13 Air Fryer Hacks You Should Know

Air fryer with food
Air fryer with food - Francisco Zeledon/Shutterstock

When air fryers first hit the scene several years ago, they seemed like just another kitchen appliance -- one that few of us actually needed. But rather than being some piece of junk that took up limited cabinet space until the next new thing came along, air fryers have remained popular for quite some time.

The staying power of air fryers is no mystery. Not only do they tend to cook food quite quickly, but air fryers are one of the only ways to achieve that beloved, fried-like crispness without using a ton of oil (and making your kitchen impossibly dirty). Now, if you have an air fryer, chances are you've used it for frozen fries, faux-roasted veggies, and to heat up leftovers. But if you limit yourself to that basic functionality, you'll never truly understand everything an air fryer can do for you.

It should come as no surprise that there are a ton of hacks for this extremely versatile appliance. Luckily, if you haven't had the opportunity to try everything the air fryer has to offer, we're here to hook you up with some of the best hacks out there. By using your appliance in these ways, you may just discover it's even more useful than you originally assumed. Here are 13 air fryer hacks you should know (and definitely try).

Read more: Vinegar Cooking Hacks You'll Wish You Knew Sooner

Roast Coffee Beans

Coffee beans on table
Coffee beans on table - Alvarez/Getty Images

Most of us buy our coffee pre-roasted and ready to brew. However, if you're trying to learn more about coffee -- or you just happened to stumble upon some unroasted beans -- you may be interested in learning how to roast them yourself. Of course, you can always use your oven. But if you want a bit more control over the process, you may want to try roasting coffee beans in an air fryer instead.

That might sound strange, but hear us out: Your air fryer is actually an excellent tool for roasting coffee beans, and may be one of the best ways to get super-fresh coffee. You'll want to make sure you place the beans in a single layer, then set the timer for around 40 minutes. At the end of that time, you can open your air fryer, and reveal the freshly roasted beans within.

After you let them cool down for a bit, give the roasted coffee beans a few pulses in a coffee grinder, and you're ready to make yourself a delicious cup of joe. Who knew it was possible to make such amazing coffee in the comfort of your own home?

Use Heat-Safe Silicone Molds For Egg Bites

Breakfast egg bites on parchment
Breakfast egg bites on parchment - Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

No matter what you think of Starbucks, you can't deny the company's sous vide egg bites are a delicious way to start the day. Of course, if you're interested in enjoying them without visiting the restaurant, you can capture some of that eggy goodness at home. It's relatively easy, in fact, to make egg bites on your own -- especially if you happen to have an air fryer.

If you do decide to take the air fryer route, you'll just need one more tool to make your egg bites a reality: some heat-safe silicone molds. These molds can be used in many ways around your kitchen, and they're perfect for egg bites. Just break an egg into the indentions, then add whatever ingredients you want included in your dish.

Put the molds into the air fryer for about 12 minutes, and take them out when you're done. They should pop out of the silicone molds easily, and you can eat them right away. Or you can freeze them, so you always have some pre-made egg bites on hand for an easy, on-the-go breakfast.

Make The Best Grilled Cheese

Cooked grilled cheese on wood
Cooked grilled cheese on wood - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

You may assume grilled cheese-making should be reserved for a skillet, but in reality? You can make an excellent grilled cheese in your air fryer. We love this method because the bread gets ultra-crispy without needing as much fat, and the cheese melts surprisingly quickly.

For the best air-fried grilled cheese, you'll want to follow one important rule of thumb: Place both sides of your grilled cheese in the air fryer open-faced. Cooking the two halves separately -- rather than as a whole sandwich -- can result in toastier bread, with more uniformly melted cheese.

Something else to keep in mind is whether or not your preferred cheese is prone to melting. Even though your air fryer gets quite hot, it still might struggle with any especially hard cheeses. Instead, opting for American, cheddar, or something like brie will give you a better chance of achieving that decadent cheese-pull -- the one we're all going for when we decide to make a grilled cheese sandwich in the first place.

Try Canned Peaches

Bowl of sliced peaches
Bowl of sliced peaches - New Africa/Shutterstock

Ask most people whether air fryers and canned foods go well together, and they'll tell you no. While even fewer would likely say they cook fruit in their air fryer on a regular basis, we're here to spread the gospel of air-fried canned peaches. It may not be for everyone, but considering it yields surprisingly delicious results? You should give it a try before making any decisions.

