7 Foods You Should Never Cook In Your Air Fryer

Even though it might be tempting.

Air Fryer on Kitchen Counter
Photo: Getty/CASEZY

Ahh, the trusty air fryer. It might be the latest addition to your kitchen appliance lineup, one that you're quite unsure how you ever lived without. For whipping up crispy Brussels sprouts to taking your kids' frozen chicken nuggets to new (almost gourmet) heights, there's nothing this little cooker can't handle.

Or is there? Turns out, there are a few things that are better left for other preparation methods.

Whether you should skip the air fryer due to mess, uneven cooking, or just the plain-old fact that there are better or more efficient ways to cook said item, the air fryer isn't the one-and-done appliance you might have thought it was. (Though, rest assured, it certainly deserves its place in your coveted kitchen cabinet lineup.)

Take a gander of this list of top foods that should never make their way into your air fryer.

1. Wet Batters

Those beer-battered onion rings, fries, fish cutlets, plus tempura veggies and more are not well suited for a crisp in the air fryer. The batter will drip down into the base of the machine, making a big mess to cleanup afterward. Not to mention, it could even set off the alarm on models with alert systems.

You're better off either skipping these foods altogether or frying them up in batches the old-fashioned way—you know, in oil.

One fried food that does work in the air fryer? Our Air Fryer Fried Green Tomatoes.

2. Cheesy Items

For the same reason that it's best to avoid battered foods, it's also a smart idea to skip cheesy items where melty goodness might be an issue. That doesn't mean that all cheese has to be kept out of the air fryer; just make sure it won't drip while it cooks.

3. Large, Bone-In Meat Cuts

This sounds amazing in theory. A super crispy, done-in-a-flash whole chicken that's primed for your prettiest platter and a central spot on the dining table? Not so fast. A whole chicken (as well as other large, bone-in proteins) is actually better off roasting in the oven as you're unlikely to get an even cook in the air fryer.

On the other hand, chicken wings, like our Air Fryer Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings, are small enough for even and crisp cooking in an air fryer.

4. Baked Goods

Some baked goods fare decently in the air fryer, but the category is by no means foolproof. Try our Air Fryer Donuts, which call on store-bought biscuit dough for a not-too-wet (or dense) batter.

Muffins get tricky, as they can dry out as they cook, as do donuts with a wet batter (like cake donuts) for the reasons outlined in the wet-batter section above.

5. Greens

Brussels sprouts in the air fryer? An absolute yes. Spinach, collard, or chard leaves? Better not.

Light leaves might get a little flighty during the cooking process, resulting in uneven cooking. It's worth noting that any vegetable put in an air fryer without enough oil will come out fairly dry, so be sure to use plenty of fat (which adds flavor too).

6. Raw Rice and Other Grains

You can certainly crisp up rice, farro, or other grains in an air fryer, but it must be cooked first. An air fryer is best for reheating leftover grains, rather than attempting to cook it from raw, which will only result in an unevenly cooked mess.

7. Too Much of Anything

Even the most recommended air fryer foods can become a no-no if you overpack your appliance. Air fryer magic is all about air circulation. If you overstuff your basket, air won't be able to circulate as it should, which means your food won't cook appropriately.

If you're serving for a crowd, it's better to batch cook to ensure everything cooks evenly and browns properly.

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