Can You Put Water In An Air Fryer? (read this first)

This is another one of those questions that we keep getting asked so this is our answer. The short answer is yes, you can put water in an air fryer but only a very small amount. 

Air fryers are electronically powered and it’s well known that water and electrics don’t mix too well. That said, a little water will help to cut down on greasy smoke and help prevent foods from becoming too dry.

How Much Water Can You Put In An Air Fryer?

For safety reasons, it is recommended that you only put a small amount of water into the drawer of your air fryer. In most cases you should use no more than two to three tablespoons of water but if you are cooking something greasy some manufacturers recommend using no more than one cup of water. Which should be poured into the drawer of the air fryer before any food is added.

Why Put Water In An Air Fryer?

The way an air fryer works is by circulating hot, dry air around whatever food you have placed in the basket. If that air is too dry it can overcook the food leaving the outside burnt. Adding a few tablespoons of water to the bottom of the drawer will help to moisten the atmosphere within the air fryer allowing the food to cook without drying out.

You can also reheat baked foods in the air fryer and if you add a few drops of water to the bottom of the drawer the food will come out feeling and tasting freshly baked.

Cooking greasy food using an air fryer like bacon or beefburgers can cause the grease to create smoke. By adding water to the bottom of the drawer first, that grease gets trapped in the water which keeps it cool and prevents the grease from causing any greasy smoke in your kitchen.

Adding water is not just for grease, it will work just as well when cooking any meat that releases any liquid whilst cooking. This includes;

  • Chicken thighs
  • Meatballs
  • Steaks
  • Sausages
  • Ribs
  • And so on

If you don’t intend to use the juices that fall from the meat for a sauce, it is always a good idea to add water to the drawer when cooking any greasy foods. This will not only help to prevent smoking, it will also make cleaning the air fryer easier after use. The hot water will mix with the grease as well as soften any crumbs that have become lodged in any corners etc.

Add Water To The Air Fryer Carefully

We mentioned earlier how electrics and water don’t mix, so you need to exercise extreme caution when adding water to the drawer of your air fryer. Most manufacturers recommend adding two to three tablespoons of water and in terms of safety, that’s fine. When adding water you must be careful not to allow any to splash upwards onto the heating element for example.

Can Putting Water In An Air Fryer Cause It To Break?

The way an air fryer works is by generating hot air inside via a heating element. That hot air is then spread around the food via a high speed fan. The heating element and fan are obviously powered by electricity which should never get wet.

Adding too much water could cause it to fly around inside when the fan gets going. There’s also the possibility of the inner basket not sitting level if there is too much water underneath it.

Air fryers don’t have a compartment for holding or heating liquids because air fryers are not designed to hold or heat water.

If you were to damage your air fryer due to adding water, your warranty would be void. Which is why we recommend using only a small amount of water.

However, it is quite OK to heat a small soup bowl or reheat a gravy boat. The liquid in the bowl or gravy boat will not boil but will get hot enough to serve.

Will The Water Evaporate In An Air Fryer?

When adding water to an air fryer, you could be forgiven for thinking it evaporates. However, it doesn’t, the water gets absorbed into the food as it’s cooking. 

If you were to cook frozen vegetables in an air fryer it would appear that the ice has melted and evaporated away. The reality however, is that the water has gone into the food making it moist and often too soft as it heats up.

Can Food Be Steam Cooked In An Air Fryer?

As you can probably gather from what we’ve said so far, food cannot be steam cooked in an air fryer. If you want to steam food, you need a pressure cooker or steamer. 

This is because an air fryer is designed more like a fan oven. The air is heated by the element and that hot air is distributed around the air fryer by way of a fan. The hot air is blown down onto the food and reflected back up onto the underside of the food by the bottom of the drawer.

Plus air fryers have vents to allow any steam that builds up during the cooking process to be released. As the steam is removed from the air fryer during cooking, food cannot be steam cooked. Air fryers are designed to air fry the food and make it crispy not steamed.

Air Fryer

Can Water Be Boiled In An AIr Fryer?

There are two main reasons why an air fryer is unsuitable for boiling water. Which are;

  1. Air fryers don’t achieve temperatures high enough to boil water.
  2. The food basket isn’t sealed which would mean water would pass into areas where electrical components are exposed. This would cause the appliance to become damaged and could also fuse your home’s electrics.

It is possible to cook certain foods like vegetables in an air fryer but you will probably need to add one or two tablespoons of water to the drawer before adding the vegetables (this is especially true for broccoli which can burn easily in an air fryer).

Did You Know You Can Boil Eggs In An Air Fryer?

It will take some experimentation on your part because all air fryers are different. Below is a rough guide to the time it will take to cook eggs as if they were boiled. After cooking, take them out of the air fryer and place the eggs immediately into a bowl of ice water. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel off the shells.

