Why does my air fryer burn everything?

  • By: Emma
  • Date: July 20, 2022
  • Time to read: 7 min.

Table of Contents

Why does my air fryer burn everything?

”Why does my air fryer burns everything?”. People worry a lot about air fryers burning the food. We all know how frustrating it is to try and cook a meal, only for the food to be burned on the outside and raw on the inside. The problem might lie with your air fryer!

In this post, I will share what causes this trouble, and what steps you need to take in order to keep your food from burning while cooking. 

So let’s get started!

Read More: Why does my deep fryer overflow?

16 reasons why does your fryer burns everything

There are so many reasons why your air fryer is not cooking food properly.

The most common reasons why your air fryer burns everything are not cleaning your air fryer after use and not adjusting its temperature setting.

In this article, we will try to find the most probable causes. Let’s see what they are:

Leftover crumbs and particles

One major reason why your air fryer is burning food can be the leftover food particles. Crumbs and particles can get into the air fryer from the last meal. If there are a lot of food leftovers in your air fryer it will burn the new recipe you are cooking. For instance, the food particles can be stuck to the internal walls of your appliance. So please, clean your appliance from all food residues before you start.

The accessories

Another reason is related to the accessories you use with your air fryer. For example, if you are cooking something in a frying basket, and then lift it up with your hand – that can cause burning food. You should always use oven gloves when touching hot surfaces. And never leave hot parts without supervision! That’s how accidents happen!

Cooking the wrong items in the air fryer

Another common reason for burning the food in the air fryer is cooking the food item which is not supposed to be cooked in an air fryer. People usually don’t know which food is recommended to be cooked in the air fryer and which is not so in the below table a list of those food items is mentioned which majority of people don’t know what can be cooked or not in the air fryer.

FoodShould be cooked in the air fryer or not?
CakesCan be cooked
Raw vegetablesNo
Battered FoodNo
Pumpkin SeedsCan be cooked
All kinds of meatCan be cooked
Green vegetablesNo
Fresh cheeseNo
Any Dehydrated foodNo
List of food items and advice on whether you should cook them in an airfryer or not

Food left in fryer for too long

Your food can burn if you leave it in the fryer for too long. Be careful with this! Because even if you are busy or away – your food will still be cooking. Some of the ingredients might stick to the inner walls, and start to burn.

If you make fries, they need 5-7 minutes to cook properly – that is the right amount of time for high-quality fries. If you leave them in for more than that – they can burn.

Bad attachments to your appliance

If there are no accessories like a frying basket or grill pan, you should be extra careful when cooking with your fryer. Some food oils may leak into the bottom heating element and can cause burning.

Too low power setting

Many people are confused by the power of their appliances. There are some models that have very high power – 1500W or 1800W. If you cook at this level, it can burn your food even if you do everything right! So please check the manual of your air fryer and set the power setting to a lower level. Usually, people choose medium (700W) and low (400W).

Food not spread evenly in the frying basket

Believe it or not. If your food comes out burnt, there’s a 70% chance that you are making this mistake. If you don’t spread your food items properly in the frying pan, they will burn!

For instance, if you want to make onion rings – slice all onions thin and place them in the pan. Then, put another layer of onions on top of them – this way you will create a cooking surface for even distribution of heat.

Using no oil

While it’s true that air fryers are meant to use less oil, that doesn’t mean you can go without using the oil spray. If you aren’t using oil at all, your food will burn. And that’s because the cooking surface gets too hot for the oil to evaporate naturally. Plus, not using oil means that half of your meal will be burned.

Not preheating correctly

Most people don’t know this – you need to preheat the fryer before adding any food inside it! That’s true with microwave ovens too. If you don’t preheat, your food will burn even if you are cooking it for a very short amount of time.

Not using a thermometer

Not everyone uses a thermometer for their fryer, but it’s actually quite essential! The reason is that you need to know the right temperature. If the frying pan is too hot – your food will burn even if you set the timer correctly.

