POV: You’ve got the kebabs skewered, the grilling tools are ready to go, and you’re sporting your best fun fit in the sun. Only problem? That rain cloud you expected to be heading in the opposite direction came straight to your backyard, despite your emphatic prayers to the weather gods. What started out as a light drizzle turned into a downpour that really derailed his barbecue plans.
And now? Before you cry and order pizza, we’ve put together some genius tips to turn your trusty air fryer into a lean, medium grilling machine to help save the day. In fact, with these easy tips, you can turn your air fryer into an indoor grill that can deliver that iconic charcoal flavor, grill marks, and plenty of summer vibes no matter the weather outside. Read on to learn how Jaclyn Huff, a certified health coach and personal chef from Los Angeles, makes her barbecue using a deep fryer even when the sun is shining.
How to grill in the airfryer
1. Preheat the fryer before adding food.
As with most air fryer recipes, the key is to preheat your air fryer. before you toss the food for maximum crunchy effect, says Huff. To replicate the high heat of a grill, she recommends heating it to 400°F so that it gets really hot from the start for maximum charring potential.
“Then lower the temperature to 380°F when you’re ready to grill,” says Huff. “Cooking temperatures can range between 380°F and 400°F for grilling. Food tends to cook quickly in the fryer, so food will take about half as long to cook as it does on a traditional grill. air fryers have consistent heat circulation.”
2. Prepare food evenly and at the same temperature
“Make sure the foods are similar in size to cook more evenly. For meat, it is best to cook it when it reaches room temperature. This ensures even cooking. It’s also good to use a thicker cut of protein for the air fryer, again because they tend to cook food quickly. This will help your meat retain moisture and juiciness,” says Huff.
3. Use an onion to season (and clean) the grates
Before you start grilling the fryer, Huff recommends cutting an onion in half and rubbing it on the grills of the fryer basket to season and add flavor before cooking. The sulfur compounds in alliums (like onions) react with the metal when heated and form a hard sulfide layer that helps prevent food from sticking to the surface. You can also use the onion to help loosen and remove burnt pieces when you’re done cooking.
4. Use a grill plate accessory for grill marks
Now, if those classic grill brands are all you’re after, you can use a fryer accessory (like this one from Amazon) to help you achieve that iconic standard. “The accessory has grooves that create grill marks and allow the food juices to fall out, so that they evaporate and give more flavor. This is similar to what happens on a grid; juices can fall out of the food and evaporate,” says Huff.
5. Use oils with high smoke points
According to Huff, you should use oils that can withstand high temperatures, such as avocado or vegetable oil. “You also don’t need to use a lot of oil when cooking with a deep fryer. Food can be tossed in a small amount to help prevent it from sticking to the grill attachment – think a few teaspoons,” she says.
6. Pre-soak the skewers to avoid burning them
“To prepare skewers for the fryer, it is important to dip them in water first just like you would your default grid. This will help prevent the skewer from burning. Traditional skewers may not fit in the fryer; shorter may be needed. Again, make sure the food is cut to similar sizes to cook evenly,” recommends Huff.
7. Season to add smoke
To mimic the flavor of charcoal in the fryer, Huff uses different seasonings to achieve the perfect smoke. “I recommend smoked flavors like smoked paprika, liquid smoke, smoked salts or spices, barbecue sauce, black cardamom, mesquite or similar grilling seasonings, chipotle pepper and cumin,” she says.
Air fryer cooking temperatures and times for commonly grilled foods
Corn: Cover with a few teaspoons of oil or butter. Season as you wish. Cook at 400°F for about eight to 10 minutes. No need to boil. Be sure to flip the corn halfway through cooking.
peaches: To prevent sticking, place a piece of parchment over the grilling attachment and lightly grease the peach with butter or oil (spice, if desired, salty or sweet). Peaches grill best when cut in half. Be sure to use fresh, ripe peaches (or slightly underripe) as they will hold together better. To obtain the grill marks, lightly press the peach onto the grill attachment (even with the parchment) with tongs. Cook at 380°F for about five to 10 minutes.
potatoes: Cut the potatoes into evenly sized pieces or use whole small potatoes. Lightly grease and season to taste. Grill at 400°F for about 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of the potatoes), turning to get charcoal marks. No need to parboil.
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