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10 Things You Shouldn’t Cook in an Air Fryer

The beauty of an air fryer is how little oil it takes to make golden-brown fries. The sizzling bacon it cooks is also healthier than pan frying, and you won’t notice the difference if you fry a steak in there, either. Those are some of the things you really should try in an air fryer. The list of food to avoid is a bit longer.

Broccoli

You’ll probably be happy enough to read that you can’t cook broccoli in an air fryer. If you put broccoli in there, it might just turn to dust. There’s not enough moisture in them to survive the cooking process. If you really want to try it, you need to make sure each floret’s a similar size. If not, the smaller pieces will dry out before the larger pieces are cooked. If that sounds like too much trouble, try brussels sprouts instead. They will cook a lot quicker in an air fryer, and they’re usually a similar size.

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Whole Chicken

You’ll need some protein to go with the veggies, so why not cook a chicken in the air fryer? The first problem you’ll find is that a whole chicken probably won’t fit into the fryer. Most are a lot smaller than a chicken. Even if you can force a chicken into the basket or onto the cooking rack, the side closest to the heat source will burn or at least dry out well before the rest of the chicken’s cooked. If you end up with something edible, it’ll be rock-hard and dried out in the middle. Stick to roasting in the oven.

Melted Cheese

You won’t end up with anything edible if you try to melt cheese in your air fryer. Use the microwave for that. The issue here is the same as you’ll find if you try to cook fish in wet batter on an air fryer – you’ll leave more of the melt on your fryer than the food it’s supposed to cover. Fresh cheese is especially bad for an air fryer. There is a solution to this. If you have to melt cheese in your air fryer, fold the cheese slices inside the bread. If you want your cheese melted on top, you’ll need to grill it still.

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Hamburgers

This is a fryer, right, so surely you can fry a burger in it? No, that’s also a bad idea. Most people want their burger cooked a set way. Some like to see a little red when they slice it open, while others want their knife to feel a bit of resistance as they cut through the well-cooked patty. Cooking on an air fryer is complicated. The ideal temperature for a medium-rare burger is 54 degrees which will give you that pink middle. Your patty won’t take long to reach that temperature so that the centre will cook perfectly, but the outsider won’t have browned off. When you take your burger out of the air fryer, it will be a sloppy mess. It might taste fine, but it won’t fit neatly into a burger bun.

Rice

Air fryers are great at cooking dry food, so you won’t be surprised to read that rice, which needs to be submerged in water, won’t cook on an air fryer. You could consider using an insert that will hold the rice in water. Technically, that might work, but the reality is that most air fryers can’t get a high enough temperature to boil water. Cooking the rice in tepid water will leave it hard and chewy.

Toast

If you think about how the machine works with air and heat, it should make good toast. The bread will blow around in the device so that it won’t toast properly. If you don’t own a toaster for whatever reason and don’t have the £10 to buy one, you can toast on the grill. You could even use an oven for cooking your toast.

Popcorn

This next one sounds like it should be possible. When you cook popcorn yourself with kernels, you use a little oil and a pot to make them in a few minutes. An air fryer sounds like a good alternative to that. It’s not. As we’ve mentioned before, there’s just not enough heat in an air fryer to cook certain foods. You need around 190 degrees for the popcorn to pop. Most machines won’t get near that heat. For now, stick to the microwave packets or cook kernels in a pot.

Fish

For most people, the air fryer is a convenient piece of equipment that works away while they’re preparing food or sizzling a steak. If that’s how you use your air fryer, you can’t cook fish on it. You’ll turn salmon into cat food if you try to cook this costly fish in the air fryer. That’s great for your feline friend but not so good for your wallet or your empty stomach. You can cook it in the air fryer, but you need to watch it constantly because it can quickly overcook.

Steak

As with the hamburgers discussed earlier, you won’t get a tasty steak out of the air fryer. You’ll end up with your steak well-done. If you want anything else, avoid the air fryer. Steak is so quick and easy to fry in a pan that there’s no advantage to cooking it in an air fryer. And if you’re thinking about the health benefits of cooking with an air fryer, then that’s irrelevant when you’re prepared to tuck into red meat.

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Cake

You can’t bake your kids a cake in the air fryer. We’re ending with this one because it’s silly anyway. Who would want to fry a cake? If that’s your thing, don’t use the air fryer. The problem here is that the ingredients won’t be covered up, so they’ll blow around or turn black in the air fryer. The cake might look okay, but it’ll be raw in the middle. That’s not what you want to be serving your kid’s friends at the climax of a birthday party. As with all the other food mentioned here, find something else to bake your cake on.

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