Proven to be the most useful air fryer appliance – an air fryer rack can help allow airflow to circulate much more evenly in the air fryer, resulting in a better distribution of heat.
Not only that, but air fryer racks can help you make the most of the cooking possibilities of your air fryer by providing extra space to cook multiple batches of food at a single time; onion rings, breaded chicken, or even a homemade pizza. Why struggle needlessly using an air fryer basket without any rack for larger meals? Is stacking food in an air fryer basket really safe?
Below is our brief guide on how to use air fryer rack — tips and tricks for the uninitiated.
Tips and Tricks for Using Air Fryer Rack
For the bewildered and first-time users: do not fear. We’ve got all the information you need to know regarding how to use an air fryer rack. While some air fryers may come with this handy accessory, some do not and these will need to be purchased individually.
While some will indicate specific instructions for using an air fryer rack in the user manual, other brands may not be apparent or obvious.
Depending on the dimensions, shape, and overall size of your air fryer basket, you will need to find a rack that matches the basket (slightly smaller) to ensure it is kept properly elevated. Many companies that produce air fryers sell air fryer racks specific to that model or make, such as the following stackable racks for the GoWise USA line of 4.2 QT-5.8 QT air fryers.
The best and easiest thing for you to do is to simply ensure that the air fryer comes with a rack when purchasing the unit, so you can avoid the headache of trying to purchase a correctly sized rack yourself online or in-store.
If you’ve already bitten the bullet on an air fryer and are without any air fryer racks, there are some important things to keep in mind. The most important detail when purchasing is that the size of the rack itself is more crucial than following the actual brand or model guidelines. Some may suggest otherwise, but size is the integral factor in the functionality of the rack for your size of air fryer.
If you can find one that adequately fits with the basket of your air fryer, you don’t have to worry about the brand or model number corresponding. Of course, it is still recommended to keep within the manufacturer to avoid any potential placement issues.
Air Fryer Sizes: Do I Need a Larger Unit?
The following website has formulated a very thorough,in-depth guide as to the differences in air fryer sizes between models and how much food your unit will be able to cook. They indicate that smaller basket air fryers between 1 QT and 2 QT are really only capable of cooking “[maximum] two chicken breasts [at one time].”
A larger air fryer, in the range of 3 to 4 QT will be able to cook 6-8 chicken wings at a time (with no air fryer rack). Generally, this is enough for a single person or a couple. Those with large families, however, will want to try the adjustment of an air fryer rack or a larger unit.
Even those with a smaller unit can benefit from the added utility of a single rack. Popular air fryers like the Cosori Air Fryer PRO XL 5.8 QT will allow enough basket room to accommodate larger items: a whole chicken, pizza, or multiple racks of crispy or breaded baked goods.
Larger amounts of food are a breeze with a unit like the Cosori. But for those without, the answer lies in double or single air fryer racks. The larger units can generally host a single layer or double layer rack with ease (up to three) and can help you maximize the most utility out of your countertop air fryer.
When to Use Your Air Fryer Rack and for What Foods
An air fryer will already circulate heat around your food to help cook it but with the addition of handy air fryer accessories, you can easily cook things like chicken wings, thighs, breasts, or drumsticks. Larger portions for an entire family will naturally require the help of an air fryer rack — regardless of what kind of food you’re preparing.
Those who need to cook multiple batches of food at the same time will obviously need to rely on the help of a rack, rather than doing multiple rounds of cooking. That doesn’t make sense, especially when food like chicken can get cold while the side dish is being prepared.
Essentially, the air fryer rack will function as a secondary layer to place food upon. Both a single layer rack and a double layer rack can be purchased for most air fryers, allowing you to expand your cooking possibilities!
A double layer rack will allow you to keep your food on two platforms as opposed to one, and this can help alleviate worry or stress about things being too cramped in the air fryer. When too much food is too close together in the air fryer or stacked altogether, not only will the food not cook properly: but you’ll also end up with smoke emitting from the appliance.
Think of it this way: if you are preparing a side dish and a main course (meat or seafood), with an air fryer rack you can now do both at the same time — without using another kitchen appliance. This can dramatically cut down cooking time and curb the need for a conventional oven (or convection oven for that matter).
How to Use Air Fryer Rack in the Best Way
- Reduce the need for rotating, flipping, or turning food as air fryer racks can help ensure all food is cooked evenly through proper heat distribution from top to bottom.
- These racks also allow multiple foods to be cooked at the same time without the risk of overcrowding the unit – leading to burnt food, fumes, and smoke.
- To use them, simply place your food on the corresponding racks. Ensure that anything that is being marinated, or will have sauce paired with it, remains on the bottom. Any sort of liquid coating on food will drip down onto the next layer. This is mostly a non-issue if you’re cooking a bunch of oily things together (fries and onion rings) or food using cooking oils, but can be an issue for sauce-based dishes.
- Make sure all the pieces of food are small enough to prevent bigger pieces from blocking the racks or making them unstable. This means potentially having to break up or cut up the food into smaller pieces as the space between the stacked racks/skewers will be much smaller.
- Place the racks in the fryer, situated above the basket. These racks are mounted above the rest of the food.
- After cooking is completed, remove the racks carefully one by one. Clean them immediately and thoroughly prior to the next use with warm water and dish soap.
What Foods Can Be Stacked in an Air Fryer and What Foods Need a Rack?
The air fryer ‘basket’ that is most commonly used naturally has a mesh pattern or holed pattern to allow functional circulation and even results. Regardless of whether you use a rack or a basket, you never want to prevent the fryer from being able to cook evenly and distribute heated air properly. The more difficult it is for air to properly travel within the fryer, the longer it will take for the food inside to finish cooking.
The way they function is very similar to a convection oven. The fans and the heating element work together to help you get the crispy food that you crave. The heating element inside the air fryer becomes hot, and this helps the unit to heat the circulating air traveling around inside.
The fans and vents on the air fryer then help to target the heated air across the food in the unit. Things like fries can be stacked or loaded up in an air fryer basket pretty shamelessly without having to worry if they’ll cook evenly. These are thin enough to allow airflow between them, despite being stacked over one another.
Things like potatoes and vegetables are also low-risk and can be stacked. These are food items that can be easily rotated, shaken, or separated to ensure proper cooking. They’re also much less likely to result in food poisoning if they’re undercooked.
With an air fryer rack (or two), there is nothing you can’t cook using your trusty air fryer. Rather than having to crumble ingredients, break them down, or do partial batches, racks can help you distribute the food across multiple layers. As long as the rack is stable and evenly mounted on top of the basket, the food will always be cooked consistently as the airflow travels both over and under the food.
While not a ‘must,’ for anyone using an air fryer to replace bulkier kitchen appliances, cut down on prep/cooking time, or reduce the amount of oil they need to cook – air fryer racks are a perfect accompaniment.