How Does an Air Fryer Work?


Last Updated: March 17th, 2023

We are supported by our readers. We receive a commission if you purchase something through our links with no extra cost to you.

To fully bring out the most of our air fryer it is very important to understand how does an air fryer work. Let’s start with a very simple explanation what an air fryer is actually:

This little kitchen appliance that we call an air fryer employs hot air circulation to quickly and healthily cook meals. An air fryer creates a crispy surface while preserving the interior’s moisture and tenderness by circulating hot air around the food rather than drowning it in oil as in traditional deep frying. 

Not only does this way of cooking use less oil, but it also uses less time and energy while cooking. 

In this post, we’ll look at how an air fryer functions, its benefits, and how to use and care for it to get the best results.

How an Air Fryer Cooks Food:

So by now, you’re probably wondering, how exactly does this thing cook my food? As mentioned before the air fryer uses hot air, a heating element, and a fan to cook your food in a healthier and more efficient way.

In this section, I’m going to show you how the heating element and fan work together, explain the hot air circulation process and give you an idea of what the food basket and drip tray do. By the end of this, you’ll have a good understanding of the mechanics of how an air fryer cooks food, and be able to cook with it more effectively.

A standard basket-type air fryer

The Heating Coil and the Fan

A heating element and fan are explained. In an air fryer, the heating element warms the air that flows around the food. The food is then cooked evenly by the fan, which is placed next to the heating element, which blows this hot air over and around it. The heating element and fan work together to produce a fast, hot air flow that rapidly and effectively cooks food.

Hot air circulation process

The fan blows hot air over the food in the air fryer (this is called convection energy), which is heated by the heating element. The heated air that surrounds the food in the fryer basket gives it a crispy outside while preserving a moist, soft interior. The food is cooked equally on all sides thanks to the circulation of hot air surrounding it.

how does an air fryer work_heat circuliaton

The air fryer basket

During the cooking process, the food is put in the food basket. Due to the perforations in the basket, the hot air can freely move around the meal. Any extra oil or juices that may run off the food while it is cooking are caught in the drip tray, which is at the bottom of the air fryer. It is simple to clean and maintain because the drip tray is detachable. Cooking is made healthful and quick thanks to the cooperation of the drip tray and food basket.

The timer and temperature settings

Most air fryers have a timer that lets the user determine the ideal length of the frying. Depending on the type of food being prepared, the timer can be set manually or using preset functions. The timer can be adjusted in minutes usually, and once the predetermined amount of time has passed, it will turn the air fryer off automatically.

Depending on the type of food being cooked, the user can modify the cooking temperature and duration using the air fryer’s numerous settings. Pre-set settings are available for a variety of foods, including chicken, fish, French fries, and more. Additionally, some air fryers offer a manual setting that enables the user to select their own temperature and cooking duration.

how an air fryer works_heating

In order to guarantee that the food is cooked to absolute perfection, the timer and settings are crucial. The user can modify the cooking temperature and duration according to the type of food being cooked using the pre-set functions and manual settings, ensuring that the food is cooked uniformly and to the desired doneness.

Usually the air fryer timesheet that is included with the air fryer are on point but sometimes you’ll have a better experience with experimenting. For example for French fries mine said I should put it in for 400 degrees for 20 minutes and it was a bit burned. So after 15 minutes I lowered it to 350 degrees and the result was much better.

Air fryer heat exhaust

During cooking, hot air and extra moisture are produced by the air fryer’s heat exhaust system, which is in charge of releasing them. This system, which includes a vent and a filter, is normally found at the top or back of the air fryer.


A safe and comfortable cooking environment is maintained by the heat exhaust system. Without adequate ventilation, the air fryer may overheat and become a fire hazard as hot air and extra moisture collect inside. Any odors or smoke created during cooking are also removed by the filter in the heat exhaust system (although the filter quality can differ with different brands).

It’s vital to maintain the air fryer in a well-ventilated place and keep it away from combustible objects because the heat exhaust system can release hot air and steam while cooking. While using the air fryer, it’s also crucial to keep your hands and face away from the heat exhaust vent to prevent burns.

