Here are the five foods you shouldn’t try cooking in an air fryer

Publish Date
Saturday, 10 June 2023, 12:00PM
Photo / Getty Images via NZ Herald

Photo / Getty Images via NZ Herald

Air Fryers can save both time and money in the kitchen, coming in handy in countless ways - from homemade hot chips to chicken tenders or fakeaway burgers, crunchy falafel or perfectly crispy tofu.

Not only is it convenient, saves time and helps multi-task in the kitchen, but it also heats up fast and can save money on your power bill if you use it instead of your oven. You can even use it to ripen avocados - who knew?

But while it seems like you can cook just about anything with this handy appliance, there are a few exceptions.

Some of these may be pretty obvious, or maybe you’ve already found out the hard way what doesn’t work in an air fryer. 

When it comes to figuring out what will and won’t work in an air fryer, it’s important to know that anything that normally needs to cook in water or very hot oil probably won’t turn out great.

Here are just a few foods you might want to think twice about before trying.


Veggies like spinach won’t cook evenly in the air fryer because it uses high-speed air, and foods that don’t stay still will probably just burn.

Instead, go for veggies like broccoli or zucchini, something you could pop on the grill and char fairly quickly. You could try kale chips if you coat them in enough oil to keep the leaves still - just make sure you pop them on a layer of baking paper to avoid the mess.

You can air fry most frozen veggies because they retain moisture from the ice, like frozen bagged roast veg - a lifesaver for a quick dinner.


Even if you could manage to fit an entire roast chicken in your air fryer, it probably wouldn't turn out great. The hot air in an air fryer needs room to circulate, and if you try to cook a large cut of meat, it won’t cook evenly and parts of it could burn before the rest of it is cooked.

You can, however, roast smaller pieces of meat like chicken breast - if it’s skin-on then cook with the skin facing up since the heat comes from the top of the air fryer.


You can get nice crispy fried rice in the air fryer, but you’ve got to cook it in water on the stovetop first. That’s also why pasta is off the air fryer menu since air fryers are designed to dry cook food.

Something that needs to be covered in water to cook generally won’t work, and even if you have an attachment that can hold water in an air fryer, it won’t get hot enough to boil.

While we’re on the topic of grains, popcorn won’t work in an air fryer either because it doesn’t get hot enough. So stick to cooking it in a covered pot on the stove with a dash of oil (or the easier microwave version.)

Burger patties

Unless you like your beef burgers extremely well done, the air fryer isn’t the best place for a barbecue.

Air fryers can cook red meat to medium-rare relatively quickly, but the outside won’t brown at the same pace to balance it out, so your patties will end up overcooking.

Battered foods

Anything coated in wet batter will just make a mess in the air fryer rather than creating that heavenly crunch.

If you’re into making homemade fish and chips, try a crumb coating instead. Frozen battered nuggets or fish are a different story - just make sure you spread them out evenly in the air fryer and turn them over halfway through cooking so they crisp up evenly.

Happy Air Frying! 

This article was first published by the NZ Herald and is republished here with edits and permission. 

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