Can You Put Oil In An Air Fryer? (best & worst types)

The short answer is yes, you can put oil in an air fryer, but you don’t need to add too much and there are some oils that should never be used in an air fryer. Keep reading for the full story. 

Should You Use Oil When Air Frying?

It sounds like a contradiction doesn’t it? Surely air fryers use the air to fry food? Well yes, that is true but to prevent the food from drying out, you will need to coat some foods in oil.

Where Do You Put Oil In An Air Fryer?

You never put the oil directly in the air fryer, the oil is used to coat the food. 

The oil is put onto the food, not in the air fryer basket, which means using far less oil than would be the case in a conventional oven or hob.

For example, if you’re cooking roast potatoes in an air fryer, simply spray the potatoes with oil to help them crisp up on the outside. 

If you were to cook roast potatoes in an oven, they would be sitting in fat and would need basting every so often with more oil.

How Much Oil Is Needed When Using An Air Fryer?

The amount of oil needed varies from recipe to recipe and depends entirely on what is being cooked. But the amount ranges between a few sprays up to one tablespoon (18 ml or ½ ounce) of oil.

How To Get The Oil Onto The Food When Using An Air Fryer

There are different ways of covering your food with oil before air frying them. Some foods should have oil sprayed onto the food using an oil mister. For instance, cooking air fried ravioli either fresh or frozen will tend to cook dry unless sprayed with oil.

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You could also use a basting brush to add oil to the raw food before cooking. Basting brushes are a good choice for covering something like a frozen chicken breast for example.

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In some cases the ingredients should be placed in a large bowl and then tossed in the oil in the bowl along with any seasonings before the food is put in the air fryer basket.

You should never pour oil into the air fryer basket as this is dangerous and unnecessary.

What Oil Should You Use In An Air Fryer?

The first thing you need to understand when it comes to using any oil when cooking and in particular when using an air fryer is the smoke point of the oil.

What Is ‘Smoke Point’?

The smoke point is the temperature that the oil can tolerate before it begins to burn and create smoke. It is not advisable to cook food in smoking oil as the food will taste burnt.

What Are The Smoke Points Of Common Cooking Oils?

Below we have listed the smoke point of many of the most used cooking oils from lowest to highest. Which are;

Type Of OilTemperature of Smoke Point
Coconut Oil177 C (350 F)
Rapeseed Oil204 C (400 F)
Vegetable Oil204 C (400 F)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil210 C (410 F)
Grapeseed Oil 215 C (420 F)
Sunflower Oil232 C (450 F)
Peanut Oil232 C (450 F)
Extra Light Olive Oil 243 C (470 F)
Ghee (Clarified Butter)250 C (482 F)
Avocado Oil 299 C (570 F)

Avocado oil has the highest smoke point and is great to use because it leaves absolutely no after taste in the food. It is quite expensive at around £10 – £50 per bottle but as you will only need to use a minimal amount it will last for a long time.

Extra light olive oil is a great alternative as it also leaves no aftertaste and has a relatively high smoke point.

It’s worth remembering that oils like coconut and peanut will leave an aftertaste. So if you don’t want to taste the oil you’ll be better off using avocado oil, olive oil or even ghee. 

Is It OK To Use Olive Oil In An Air Fryer?

If you intend to use olive oil in your air fryer, it’s best to use extra light olive oil because it has a higher smoke point than the extra virgin olive oil.

Is It OK To Use Rapeseed Oil In An Air Fryer?

Rapeseed oil is the most commonly used cooking oil in the UK, and as such you probably already have some in the house. 

It is classed as a vegetable oil and has a low smoke point, which is something you’ll need to keep in mind when it comes to setting the cooking temperature of your air fryer.

Is It OK To Use PAM Type Oil In The Air Fryer?

PAM oil was invented in the late 1950s and contains several ingredients to make them non-stick. These are great for roasting, baking and frying in a frying pan.

However, PAM spray oils should never be used in an air fryer due to the added chemicals that can damage the air fryer’s basket.

You can of course use an oil mister that uses no aerosols to project your own favourite oil from the mister.

Is It OK To Use Walnut Oil In An Air Fryer?

