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Your ultimate guide to air fryers

17 June 2024

Air Fryer

Everyday essential or just a load of hot air?

Although air fryers have been around for more than a decade, their popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, becoming a must-have kitchen gadget in households all across Australia and New Zealand. They can cook, bake, roast, crisp, dehydrate and reheat all your favourite foods (including rice), faster than traditional gas or electric ovens – without all the added oil and fat. Making them more than just a convenient appliance, but a healthier one too.

But are these benchtop miniature ovens worth all the hype? Or are they just a load of hot air? Read on to find out everything you need to know about air fryers – including their history, what foods you can (and can’t) cook in them, plus top tips for using and cleaning them.

Who invented the air fryer?

Due to the recent hype, you’d think air fryers were invented only decades ago. But the technology behind it actually dates back to the Second World War, invented by a bloke named William L. Maxson. Thinking about ways to reheat frozen meals for American troops, in 1945 he filed a patent and successfully created the Maxson Whirlwind Oven, a large appliance that used a fan to circulate hot air. It took its much smaller form, as we know it today, around 2010.

What is an air fryer?

An air fryer is a small convection oven that uses hot air and a high-speed fan to cook food. The compact space through which the heat is blasted, cooks the food quicker and more evenly.

Do air fryers save electricity?

If you’re looking to cut your energy bills, air fryers are cheaper to run than a traditional oven. According to research by Canstar Blue, firing up an electric oven to cook your favourite meal can be as high as $3.72 per day. Air fryers use around half as much electricity per hour, and heat up a lot faster, too. And unlike microwaves, which don’t play nicely with metal due to their electromagnetic heating, you can use foil along with parchment paper to cook your food in an air fryer, without the worry of starting a fire.

Is cooking with an air fryer better for your health?

Eating healthier was the most popular New Year’s resolution for Australians, according to OpenTable. And the good news is, with an air fryer, you can cut calories while still enjoying your favourite fried dishes. Air fryers circulate hot air around the food, creating a delicious, crispy exterior similar to deep-frying, but with less oil. So if you’re a fan of hot, crisp, golden chips, you can still enjoy them as part of a healthy diet, by using little-to-no oil, in just 10 minutes. Air-fried hot chips provide 4–6g fat compared to 17g for the deep-fried equivalent.

Healthy Air Fryer

What can you cook in an air fryer?

An air fryer is incredibly versatile. You can cook almost anything you’d cook in a regular oven, and if yours has two separate drawers (like the Ninja, Nutribullet and Philips), you can cook two completely different dishes at once, with both sides finishing cooking at the same time – for a complete family meal ready in one go.

Here’s a selection of vegetables, meat, fish, snacks and desserts you can air fry, some of which will pair perfectly with a side of your favourite rice.

(Please note: timings are a guide only)


Cauliflower (florets) – 200ºC, 12mins

Corn on the cob – 195ºC, 6mins

Peppers – 200ºC, 5mins

Asparagus –  200ºC, 5mins

Zucchini – 200ºC, 12mins

Cherry tomatoes – 200ºC, 4mins

Zucchini fritters – 10-20 minutes

Chips – 200ºC, 18mins

Hash browns: 180ºC, 10-12mins


Chicken – Whole, 180ºC, 1hour 25mins, Breast, 200ºC, 15mins, Thighs, 200ºC, 15-22mins, Tenders, 180ºC 8-10mins, Wings, 200ºC, 12mins

Snags (sausages) – 200ºC, 8-10mins

Bacon – 220ºC, 6mins

Steak – 200ºC, 8-12mins

Kangaroo – 190ºC, 7-12 mins 

Rack of lamb – 190ºC, 22-25mins

Lamb chops – 200ºC, 8-12mins 

Meatballs – 190ºC, 7-10mins

Sausage rolls – 200ºC, 10-12mins


Prawns/Shrimp – 200ºC, 5 mins 

Salmon fillet – 200ºC, 12-14mins

Scallops – 200ºC, 5-7mins

Calamari – 200ºC, 4mins

Snacks and desserts

Quiche (400g) – 180ºC, 20-22mins

Pizza – 180ºC, 10-12mins

Brownies – 160ºC, 25-35mins

Muffins, 190ºC, 15-18mins

Pavlova – 150ºC, 20mins

Cookies (from frozen) 170ºC, 8-10mins

Donuts – 180ºC, 5-6mins

Tim Tam Bombs, 180ºC, 14mins

Lemonade scones – 160ºC, 15mins

What can’t you cook in an air fryer? 

