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Oil in an Air Fryer 101

Air fryers. They’re such a versatile appliance, yet I hear the same question all the time. Can you put oil in an air fryer?

Well, here are all the answers you are looking for including where to put oil in an air fryer, which oils to use, and which oils are the healthiest for cooking in one.

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Oil bottles in front of an air fryer

Does An Air Fryer Use Oil?

Yes, and you should be using oil in some capacity for almost 75% of what you cook.

It can sound deceiving knowing an air fryer is so you don’t have to deep fry foods then finding out you need oil to cook in it.

The truth is, it is still much healthier than a deep fryer and cheaper. A deep fryer can easily hold a full container of vegetable oil. That’s at least $3.00 PLUS the cost of food.

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It can add up! With an air fryer, even if you use it every day, it can take weeks, but most likely months, to go through that same amount.

How Much Oil In An Air Fryer?

While air frying, you use anywhere from a few sprays to 1 tablespoon of oil depending on the type of food you are cooking.

Where To Put Oil In An Air Fryer

When air frying, you put the oil on the food, not in the basket. How you put the oil on the food will depend on what exactly you are cooking.

I explain this more below.

What can I use to put Oil in Air Fryer?

There are a variety of oil misters on the market to put oil into your air fryer. You can also use a basting brush when you’re using something with a bigger surface (think frozen chicken breasts).

Here are the best oil misters out there:

For what foods Do You Put Oil In An Air Fryer for?

some frozen foods, egg rolls, fried ravioli, etc.

Frozen foods such as frozen dumplings and air fried ravioli made fresh or heated from frozen need a little oil when cooking in an air fryer or they will start to get a little dry.

How to add the oil:

Spray food with about 1 teaspoon of oil using an oil sprayer on all sides. When shaking the basket while cooking, if the food looks too dry at any point, spray a little more oil on it.

I love to err on the side of a little more oil for taste preference. You are still using MUCH less than a deep fryer, making it healthier than the latter.

Here are 17 of the best frozen foods to make in the air fryer!

Roasting Fresh vegetables

All roasted vegetables require a little oil or butter when air fried.

How to add the oil:

Place the cut-up vegetables in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of oil and toss together until well coated.

Leaving oil out in the above dishes can cause food to become dry and possibly even tough (no one wants that).

Examples of fresh vegetables cooked with a little oil/butter:

Looking for some healthy side dishes to make? Check out how to cook these 30 vegetables in the air fryer.

Title and Shown: Air Fryer beginner oil guide (picture of bottles of oil)

What Foods Should I Not Use Oil For?

  • Most meats (besides some frozen) do not need oil. My rule is if you need oil when cooking a food in the oven, you should use a little oil. This includes if you just need to spray a baking sheet to make it not stick.
    You can, however, choose to marinate meat with ingredients such as oil, like these Air Fryer Chicken Thighs recipe.

Examples of Meats That Do Not Need Any Oil:

  • Most frozen foods do not need added oil when being air fried. Foods like frozen sweet potato fries when cooked in an air fryer already have oil in their ingredients and don’t need an extra spritzing while cooking.
    Simply cook your frozen food halfway, open the drawer to flip or shake the basket, and add any oil if the food appears dry. Otherwise, skip the oil.

Other frozen foods that don’t need oil in the air fryer:

Appetizers are delicious when cooked in an air fryer! Check out these mouth-watering air fryer appetizers you need to make at your next party.

Do Air Fryers Use Oil?: What Oil To Use

You can use any oil in an air fryer that you can use in an oven. This includes vegetable oil, olive oil, coconut oil, canola oil, and more.

Here are the best oils for your air fryer.

Read more on the healthiest oils to use below.

Title and Shown: How to Use Oil in an air fryer! (air fryer with oil bottles next to and in front of it)

Can I Use PAM Cooking Spray in an Air Fryer?

Simple answer? No. You should NEVER use PAM cooking spray inside an air fryer. Let me rephrase that.

You should never use PAM on or in ANY non-stick appliance or pot.

PAM and other aerosol cooking sprays have an ingredient called soy lecithin. It ends up destroying the non-stick coating on the pan and adds a thick layer of sticky gunk. It’s basically impossible to remove.