If you've had grilled peaches before, then you understand the kind of flavor profile we're trying to harness here. Cooking peaches gives them a savory quality, while also adding an extra layer of subtle sweetness that can be quite enjoyable. Air-fried canned peaches should be just a tad crispy when done, and maybe even slightly (but just slightly!) browned. Additionally, you should feel free to add other sweet ingredients, like brown sugar, to lend your air-fried canned peaches even more flavor.

Grilled fruit may be an indulgence usually reserved for the summer -- when peaches are at their freshest, and it's warm enough to turn on the grill whenever you get a craving. Air-fried peaches, though? You can enjoy all year round.

Use Your Air Fryer To Air Bake A Cake

Person decorating cake
Person decorating cake - Fotografia Inc./Getty Images

Air fryers are (as the name suggests) designed to "fry" foods -- so you probably don't think of it as the best appliance in which to bake a cake. But if you're in a pinch (or you just don't feel like turning on your oven), you can actually make a cake in your air fryer. However, you may need to make some adjustments depending on how your specific air fryer works.

Air fryers work partially by drying the ingredients inside; this is what yields those crunchy exteriors you want when you're making chicken wings or frozen fries. Since that's probably not what you're looking for in a cake, you'll want to pay close attention to how the cake cooks once you put it in your air fryer.

About halfway through the bake time, open your air fryer, and take a peek at how the top of the cake looks. If it seems like it's getting too dark or crisp? Cover it with some aluminum foil. This will help trap more of the moisture inside, which will give you more of a luscious, fluffy texture (instead of hardening the batter to the point of inedibility).

Get Roasted Garlic Quick By Using Your Air Fryer

Roasted garlic bulbs on board
Roasted garlic bulbs on board - Duckycards/Getty Images

There are few foods as fantastically delicious as roasted garlic. But anyone who's ever roasted garlic themselves knows it can take a long time. Even worse, if you forget it in the oven for too long? It can quickly burn -- which means you'll have to start over again from scratch. Additionally, the roasting process can take around an hour in the oven. So if you're looking for a better, easier, and faster way, roast your garlic in an air fryer instead.

If you use an air fryer to roast garlic, you're only looking at around 25 minutes of cooking time. To do so, you'll want to wrap your heads of garlic in aluminum foil (to ensure they don't burn) before placing them in the air fryer. Then, drizzle them with olive oil to keep them nice and moist, and add a bit of salt and pepper if you want to up the flavor ante. In just a few minutes, you'll have top-notch roasted garlic that you can add to soup, pasta, or anything else in need of a savory kick.

Make Mozzarella-Stuffed Bread

Person holding loaf of bread
Person holding loaf of bread - Alvarez/Getty Images

There are few foods as beloved throughout the world as bread and cheese. And although they're both delicious on their own, bread and cheese are at their best when they're served together. You can always just place or spread some cheese onto your bread, of course. But if you really want to maximize the combo's potential, you should try making mozzarella-stuffed bread. The best part? It's easy to make in an air fryer.

First, you'll want to pick out your loaf of bread. Make sure it's something that's hardy enough to stand up to the prospect of a bunch of melted cheese inside (sourdough and French bread are both solid options). Next, cut slits in the bread, and stuff the cheese inside. You can use mozzarella slices, pearls, or shredded cheese. Finally, stick it in the air fryer for a few minutes, and you'll have a deeply flavorful snack to share with everyone seated around the table.

Revive Stale Tortilla Chips In Your Air Fryer

Pile of tortilla chips
Pile of tortilla chips - Milanfoto/Getty Images

You know when you forget about a bag of tortilla chips at the back of your pantry? Then one day, when you're especially hungry and craving a snack, you go rooting around -- behind the boxes of cereal, the unopened jars of jam, and that loaf of bread you still haven't worked your way through -- until you find the forgotten bag of chips. You're elated, until you take a bite ... and discover the chips are stale and sad.

We can all relate to this deeply disappointing scenario. Thankfully, if you have an air fryer, you can take action, and revive those tortilla chips by popping them into the appliance for a short time. In just a few minutes, those previously inedible tortilla chips will once again be snackable. Make sure you shake the basket once every 30 seconds or so, though, to ensure the chips don't burn while reheating.

