One of things everyone loves about their air fryer is how it can make foods crispy without using a ton of oil. This does not, however, prevent people from adding some oil to their food. After all, fat is flavor, and there can be some anxiety over things sticking to the basket tray.
Adding fat to the basket is fine, for the most part. (I used bacon grease for my air-fried fried eggs, for example.) There are, however, some rules. You don’t want to add too much oil, as that can cause splattering, and splatters can hit the heating element and smoke. You also don’t want to ever, under any circumstances, hit the basket with a quick hit of nonstick cooking spray. Doing so can ruin the coating, making it hard to use less oil during future air-frying endeavors.
So why is one OK and the other very much not? The difference lies in the formulation of cooking spray. As we’ve discussed previously, most cooking sprays are not made of pure oil:
PAM and her ilk are the enemy of nonstick cookware, due to the presence of an emulsifying agent called “lecithin.” According to Real Simple, lecithin will, “cook onto the surface of your pan, build up, and become nearly impossible to remove.” Anolon also cautions against cooking sprays, noting that they burn, “at lower temperatures and will damage the non-stick coating of your product.” All of that will turn your nonstick pan into a very sticky one; using a cooking spray can even void the warranty of certain brands.
There are very few cases where you need to add oil to prevent sticking, because the interiors are (as far as I know) always treated with a nonstick coating. If you are worried about your food sticking to the air fryer basket, you can mist it with a pure oil (buy a mister bottle and fill it yourself), or toss the food in a separate bowl with a little fat to lightly coat it. Greasing the food, instead of the basket, will ensure there’s no excess pooling or splattering, while preventing the dreaded basket-stickage.
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