Do You have to Preheat an Air Fryer? When & Why?

Air fryers are amazing appliances, particularly for those who enjoy fries. They are popular kitchen equipment as they can fry, cook, and broil a variety of meals. They cook meals quickly and with little oil to provide a healthy meal.

Thus, some people have trouble employing the air fryer to achieve the intended results. Preheating is a crucial part of cooking and the question arises: Do you have to preheat an air fryer?

Depending on the dish you are preparing, and the air fryer machine, you can or cannot have to preheat an air fryer. Let’s quickly review the operation of air fryers.

How Do Air Fryers Work?

Air fryers have been designed to fry the meal using little to no oil. The appliance has a fan attached that blows heated air around the ventilated baskets inside. It helps to prepare the food and brown the meals outside the surface. This assists in giving the meal the desired crunchiness.

What Does Preheating Mean?

What Does Preheating Mean?

Preheating simply means getting your oven or air fryer ready to fry or bake things. Preheating includes turning on your appliance until the desired temperature has been achieved.

Before placing the pan, basket, or other items to cook, you will have to prepare the appliance by warming it empty, without anything inside. You will preheat it for at least 10 minutes at the defined temperature.

While preheating your air fryer, you will have to take care that your air fryer has reached the desired temperature as it is essential. Otherwise, you can burn your meal if your air fryer has overly heated.

Do I Need to Preheat My Air Fryer?

Yes, you will have to pre-heat your air fryer, especially if you want your meal to have a crunchy texture. While some dishes require preheating, other dishes do not. The same situation implies to various air fryer brands.

Thus, some items fry more effectively when the air fryer is not heated. Thus, you will have to preheat your air fryer differently in different scenarios. The conditions listed below will indicate when preheating your air fryer will work the best and when you shouldn’t.

Let’s start now!

When to Preheat Your Air Fryer

Below are the conditions in which you can preheat your air fryer:

  1. Making frozen foods

Usually, the crunch is required for half-cooked, frozen foods like mozzarella sticks, sliders, and french fries. The air fryer should be preheated to produce the highest-quality meals. It is because all of these have already been prepared.

  1. Reheating leftovers or making smaller foods

You will have to preheat your air fryer while preparing smaller foods or reheating scraps. Such foods can be rapidly cooked in preheated air fryers. This way, it will provide a pleasant crunch.

  1. Making steaks

Preheating would assist in creating a good crisp or searing on your meat. It will result in a pleasant consistency while cooking at a low or medium-rare level.

  1. Good sear, crust, and crispy food

You will preheat your air fryer to get good cuisine with a crispy crust and sear. If you are frying smaller things, such as chicken strips or pork ribs, preheating will be a good option.

  1. Part of the recipe

Preheating is advised when a dish has been cooked for it. It means that some dishes require preheating your air fryer.

  1. Guided by the manual

You will have to preheat your air fryer according to the handbook. You must see the instructions for your air fryer. Preheating has advised if the supplier recommends it.

When not to Preheat Your Air Fryer

When not to Preheat Your Air Fryer

Below are the conditions in which you won’t have to preheat your air fryer:

  1. Parchment paper

The air fryer should not be preheated with wax paper inside. If the paper touched the heat source, it will ignite and fly around within the air fryer.

  1. Cooking delicate items that do not need a crisp

You won’t have to preheat your air fryer while cooking delicate items like veggies. When the air fryer has first preheated, the veggies’ exterior surface would brown too rapidly. It won’t let the interior part of the meal become delicate or soft.

  1. Raw and thick foods

If you intend to prepare a large, raw, or frozen chunk of any type of meat, such as chicken breasts, roasts, etc., preheating is not a smart option. To prevent the meat from staying uncooked from the inside, such dishes require slow cooking to the center.

Such items are inclined to burn their exteriors rapidly by a preheated air fryer. This way, they will cook improperly from the centers.

  1. Bread, cakes, or pastries

You would like to fry these items in the center to prevent a pastry batter mess from forming within the fryer. The outer surface or crust would get crispy and hard during heating up. In this way, the interior would stay uncooked and spongy.

How to Preheat an Air Fryer?