Save Meat Juices To Make Gravy

Full gravy boat on white
Full gravy boat on white - Beyhanyazar/Getty Images

Air fryers are ideal for a wide variety of foods, but we may love it best when it comes to cooking meat. While preparing meat in an oven or on the stove can require a lot of time and effort, doing so in an air fryer allows you to set it and forget it in many cases. Now, there's a good chance you just take the meat out of the basket when it finishes cooking, then clean the air fryer -- but you may not want to do that so quickly. After all, you can use the drippings from your cooked meat to make other savory dishes.

We love using leftover meat drippings to make homemade gravy. The best part is the fact that you can do this with just about any kind of meat. Chicken wings can provide you with all the drippings you need to make a light, creamy chicken gravy, while you can use the leftover juices from a steak to make a rich, umami gravy that pairs beautifully with mashed potatoes. Quite frankly, this might be one of the most delicious ways to reduce food waste, as well.

Preheat Your Air Fryer For Best Results

Cooked pork in air fryer
Cooked pork in air fryer - Adisorn Kongprasert/Shutterstock

It's important to remember there are a ton of different air fryers out there -- all with different capabilities, and different instructions for use. Therefore, thinking about the type of air fryer you're working with before you attempt to cook something with it is crucial. This is especially true when you're using a range or a stove that has the ability to air fry, as those appliances often need to be handled differently than your standard countertop air fryer.

Consider, for instance, the fact that many online air fryer recipes are designed for countertop air fryers. If you're working with a built-in one, then, you should remember to preheat it before you start cooking. That way, you won't end up with an undercooked mess because the air fryer wasn't sufficiently warmed up before you put your food in.

Now, you can probably just give your food a bit more time if you forget to preheat a built-in air fryer. But we think it's easier to start off with a hot appliance, so you don't have to guess about the time on the back end.

Choose An Oil Other Than Olive

Bowl of canola oil
Bowl of canola oil - Photoongraphy/Shutterstock

You might've heard that an air fryer will allow you to "fry" foods without the use of any oil. Yet that's only partially true. Sure, you can leave out the oil entirely ... but it probably won't yield the delectably crisp results you actually want. Now, for many people, olive oil is their first choice. It's usually on hand in the pantry, and it has a rich, bitter flavor that many of us love. But contrary to what you may believe, olive oil isn't the best choice for your air fryer.

Because olive oil has a low smoke point, it burns quite easily, which is the last thing you want when you're making food in an air fryer. After all, that unwanted smoke could lead to some off-tasting flavors in the food you're cooking. Instead, you're better off using a cooking oil with a higher smoke point. Canola oil or vegetable oil are both better options, for example. Additionally, if you try using less oil in your air fryer, you can make even the most indulgent of fried foods taste lighter.

Make Crispy Ravioli In Your Air Fryer

Fried ravioli on plate
Fried ravioli on plate - Kajakiki/Getty Images

Pasta of all types is delicious, and almost universally beloved. Still, it's hard to beat ravioli -- a filled pasta that combines both the al dente texture of the best pasta shapes with fillings made from vegetables, meat, and cheese (or all three). When it comes to cooking ravioli, you may assume your only option is to simply boil it until it's ready to be covered in a succulent sauce. But you'd be wrong to make that assumption, since you can actually make ravioli in your air fryer.

Believe us when we say this might just be the best way to prepare ravioli. If you want to make a heartier version of air-fried ravioli, you can start by breading it before you cook it. This way, you'll end up with the crunchy exterior that one expects from an air fryer. For those individuals who don't want to add more carbs to their dish, there's always the option of simply seasoning the ravioli, then throwing it in the air fryer without breading it. The ravioli obtains a chewy, slightly crisp texture that's perfect for snacking (or as a whole meal).

Use Your Air Fryer To Make Trader Joe's Frozen Food Even Better

Spring rolls in air fryer
Spring rolls in air fryer - Smallworm Lighting/Shutterstock

Air fryers are clearly useful for a wide range of applications. But we especially love using ours to make frozen foods taste vastly superior than if they're cooked in the microwave or oven. An air fryer can crisp an otherwise soggy frozen food to textural perfection (and it's usually faster than other methods, too). Now, you can use an air fryer for any brand's frozen food. But considering a number of Trader Joe's products shine when given the air fryer treatment, what better place to buy those frozen items than the popular chain store?

A few of our favorites include the mac and cheese bites, which are exceptional when prepared in an air fryer, as well as the cauliflower gnocchi -- which develops a lovely, chewy texture. There are countless frozen options at Trader Joe's to choose from, though, so pick out some of your favorites, and have a relaxing night in without having to cook from scratch.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.