Learn how to convert any recipe for your air fryer with a few simple rules. When adapting a recipe from the oven to the air fryer, the temperature and cooking time must be adjusted. Take the guesswork out of it with my helpful oven to air fryer conversion chart!
If you’re anything like me, you love your air fryer! My air fryer has quickly become one of my most used kitchen appliances. Not only is air frying a healthy cooking method which uses minimal oil, it produces perfectly crispy, juicy food every time!
Air fryers are also easy to use and cook food really fast. Anyone who’s ever experienced hangry kids while waiting for the oven to preheat will understand how an air fryer can be life changing!
Adapting recipes for the air fryer
If you’ve just invested in an air fryer, you’re probably excited to get started. The good news is that there is a wide array of great air fryer recipes out there like my Air Fryer General Tso’s Chicken, Air Fryer Baked Sweet Potatoes, and Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp to name a few.
But what about those tried-and-true recipes that you’ve been making for years in the oven or deep fryer? How do you adapt those to cook in the air fryer?
And what about frozen products like French fries or chicken tenders? Have you ever bought a bag of them and realized that the recipe instructions only give conventional oven or deep fryer cooking times? Because the air fryer is a relatively new appliance, many recipes and products don’t have air fryer cooking instructions.
But don’t let that hold you back! The beauty of air fryers is that you can cook practically all your favorite foods in them by following a few general rules of thumb. This post will tell you how to take any of those dishes and adjust the cooking temperature and time to cook them in the air fryer.
If you follow these rules, you’ll never end up with burnt fries or undercooked chicken! Plus, I’ve put together a helpful oven-to-air fryer conversion chart as well as a deep fryer-to-air fryer conversion chart to make adapting these recipes really easy.
- Adapting recipes for the air fryer
- What is an air fryer?
- What can you cook in an air fryer?
- Conventional oven vs air fryer- cooking time and temperature
- How to convert recipes from the conventional oven to the air fryer
- How to convert recipes from the deep fryer to the air fryer
- Do these rules apply to frozen food as well?
- Can you reheat leftovers in the air fryer?
- Are there any foods that should not be cooked in an air fryer?
- Chef's tips for the air fryer
- Air fryer recipes
What is an air fryer?
An air fryer is basically a mini convection oven that sits on your countertop. An air fryer cooks your food using hot air rather than hot oil. I have this Ninja Air Fryer but there are many different brands and models on the market.
Air fryers have a heating element at the top and a mechanical fan that helps circulate the hot air around your food more efficiently. This makes your food nice and crispy on the outside while keeping it moist and juicy on the inside. Basically, air frying gives you the taste and texture of deep-fried food but with little to no oil.
What can you cook in an air fryer?
Air fryers do a lot more than just cooking your favorite fried foods in a healthier fashion. You can use your air fryer to cook a wide array of recipes!
Most recipes made in the oven, deep fryer or on the stove top can be converted for use in the air fryer.
- This includes traditionally deep-fried foods like chicken wings and French fries
- The air fryer is also great for cooking frozen foods like chicken nuggets, salmon burgers, and burritos
- You can cook meat like pork chops and meatballs or dishes like quesadillas and garlic bread
- The air fryer is terrific for roasting vegetables- potatoes, asparagus, green beans, broccoli, Brussels, butternut squash all come out great
- You can even make some baked goods like cookies and muffins
Although these recipes can all be adapted for the air fryer, you do have to make some adjustments to prevent over- or under-cooking the food.
Conventional oven vs air fryer- cooking time and temperature
Ovens and air fryers both use hot air to cook food. But because air fryers are small and circulate the air so efficiently, they cook food very quickly. They also give your food a crispier texture compared to the oven.
So basically, when you’re cooking in an air fryer, you want to cook your food at a lower temperature than you would in the oven otherwise it will get overly browned or burnt. Also, you will likely have to shorten the cooking time. Some recipes take half the time in the air fryer as they would in the oven!
A good general rule of thumb when converting a conventional oven recipe to an air fryer recipe is to reduce the temperature by 25 °F and reduce the cooking time by about 20%.
However, this is a general rule and different recipes will vary. It’s always better to start the timer low and check your food often. I recommend starting to check your food for doneness at the halfway point. You can always add more time as you go.
How to convert recipes from the conventional oven to the air fryer
When converting a recipe from the conventional oven to the air fryer, follow these steps:
- Note the oven temperature and cooking time in the recipe you’re following
- Reduce the temperature by 25 degrees F and set your air fryer to that temperature
- Reduce the cooking time by 20% and set the timer on your air fryer
- Start checking your food at the halfway mark to check for doneness. If your food is getting too dark, reduce the temperature by another 25 degrees.
