Mixed reviews are floating around the internet regarding boiling water in your air fryer, so let's set the record straight. Given that most air fryers can achieve temperatures far beyond boiling point, you would think it makes logical sense that you could boil water. But the question remains, can you boil water in an air fryer?
For the sheer sake of satisfying my own curiosity, I decided to find out. The truth is boiling water in your air fryer is probably the least effective way to achieve bubbles. On the other hand, it's the perfect way to cook foods you would normally boil on the stove.
Let's review the results!
Can You Boil Water in an Air Fryer?
With so much conflicting information, I decided to find out whether or not you can actually boil water in an air fryer. And if so, how long does it take?
Before starting, I reread the entire set of manufacturer's instructions for my air fryer model to make sure there were no warnings against boiling water or placing water in the fryer.
While there is no mention of boiling water, there are also not any cautionary advisories against it. However, some air fryers do explicitly advise against boiling water in them.
This would probably be a good spot to put in my disclaimer: "Kids, don't try this at home!"
Boiling Water in an Air Fryer Experiment
I preheated my Black and Decker Crisp 'n Bake to 425°F (218°C) while I prepared a dish of water. I measured out one cup of lukewarm water straight from the tap and poured it into a flat oven-safe glass bowl, then placed it into my air fryer and started the timer.
Simultaneously, I measured one cup of water and poured it into a stainless steel saucepan, and placed it on the stove with the setting around 6/10, just slightly above medium heat.
In just under five minutes, the water on the stove had come to a rapid boil. The air fryer, on the other hand, was not even close. After 25 long minutes, my air fryer still was not able to boil water. As a matter of fact, it just barely reached 185°F (85°C).
At this point, I ended the experiment because even if I did achieve boiling water at some unknown point in the future, the ends simply would never justify the means. There are simply too many other options for boiling water that are far more efficient:
- Electric kettle
The consensus is clear. Air fryers are designed to brown and crisp using the convection cooking method. They are not designed to boil water!
Can You Boil Food in an Air Fryer?
The good news is that even if your air fryer can't achieve boiling water, it can still cook foods that normally require boiling. The bad news is that you may need to boil water on your stove first if you want to expedite the cooking process.
Here are just a few examples of cooking food in your air fryer that traditionally utilizes boiling water.
You might not be able to boil water in air fryers, but you can whip up some boiled potatoes rather simply. Peel and wash your potatoes, then cut them into small pieces. Remember, the smaller the pieces, the faster they'll cook.
Place them in an oven-safe dish and cover them with hot water. Cover the dish and toss your potatoes in the air fryer until they're soft. You can find plenty of online recipes with different variations and seasonings.
Follow your favorite recipe and enjoy. Be sure to exercise extreme caution when handling hot liquids or working around hot steam to prevent severe burns.
Another boiling water favorite. Place your preferred choice of pasta into a shallow oven-safe dish, and cover it with hot or boiling water. Some people prefer to boil water in advance to shorten the cooking time.
Follow your recipe instructions, drain any residual water, and then stir in your favorite pasta or cheese sauce.
While this is not nearly as efficient as a rice cooker or cooking rice on the stove, you can cook rice in your air fryer fairly easily. Whether white rice or fried rice, your air fryer is up to the challenge.
Every college kid's favorite! Air fryers love cooking Ramen. Place ramen noodles, whole or broken, into your air fryer-safe pan and add water or other hot liquids like chicken broth.
Drain if you prefer, and add your favorite seasoning. YouTube offers tons of different videos on how to cook Ramen in your air fryer.
If you want some poached eggs for your DIY Egg McMuffin, the air fryer is the perfect tool for the job. Spray a small ramekin with non-stick cooking spray, and then crack an egg into it. Add a few tablespoons of water, and then set the ramekin into your air fryer basket.
Once the egg is done, carefully remove the ramakin and lift the egg from any remaining water. Plate your egg and serve. With plenty of online recipes to choose from, you're sure to find the right one for you.
Other Reasons to Add Water to Your Air Fryer
Perhaps you're wondering if you can add water to your air fryer for reasons other than boiling. In most cases, yes, you can. The key is to make sure you don't add too much water to an air fryer.
Because air fryers work by way of convection, too much water in an air fryer can ruin the cooking process.
Here are some common reasons for adding water to an air fryer for something other than boiling water. Of course, with the caveat, always check your manufacturer's instructions since different air fryers require different operating procedures.
Add Water in an Air Fryer to Steam Food
Some people wonder if steaming food is possible in an air fryer, and the answer is a resounding yes! Many air fryers are even equipped with steam baskets specifically designed with steaming in mind.
Not only can you steam food in an air fryer, but it's also a much healthier alternative to deep frying since very little oil is required. Steaming also helps preserve your food's nutritional content better when compared to alternative cooking methods.