The coating to make a pot or appliance, like your air fryer, non-stick is there so you don’t have to use anything else.

Be on the lookout for other cooking sprays, like this PAM Oil Mister that looks safe, but still contains soy lecithin.

If any of your food is sticking to the air fryer, feel free to spritz a little oil into the basket before placing your food in. You can also use a small amount of coconut oil and rub it in the basket before turning it on.

I learned the hard way through the years and completely destroyed my non-stick cooking pan from using PAM for quesadillas. Never again.

You can check out this post that goes over substitutions for cooking spray to avoid PAM all together in the kitchen.

What is the Healthiest Oil to Use?

There is not one oil that’s considered the “healthiest.” You’ll get different answers depending on who you ask, even if they are health experts.

Here are some of the “healthiest” oils to use:
  • Canola oil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil*
  • Pure Olive Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • Sesame Oil
  • Peanut Oil
Here are some of the oils you can still use but aren’t as healthy as the ones above:
  • Coconut Oil
  • Any partially hydrogenated oils
  • Vegetable Oil made with a blend of oils
  • Palm Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Butter

*should only be used in temperatures up to 320 degrees Fahrenheit

I recommend having more than one mister for different types of oil, especially if you use extra virgin olive oil.

I love these 2-pack misters available on Amazon:

What is your favorite thing to cook in your air fryer? What food do you want to know more about using oil with?


About Samantha

I’ve always had a love of cooking and creating new recipes, so it only made sense to create a food blog so I could share those recipes with you. This site is designed to provide easy and flavorful recipes with as little ingredients as possible. That means you still get great flavor combinations without all that extra time and effort. Read more...

24 thoughts on “Oil in an Air Fryer 101”

    • Hi Carol, just have to check to make sure. By chips do you mean potato chips or French Fries like fish and chips?

  1. This is so helpful, thank you!! I’ve read my new air fryer manual twice, and was still a little confused about the exact things you described.

  2. Is it just me or does this all seem like a big hassle, If you want to make some chicken strips, Fries, and Veggies, it’ll take over an hour for basically one person. I was thinking the fryers could be filled up more then just the bottom. Can you imagine feeding three or four people with this? I just bought mine(still unopened) from this, but I think I’ll return it and just use the regular oven. Even if it takes the same amount of time or more, but at least it’ll more food and can bake different foods at one time.

    • Hi Louis, we typically use it for one thing at a time. For instance, we will make enough fries for 4 people at dinner so it is much healthier than using a deep fryer and quicker (and crispier) than an oven. Or we will make the main dish in there and the side dish elsewhere instead.

    • Why couldn’t you put two things, say raw potatoes for french fries and some frozen, breaded shrimp in the same fryer basket to cook?

    • That’s what I love about the air fryer. You can! You just have to account for the different cook times, temperatures, and flavor when doing so (if you do something marinated or seasoned).

    • You can I cook breaded chicken strips and fries together all the time or nuggets they both get done same time

  3. Did you have a race, a thumb wrestling match or even a pluses and minuses contest to see which oil pump was actually the best becawse they all had only fo stars or something toon Amazon?”

    • I actually have tried them and compared them, which is why I recommended them. I personally currently use the EVO Oil Sprayer now and recommend that one best.

    • Hi John, some of the prices are changing and going way up and down depending on the seller and the product. This is showing about $32 for 2 of them right now (that price could change at any minute). I hope that helps! https://amzn.to/3v2Hdse

  4. So I bought a oil sprayer with extra virgin oil. But now I’m afraid to use it because of the limit of 320! Should I get rid of it?

    • I recommend using a higher smoke point oil, but EVOO is expensive! See if you can use that for something else or at least pour it into a container for other use and reuse the oil sprayer by filling it with another oil.

  5. GREAT info on oils, and especially why NOT to use aerosol sprays. We just bought and air fryer, so I am doing research before our first attempt to use it. Thank you.

    • Hi Carl, I am so sorry I am not able to assist much on this. I recommend calling Ninja and seeing if they can help you through the manual on how to make that specific model beep.

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