How Does An Air Fryer Work And Cook Food Fast?

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An air fryer is one of the most revolutionary kitchen appliances that cook the crispiest food with 98% less oil. It is compact enough to fit on your countertop and versatile enough to do more than just frying. But it is the working of an air fryer that might interest users fond of smart kitchen appliances.

An air fryer works with the help of heating elements and a fan that rapidly circulates hot air around the food at high speed, cooking the food evenly while producing a crispy texture similar to deep frying. The rapid air circulation cooks food fast by transferring heat quickly.

How Does An Air Fryer Work And Cook Food Fast?

Food cooked in an air fryer retains the perfect crunchy texture from the outside and a juicy, tender inside. To understand the air fryer cooking process and the whole working mechanism, it is essential for you to first learn about its parts.

Components of An Air Fryer

Understanding the parts in an air fryer helps you know the process inside the unit. Regardless of the variations available in the market, a few parts are common in all the best air fryer units present in the market. Have a look at those parts:

Main Components of Air Fryer

Air Fryer Basket

It holds the food while it is cooking. It has holes that allow for proper air circulation through food.

The excess hot air can also leave the basket through these vents and avoid overcooking and burning food. There is a handle on the outside for an easy pull-and-push mechanism.

Crisper Plate

An air fryer crisper plate is a perforated plate that often features a handle design. The crisper plate fits into the air fryer basket, and the food goes on the crisper plate.

As it is perforated, it allows even circulation of hot air around the food. The crisper plate is often non-stick and ceramic coated to avoid food sticking to it.

Floating Rack

Floating racks elevate the food to allow better air circulation around it. Food cooked on air fryer floating racks is evenly browned and crisped from all sides.

Often, these racks have more than one layer and promise to cook twice as much food per batch by doubling the cooking area.

Fan & Heating Element

Air fryers have heating elements located on the top, above the food basket. This heating element is the source of heat for the air fryer. The fan circulates the hot air, creating the convection effect, which cooks food from all sides.

Control Panel

The controls, often present on the front of the air fryer, allow for easy temperature and time settings. Air fryers also have a dedicated on/off power button.

Sometimes, your air fryer may act crazy and shut off itself. We have discussed this problem in detail and proposed some solutions in our post, why air fryer keeps turning off?

How Does an Air Fryer Work – Air Fryer Cooking Process

To understand how air fryers cook food, check out the information shared below:

Chicken Roasting in Air Fryer

Understand Temperature And Time Settings

Full Chicken in Air Fryer

The cooking process of food in an air fryer starts by understanding its various temperature and time settings.

Some air fryers also come with preheating requirements, but due to the powerful heat produced by the heating elements and circulated by the fan, most air fryers heat up very quickly and require no preheating.

Adding Food To The Basket

Chicken Wings in Air Fryer

The food goes to the perforated basket or racks depending on the accompanying accessories coming with your air fryer model.

The hot air reaches all sides of the food through the perforation, cooking it quickly and completely.

If you don’t like your food to be completely dry, you can add a small quantity of oil with an oil brush or oil mister.

This will lightly grease the surface without making it soggy. The air heats that oil on the food’s surface to create a golden-brown crust.

| ALERT: One thing to note when cooking in an air fryer is not to fill it to the brim, leaving no space for the air to move freely. Overcrowding the air fryer can also result in undercooking of food.

Adding Oil To The Air Fryer

If you don’t like your food to be completely dry, you can add a small quantity of oil with an oil brush or oil mister.

French Fries in Air Fryer

This will lightly grease the surface without making it soggy. The air heats that oil on the food’s surface to create a golden-brown crust.

Keep Checking Food

Moreover, regardless of the instructions on the package, check the food multiple times through the timer and turn the sides.

Or, in the case of fries, shake the air fryer basket to ensure even cooking.

NOTE: All the information we shared above is gathered from different sources like Reddit, Quora, YouTube, etc.

You might notice a plastic smell when you cook food in the new air fryer, and you can follow our tips to get rid of plastic smell from your air fryer.


How is cooking food in an air fryer different from deep-frying?

The main thing to understand about an air fryer is that it does not really “fry” the food compared with traditional frying. In conventional terms, frying means submerging your food in oil for deep frying or shallow frying in a skillet.

But in the “air fryer,” the word “fryer” suggests that you will get the same or comparable crunchy texture on your food without the surrounding oil! Instead of oil, hot air surrounds the food from all sides. Food cooked in an air fryer doesn’t cause cancer or any other serious health issue.

How does cooking in an air fryer differ from a convection and toaster oven?

A convection oven is large and comes with fans that circulate the hot air around the food and cook the food evenly from all sides. They are well-suited for baking because of the even circulation of heat. The hot air circulated through the food prevents the food from sticking to the pans.

An air fryer and convection ovens share the same principle for working. The only difference lies in the oven and air fryer size. An air fryer is smaller than a conventional oven.

So, you might have to limit the quantity of food you make in every batch. Modern air fryers come with multifunctional settings, allowing you to cook various food types in one unit. So, an air fryer is worth buying if you don’t always prepare bigger luncheons and feed multiple people at one time.

On the contrary, a toaster oven is small and cooks the food at a lower temperature.

There is a heating element on top and bottom of a toaster oven, but there is no fan to circulate the air. So it is more suitable for browning the surfaces, such as toasting slices, English muffins, bagels, and roasting small quantities of meat.

How does an air fryer work without oil?

You can cook food in an air fryer without oil because it solely relies on hot air. The unit draws the air from outside. The heating elements raise the air’s temperature, and the convection method forces the air through food. So, unlike the pool of oil in a conventional deep fryer, you can achieve the Maillard reaction with air and turn the food crispy and crunchy.

Can I use oil in the air fryer?

Yes, you can use oil in an air fryer. But its quantity differs considerably from a traditional deep fryer. The idea of using an air fryer is to cook food with little or no oil. So, if you don’t like dry-baked fries or wings, spray some oil on the oil with a mister.

Wrapping Up!

An air fryer makes it extremely convenient to cook healthy food in the comfort of your house. Its convection oven-like working mechanism allows the food to cook from all sides in less time and with less oil. It also means you are not adding extra calories to your food. Therefore, food prepared in an air fryer is much healthier.