How to Preheat an Air Fryer

If your model has a preheat option, you can utilize it to initiate the preheating cycle automatically. Also, you can begin it remotely. In any scenario, you must perform the following:

Using a Preheat Setting

You can preheat your air fryer by following the steps given below:

  • If your product has a preheat function, you must read the instructions that are given in the manual book.
  • You will have to verify that each detachable component is intact, dry, and neat. These components include the basket of the air fryer. If it is not dry, you will have to dry it using a damp or dry cloth.
  • To choose and activate the preheat option or program, you will have to read out the manual. It will allow you to use the features accurately without any mistakes.
  • In the last step, you will have to allow the appliance to warm up automatically.

Preheating your Air Fryer Manually

You can manually preheat your air fryer by using the steps given below:

  • You will have to ensure that any detachable components are dry, spotless, and secured. It is essential because if the air fryer will not clean, it will impact the taste of your meal.
  • You must choose the air fry option, then adjust the optimum temperature and timing. Also, you can use the meal’s recommendations or choose your own.
  • After that, you will have to turn it on. And it will be preheated in about 2-3 minutes for smaller air fryers and in approximately 4 minutes for large air fryers.
  • You will have to place the food products in your basket after the time limit has been exceeded.
  • Once you have preheated your air fryer, the basket and other inside parts will be hot. That is the reason, you must take caution when touching them. Otherwise, it can burn your hand.

Note: Air Fryers have a heating element that heats up very fast just like a hair dryer so you don’t need to wait a long time to preheat your air fryer. Just wait till the time that all your air fryer attachments such as baskets and racks etc get to the required temperature.

Preheating your Air Fryer Automatically

You will have to follow a few easy steps if your air fryer is automatic. Let’s have a look at them:

  • If your air fryer is automated, all you have to do is adjust the timer and temperature.
  • Then you will switch on the air fryer.
  • After that, your air fryer will start working.
  • When it is preheated, it will glow or ring to let you notice. It indicates that your air fryer is ready to start cooking.

How to Preheat Ninja Air Fryers?

Preheating the ninja air fryer requires a specified temperature of 400 degrees before starting cooking. You will have to follow the given steps to preheat your ninja air fryer:

  1. You will have to set your Ninja air fryer’s temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit to prepare it for heating.
  2. After that, you will have to wait for the Ninja air fryer to preheat for 3 to 4 minutes. It is necessary to let it heat for 3 to 4 minutes before start cooking your meal to get the optimum results.
  3. Then you can put your meal in the fryer basket once it has warmed up accurately.

How Long to Preheat Your Air Fryer Before Cooking?

How Long to Preheat Your Air Fryer Before Cooking

Depending on the size of your air fryer and the desired heat level, you will have to give it some time to preheat. It is necessary to give your air fryer proper time for preheating to get excellent results.

As a general guideline, it is preferable to pre-heat your air fryer for approximately 2-3 minutes for tiny buckets and approximately 5 minutes for bigger baskets. In this way, the time of the preheating will base on the size of the air fryer’s basket.

Here is a more detailed list of recommended temperatures and times. Thus, you must use the lower number for significantly smaller fryers and the higher number for larger air fryers:

  1. 300 degrees or below: 2-3 minutes
  2. Between 300 and 350 degrees: 3-4 minutes
  3. Between 350 and 400 degrees:5-6 minutes


Till now I have clearly explained do you have to preheat an air fryer. Also, I have explained when and why you will have to preheat your air fryer before starting cooking. Some meals require preheating your air fryer, while others do not require it.

That is the reason, you must be careful while cooking and preheating your air fryer before you start cooking in the air fryer. Also, you must follow the essential steps before starting any process to avoid any danger.

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In case your air fryer does not include a preheat setting, adjust the temperature and time physically. Place your foodstuffs in the container after the specified amount of time has passed. Preheat for two to three minutes for smaller air fryers. For bigger sizes, preheat for 4–5 minutes.

Yes, opening an air fryer while it is frying is possible. To monitor the food’s preparation, you can stir the items, or add additional ingredients as desired. You can pull the container out from the front or bottom.

When food is placed in the air fryer, it immediately begins to cook due to the preheating process. This keeps meals from becoming soggy and allows them to crisp up from the outer surface. Some meals such as French fries, rare or medium-rare steak, etc., respond well to air fryer preheating, whereas others do not.

Although it is not required, lightly oiling the inside of the air fryer can assist the non-stick effects. It includes the basket and other attachments. Additionally, it can improve the flavor of your dish.

Mery kitchen aims

Mery Webber

Mery Webber, the founder of Kitchen Aims, is a passionate home cook with extensive experience in the kitchen appliance industry. Through her blog, she aims to share her knowledge and help readers create the perfect kitchen.

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