  • Soft Boiled Eggs – Just don’t add water, cook them in their shells in a preheated air fryer at 275 degrees for around 9 minutes.
  • Hard Boiled Eggs – Cook in a preheated air fryer for around 15 minutes.

Can Rice Or Pasta Be Cooked In An Air Fryer?

As air fryers are designed to cook food by circulating hot air with the help of a fan, rice or pasta would not cook successfully in an air fryer. Both rice and pasta need to be boiled in water to cook. As the water boils, the rice or pasta absorbs some of that water to make it soft and edible.

An air fryer would dry the rice or pasta even more, not make them soft. Air fryers cook food leaving it with a crisp, crunchy texture, and as such is no good for cooking anything that relies on boiling water to cook.

Can Oil Be Used In An Air Fryer?

It is fine to use a little oil when cooking in an air fryer, but just a little. The oil should never be poured into the bottom of the drawer like small amounts of water can be. You should just lightly brush your food with oil if you feel your food will be too dry without it.

Always remember although it’s called  an air fryer, it doesn’t need oil to fry your food. All that is needed is a very small amount, maybe one or two teaspoons and this should be brushed over the meat to prevent the outside from becoming too dry.

If you prefer your fried food dripping with oil (for some strange reason). You should buy a deep fat fryer. Air fryers require no oil at all (or only a minute amount for preference) which means they are a far healthier way to cook food.

What Oil Should You Use In An Air Fryer?

The oils suitable for use in an air fryer are any oils with a high smoking point. Oils like;

  • Light (Pure) Olive Oil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Avocado Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Sesame Seed Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Palm Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Rape Seed (Canola) Oil

Never use non-stick cooking spray oils as it will damage the inside of your air fryer. This is because air fryers are coated with a non-stick coating and the chemicals within the spray oil could cause the non-stick coating in the air fryer to flake.

What Other Liquids Can Be Used In An Air Fryer?

The best advice we can give you is to not add any other liquids to your food when cooking it in an air fryer. If you like your ribs coated in BBQ sauce, you’ll need to add it after cooking. This is because of the way the air fryer cooks using circulating hot air.

Any sauces would cause a huge mess inside the food drawer as well as potentially leaking through onto electrical components which could cause damage to your appliance. 

 As instructions differ between various makes and models, if you have any doubts about the suitability of any sauce or other liquid, we would recommend consulting your user manual or contacting your manufacturer directly.

How To Clean An Air Fryer

Now we know that you shouldn’t use too much water in an air fryer, you might be wondering how do you clean it then? It’s a natural thing to ask considering all of the meat fat, grease and bacteria that’s likely to build up inside the drawer.

Cleaning an air fryer is a simple process and takes next to no time to perform. Simply remove any parts that are supposed to be removed (parts with no electrical component that can be removed safely), this varies from model to model (check with your air fryer’s manufacturer if you’re in any doubt). 

These removable parts can be safely washed and submerged in water and a mild detergent. Once these parts have been fully dried they can be replaced into the air fryer. 

Please note: In some cases it’s OK to submerge the removable drawer from the air fryer in water, however many of the popular air fryers on the market today specifically warn against this. Which is why it’s important to actually read through the manual before cleaning.

Ensure all parts are completely dry before replacing them into the air fryer.

Cleaning The Exterior Of The Air Fryer

The exterior of the air fryer is likely to need cleaning more frequently than the interior due to it sitting on the counter top and possibly attracting dust. 

Always remember that air fryers are electrical appliances and should be treated as such. Never submerge any part of the air fryer in water unless it can be easily removed from the appliance and does not have an electrical component attached and your manual says it’s OK to do so.

To clean the exterior of the air fryer ensure the appliance is disconnected from the mains supply, and then wipe over with a damp cloth. Dry using a clean, dry, lint free cloth and never use your air fryer if any part is wet (including the exterior).

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you put water in an air fryer and turn it on to clean it?

It is possible to put water in an air fryer then turn it on to clean it, but you need to be careful to not put too much water in the drawer. As air fryers have non-stick coatings, it is easier and safer to remove the drawer and wash it in warm water and dish soap. Please note, some models specifically warn against washing in this way, so it’s important to first check with your owner’s manual. 

Do you add water to an air fryer for vegetables?

You can add one or two tablespoons of water to an air fryer for cooking vegetables. This will prevent the vegetables from drying out too much.

Can I boil pasta in an air fryer?

You can’t boil pasta in an air fryer because pasta needs to be cooked in boiling water and an air fryer never achieves a high enough temperature to boil water. Also adding sufficient water to an air fryer to boil pasta would likely cause damage to the appliance.

Can you put soup in an air fryer?

Some models state that you can put soup in an air fryer in a bowl and reheat it, however others specifically advise against using liquids inside the drawer. 

How much water do you put in the bottom of an air fryer?

It is recommended that a small amount of water is put in the drawer of the air fryer. One to two tablespoons should be sufficient for most foods and definitely no more than one cupful.

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