How To Preheat An Air Fryer – Do you even need to?

It might be straightforward how to preheat an air fryer, but there are several questions you must address when going through this process. Also there is the age old question if you should preheat your air fryer at all. Although most of the times it is easy to preheat an air fryer, but there are a few things to keep in mind. After taking these precautionary steps you are free to go to unleash your culinary creativity.

In this article we’ll let you know on the most important steps of how to preheat an air fryer and also on whether you need to preheat it in the first pace.

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How to preheat air fryer?

The short answer is:

  1. Read the manual first
  2. Clean the air fryer basket
  3. Plug it in
  4. Press the ‘power on’ button
  5. Set the timer
  6. Set the temperature

Usually after this the smaller models need around 3 minutes and the bigger ones might take up to 5 minutes to preheat

Now let’s take a detailed look on how the preheating works for air fryers.

Step 1: Be a conscious consumer and read the manual first:

Every gadget that has been manufactured in the history of humankind has a manual that has all the details listed for the consumer. But let’s be honest, most of us just toss it in the drawer (or worse, in the bin).

read the air fryer manual first

Well usually it saves us time and a few headaches if we go through the manual in the beginning. Since you made the choice to invest in an air fryer then it is best to be sure not to let that money go to waste. If you haven’t made the decision yet check out our article on why air fryers even worth the money.

Air fryers come from different brands. And different sorts of air fryer of different brands will have different methods of preheating and running the air fryer. To bring out the best from your air fryer it is better that you preheat your air fryer according to the instructions listed in the manual. It saves you from voiding the warranty by damaging your air fryer.

Step 2: Keep your air fryer clean always: 

After accomplishing the first step, it is best if you clean your air fryer basket before the first use. You should clean your basket even if the manufacturer in the manual does not mention it.

Clean your air fryer

Why is this important? You can never know what chemicals or glues or any other materials have been used or how the seller have stored your air fryer. Also after several use it is crucial to preheat a clean air fryer since food particles from a previous cooking can stick to the air fryer and these will get burned much easier, thus ruining your whole food.

Make sure that you check all the nooks and crannies of the cooking basket so that there is nothing stuck there that can ruin the taste and hygiene of the food that will be cooked inside it.

Step 3: Check the voltage and plug-in: 

Before you plug in the air fryer for using it, make sure that you know regarding the kind of voltage power supply it has. As not all air fryer has been manufactured to run with dual voltage power supply. Know that the voltage unit of the air fryer is 120V or 220V.

Plug in your air fryer

Also, be careful about the voltage supply of your house. It is a common knowledge that an air fryer that runs at 120V units will get destroyed if it is plugged in the socket that has a supply of 220V. This is very important since it can burn down your air fryer that could potentially harm your entire kitchen.

Step 4: Turn the power button on:

To begin the preheating of the air fryer, you should press the power button according to the method instructed in the manual. Press the power button after all the preparation of the air fryer has been done.

Turn on power button

Step 5: Setting the timer:

To preheat the air fryer, you will need to set the timer for a definite duration. The duration can last up to 5 minutes. However, it is better to refer to the manual. It is mentioned there, the time that is needed for preheating the air fryer. As the duration required for preheating may differ for individual air fryers.

set the timer

Step 6: Set your required temperature 

Set the required temperature. To know way to know that, well, read the manual! Usually its either by turning a knob or pressing the temperature button and the temperature will show on the digital interface.

air fryer preheating temperature

Do even have to preheat an air fryer?

There are different opinion on this issue. Some people say that air fryers always have to be preheated and others says it just saves you time if you just go ahead and pour everything in it because the end result will be the same. The answer is a little bit more complicated than that.

A good rule of thumb is that if you want to have an even distribution of baking or frying regarding your food then it is best not to preheat it. On the other hand if you want a crispier and crunchier result, then preheating is a good idea.

Don’t forget that air fryers are working on very high temperature so taking this question into consideration is quite important.

So let’s go through in which cases it is a good idea to pre heat and when it is not.

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When to preheat an air fryer

Steaks – Depending on your preference but most people like a raw or medium finish on their steaks. This means it shouldn’t be cooked on the inside. Therefore we need a very high temperature preheated air fryer. This will cook the outer parts of the steak fast while the inside stays uncooked.

Re-heating – If you have some leftovers from yesterday than a preheated air fryer might get you a better texture

Frozen foods that need a good crust – E.g. French fries or chicken wings need a good crust on the outside and in a preheated air fryer you can reach a crunchier     

When not to preheat an air fryer 

Vegetables that can burn easily – Delicate veggies (e. g. leafy greens, brussel sprouts, or cauliflower) can burn easily therefore it is best not to put in a preheated air fryer.

Raw frozen meat – When you fry your frozen meat it is very important that you cook the inside of the meat as well. If you put it in to a high temperature preheated air fryer chances are that the you will cook the meat unevenly and might stay raw on the inside.

Bread and pastries – When you are baking bread inside your air fryer it is important that the outer shell becomes crispy right when the inside of the dough is soft and baked. Again, an even distribution of temperature is required for this and that is why you shouldn’t preheat the air fryer for breads

Paper – This one is very important If you are using a parchment paper or aluminium foil don’t put it in when preheating your air fryer because the paper will move inside the machine and might burn the paper and it can burn down the entire appliance too!

How long it takes to preheat an air fryer to 400 degrees?

Usually it takes 3-5 minutes to preheat an air fryer to 400 degrees but it depends on 2 factors.

First it depends on the size of the air fryer (how many quarts). If your air fryer is bigger than it might take more time for it to preheat but it shouldn’t be more than 6-7 minutes with the biggest ones as well. Still much better than a conventional oven.

Second it depends on the wattage. The higher the wattage the faster the air fryer will preheat. Most air fryers use between 1200W-1700W.

I have read many instruction manuals and most standard air fryers (between 4QT-6QT) preheat under 5 minutes. Let’s see an exampe: The Tristar PowerXL Classic is a 4QT air fryer and its instructions manual claim it preheats in 3 minutes (we also wrote a review about the PowerXL classic).


To sum up on how to preheat an air fryer you should always follow these simple steps. First, you should always start by reading the manual. Second, be sure to check the voltage of the machine and also clean the inside before using it. These are the most important steps. Moreover depending on what you cook it is not straightforward whether to preheat it or not. For some dishes its better and for some its not. Usually the ones that needs to be crispier is better to preheat. For foods that needs an even distribution of temperature it is better to not.

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