Unfortunately, air fryers can’t cook everything. You should avoid anything with a wet batter (because it will make a right mess), or anything loose that could drip through the slots in the basket.

Planning a movie night? Best stick to the microwave or hob for the popcorn, as most models won’t reach the required temperature to pop the kernels, which could also become lodged in the heating element, presenting a fire hazard. Some kitchen experts also advise against air-frying leafy greens, like spinach, because they’ll get blown around by the hot air and likely burn. The exception is kale, which can be used to make delicious kale chips, in under 10 minutes.

Can you cook rice in an air fryer?

No rice cooker? No problem. Cooking rice in an air fryer is easy, and you don’t need to babysit it like you do with stove-cooked rice. That means you can get on with the rest of your meal, while the air fryer does its thing. Long-grain is best, as short-grain can be a bit tricky when dry.


How to use an air fryer

Air frying is super easy, and only requires a few button-pushes to start cooking. There’s also no waiting around. Unlike traditional ovens that generally take 10-15 minutes to preheat, air fryers only need a few minutes, and some models say you don’t have to preheat them at all. The majority of models come with presets for certain types of food, like white meat, chips, or muffins, but the temperature and timer settings are always adjustable. So it’s just a case of setting the mode, time and temperature, and pressing ‘go’.

Where can I buy an air fryer?

You can buy an air fryer from major retailers like Harvey Norman, The Good Guys, Kmart, Mitre 10, Amazon or Briscoes. Prices will vary, so it’s a good idea to shop around before buying.

What size air fryer should you buy?

Air fryers come in different shapes and sizes. What size you buy depends on how often you’re going to use it, the number of people you’re feeding and how much space you’ve got in your kitchen. As a general rule of thumb, 1-2 litres is the recommended size for two people, 3-4 litres for four people and 5-6 litres for larger households. If you’re just looking for a quick and easy way to reheat food and make snacks or lighter meals, a smaller air fryer might be the best option. But if you want to cook larger meals, batch cook, or bake on a daily basis, a medium to large air fryer would be a better choice. 

How do you clean an air fryer?

Because you use virtually no oil during cooking, air fryers are relatively easy to clean.
On most models, you can remove the crisper drawer and tray, and simply hand-wash in hot, soapy water. And the majority of brands are dishwasher safe too. Just make sure you let all the parts cool down before cleaning. For the ultimate air fryer cleaning hack, some fans say filling the air fryer basket with boiling water and leaving a dishwasher tablet in it for anywhere between an hour and overnight (without turning it on), will make it come up like new, with no damage to the appliance.

Converting from oven to airfryer

Some supermarkets have started putting air fry instructions on their packaging. But if you’re cooking something and unsure how long it will take in an air fryer, the general rule is to reduce the temperature by 10ºC, and cook for 20 percent less time.

Air fryer top tips

Here are some top tips to help you get the most out of your air fryer.

Preheat for a crispy finish

If you like your bacon or chips extra crispy, preheat your oven for a few minutes first.

Shake it up

For even cooking, give the basket a shake at regular intervals, or turn halfway. Some air fryers will even beep midway through your scheduled cooking time to remind you.

Don’t overcrowd the basket

If you fill your air fryer basket to the brim, or overlap ingredients, it will cook unevenly. So stick to a single layer to allow the hot air to circulate.

Get the right tools for the job

Getting ramekins and dishes out of an air fryer can be tricky, so make sure you have silicone tongs or oven mitts. Silicone accessories are a great choice because they’re heat resistant, easy grip, simple to clean and don’t scratch.

Speed up clean-up

For many, washing up is the worst part about cooking. Air fryer liners stop food from sticking to the bottom of the basket, protect it from scratches and also save you from having to scrub it clean afterwards.

Give it space

Make sure you keep your air fryer away from corners, walls and other kitchen appliances. It’s recommended you leave at least five inches worth of space around your air fryer so the vents have enough room to let hot air out.