Typically, an air fryer works much like a convection oven. That is by circulating hot dry air throughout its chamber. To steam food, however, air fryers require moist air to circulate around your food. Adding a little water creates water droplets that gradually evaporate into steam, which cooks your food indirectly.
In order for this process to work in an air fryer, you must keep your food covered to keep the steam from evaporating altogether.
If your air fryer doesn't have a steaming basket, you can wrap your food in foil or parchment paper and add a few tablespoons of water or other liquids. Seal the foil or parchment on all sides and lay it in your basket or on your tray.
Heat your air fryer between 300-325° F (149-163° C) while you prepare your food. Then place your prepared food in your air fryer and steam for roughly 20-30 minutes, depending on what you're cooking.
As the temperature of the water inside your foil increases, it will gradually create steam that not only cooks your food but helps your food retain its moisture.
To properly steam food in an air fryer, it's important not to add too much water, or you'll end up with soggy food instead. Of course, how much water you use depends on how much and what kind of food is in your air fryer.
Usually, just a tablespoon or two is more than sufficient.
Add Water in an Air Fryer to Reheat Food
Using air fryers to rehydrate food is very similar to microwaves and is particularly useful for warming leftovers. By adding a little bit of water to your air fryer drawer pan, the circulating hot air and water work together to rehydrate your food evenly to prevent it from being overly dry.
By adding water to the fryer, it produces steam and moisture, which will keep your food moist and prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Some air fryer models allow for adding water to the air fryer drawer or pan, but adding too much water can ruin your heating element or other electrical parts. So be careful!
Alternatively, you can spray water directly onto whatever you're reheating to help food retain moisture.
Adding water to your air fryer when cooking or reheating can help prevent food and leftover particles from sticking to the grill or drip pan. This makes it quick and easy to clean up after using the air fryer.
Add Water to an Air Fryer When Cooking Greasy Foods
Another occasion when you might want to place water in an air fryer is when you cook food with lots of grease. For example, adding a bit of water to your air fryer when cooking chicken wings helps keep the smoke at bay.
When air-frying fatty foods, they tend to splatter all over the place. This can cause your air fryer to smoke up your kitchen pretty quickly. Furthermore, sizzling grease places you at risk for grease burns in addition to releasing toxic fumes. It can also become a fire hazard.
Adding water in an air fryer helps your grease float and keep cool, preventing the smoke from circulating throughout your kitchen.
Whether you're cooking burgers, bacon, or wings, add just a bit of water to your drip pan to prevent unwanted smoke. Again, too much water can short-circuit your heating element or other electrical components.
Using Non-stick Cooking Spray in Your Air Fryer
Non-stick cooking sprays can also cause your air fryer to smoke just like grease. It also produces an unpleasant odor.
Additionally, poor-quality cooking sprays sometimes contain ingredients that can damage both your heating element and your air fryer basket over time. They have a tendency to create a build-up of residue that is often quite difficult to remove.
Instead of using cooking spray, try coating your frying basket with an oil that has a high smoking point like avocado oil or olive oil. This will make your air fryer much easier to clean in the long run.
Adding Water to an Air Fryer for Cleaning
Lastly, adding water to your air fryer can help keep it clean. Placing a small amount of water in your air fryer while cooking will prevent food from sticking to the bottom of the air fryer basket.
The hot air mixed with the warm water can help loosen stubborn debris and food particles so you can easily wipe away any grease or hot oil. Just be sure to only use a small amount.
It's also a good idea to clean your frying basket, racks, and trays after each use. Depending on what you're air frying, sometimes you don't even need dish soap. A simple warm moist cloth is sufficient to remove crumbs and minor grease drips.
For routine cleaning and maintenance or tougher grease, start by adding warm soapy water to the bottom of your air fryer. Then let your air fryer run for several minutes. Afterward, pour the soapy water out of your air fryer basket and rinse the basket clean of any residual soap.
With a clean damp cloth, wipe all sides of your air fryer and gently wipe down the heating element. Like all electrical appliances, make sure it's unplugged and completely cooled first.
How Much Water Can You Add to an Air Fryer?
Always double-check your owner's manual since each model is different from the next. However, generally speaking, adding up to ¼ cup of water or other liquid should be safe.
Too much water can short-circuit the electrical components of your air fryer, including the heating coil or heating elements.
Additionally, adding too much water to air fryers can actually cause crisp food to become less crispy. Instead of cooking with hot air as it should, too much water will cause it to steam, turning your crispy foods soggy instead.
Final Thoughts on Boiling Water in an Air Fryer
While it's pointless to try to boil water in an air fryer, it doesn't mean that you can't add water to your air fryer for other reasons. So whether you're steaming, reheating, or air frying greasy foods, try some of these great air fryer recipes: