A step-by-step guide to baking with an air fryer

It has come to our attention that many customers have inquired if an air fryer can be used to bake a cake, and the answer is “YES.” An air fryer will let you bake delicious baked goods even if you don’t have an oven at home.

Baking a cake in an air fryer may require you to do it in multiple batches since it does not have the same capacity as a conventional oven. And you will also need to make some size adjustments to fit your baked goods inside.

The recipes you find online are usually for convection ovens, so if you’re baking with an air fryer, you’ll need to make some minor adjustments to the baking time and temperature.

You will learn more about how an air fryer works, what you can and cannot bake in it, and how to convert typical oven recipes for your air fryer in this guide. These are just guidelines; the results will vary depending on individual recipes.

How Is An Air Fryer Operated?

Typically, air fryers are used to prepare “fried” foods without the added oil, fat, or calories.

However, the process that takes place inside the air fryer is quite different from frying. Within the cooking chamber, there is a heating element and a fan that promotes hot air circulation.

When using an air fryer, the cooking process is similar to a convection oven (fan-forced setting). Still, the hot air circulates much more quickly, allowing it to come into contact with the entire surface of the food more efficiently, resulting in a crunchy exterior on your food.

Make sure to check the holes in the basket of your air fryer. These holes serve to maximize the amount of contact between your foods and the hot air, which expedites the cooking process and results in evenly cooked food.

While some air fryers can cook food more evenly than others, not all air fryers are created equal. Here are some suggestions if you have noticed that your air fryer produces unevenly cooked food:

  • Always preheat your air fryer before using it and while you’re cooking.
  • Stop halfway through and rotate your food inside, just as you would turn the pan in an oven when baking.

A complete list of things you can and cannot cook using an air fryer

The kinds of things you can bake

Cookies

baking cookies in air fryer
baking cookies in air fryer

As previously stated, hot air circulates more quickly in an air fryer. It is also possible to bake a small batch of cookies in as little as 5 minutes!

Ensure to grease or spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray to prevent the cookies from sticking. Foil or parchment paper could also be used to line the base.

Apart from minor alterations, the baking time and temperature are mostly the same when baking cookies using an air fryer. Try to avoid the melted toppings, as they will likely be burned.

Various types of cakes, cupcakes, and quick breads

cupcakes in air fryer
cupcakes in air fryer

These batters are relatively dense, and they are one of the most accessible baked goods to make. Due to the proximity of the batter to the air fryer’s heating element, the food will gain a toasted and slightly caramelized, crisp tops when baked in an air fryer. On the other hand, the centers remain soft and pillowy, just like those you get in the oven.

Cinnamon rolls

Cinnamon rolls in air fryer
Cinnamon rolls in air fryer

As surprising as it may be, cinnamon rolls are among the best things you can make in an air fryer. As long as you ensure to cut into smaller pieces and don’t bake too many at a time, you should be fine.

It only takes about 9 to 11 minutes if you use frozen cinnamon rolled dough.

Doughnuts

Doughnuts in air fryer
Doughnuts in air fryer

Deep-frying is the traditional method of cooking doughnuts. Apart from a large amount of sugar used to coat them, the additional oil inhibits us from eating more of them. However, what if we told you that using an air fryer results in equally delectable treats without the added fat and calories?

You can make healthier doughnuts at home by adjusting the time, temperature and making sure there is enough space between each doughnut.

Chiffon and Sponge Cakes

Chiffon and Sponge Cakes in air fryer
Chiffon and Sponge Cakes in air fryer

Cakes made with a thin batter can be pretty challenging to bake in an air fryer, as the batter can become scattered and create a mess during baking.

However, you can avoid this by baking them in a tall, sturdy metallic pan. To bake a chiffon cake in an air fryer, all you need to do is cover the batter-filled pan with aluminum foil and poke some holes in it. After the cake has finished baking, remove the foil and continue baking for an additional 5 minutes. The resulting scuffles will be just as fluffy as those baked in an oven!

What Shouldn’t Be Baked in an air fryer

Smaller-sized baked goods.

While it is recommended to reduce the size of regular-sized baked goods to fit in an air fryer, air fryers are not ideal for baking small items such as choux pastry (cream puffs), madeleines, or mini-sized cupcakes.

Because each item is so tiny and baked separately with sufficient space between them, you’ll need to bake them in multiple batches. It runs the risk of leaving the remaining batter out for an extended period.

If you leave choux pastry dough or any other type of batter out for too long, it will lose its rising power. Because leavening agents such as baking powder and baking soda have a relatively short duration of action, their effect may have diminished significantly by the time you bake your last few batches.

This is also true for mini cakes that require the use of meringues for volume. If the beaten egg whites in the batter are not baked immediately, they will deflate over time, resulting in a flatter and denser cakes.

Anything containing cheese

We would advise against using your air fryer for baking something with cheese as a topping if you don’t want to deal with a mess later. When the cheese comes into contact with the hot surface of the air fryer, it melts, creating a messy lot that is difficult to clean up. However, as long as the cheese is not exposed, you can bake with it (e. g., for muffin filling).

How to Adjust Any Recipe for Air Fryer Baking

While most recipes online are written for a conventional oven, converting an oven-cooked recipe to an air fryer is quite simple! Consider the following points if you’re baking in an air fryer rather than an oven.

Reduce the recommended temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit or 14 degrees Celsius.

There is a formula for successfully converting from a traditional recipe to an air fryer recipe. Reducing the temperature by 25°F or 14°C takes the first step. This Oven-to-Air Fryer Converter can help you out, especially if you want to tweak your oven recipes for your air fryer.

The baking time should be reduced by 20 percent.

Hot air will reach your food more quickly because of the compact interior of an air fryer. Utilizing the baking time recommended for the conventional oven recipe will almost certainly result in overbaking.

To avoid this, reduce the recommended baking time by approximately 20% or one-fifth. If the original recipe calls for baking for 20 minutes, 16 minutes in the air fryer will suffice.

Check for doneness regularly.

Use the pause button on your air fryer to check for doneness and ensure even cooking, just as you would in an oven. Rotate your food regularly so that it cooks evenly and all at the same time.

When you’re using an air fryer for baking, here are a few essential points to remember:

Always preheat your air fryer before using it.

An air fryer, just like an oven, is most effective when the accurate temperature is reached before using it.

By preheating the air fryer, you can achieve optimal cooking conditions and ensure that your food is cooked evenly. Spending a few extra minutes preheating the air fryer will help you avoid underbaked cakes and cookies, particularly if you are new to air fryer baking.

Avoid crowding the pan/basket.

While cooking a large batch of food may appear to save time, there is a greater risk of ruining whatever you’re cooking.

Inadequate space in your air fryer will result in uneven cooking. It’s not ideal to have a batch of cupcakes, with some with burnt tops and others with gooey centers. Allowing some space between your food allows for proper circulation of the hot air. This also ensures that the entire batch is completed concurrently.

After each use, thoroughly clean your air fryer.

Cleaning up after cooking is probably not something we enjoy. However, to maintain the best condition for your air fryer, never forget to clean it after use!

When baking or cooking something in an air fryer, crumbs may accumulate in the basket. If you do not clean it after using the air fryer, these crumbs will burn and produce an unpleasant odor the next time you use it.

Examine your air fryer—if it is a newer model, the parts are likely removable. This will undoubtedly simplify cleanup.

You will still require oil/butter.

Using an air fryer does not always imply that you can avoid using any oil. The majority of recipes still call for the use of oil or butter, particularly when greasing pans or air fryer racks to prevent baked goods from sticking.

Apart from preventing sticking, a small amount of oil or butter imparts flavor. Similar to how you would spread butter or oil on a baking sheet/pan to prevent your baked goods from sticking, this rule also applies when baking with an air fryer.

How To Bake With An Air Fryer - FAQs

By failing to clean your air fryer between recipes, you risk imparting unwanted flavors and food particles from your previous dish onto your latest meal.

Yes, the aluminum foil works in an air fryer, but it isn’t always the best option. Aluminum foil can be used, but only in a basket. Because acidic foods react with aluminum, do not use aluminum with tomato-based or citrus-based ingredients.

Allow the air fryer to cool completely after turning it off and unplugging it. Take the rack and use your dishwasher to clean it, or use your dish brush to wash it with warm soapy water to scrub the grate and food bits off Rinse well and dry thoroughly.

With an Air Fryer, Baking Couldn't Be Easier

While air fryers are incredibly efficient and can help you save time in the kitchen, keep in mind that their baking capabilities are somewhat limited compared to a conventional oven.

But you could still churn out delicious baked products with some tweaks and adjustments! Remember the critical rules—never overcrowd and adjust cooking time and temperature!

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