Air fryers are one of the hottest kitchen gadgets on the market right now. They’re simple to use, look good on your countertop, and deliver perfectly crispy ‘fried’ food without the oil or the extra calories. Find out more about these handy little machines, along with tips and recipes, with our Guide to Air Frying.
If you do decide to buy an air fryer, you need to know how to keep it clean. Because it doesn’t use much oil, this is a far simpler and less messy task than cleaning a regular fryer, but it still needs doing regularly to avoid contamination and help keep your machine working at its best.
What to use
When it comes to cleaning materials, simple is best. A soft, non-abrasive cloth and warm soapy water are all you need to remove food residue and grease, and you can also use a wooden skewer or toothpick to poke out any food stuck in the basket or the grate.
Avoid using abrasive sponges or metal utensils, as these may damage the non-stick coating. Instead of scrubbing stuck on dirt, soak the components in hot soapy water to loosen it, and then wipe away. You should also avoid harsh chemical cleaners, as these may be corrosive, and even if they are food safe, they can affect the flavour of the food.
Another important part of your preparation is to make sure you unplug the machine before you start washing it. You should also allow it to cool down for at least 30 minutes to avoid burning your fingers.
How to clean your air fryer basket
You should clean the parts of your fryer that come into contact with the food - the basket, tray and pan - after each use, to kill harmful bacteria and avoid clogging up the machine with dirt. Some models have removable parts that are dishwasher safe, and if you’re lucky enough to have one of these, cleaning is pretty straightforward.
If you have to clean your machine by hand, remove the basket, tray and pan and empty any loose crumbs into the trash, then submerge them in a bowl of hot soapy water for 10 to 15 minutes to soften any stuck on dirt. When they’ve done soaking, wipe them down well with a soft soapy cloth, making sure you get inside all the nooks and crannies. Rinse under the tap to wash away any soap residue, then dry all the parts well before putting them back into the machine.
How to clean your air fryer heating element
Your air fryer’s heating element doesn’t come into direct contact with the food, it won’t require as much cleaning. You should still give it a wipe down every few weeks, though, to avoid grease build up. Remove the basket first so you can reach the element, and you may also find that turning the machine upside down helps. Wipe it clean with a soapy cloth and use a damp, non-soapy cloth to wipe away the soap residue. Make sure the element has dried completely before using the machine again.
How to clean your air fryer before its first use
You should clean your air fryer parts before its first use, either in the dishwasher or with soapy water, as above. If you find it has a slight plasticky smell, you can use a few teaspoons of vinegar and lime juice to absorb the fumes. Run your fryer at 400°F for 3 minutes, then switch it off and place a dish with some vinegar and lime juice inside for about 15 minutes while the machine cools down.
How to keep your air fryer clean
Make cleaning easier by doing it regularly, so you don’t have to deal with ancient baked-on grease. You can also line the basket with foil or parchment paper when you’re cooking something particularly messy to catch the grease before it touches the basket. Remember that there will be hot air blowing inside the machine, however, so you need to be sure that the food is heavy enough to hold the foil or paper in place.
Another way you can prevent the basket from getting too messy is to season it with a thin layer of oil. This sounds counterintuitive, but it should help prevent food and grease from sticking. Place the basket inside the machine at 400°F, and set the timer for 5 minutes. Halfway through, pause the machine and remove the basket, then use a paper towel to apply a thin layer of coconut oil to the basket. Place the basket back inside the machine and let it run for the rest of the 5 minutes.
Now you know how to keep your air fryer clean, it’s time to get cooking. Whether you’re vegan, or just someone who appreciates delicious food, you’ll love these tasty plant-based air fryer recipes.