The Air Fryer Seasoning Mistake That's Costing You

Air fryers are more popular than ever, and it's a trend that looks to keep on growing with the market share expected to expand from $896.5 million in 2023 to a whopping $1.9 billion in the next decade, according to Future Market Insights. It's not surprising when you consider that air frying is seen as a healthier alternative to traditional frying since it uses much less oil. Not only that, but it's often quicker and more economical than using the oven, too.

Yet, while the machine is super convenient, a simple seasoning mistake could mean you're actually wasting time and money when air frying some foods, particularly when using dry spices.

The reason is, air fryers work with a central fan that circulates hot air at high speed; food cooks faster because it's placed close to it. But dry seasonings or loose, leafy herbs can simply be blown off your food by the powerful fan during the cooking process, meaning they end up sticking to the inside of your air fryer rather than to your food.

Dry spices are not ideal for air fryer foods

There will be nothing more disappointing than discovering that your carefully blended Italian spices, blackened Cajun rub, or herby lemon zest mixture has pretty much disappeared from your piece of meat, chicken, or fish when you pull it out of the air fryer. Not to mention, the cost of all those useless fancy seasonings will soon add up. 

Using dry spices is not ideal with this kitchen appliance since, as mentioned, the fan used to cook your food will basically blow the spices all around the place rendering your carefully prepared meal totally flavorless. Plus, dry rubs also sort of defeat the purpose of cooking your food more quickly with an air fryer if you put all the time into measuring, grinding, and preparing the seasonings instead.

There's also the issue that dry herbs and spices can also clog up the filter in air fryers. The air filter helps to get rid of the smoke and smells that occur while you're cooking, but if it's clogged, the air fryer won't be working efficiently.

If you're going to air fry food, you'll want to avoid items like hot chili powder, smoky paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder — anything that is ground or in a pulverized format. But there is a trick you can use to season food that will work more effectively.

Use a little oil to help spices stick

Despite the risks associated with using dry seasoning, it is still possible to use your favorite spice blends or herbs when cooking with your air fryer. The key is to mix the dry rubs with a little oil before you coat your food. The oil will help the spices stick to whatever you're cooking, whether it's chicken, pork, steak, or even veggies, meaning they seasonings will be less likely to be blown about by the fan.

Given the high temperatures of an air fryer, however, you'll want to use an oil with a high smoke point, such as avocado, sesame, or vegetable oil. Regular olive oil (not extra virgin) can also be used if you're cooking at a temperature under 375 degrees Fahrenheit. As a guide, use around one tablespoon of oil, mixed with your dry spices, for every pound of food you want to season. 

It's not just herbs and spices you need to think about when using your air fryer, either. When it comes to adding everyday seasonings such as salt and freshly ground pepper to your food, it's best to do this after you take your food out of the air fryer for the same reasons.