Walnut oil has a low smoke point of 107 C (225 F) which makes it unsuitable for using in an air fryer. Other low smoke point oils include;

  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Pumpkin Seed Oil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sesame Oil

All of these are great for salad dressings but should be kept away from the air fryer.

What Is The Healthiest Oil To Use In An Air Fryer?

The healthiest oil to use in an air fryer is extra virgin olive oil because it produces less harmful toxins than most other oils.

But due to its low smoke point, it’s not the best oil to use in an air fryer.

So instead of using extra virgin olive oil, we would recommend either; avocado oil because of its high smoke point. 

Or vegetable oil because it contains the least saturated fats of many oils as well as containing high levels of phytosterols which are known to help reduce the human body’s absorption of cholesterol.

Do Vegetables Need Coating In Oil Before Cooking In An Air Fryer?

It depends on the type of vegetables because things like frozen chips are usually already coated in oil. 

If you’re making your own chips they should be peeled and cut into the shape that you prefer. Then you should soak them in a bowl of water for around 30 minutes before drying them in kitchen paper.

Place ½ a tablespoon of oil in a bowl and then add the potatoes

 and mix until they are all coated in oil. Before placing them in your air fryer and cooking as per the instructions in your user manual.

Vegetables like broccoli should be cut into your desired size and then washed and dried. The pieces should then be put in a bowl with ½ tablespoon of oil and tossed until all of the pieces have been coated.

What Types Of Food Don’t Need To Be Coated In Oil?

There are many foods that can be cooked in an air fryer without using any oil at all. These include;

  • Meat
    Any meat that doesn’t need to be cooked using oil in a conventional oven, won’t need oil in an air fryer. That includes meat like bacon, sausage, hamburgers, etc.  It is usually best to coat some frozen meat (like frozen chicken breasts) with a little oil to prevent the meat from drying out as it cooks.
  • Frozen Foods (apart from frozen meat)
    Frozen foods like frozen chips or frozen sweet potato chips will already have been coated with oil and therefore do not need any extra oil.
  • Chicken nuggets and onion rings which are coated in breadcrumbs don’t need any oil either.
  • Cakes, biscuits and brownies also don’t need to be sprayed with oil before cooking in an air fryer.

What Are The Benefits Of Adding Oil To Food In An Air Fryer?

There is no absolute necessity to add oil to the food you intend to cook in your air fryer. However, there are a few benefits which include;

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  • Coating some foods in oil helps to create a crisp texture to the outside of the food (think chips for example)
  • In many cases coating some foods in oil can help to seal in moisture, which makes the food juicier.
  • Oil is often used to enhance the flavour of some foods
  • Oiling certain foods can help to prevent them from sticking to the basket.

Can You Use Your Air Fryer As A Deep Fat Fryer?

Many air fryers look like deep fat fryers but they work in totally different ways.

Although you might be tempted to fill the basket with oil and deep fry your food, it would be extremely dangerous and a waste of oil. Air fryers work like convection ovens, an element heats the air and that hot air is pushed around the basket via a fan.

Filling the basket with oil will ruin the food at best and catch fire at worst. The clue is actually in the name of the product, deep fat fryers use lots of oil to deep fry food.

Whereas air fryers use hot air to cook the food, not oil. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Should you put oil in an air fryer?

You should never put oil in an air fryer, but it is OK to coat certain foods with oil. Roast potatoes for example will cook crispy if they are tossed in a bowl containing 1 teaspoon of oil until all of the potato pieces have been coated.

Where do I put oil in my air fryer?

You don’t put oil in your air fryer, you lightly oil some items of food that you want to cook in the air fryer. Air fried vegetables will cook better if they are lighted coated in oil first.

What oils are OK in an air fryer?

The best oils to use in an air fryer include; avocado oil, extra light olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, grapeseed oil and vegetable oil.

How much oil do you put in an air fryer?

You should never use more than one tablespoon (15 ml) of oil in an air fryer.

Can you use virgin olive oil in an air fryer?

While you can use virgin olive oil in an air fryer, it would limit the temperature you could safely cook your food because virgin olive oil has such a low smoke point. You would be far better to use vegetable oil, sunflower oil or best of all avocado oil.

