Let the ribs rest briefly before cutting them into individual servings.

Serve hot with extra BBQ sauce, and savor finger-licking air-fried BBQ ribs!

3. Air Fryer Spicy Shrimp:

Air fryer spicy Shrimp recipe

Ingredients:

  1. Shrimp (1 pound, peeled and deveined)
  1. Olive oil (2 tablespoons)
  1. Paprika (1 teaspoon)
  1. Garlic powder (1 teaspoon)
  1. Cayenne pepper (½ teaspoon, adjust according to your spice preference)
  1. Salt (½ teaspoon)
  1. Lemon wedges (for serving)

Preparation:

  • Mix the marinade in a bowl with olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and salt.
  • Marinate the shrimp and ensure they are evenly coated by tossing.
  • Heat the air fryer to 400°F (200°C) for a few minutes.
  • Position the marinated shrimp in the air fryer basket, making sure they are evenly spread in a single layer.
  • Cook shrimp for 5-7 minutes, shaking the basket occasionally for even browning.
  • Check the shrimp for doneness – they should have a pink color and be opaque.
  • Remove shrimp from the air fryer and squeeze fresh lemon juice on top.

4. Air Fryer Pork Chops:

Air Fryer Pork Chops

Ingredients:

  1. Pork chops (2 pieces)
  1. Olive oil (1 tablespoon)
  1. Garlic powder (1 teaspoon)
  1. Paprika (1 teaspoon)
  1. Salt (½ teaspoon)
  1. Black pepper (½ teaspoon)
  1. Dried thyme (½ teaspoon)

Preparation:

  • Start by preheating your air fryer to 400°F (200°C) for a few minutes.
  • Be sure to rub both sides of the pork chops with olive oil to ensure they are evenly coated.
  • Combine garlic powder, paprika, salt, black pepper, and dried thyme in a separate bowl.
  • Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the pork chops to cover both sides.
  • Avoid overfilling the air fryer basket with seasoned pork chops.
  • Cook the pork chops for 12 minutes, flip, and continue cooking for 10-12 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C).
  • After air-frying, let the pork chops rest for a few minutes.

Serve hot and enjoy deliciously juicy and flavorful air-fried pork chops as a main course.

5. Air Fryer Jalapeño Poppers:

How To Make Jalapeno Poppers In Air Fryer

Ingredients:

  1. Jalapeño peppers (6-8 pieces)
  1. Cream cheese (4 ounces)
  1. Shredded cheddar cheese (½ cup)
  1. Garlic powder (1 teaspoon)
  1. Salt (½ teaspoon)
  1. Bread crumbs (½ cup)
  1. Cooking Spray

Preparation:

  • Begin by preheating your air fryer to 375°F (190°C) for a few minutes.
  • Cut the jalapenos in half along their length and remove the seeds.
  • Blend cream cheese, cheddar, garlic powder, and salt until combined.
  • Each jalapeno half should be filled with the cheese mixture. 
  • Ensure that the jalapeno poppers are arranged in a single layer within the air fryer receptacle.
  • Sprinkle bread crumbs on top of each popper and lightly press to keep them in place.
  • Lightly spray the poppers with cooking spray.
  • Cook poppers in the air fryer for 8-10 minutes. Observe them until they are golden brown and the cheese melts.
  • Serve jalapeño poppers after cooling for a few minutes from the air fryer.

Enjoy these deliciously cheesy and mildly spicy air-fried jalapeño poppers as a tasty appetizer or snack.

6. Easy Air Fryer Grilled Cheese:

Air Fryer Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients:

  1. Bread slices (2 pieces)
  1. Butter (softened for spreading)
  1. Cheese slices (2 pieces, your choice of cheese)

Preparation:

  • Start by preheating your air fryer to 375°F (190°C) for a few minutes.
  • Butter one side of each bread piece with softened butter. 
  • To make a sandwich, place one cheese slice between unbuttered bread slices.
  • Gently press the sandwich together.
  • Place the sandwich in the air fryer basket, ensuring it is in a single layer.
  •  After 4-5 minutes, flip the sandwich and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Keep going until the bread turns golden and the cheese inside is all melted. 

Once cooked, remove the grilled cheese from the air fryer, let it cool for a minute, and cut it into halves or quarters if desired.

7. Air Fryer Stuffed Chicken Breast:

Air Fryer Stuffed Chicken Breast

Ingredients:

  1. Chicken breast (2 pieces)
  1. Spinach (1 cup, cooked and drained)
  1. Feta cheese (½ cup, crumbled)
  1. Sun-dried tomatoes (¼ cup, chopped)
  1. Garlic powder (1 teaspoon)
  1. Salt (½ teaspoon)
  1. Black pepper (½ teaspoon)
  1. Olive oil (1 tablespoon)
  1. Toothpicks (for securing the chicken)

Preparation:

  • Preheat your air fryer to 375°F (190°C) for a few minutes.
  • Slice the chicken breasts horizontally, almost in half but leaving one side connected, to butterfly them.
  • Mix cooked and drained spinach, feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper in a bowl.
  • Pour spinach and feta mixture on one side of each chicken breast.
  • Fold and secure the other chicken breast half over the filling with toothpicks.
  • Apply olive oil to the outer surface of the chicken breasts using a brush.
  •  Cook the chicken for about 20-25 minutes, flipping it halfway through, until it cooks and reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). 

Rest the cooked chicken breasts for a few minutes outside the air fryer to retain their juiciness and deliciousness.

Remember to remove the toothpicks you used to hold the chicken breasts together before serving. 

Note: Adjust the cooking time if you prefer your recipes to be softer or more crispy.


In conclusion, air fryers do not necessarily use oil, but using a small amount can enhance the taste and texture of the food. The cooking method requires hot air to circulate through the food to make it crispy and tasty. Try multiple recipes to get the right oil-air frying ratio.

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