Does an Air Fryer Make Food Dry?

Cooking gadgets have been on the market for a long time. They keep evolving into more advanced and compact gadgets. The electric convection ovens of the past have transformed into air fryers now.

Air fryers are all-rounded appliances, but they do have some downsides. Keeping that in mind, one might wonder, does an air fryer make food dry?

Yes, an air fryer can make food dry. Since air fryers use hot air to cook food, they can definitely dry some foods out. You can avoid this by adding a little oil to the food or putting a few tablespoons of water in the drip pan.

What you’re doing wrong

An air fryer works by circulating hot air throughout the frying chamber. As a result, your food gets evenly cooked without adding much oil. Although many air fryers come with a thermostat to control the temperature, you can still get it wrong if you don’t know the right temperature for the items you’re cooking.

Let’s take a look at what you’ve been doing wrong all along that turns your food into sandpaper.

You skipped marinade

Not all of us prefer chicken with skin. And let’s face it, it can’t go well in every recipe, either. But the skin around the chicken, among other benefits, ensures the moisture stays inside the meat. If you’re cooking chicken without the skin, there’s a high chance it could end up dry.

To counter this issue, we make use of a juicy marinade. The longer you marinate your chicken in a liquid marinade, the more moist it will be after cooking. The marinade does not have to be anything fancy. A few drops of olive oil and some salt and pepper are perfect for building perfect flavors.

fish in an air fryer

You forgot to add oil

This is a common misconception about air fryers. You’d think it will cook your food perfectly without any oil, but the food will undoubtedly be dry and bland. Why? Because the heat from the air fryer is too much to retain moisture in the food.

When we talked about marinating the meat, we subtly suggested that you add oil. In fact, oil plays an essential part in keeping your food tender. And when we say to add oil, we don’t mean a gallon – a couple of tablespoons is enough for the whole meal.

Another way to add oil to your food is the misting method. You can easily find oil misters in the market that spray fine oil mist over the food. This method is perfect for meals that you want to have just the right kind of brown crispiness on the outside.

You can’t deny the importance of oil while cooking in the air fryer, but some foods are better without it. You can cook frozen food in the air fryer, and you don’t need extra oil for it. That’s because it already has some added during the manufacturing process. Similarly, fatty meats don’t require any oil, either.

a bottle of oil

You’re trying to cook the wrong veggies

Sure, your air fryer can give you crispy veggies in no time. Then why did your broccoli turn out so dehydrated? On the other hand, bean sprouts always come out juicy and delicious. So, can the air fryer dehydrate veggies?

Yes, air fryers can dehydrate your food if it already lacks the moisture it needs. Broccoli is a dry vegetable; on cooking in an air fryer, it loses the water contents, and you get awfully dehydrated broccoli on your plate.

For such situations, it is best to avoid using the air fryer and cook the veggies on the stovetop the traditional way.

You have piled a lot of food

There is only so much you can stuff in that fryer basket, right? Wrong! You should never fill the basket in hopes of getting a huge batch of food in one go. An air fryer rotates hot air through the frying chamber and needs ample space for that.

If you stack your food to the top, you’ll end up with half-cooked, foul-tasting food. The parts of food that got more hot air will be dry while the farther parts won’t even be cooked.

Also read: Can you layer food in an air fryer?

lots of vegetables in air fryer

Similarly, you cannot put whole chicken and even big pieces of meat at once in the air fryer. After many trials and errors, you will learn the best size for cooking. The pieces should be lined on the basket with enough space for the air to flow from beneath.

You left it to cook for too long on a low setting

As we already know, an air fryer circulates hot air to cook food. This is similar to a dehydrator, which works at low heat and a long time to carefully dry out foods like beef jerky.

Now, keeping this principle in mind, if you leave your air fryer on for a long time at a low setting, you will probably dry your food out quicker rather than keeping it moist and cooking it to perfection. Therefore, always use the right air fryer temperature and time settings to cook food!

You rubbed too many dry seasonings

Dry seasonings work great when searing on a stovetop pan. But in an air fryer, it might not be the best idea.

Since you haven’t added any binding material to the rub, the seasonings will fly everywhere off the food. As a result, you will taste burnt spices and dry meat with every bite. That is why adding some oil to the seasoning mix is always recommended.

Air fryer on a kitchen slab

Final thoughts on whether an air fryer makes food dry

Before using a gadget, one must always educate themselves on the dos and don’ts. If you know the proper cooking methods and specifications of each item, there is little chance you will mess up a meal. With thorough marination and the addition of oil, you can enjoy tender food after every cooking with your air fryer.

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Immad Amir
I'm Immad, a passionate home chef and the proud curator of RavvyReviews, a kitchen appliance & food blog. Through my blog, I share expert tips all aimed at inspiring fellow food enthusiasts to embark on their culinary adventures with confidence and creativity. I love interacting with you guys, do share your thoughts in the comments. Get in touch with me through
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