Can You Put Multiple Foods On Top Of Each Other In An Air Fryer?

Many of us have now discovered just how convenient cooking food in an air fryer can be. The air fryer is a countertop appliance that cooks food fast and is super energy efficient. With the added bonus that there’s not too much washing up left behind after cooking.

This is mainly due to the air fryer’s compact size which means all of your food is cooked in that single basket. Consequently it’s only that basket that often needs to be cleaned.

However, that compact size can mean you can’t cook as much food as you would like to at one time. Which is why we put this article together, it would be great if there was a way to cook multiple foods at the same time in the air fryer.

How Do Air Fryers Work?

Before we can get into whether or not it’s possible to cook multiple foods at once in the air fryer, we need to understand exactly how an air fryer operates.

Air fryers typically consist of a heating element and a powerful fan. The heating element produces heat which is then directed at the food in the air fryer’s basket to cook it.

The basket has a series of holes all around that allows that hot air to flow all around the food which is why the food cooks way faster than in a conventional oven.

An air fryer is basically a countertop convection oven which means you get the cooking power of convection heating combined with the convenience of a small countertop appliance.

The main takeaway from this is an air fryer relies on the uninterrupted flow of hot air to cook food.

Can You Stack Food In An Air Fryer?

As we’ve just seen, the food in an air fryer gets cooked as hot air passes over it. This means stacking food could result in uncooked areas on some of that food.

However, there are certain foods that can be stacked and still cook perfectly in the air fryer basket. It all depends on the size and shape of the food and whether enough air can flow around it.

Which is why irregular sized items like chips for example can be stacked within reason and still cook perfectly in the air fryer. The secret with chips is they’re not all a uniform shape which means air can pass around each chip relatively freely.

Of course you will need to shake the basket once or twice during the cooking time to ensure every surface of each individual chip gets exposed to the full blast of the hot air.

What Foods Can Be Stacked In An Air Fryer?

Foods that aren’t likely to carry any harmful bacteria and are small enough to be able to be shaken around in the air fryer basket can be stacked in the air fryer. This includes foods like;

  • Chips
  • Sliced Vegetables
  • Sliced Potatoes

Then there are those foods that have sharp angles like;

  • Chicken Wings
  • Mozzarella Sticks
  • Fish Fingers

These foods can be stacked in such a way as to allow air to circulate freely and cook each part of the food. This is particularly important for chicken wings as poultry can carry harmful bacteria which needs to be destroyed by high temperatures.

What Foods Cannot Be Stacked In An Air Fryer?

Dense foods like meat and fish should not be stacked because to do so will often result in the parts that are touching remaining uncooked. 

This is because the air cannot flow freely which means the pieces of meat or fish that are directly touching each other could be raw or at least not cooked sufficiently to remove any germs or bacteria.

Are There Any Ways To Cook Multiple Foods Simultaneously In An Air Fryer?

From what we’ve just learned, air fryers are OK for cooking food for 1 or maybe 2 people, but due to the way the food cooks, they’re not so good for families.

However, there are a few ways around this so keep reading.

One way around this is to buy the biggest capacity air fryer you can fit on your countertop (and can afford). However we often have a limited budget and even less countertop space.

Which is where air fryer racks are useful.

Air Fryer Stacking Racks

3 PCS Stainless Steel Air Fryer Rack Square Compatible for Ninja Dual AF300UK/AF400UK or Other Air Fryers, Wire Rack for Air Fryer Stacking Rack for Air Fryer Grill Rack - 7.5×5.1×1.6 Inch
  • ☛【AIR FRYER RACK】: Fryer rack compatible for NINJA AF300UK/AF400UK or other fryer. Single size: 7.5×5.1×1.6 inch, 3 pcs stack size: 7.5×5.1×3.5 inch; Please measure your air fryer size carefully before purchasing.

You can double or even triple the cooking capacity of your air fryer by using racks in your air fryer. If your particular air fryer doesn’t come with stacking racks, they can be purchased online and are available in many shapes and sizes to fit the most commonly sized air fryer baskets.

If you are looking to buy some of these stacking racks, you should look for features like;

  • The correct size for your air fryer
  • Non-stick
  • Food grade stainless steel

You can even get sets which include racks, skewers, mesh inserts, tongs, and other useful items.

What Can Be Cooked Using Air Fryer Racks?