Can You Use Coconut Oil In An Air Fryer?

You can use coconut oil in an air fryer, however it has a very low smoke point of just 177 C. This means if you’re cooking at temperatures higher than that your air fryer will start to smoke. Another issue you will find when air frying with coconut oil is that it does leave a bit of an aftertaste, which may not always be ideal. Because of these 2 factors, you may want to consider using an alternative oil for your air fryer.

Can You Use Rapeseed Oil In An Air Fryer?

You can air fry with rapeseed oil, however, it’s important to note that it has a relatively low smoke point of just 204°C (400°F). This means that if you cook at higher temperatures, the oil may start to smoke. If you prefer using an oil with a higher smoke point, alternatives like avocado oil or grapeseed oil may be better suited for air frying. These oils can withstand higher temperatures without smoking. Consider choosing an oil that aligns with the cooking temperature requirements of your air fryer for optimal results.

Can You Use Vegetable Oil In An Air Fryer?

Vegetable oil is suitable for use in an air fryer. With a smoke point of 204°C (400°F), it can withstand the cooking temperatures typically used in air frying without smoking, although you will have to be careful not to go over the 200 degree limit. Vegetable oil is a versatile option that works well for various recipes. This is because of its neutral flavour profile which allows the natural flavours of the ingredients to shine through without overpowering them. 

Can You Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil In An Air Fryer?

You can use extra virgin olive oil in an air fryer, however it is best to be careful if you’re cooking at the higher temperatures available on your air fryer such as 220 or 230°C. This is because the smoke point of EVOO is around 210°C. Exceeding that could result in unpleasant odours and flavours in your food as well as smoke coming from your air fryer. It is recommended to use oils with higher smoke points, such as avocado oil or grapeseed oil, for air frying anything at a greater heat than 210°C

Can You Use Grapeseed Oil In An Air Fryer?

Grapeseed oil can be used in an air fryer. It has a relatively high smoke point of around 215°C (420°F), making it suitable for air frying at higher temperatures without smoking excessively. Grapeseed oil is known for its mild flavour and light texture, allowing the natural flavours of the ingredients to not be overpowered. Grapeseed oil can actually help achieve a nice crispy and golden exterior on your air-fried foods which we think is great.

Can You Use Sunflower Oil In An Air Fryer?

Sunflower oil is suitable for use in an air fryer. With a high smoke point of around 232°C (450°F), it can withstand the high temperatures typically used in air frying without smoking excessively or producing any foul odours. Sunflower oil is a versatile cooking oil known for its neutral flavour and cheap price point, making it suitable for a wide range of recipes. Whether you’re air frying vegetables, meats, or other ingredients – sunflower oil is one of the best oils if you’re looking for a crispy and delicious meal. 

Can You Use Peanut Oil In An Air Fryer?

You can use peanut oil in an air fryer however, you need to be aware that peanut oil will leave an aftertaste. Plus it has a relatively low smoke point which means it will burn at 232 C (450 F) which is far lower than avocado oil which is the best oil for use in an air fryer as it has the highest smoke point at 299 C (570 F) and it leaves no aftertaste.

Can You Use Extra Light Olive Oil In An Air Fryer?

You can use extra light olive oil in an air fryer. Of all types of olive oil, extra light olive oil has the highest smoke point at 243 C (470 F). Be sure to use extra light olive oil in the air fryer and not extra virgin olive oil which has a much lower smoke point of 210 C (410 F).

Can You Use Ghee In An Air Fryer?

You can use Ghee or clarified butter in an air fryer. It has a smoke point of 250 C (482 F) which is higher than the smoke point of vegetable oil which has a smoke point of 204 C (400 F).

Can You Use Avocado Oil In An Air Fryer?

You can use Avocado oil in an air fryer. In fact due to its high smoke point, avocado oil is the best oil to use in an air fryer. Avocado oil has a smoke point of 299 C (570 F) whereas vegetable oil has a smoke point of 204 C (400 F). Avocado oil leaves no aftertaste which makes it even more ideal for use in the air fryer.

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