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How to Preheat an Air Fryer

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Knowing when and how to preheat an air fryer can maximize the time saving features this handy appliance has to offer and improve the quality of your finished recipes.

Cooked Bone-in pork chops in air fryer
Bone-In Pork Chops cooked in the air fryer

Air fryers come in many brands, shapes, and sizes. Their popularity has grown in recent years and it’s no wonder! 

Air fryers make crispy foods even crispier. And they do it quickly, without heating the kitchen like an oven range. Saying goodbye to deep frying in oil is a huge plus too.

Some recipes will specifically instruct you to preheat, but may not say how. 

Preheating an air fryer is not complicated. Figuring out if it’s necessary for what you’re about to cook isn’t hard either. However, some quick information and guidance can improve your success. 

Here’s what I’m going to teach you in this post:

  • Do I need to preheat my air fryer?
  • How to preheat an air fryer and for how long
  • What happens when you preheat your air fryer with parchment paper

In this article, I’ll hopefully clear up any confusion surrounding air fryer preheating issues.

How to Preheat an Air Fryer

STEP ONE:  Check the operating manual specific to your air fryer for preheating instructions. Some models come equipped with a very handy preheat setting button. Many do not. If there is no preheat button, go on to step two.

STEP TWO: Set your air fryer to the temperature at which you plan to cook your food or the temperature recommended in the recipe. There is no need to remove the basket.

STEP THREE: Turn your empty air fryer on. For smaller air fryers, 2-3 minutes is plenty of time. For larger models, 5 minutes is recommended.* When the time is up, place your food inside and reset to cook for the desired time.

*Use the chart below for exact times and temperatures for preheating an air fryer.

More Helpful information About Air Frying:

Cooked lemon pepper wings in air fryer basket
Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings inside the air fryer

Do I Need To Preheat My Air Fryer Before Cooking in It?

Yes. In most cases preheating helps your recipes get that signature crispiness we all love.

Thick cuts of raw and frozen meats like frozen bone-in chicken breasts and ribeye steaks benefit from preheating.

What are some other foods that benefit from preheating an air fryer?

Even frozen foods in the air fryer benefit from preheating!

What Happens If I Don’t Preheat My Air Fryer?

Is your food still edible when cooking in an air fryer from cold? Yes, the same goes for an oven, but you always preheat that too.

Here are just a few things that can happen when you don’t preheat your air fryer:

  • Food takes longer to cook
  • The outside won’t get as crispy as it would preheated
  • If cooking in batches, the first batch will take longer to cook and the rest can get burnt if you’re not paying close attention
  • The food may cook unevenly
  • The recipe you are following may not work accurately. Each air fryer has its own wattage that heats up the air fryer at different speeds.

    IE: Air Fryer A may get to 350 degrees in 3 minutes, but one at a lower wattage may take 5 minutes to heat.

How Long Do I Need to Preheat My Air Fryer?

The length you need to preheat your air fryer will depend on two things: the temperature you are cooking at and what size air fryer you are using.

Here is an easy chart to know how long to preheat your air fryer for.

The lesser time is for small baskets while the higher time is for large air fryer ovens.

  • 300 degrees and below: 2 to 3 minutes
  • 300-350 degrees: 3 to 4 minutes
  • 350-400 degrees: 5 to 6 minutes
Cooked steak inside air fryer
Ribeye Steak in the air fryer

How Do I Know If My Air Fryer is Preheated?

If you own an air fryer with a preheat button, it’s usually triggered by the amount of time needed to preheat instead of the actual temperature inside the device.

You can choose the temperature you want and it will tell you when it’s reached that timing and officially preheated!

Otherwise, you can use handy chart above to run your air fryer empty for the time stated and that will preheat it!

Do I Personally Preheat and Do I Use The Preheat Button?

I own and love the Cosori 5.8 QT Air Fryer that has a handy preheat button. So do I use it? No. I prefer just running the air fryer for the time needed and then putting my food inside.

It’s more seamless and doesn’t shut off if I’m not in the kitchen as soon as it’s preheated.

That being said, I always preheat my food and I have noticed it always comes out nice and crispy. Think of it like a hot deep fryer without the oil or a preheated oven.

A quick crisp bake is all you need!

Plus, it even saves you cooking time when your food has a little prep work involved.

Corn on the Cob inside the air fryer
Fresh corn-on-the-cob being cooked in the air fryer

Do I Preheat My Air Fryer With The Basket In Or Out?

You should leave the basket in. Many models will not even operate if the basket is out.

Can I Preheat My Air Fryer With Parchment Paper Inside?

No! Parchment paper rounds need food to weigh them down or they will fly up and burn in the heating coil.

You can read more about using parchment paper rounds in your air fryer here.

If you’re using a silicone basket for easy cleanup or ease, they are weighed down enough to be preheated with and should be in the air fryer basket when preheating.

Air Fryer Recipes You’ll Love:

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2 thoughts on “How to Preheat an Air Fryer”

    • Hi Doris, yes! I would use the higher times listed in the chart for an air fryer oven. The lower times will be for a smaller basket air fryer.

      Reply

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