Airfryer + Oil
April 16, 2021 4:00 PM   Subscribe

What kinds of oil do you use with your air fryer? I'm confused!

I'm overthinking oils, help!

I bought an air fryer the other week and I haven't used it very much, because I am a bit confused about what type of oil I should be using with it. For example, I've seen various recipes for air fryer vegetables which state to use olive oil, yet my air fryer has a pamphlet emphatically stating that olive oil/butter/margarine is not recommended! I did try roasted veggies that were coated in olive oil and they kind of turned out okay, but not great. I understand that olive oil isn't recommended because of the smoke point, what are good alternatives?

(As an aside: I'm so used to roasting vegetables conventionally in an oven and I've always coated them in olive oil. Should I not do that at all with an airfryer? Again, what oil would be best for that?)

I've also read on other sites that vegetable oil sprays aren't recommended either because they contain propellants.

I already have canola oil on hand, but I also went out and bought a small bottle of avocado oil and another bottle of avocado oil spray (without propellants). Should these be good? The air fryer pamphlet says that avocado oil is on the recommended list.
posted by VirginiaPlain to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So, I don't actually have an air fryer but many people I know online have them. These people I know do not use oil. The air fryer fries with the air! And not oil. Is my understanding. For instance, bake some potatoes - let cool - cut into fries or wedges, season as desired - cook in air fryer 20 minutes - crispy fries!
posted by Glinn at 4:08 PM on April 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: ^ That's what I thought before buying the air fryer! But so many recipes call for olive oil, so I don't get it.
posted by VirginiaPlain at 4:09 PM on April 16, 2021

Best answer: I refuse to consider a airfryer a distinct appliance - it's a miniature convection oven.

Olive oil has a higher smoke point than extra virgin olive oil, so you can get differing recommendations based on what type of olive oil you're talking about.

I do worry about smoke point when cooking on a skillet, but I don't worry about smoke point - even with butter - in the oven. The air in your oven is a very poor conductor of heat - that's why you can put your hand in the oven, but not in a pot of boiling water - and further, the oil on food is cooled by the food being heated. Unless you cut your vegetables very small and roast them until they are blackened, your vegetables will not approach the smoke point of the oil they're roasted in - and hence, the oil will not approach the smoke point.

I roast vegetables in whatever oil I have handy, which is usually vegetable oil to save money. Roasting in olive oil is not particularly bad, but it is expensive, and all those volatile compounds that make olive oil taste good disappear after 20-30 minutes of roasting.

I have no idea why people would be concerned about the propellants in oil sprays. If they're concerned, I hope they don't ever use a camping stove, which is fueled by propane. If they're worried about flammability, I suggest they not spray their oil spray directly at their cigarette lighter.

(on preview), you can heat up vegetables without fat, but the vegetables will become dry rather than crispy. Oil simultaneously adds moisture and crispiness to foods, which most people find appealing. If you are "air frying" preprocessed french fry wedges, the manufacturer already coated the wedges with oil.
posted by saeculorum at 4:13 PM on April 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Due to the way air fryer heat things up, you'd want oil with a HIGH smoke point else you'll get smoke out of the fryer.

Remember, use VERY little oil. Probably just use a small silicone brush to put on a thin coating.

Sprays are fine, I've used it many many times in my air fryer. People just hate aerosols for environmental reasons. Sprays do contain a bit of emulsifier so they stay spread.
posted by kschang at 4:17 PM on April 16, 2021

I don't use oil with my air fryer, not with vegetables or protein. Chicken is excellent in the air fryer btw.

And ymmv but I like the results from frozen veg better than fresh veg.
posted by phunniemee at 4:19 PM on April 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

I have olive oil in one of those oil mister bottles and I give the basket a spritz when making fries or something that would normally be fried in oil. I don’t use any oil for meats.
posted by kimberussell at 4:55 PM on April 16, 2021

Best answer: The avocado sans propellants will work well for you! The generic Whole Foods brand has a smoke point of 450 and that’s been successful for me.

Favorite things I’ve air fried: salmon fillet without oil; baby potatoes halved, seasoned with Old Bay and spritzed with avocado oil; string beans seasoned with garlic salt and pepper and spritzed with avocado oil; tempeh tossed in olive oil and smoked paprika.

What others are saying about smoke point is correct and “smoke point” is what it sounds like. Sprays are convenient because you need very little oil.
posted by kapers at 4:56 PM on April 16, 2021

I just spray whatever I’m air frying with olive oil Pam or brush it with oil. It helps the food crisp up.
posted by lyssabee at 5:04 PM on April 16, 2021

I don’t use oil even if the recipe calls for it. I do use pre-cut parchment paper liners with holes in them, which are available to fit most brands. I started using these because the nonstick coating on the fryer was flaking off.

It’s very possible my food would taste better if I used oil, but I prefer to avoid it. (Also, I’m vegan, so I’ve never cooked meat in mine.)
posted by FencingGal at 6:46 PM on April 16, 2021

I always use a bit of olive oil on any veggies in the air fryer. Hasn’t been a problem at all.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:50 PM on April 16, 2021

In our household, one person always roasts vegetables without oil, and a couple of us use vegetable oil spray. I think it's canola oil. I've never considered the propellants to be an issue in terms of using the spray with an air fryer.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 9:08 PM on April 16, 2021

My air fryer is an Actifry, and old by today's standards, so things may have developed. I only use it for potatoes and sometimes some other root veg, and I use a half to one tablespoon of olive oil or goose fat when I cook the potatoes, no problem at all.
BTW, I'm really happy with it for that single purpose, but it turns out there are not many things I wouldn't rather just cook on the stovetop or in the regular oven.
posted by mumimor at 2:07 AM on April 17, 2021

It depends on what I am making. For example, last week I made a recipe that was basically pieces of chicken and chunks of vegetables; I tossed all of that with some seasoning in the air fryer and it was very good. I've also tossed potatoes in olive and canola oil and never had an issue.

I had another chicken recipe, too, that called for misting the chicken with an oil spray (not non-stick spray) which I did, but I don't think it would make a difference to omit that step.
posted by synecdoche at 4:41 AM on April 17, 2021

We use avocado oil in a misto sprayer.
posted by rawralphadawg at 5:56 AM on April 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all, it makes more sense to me now! I'll hang onto the avocado oils (I was tempted to return them to the grocery store last night), because they'll probably be of use!

I'm glad to read about people who avoid using oils all together with the air fryer, as I was planning on not using them so often with the air fryer. I actually asked the question because I was confused about if I needed to use oil to make air fryer frozen French fries. I ended up making them with no oil and they were amazing.
posted by VirginiaPlain at 10:58 AM on April 17, 2021

Costco sells avocado oil in an aerosol spray form. Alas, the spray comes out not so much as a mist but a deluge. It is what I use in my air fryer and for most searing.
posted by bz at 1:13 PM on April 18, 2021

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