Using racks in the air fryer basket can be the difference between cooking 2 burgers and cooking 4 or even 6 burgers at the same time. Air fryer racks can be used to cook foods including;

  • Burgers
  • Steaks
  • Fish Fillets
  • Pork Chops
  • Chicken Breasts
  • Chips
  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Fish Fingers
  • Lamb Chops
  • Roast Potatoes

How To Use Air Fryer Racks

To successfully cook multiple layers of food simultaneously in an air fryer you should;

  1. Preheat the air fryer
  2. Arrange the bottom layer so that none of the pieces are touching and there is a space between each piece
  3. Place the rack into the basket without allowing the feet to touch any of the bottom layer of food
  4. Spray the rack lightly with oil to prevent sticking
  5. Place food items on the rack
  6. Cook for around half of the time needed
  7. Turn the food items over
  8. Cook for the remaining time

You can, if the basket size allows add another layer but be aware, the top layers are likely to cook faster than the layers below.

Air Fryer Rack Tips

Using a rack system in the basket of your air fryer can allow you to cook far more food at one time. As long as you stick to the following advice;

  • Always ensure the rack is set in a stable position and cannot topple or fall
  • Always rotate the layers by moving the bottom layer to the top around halfway through the cooking time
  • Take care when removing food as the rack and basket will become very hot during the cooking process
  • Always use tongs or spatulas to remove hot food
  • Always check the internal temperature of any meat or fish before serving
  • Allow the racks and basket to fully cool down before washing

If you are cooking foods that take different times to cook you should always start with the items that need the longest at the bottom and then add the items that need less time onto the rack.

If you get the timings right, you can then remove all items at the same time. If not, you might need to remove the done items and keep them warm whilst the rest finishes cooking.

Always place the meat or fish on the bottom layer and add potatoes, chips etc on the top layer to prevent the juices from the meat from making the chips soggy.

Any food items that can be eaten raw can be placed safely on the top layer.

How Many Racks Will Fit Into An Air Fryer Basket?

Most small to medium sized air fryers can fit 1 or 2 racks while larger models can fit 2 or 3 racks. If you have an oven style air fryer you’ll probably be able to fit even more but you won’t necessarily need it because oven style air fryers are designed differently and have plenty of extra usable space compared to basket style models.

Air Fryer

Alternative Ways To Cook Multiple Foods At Once In An Air Fryer

It’s all very well telling you about air fryer racks as something to buy and use in the future. But how about today, right now – what can you use to help cook multiple foods simultaneously using your existing air fryer?

You can successfully cook fish fingers and chips in the same basket at the same temperature at the same time. All you need to do is place the chips on one side of the basket and the fish fingers on the other side. Then cook as normal.

Using Aluminium Foil

If you’re cooking 2 foods that should not be cooked together at the same time, you could divide the basket using aluminium foil. There are a few details that should not be ignored when using foil which are;

  1. You must not block all of the holes in the basket, if you do the hot air cannot flow which means the food will not cook
  2. Never use aluminium foil when cooking anything acidic like tomatoes, peppers, vinegar, wine, citrus fruit (lemons, oranges etc) . This is because the aluminium foil reacts with acidic foods and leeches aluminium into the food.
  3. You should always ensure the foil is secured because if it were to become loose and fly around inside the air fryer, it could cause damage or even catch fire.

Using A Separator

Some air fryers come with a basket separator which can be placed across the basket. This allows you to cook 2 separate foods simultaneously in the same basket.

Some of the rack kits available also include a separator which allows even more scope when using the racks.

SEE ALSO: Air Fryer Conversion Chart

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you pile things on top of each other in the air fryer?

There are certain things that can be piled on top of each other in the air fryer, things like chips and chicken nuggets for example. These can be placed on top of each other as long as the basket is shaken once or twice during the cooking time. Meat and fish items should never be placed on top of each other and should always be cooked in the air fryer in a single layer.

Can you put multiple layers of food in an air fryer?

You should cook meat and fish items in a single layer in the air fryer. It’s OK to put chips and chicken nuggets in a multiple layer as long as you shake the basket once or twice during the cooking process.

Can you stack chicken nuggets in an air fryer?

While it’s OK to stack chicken nuggets in an air fryer, they will take longer to cook and will cook far quicker and crisper if cooked in a single layer.

Can you stack pork chops in an air fryer?

You should never stack pork chops in an air fryer. For the pork chops to cook safely they should be arranged in the air fryer basket in a single layer without touching.

Can you stack frozen chips in an air fryer?

You can stack frozen chips in an air fryer as long as you shake the basket at least once at around the halfway stage of cooking.

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