Best Air Fryer –
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Deep-frying makes a mess. Oil splatters over the stovetop as you cook—and then there’s the spent fat to dispose of. An air fryer, on the other hand, uses hot air and very little oil, so cleanup, by comparison, is a cinch.
But you’re not off the hook completely.
During air-frying, any oil or fat in the food basket drips or splatters into the pull-out drawer that encases the basket.
You might not notice it after a few batches of fries, but over time that grease can build up in the drawer and on the heating element, and you may start to smell odors or even see smoke as your food cooks. And those bits trapped in the basket’s holes will keep on cooking and can burn to a crisp.
That’s why you should clean your air fryer after every use.
Our testers found that the nooks and crannies on some air fryer components are a bear to clean, and the crevices on the exterior take effort, too.
Only one of the more than two dozen models we’ve tested snags an Excellent rating in our cleaning test, as you can see in our air fryer ratings. The majority earn a Good rating or lower in ease of cleaning, meaning they require some elbow grease.
Best Air Fryer – How to Clean an Air Fryer
Many of the air fryers we’ve tested are claimed to have dishwasher-safe components, and we note this in our ratings. The owner’s manual will offer cleaning tips specific to your air fryer, but in general, here’s what Larry Ciufo, who tests air fryers for CR, suggests you do:
1. Don’t delay cleaning, or you’ll come to regret it. “Do not allow the crumbs and bits of food to sit overnight, or the basket and drawer will be a nightmare to clean,” Ciufo says. “When you’re done cooking, unplug the air fryer, let it cool, and then empty out the oil from the pullout drawer and dispose of it.”
If you’re air-frying food with a sticky sauce, such as marinated ribs, clean the basket and drawer while they’re somewhat hot—the mess will come off easier.
2. Clean the food basket and drawer with warm, soapy water. Use a soft sponge or cloth—no abrasives. If food is stuck on these components, soak them in hot water and dish detergent to loosen the food, then clean.
3. Use a wooden skewer or toothpick to poke out food stuck in the basket’s holes. Dry the basket and drawer.
4. Clean the inside of the air fryer using a damp cloth dipped in warm soapy water. The basket and drawer should still be removed. Check the heating element for grease and food debris and wipe clean. (Some manufacturers say you can use a soft brush—but not steel wire—to remove stuck-on food.) Dry, then reassemble.
5. Wipe the exterior. Use a damp cloth or sponge, then dry the appliance.
Best Air Fryer – How to Deal With Lingering Odors
When a food gives off a strong smell while cooking, the odor may linger in your air fryer, even after cleaning. NewAir, maker of Magic Chef air fryers, recommends soaking the food basket and drawer in soapy water for 30 to 60 minutes before cleaning again. If the smell persists, cut a lemon in half and rub it over the basket and drawer, let it sit 30 minutes, then rewash.
Best Air Fryer – Be Careful With Nonstick
Consumers have complained on our website and elsewhere that the nonstick coating on some air fryer components flakes off over time. We haven’t seen this (our tests evaluate performance right out of the box), but our advice regarding other nonstick cookware holds true here, too: Do not use metal utensils, steel wool, or any other abrasives, because they can scratch or chip the nonstick coating.
If the nonstick coating is flaking, don’t use the air fryer, says Don Huber, director of product safety for CR.
Call the manufacturer’s customer service and ask for a new basket, or try to return the air fryer to the retailer.
Best Air Fryer – 3 Impressive Air Fryers That Are Pretty Easy to Clean
These three air fryers are among the easiest to clean of the models in our ratings.
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