Where does the fat go in an air fryer?


Last Updated: July 5th, 2023

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You must have heard that air fryers are some of the best appliances for health-conscious people because it uses a lot less oil. That’s true because food cooked in an air fryer has very little fat, especially compared to pan or deep-fried food. So where does that fat go in an air fryer?

Where does the fat go in an air fryer

Air fryers don’t actually ‘fry’ food

While the name ‘air fryer’ does seem to suggest that this appliance fries your food, that isn’t the case. It is essential to understand how an air fryer works to understand this better. An air fryer cooks your food by circulating hot air around the basket inside the chamber. A heating element is situated right above the cooking chamber. When it heats up, it passes hot air into the chamber. The basket in which your food is placed is also porous and has holes that allow the air to pass through and circulate throughout the chamber. This circulation of hot air is what cooks your food.

In comparison, when you deep fry or pan fry your food, you heat up oil on a stove. The hot oil cooks or ‘fries’ your food. Since you are not using any fat for cooking your food in an air fryer, it doesn’t actually fry your food.

Air fryers barely need any oil

Air fryers don’t need oil or fat to cook food. However, you can still add a few drops of oil to your food to give it extra moisture and flavor. You can do this in the marination stage, such as when making chicken or quail in the air fryer or even right before cooking. When you place your food in the basket, you can sprinkle a few drops of oil or brush your food with butter before turning the air fryer on. This may give you a crispier result while still using very little oil as compared to a frying pan.

This way, you can get the same or very similar results as deep frying without the added fat that comes with using tons of oil or butter.

Advantage of lower fat in air fryer food

One of the natural consequences of using such little oil is barely any oil absorption in your food. This means less fat and calories in the finished product, reducing the risks of weight gain, high cholesterol, and digestive problems, among other health issues that may come from consuming too much oil and fat.  

Another advantage of cooking food in an air fryer is that since air fryers use convection heating and well-circulated heat, you can make deliciously crisp yet juicy food without additional fat. People often use meat cuts with a higher fat content to get moist and tender results. However, air fryers can cook lean meats exceptionally well (and also fatty meats like pork belly too) and prevent them from drying out. This, too, leads to less fat in your food, making it much healthier.

Air fryers allow for guilt-free snacking

When it comes to snacks you may typically feel guilty eating, such as fries, nuggets, and other fried food, air fryers allow you to consume these with a much lower calorie count. A lot of the calories and fat in these foods actually come from the oil used to cook them. Since air fryers don’t use oil, the fat and calories are also cut down.

Other popular snacks you can make in an air fryer are dehydrated fruit and kale chips. Apples, kiwis, peaches, and grapes can easily be turned into delicious dried fruit without a drop of oil or added fat, while kale leaves can become delightfully crispy chips!

Air fryers reduce the fat that comes from batter

Often, we find ourselves adding batter to fish (like a red snapper) or chicken (like Karaage) before frying it to prevent the meat from coming into direct contact with the pan and getting burnt or stuck. The batter usually contains breadcrumbs and seasonings that are store-bought and can be high in fat and sodium.

When you use an air fryer, you don’t need to worry about being an expert at searing your meat. You can easily cook meat without batter, and it won’t stick to the basket, especially if you first line it with aluminum foil or perforated parchment paper. Skipping the batter helps you cut down on unnecessary calories and fat.


Due to the fact that air fryers use hot air for cooking your food, they usually use up very little or no oil. They also cook leaner cuts better than most traditional trying methods that tend to dry them out and don’t require batter as the meat is unlikely to get stuck or burnt without it. Overall, food cooked in an air fryer contains much less fat than fried or deep-fried food.

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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.