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Cooking school 101: Claire's guide to air fryers

Air fryer meat and vegetables

Discover this trendy appliance and all the ways you can cook with it.

Perhaps you were gifted an air fryer, you’ve just bought one or maybe you’re considering getting one — but you’re not quite sure what to do with it. You’ve come to the right place.

Here, we take you through the ins and outs of the appliance that’s quickly becoming a kitchen staple. Learn the difference between air frying and deep frying and what you can cook in an air fryer (a lot). Read on to learn more about this modern frying method, plus find some hot tips from Woolworths Food Editor and Fresh Ideas expert, Claire Brookman.

Claire Brookman Fresh Ideas expert




“The air fryer has become a staple in my kitchen. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s replaced my oven, but it sure makes cooking healthier versions of my favourite foods a whole lot easier and faster — and it’s much simpler to clean. You don’t need to spend a lot of money, either; the Mistral digital air fryer is in the Woolies kitchen aisle at an affordable price.”

– Claire

Air fryer

How does an air fryer work?

An air fryer is like a small oven. Instead of submerging food in hot oil like a deep fryer, the appliance uses intense hot air to cook, similar to a convection oven. The air is circulated by a fan in a way that mimics how oil would cook food in a fryer. This is what helps make air-fried food crispy and golden brown as if it’s been deep fried. While hot air does most of the cooking, air fryers still use oil in the cooking process. But this is the beauty of an air fryer, less oil is required than is generally used in traditional frying methods.

Air fryed cauliflower tacos

“Air-fryer cooking requires little to no oil. Either spray the food with a spritz of extra virgin olive oil spray or toss in a bowl with a little dash of oil before adding ingredients to the fryer basket.”

– Claire

Air fryer vegetables

What can you cook in an air fryer?

Air fryers are versatile appliances. Not only do they make a great alternative to deep frying, but they can also bake, grill and roast. Any food that does well with a crisped outer layer is worth trying in the air fryer.

From chicken and beef to salmon and tofu, most proteins cook well in the air fryer. “Always rest your roasts and steaks,” explains Claire. “Resting for half of the cooking time is a good rule. Pat steaks and roasts dry with a paper towel before placing in an air fryer. This helps stop the meat from stewing.”

Air-fryer recipes for proteins

Air fryer sweet potato wedges

Air fryers also offer an easy way to quickly roast vegetables and, of course, make hot chips. Opt for any veg you’d roast in the oven or grill on the barbecue, such as pumpkin, capsicum and sweet potato. You can also finely slice vegetables, like potatoes and eggplant, to make quick and simple veggie chips. Or, turn your air fryer into a dehydrator and make fruit chips using apples, bananas, kiwi fruit or even pineapples.

– Claire

Air fryer doughnuts

For those with a sweet tooth, try air frying sweet treats. Try homemade doughnuts, achieve the perfect crisp exterior and soft interior for pavlova and meringues, or why not bake something? Make muffins, banana bread, cookies or even cheesecake into deliciously caramelised baked goods. Just measure your air-fryer basket in advance to ensure your pan will fit inside to maintain a consistent airflow.

Hot air fryer tips from Claire

  • Reheating food: The air fryer is great for reheating leftovers to crisp them up again. Claire’s favourite? “I love using it to bring new life to slices of pizza!” The same thinking applies to cooking packaged frozen foods like chips and wedges and some party snacks.
  • Boiled eggs: Don’t worry about boiling water to cook your eggs! You can achieve soft, medium and hard-boiled eggs in an air fryer in just 10-15 minutes, depending on how you like them. Carefully place them in the basket, cook, and then carefully remove. Eat how you normally would! 
  • Pork crackling: Claire’s top tip for crispy, golden crackling in the air fryer is to dry out the rind by storing pork uncovered in the fridge overnight. Before cooking, drizzle the meat with oil and coat well with sea salt
  • Ready-made desserts: Hack your favourite pre-made desserts, like brownies, doughnuts or cookies, by keeping them in the freezer then warming them up in the air fryer for a treat that’s crisp on the outside, warm and soft on the inside.
  • Banana split: Give a classic banana split an air-fryer makeover. Slice a banana lengthways, stuff chocolate chips and chopped nuts inside, and then cook until caramelised.
  • Battered food: Yes, wet battered food can be air fried! After dredging, freeze battered food for 10 to 15 minutes so the batter isn’t blown off by the hot air and doesn’t drip in the fryer.

What’s the difference between air frying and deep frying?

Air fryer desserts

Air frying

Uses hot air to cook

Fries, bakes, roasts and grills

Slower cook time

Cooks smaller amounts at a time

Less clean-up required

Cajun style fried chicken

Deep frying

Uses oil to cook

Only fries

Faster cook time

Cooks larger amounts at a time

More clean-up required for the machine and the surrounding surfaces


Is an air fryer healthy?

Air frying can be a healthier alternative to deep frying. However, it isn’t necessarily healthier than other cooking methods like grilling, steaming or roasting. It also depends on the food you’re preparing. If you're cooking something you'd normally deep fry, like chips or crumbed chicken, then air frying is generally a healthier method of cooking because you use less oil.

What can an air fryer do that an oven can't?

Air fryers cook quicker than an oven and make food crispier, thanks to the intensity and speed of the hot air circulating inside the fryer. Don’t overload the basket so air can easily circulate around the food for even cooking, and like an oven, always preheat your air fryer before using.

Do air fryers fry or bake your food?

Air fryers can both fry and bake. It does give baked goods a crispier outer layer, so some recipes may be more suited for baking in an air fryer than others.

Can I cook raw meat in an air fryer?

Yes. Raw meat can be fried, roasted, grilled or baked in an air fryer. Your air fryer’s manual should have cook times and temperatures for cooking meat.

Can you cook eggs in an air fryer?

Yes. Eggs can be cooked in the shell like a boiled egg. Heat the air fryer to 120°C and cook eggs for 15 minutes for ‘hard-boiled’ and 10 minutes for ‘soft-boiled’.

Can I open an air fryer while cooking?

Yes. You can generally open an air fryer while it’s cooking at any time. Most fryers will pause cooking when the basket is removed and resume once it’s placed back in. Ensure you always read and follow your air fryer’s manual to avoid any injury.

Can I put water in an air fryer?

Adding a small amount of water to the bottom of the air fryer basket is okay and can prevent any oil used from getting too hot. However, it’s not recommended to add a lot of water as it can damage the appliance.

Does Woolworths sell air fryers?

Yes. You’ll find the Mistral digital air fryer in the kitchen aisle at Woolworths, and even more air fryers available from Everyday Market

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