- To check for doneness, use a meat thermometer.
Adapt your favorite recipes with this easy oven to air fryer conversion chart!
So for example, if a recipe calls for a cooking temperature of 400°F in the oven, set your air fryer for 375°F. If the cooking time is 30 minutes in the oven, expect to cook your food about 24 minutes in the air fryer but start checking at 15 minutes (the halfway point). If your food looks like it’s getting too dark too quickly, turn the temperature down to 350°F.
Note that this is a general rule of thumb and is not exact. Different foods are going to cook at different rates. So you must keep an eye on your food and check on it occasionally, especially if you’re trying out a new recipe. If you’re food is cooking too quickly, turn down the temperature or shorten the cooking time. On the other hand, if your food isn’t getting crispy enough, turn the temperature up.
I recommend using a meat thermometer to ensure that your food is completely cooked, especially when cooking things like chicken. Because the air fryer cooks food so quickly, you run the risk of thinking that your food is cooked because the exterior is nicely browned, when it’s actually not fully cooked on the inside.
Check out the USDA's Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Guide if you're not sure what temperature your food should be cooked to.
How to convert recipes from the deep fryer to the air fryer
Deep fryers cook food by submerging it in hot oil, while air fryers cook food using hot air that circulates around it. Air fryers will still give you the golden-brown color and crispy texture that you crave but with minimal oil.
When converting a recipe from the deep fryer to the air fryer, the same rule applies for cooking temperature. Reduce the cooking temperature by 25°F. So if a recipe calls for something to be cooked at 350°F, set your air fryer to 325°F.
In terms of cooking time, it will typically be about the same or slightly longer in the air fryer compared to the deep fryer. So plan to cook your food for the same amount of time as the original recipe or possibly a little longer.
Since many foods cook in a matter of mere minutes in the deep fryer, you may just need to add another minute or two. To be safe, start checking the food at the halfway point.
To give your air-fried food a nice golden color and crust, spritz them with a little oil.
Adapt your favorite recipes with this easy deep fryer to air fryer conversion chart!
Do these rules apply to frozen food as well?
Yes, the same rules apply when heating up frozen food like French fries, chicken nuggets or pizza. Look at the oven or deep-frying instructions and then use the conversion rules to adapt the cooking temperature and time for the air fryer. The only difference with frozen foods is that you don’t need to spray them with any oil as they already have oil in their ingredients.
Can you reheat leftovers in the air fryer?
Yes, the air fryer is great for quickly heating up and reviving leftovers in minutes! Foods like pizza heat up well in the air fryer because they get hot and crispy whereas in the microwave they tend to just get soft.
I also prefer heating leftover meat like chicken cutlets and pork chops in the air fryer because meat sometimes gets rubbery in the microwave. Potatoes also crisp up particularly well in the air fryer while retaining creaminess.
When reheating leftovers, set the air fryer temperature lower, around 300°F, and cook for a few minutes. Check your food and add on additional time as needed until the food is warmed through.
Are there any foods that should not be cooked in an air fryer?
There are certain foods that are not ideal for cooking in the air fryer. Some examples are:
- Foods with a thin, wet batter like onion rings or tempura. They won’t set up immediately as they do when submerged in the hot oil of a deep fryer. You’ll be left with a drippy mess. Foods with a thicker batter are ok.
- Wet foods like meats in a liquid marinade. They won’t brown well. Meat should be patted dry and spritzed with oil before going into the air fryer.
- Light, leafy greens like kale- they’ll fly around the air fryer because of the fan and cook unevenly
- Some baked goods- delicate cakes and pastries tend to dry out in the air fryer
- Large whole chickens- may cook unevenly in the air fryer
Chef's tips for the air fryer
Now that you've read my oven to air fryer conversion guide, have fun experimenting! Here are a few general tips to keep in mind when using your air fryer:
- Preheat your air fryer
- Spread the food out in a single layer- don’t overcrowd the basket. Larger recipes may need to be cooked in batches depending on your model of air fryer.
- For most foods, spray a little oil on to help give it a golden color. However, foods that are already high in fat like chicken wings don’t need any oil.
- Don’t use cooking sprays like PAM in the air fryer as they can damage the lining.
- Shake the basket or flip your food halfway through cooking. This helps ensure even browning by exposing all the surfaces to the hot air coming from the top of the air fryer.
- Since air fryer models differ quite a bit, check on your food occasionally to make sure it’s not cooking too quickly.
- The best way to check if your food is done is to use a meat thermometer. Check out the USDA's Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Guide if you're not sure what temperature your food should be cooked to.
Air fryer recipes
For more tasty air fryer recipes, check out my Air Fryer Recipe Collection.