How Full Can You Fill an Air Fryer?


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Using an air fryer can be overwhelming, especially if you are a beginner. You are probably clueless and curious about many things, including how full can you fill an air fryer. 

When you are in a hurry cooking for a large group, it is tempting to just put everything in the air fryer and cook them all at once. You might end up filling it to the brim. It may sound convenient and time-saving, but are you sure you are doing the right thing? 

Whether you are using a large or small air fryer, do not overload it. Read on as I talk about how full it should be, as well as some of the best practices for stacking food in an air fryer. 

How Full Can You Fill an Air Fryer

How Full Can You Fill an Air Fryer?

As a rule of thumb, you should not fill your air fryer more than ¾ of its stated capacity. Going beyond such can compromise the cooking outcomes, resulting in the food being under or over-cooked because of the failure of hot air to properly circulate. 

As an example, let’s look at the case of Cosori Air Fryer XL.  It has a square-shaped basket with a capacity of either 3.7 or 5.8 quarts. For optimal results, you should fill it only up to 2.775 or 4.35 quarts. 

With some air fryers, you will never be left guessing. Some brands, such as Philips, include a maximum fill line in their baskets. This way, it is quick to identify how full the air fryer must be. 

Can You Fill an Air Fryer to the Top? 

No, you cannot fill your air fryer to the top. As earlier mentioned, you should not cook more than ¾ of the basket’s capacity. 

The most common reason why a lot of people fill their air fryers to the top is that they are in a hurry. 

Imagine having a party with a large group of friends. You want to prepare buffalo wings or fries. It can be tiring to cook in several batches, so you might opt to dump everything at once and wait until your air fryer does its magic. 

Yes, that might sound like time-saving, but at the end of the day, it can be a bad thing. Here are some reasons why I do not recommend filling the basket to the brim. 

  1. It Makes Food Soggy 

Have you ever cooked fries, nuggets, or other foods in an air fryer, and they ended up soft and wet instead of crispy? Yikes! Such a waste! 

By understanding how air fryers work, you will know better why putting too much food is bad. It uses heated air passing or circulating through food to cook it even with no or minimal oil. If it is full, the hot air will not reach everything. This means that some portions will achieve the desired texture while others are undercooked, resulting in soggy food. 

  1. It Generates a Lot of Smoke 

Smoke coming out of your air fryer’s vent is normal. Do not panic! Instead, understand the causes, so you can fix them immediately and prevent your kitchen from filling up with smoke. 

Among others, smoke in the air fryer is due to excessive grease or fat build-up. Too much sauce can also be the culprit. It can also be because of putting too much food in the basket. 

When you overfill an air fryer, food can burn. This is especially the case on the portion nearest the heating element. Once it burns, smoke will come out. A quick solution is to lower the heat and arrange the food properly with no overcrowding. 

  1. It Causes Food Poisoning 

As I have earlier pointed out, putting too much food in an air fryer can result in undercooking. This is also the main reason why it can cause food poisoning. 

Temperature affects food safety. Bacteria grow the fastest at temperatures ranging from 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If your basket has insufficient space for air to circulate, not all portions will be fully cooked. It increases the chances of having food-borne illnesses, especially when you are dealing with temperature-sensitive foods, such as chicken. 

What Foods Can You Stack in an Air Fryer? 

When answering the question on how full can you fill an air fryer it is important to know which foods can be stacked and which cannot. Stacking foods in an air fryer is a good way to cook more in a short time. Nonetheless, this might not work for all foods. It might also require some accessories, such as using a rack to arrange food. 

Foods You Can Stack 

Fries are some of the most common foods you can stack in an air fryer but do not overfill. Instead, keep it to 1/2 or ¾ of the basket’s capacity. Once you are halfway, shake it to ensure even cooking. 

Small cuts of vegetables can also be stacked in an air fryer. Like fries, however, I recommend that you shake the basket vigorously halfway to properly cook all pieces.

You can also stack chicken nuggets. Cut them small enough if you are not using a rack. Also, I suggest that you extend the cooking time a bit to make it crispy. 

Foods You Cannot Stack 

Chicken wings are classics when it comes to air fryer dishes! Unfortunately, you cannot stack them. Stacking them will cover some parts. You won’t be able to achieve crispy skin, if that is what you want. 

Steak is another food you should not stack. Cook one at a time or in batches. Putting one on top of another makes it difficult to achieve the doneness you desire. 

Never stack large cuts of meat in an air fryer, including chicken breasts, pork chops, burger patties, and ribs. 


So, how full can you fill an air fryer? You can fill your air fryer up to ¾ of its stated capacity or until the max line in the frying basket if it is available. You must not go beyond its capacity to ensure proper cooking, optimal texture and flavor, and food safety. 

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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.