And the same thing goes with low heat: if the frying pan isn’t hot enough, and you set the timer for 7-10 minutes – that’s too long! Your food will be cooked in 30 seconds.

Not adjusting the cooking-time

If you want to cook a new recipe in your air fryer, you should always check the cooking time. For instance, if you are making onion rings for the first time – by all means set the timer for 5 minutes. Then adjust it according to your next attempt.

Not reading recipe instructions before starting

You might be an experienced cook, but that doesn’t mean you know everything about your new air fryer. So it’s always good to read the instructions before starting – then adjust them according to your own cooking skills.

Water in the frying pan while preheating

Water can cause ‘hot spots’ inside the appliance which will make your food burn. So please check the manual of your fryer and remove all water from the pan before starting to use it.

Not allowing the appliance to cool down

I bet you didn’t know there is a safety feature for this – if you don’t allow the appliance to cool off, it will start burning your food easily. This happens because the heat from the frying pan will transfer to other parts of the appliance.

Using oil with a low smoke point

If you use oil with low smoke points (like extra virgin olive oil), it will burn and leave a burnt odor to your food. So please check the manual of your air fryer about which kind of oils can be used.

Using too much oil

Using too much oil in the air fryer is a huge no-no. You should spray the food with oil or use a pastry brush to apply it – this way you will cut down on calories. Plus, if your air fryer has a non-stick coating, you can use only a few drops of oil.

Read More: Can an air fryer cause carbon monoxide?

How can I prevent my food from burning in the air fryer?

  1. Put enough oil in your air fryer so that there is a thin layer of oil on top of all the ingredients before they are cooked. When people use too little oil, their food can easily burn or dry out because there isn’t enough moisture leftover after cooking. 
  2. Make sure you don’t overcrowd your air fryer either, as this will lead to more of a chance for some of the ingredients to cook too quickly or burn. You can either pre-cook some of your ingredients before you add them to the air fryer, or place them in a separate bowl while they are cooking.
  3. If you forget to clean the air fryer after using it, you’ll definitely find the food particles stuck on the walls the next time you use it.

Don’t worry! Here’s what you can do: It is advisable always to wipe it with a damp cloth after each use, in order for you not to find yourself in this situation: having burned food everywhere because there were too many leftovers stuck to the wall.

4. Don’t use too low heat if you’re cooking for a long time. If the temperature is too low, it will take longer for your food to cook and can also burn very easily.

5. You should keep in mind that all air fryers are not created equal! Some have hotter heating elements than others, so keep that in mind when selecting your next air fryer.

6. Make sure you get the right-sized pan for the appropriate amount of food you’re cooking. If there’s too much food, it will take longer to cook and this could burn the outside of your ingredients before they are cooked through if you aren’t careful.

7. Knowing the right cooking time and right cooking temperature is very important while cooking in the air fryer because the air fryer is not like a conventional oven. So in the below table, a list of popular food with their recommended temperature is mentioned for your guidance.

FoodTemperatureAir-Fryer time
Burgers350 F8 – 10 minutes
Meatballs400 F7 – 10 minutes
Meat Loaf325 F35 – 45 minutes
Salmon400 F5 – 10 minutes
Steak400 F7 – 14 minutes
Carrots375 F15 – 25 minutes
Sweet Potatoes375 F15 – 20 minutes
Potatoes Chips360 F15 – 17 minutes
Cookies325 F8 – 10 minutes
Cod Fish370 F8 – 15 minutes
Garlic Bread350 F2 – 3 minutes
Appropriate temperature and frying time (in the air fryer) for different food items.


In summary, the air fryer will burn everything if you don’t read the instructions before using it, you overfill the appliance with ingredients and oil, you don’t clean it after each use, or if your air fryer has a low-quality heating element that doesn’t distribute heat evenly.

Just follow the preventive measures listed below and you won’t have any problems with your food from now on.

Read More: Can you cook a frozen breakfast sandwich in an air fryer?

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