Advantages of air fryers

We have a full article on why air fryer worth it but let’s summarize it here as well to understand the basics of the process better.

First off, air fryers are reasonably priced and effective. In the long run, they save money because they are less expensive than conventional ovens and may be purchased for under $100 (although the high-end ones are can be more than $150).

how does an air fryer works_fan pushing hot air

Second, air fryers save time since they heat up and cook food more quickly than conventional ovens. Most small and ordinary air fryers can reach 400 degrees in 3 minutes, as opposed to the 10+ minutes it takes for ovens to do so. This is a significant plus because it eliminates the need for your microwave to reheat food. Air fryers cook food more quickly since they are smaller but still powerful enough to effectively blow hot air inside the meal.

Thirdly, they are simple to store and take up less room in the kitchen. Since they are tiny enough to fit on a kitchen counter, they are categorized as countertop appliances. The majority of air fryers have a footprint of roughly 16 by 12 inches and a height of slightly more than 15 inches. Traditional deep fryers, in contrast, are bigger and occupy more room. Since the majority of us don’t have a large kitchen where everything fits, this is a significant factor in why air fryers are worthwhile.

Fourthly, using an air fryer is simple. They frequently include pre-programmed settings for various foods, and many also have manual settings that allow you to change the time and temperature on your own as necessary. When cooking food in an air fryer, no oil is required (although some people like to drizzle their food with oil before cooking it). You can just place your food in the basket and start cooking without having to wait for your air fryer to warm. Even picky eaters are likely to like using air fryers because of their flat learning curve. There isn’t a problem with the fear of hot, boiling oil that is prevalent among people who avoid deep frying. Make sure to read the safety instructions that came with your appliance before using it. Most air fryers are safe enough for kids or those who are new to cooking.

And last, an air fryer is quick and simple to clean. Cleaning your air fryer is quick and simple, and you should do it after each usage. Cleaning is simple because just the non-stick basket needs to be cleaned (don’t put it in the dishwasher), thanks to the fact that most air fryer components are removable and dishwasher safe. Remove the basket from the air fryer and wash it in warm water with little soap to clean it. While certain components can be cleaned with a gentle sponge, others require soaking in water. You can also use a moist towel to clean the inside of your air fryer, just be careful not to submerge it in water!

Last but not least, using an air fryer to cook your food with less fat has indisputable health benefits. This is the main justification for air fryers being worthwhile. It uses less oil than conventional deep-frying methods while producing a 360-degree convection of hot air around the meal to produce a crispy coating on the surface and keep the inside wet and delicate. Although keep in mind that if you cook unhealthy foods in it it won’t become healthy with an air fryer


In conclusion, understanding how an air fryer works is crucial to getting the most out of this kitchen appliance. An air fryer uses hot air circulation to quickly and healthily cook meals, creating a crispy surface while preserving the interior’s moisture and tenderness.

The air fryer has several benefits, including using less oil and energy while cooking, saving time, and taking up less space in the kitchen. To cook with the air fryer effectively, it is important to understand the mechanics of how it works, including the heating element and fan, hot air circulation process, food basket, and drip tray.

It is also important to be familiar with the timer and settings, which are important for ensuring that the food is cooked to perfection. Additionally, it’s also important to keep the heat exhaust system clean and well-maintained for safe and efficient cooking. By understanding how an air fryer works and using it correctly, you can enjoy delicious and healthy meals in no time.

Hope you received an answer on how does an air fryer work. If you want to learn more about them, do not forget to check out our Tips and Tricks section.

Spread the love! Share it now!
Was this article helpful?

Take your air fryer game to the next level!

A weekly dose of the best air fryer tips, product reviews, and mouth-watering recipes, straight to your inbox.

Photo of author

Thomas S.

Hey there! I've been cooking for myself and loved ones since the age of 18. In our busy world I've always looked for ways to be more time efficient when it comes to preparing food but also creating tasty and healthy dishes. That's when I came accross air fryers a few years ago and eversince I am trying to spread the word of the benefits of these wonderful machines.