11 Foods You Should Never Cook in an Air Fryer

Air fryer machine cooking potato fried in kitchen.  Lifestyle of new normal cooking.


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Man using air fryer and laptop in kitchen

Culinary Caution

From TikTok food hacks to online recipes, cooking with an air fryer seems to be all the rage nowadays. While the convenient and sleek-looking kitchen gadget can make many foods crispy and delicious without using a lot of oil, not everything should go into an air fryer. From foods that won't cook evenly to delicate vegetables that burn easily, here’s a list of 11 foods to keep out of that fryer basket — plus the best ways to cook them. 

Related: Reheat Responsibly: 11 Foods You Should Never Reheat in the Microwave

Butterflied roast chicken

1. Whole Roasts

Large chunks of meat such as whole chickens and hefty pot roasts need time to cook through. Though the outside might seem done — or even overcooked — when placed in an air fryer, the inside could still be raw. To ensure even cooking that won't dry out your roast, opt for an oven for these kinds of recipes. 

Related: The Best Rotisserie Chicken, According to Redditors

Dough making: Glass bowl containing flour, egg, oil and milk just before mixing

2. Wet Batters

If you're a fan of funnel cake or fried chicken, then you know a wet batter is essential for obtaining that crispy texture that's so addicting. But in an air fryer? That batter can drip and cause a smoky mess. Plus, it won't achieve that golden crunchiness we all love. When it comes to fried foods, using a cast iron skillet or deep fryer is still your best bet. 

Related: 16 of the Best Fried Chicken Sandwiches in America

Various leafy vegetables

3. Leafy Greens

Tossing leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, or kale in an air fryer can seem like a good idea for a quick sauté. The reality? Your veggies will spin around like they're in a tornado, resulting in burnt spots and a dry, unappetizing texture. Instead, lightly wilt your veggies in a pan with some olive oil and garlic, or blanch them in salted water for no more than two minutes. 

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cheese ravioli with meat balls and sauteed mushrooms and spinach

4. Stuffed Pasta

When it comes to stuffed pastas such as ravioli, tortellini, and stuffed shells, air fryers are not your best option. Air fryers can cause the stuffed pastas' fillings to pop out and leave you with a nasty mess to clean up. Instead, try cooking them gently in boiling water to ensure they stay soft and intact. 

Related: 10 Popular Trader Joe's Pasta Sauces, Ranked

Basmati Rice

5. Fine Grains

Small grains such as rice, quinoa, and farro can easily slip through an air fryer's basket and result in uneven cooking. Plus, they won’t really "fry," which is what you want to achieve in an air fryer. To reheat or cook fine grains, your best bet is using the stovetop or a rice cooker to help achieve that soft and fluffy consistency.

Сheese  gorgonzola parmesan brie or camembert and maasdam. served with berries and crackers. cheese on a wooden board.
Elena Katkova/istockphoto

6. Cheese

Just like with wet batter, tossing a block of cheese into an air fryer to make queso or using it to recreate a grilled cheese sandwich will likely result in a sticky, unappetizing goo that's hard to clean — and even harder to eat. Instead, let your cheese melt atop a burger in a pan on the stove, or as a topping on pizza or casseroles in the oven. 

Senior man with bunch of freshly harvested carrots

7. Raw Vegetables

Hard root veggies like carrots, turnips, and beets won’t soften all the way in an air fryer. Instead, they might cook unevenly: burnt on the outside and still crunchy or raw on the inside. Steaming, boiling, or roasting them is your best bet, as this will bring out their natural sweetness while ensuring an even cook. 

mexican street tacos with beer shot top down

8. Overly Juicy Fruits

The drippy juices from fruits like pineapples, peaches, and nectarines can cause your air fryer to smoke, and will likely overcook or burn the delicate texture of these fruits. Instead, try grilling pineapple or peach slices to achieve those delectable caramelized edges to accompany recipes such as tacos al pastor and Hawaiian pizza. 

Ham sandwich with cheese, lettuce and tomato

9. Deli Meats

Cold cuts and other cheap cuts of meat tend to dry out quickly when subjected to the intense heat of an air fryer. Instead of turning golden and crispy, they may become tough, dry, and chewy. If you must reheat a sandwich that has deli meat, try wrapping it in tin foil and popping it in the oven on low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes to prevent it from drying out. 

Fresh salad of lentils, spinach and almonds
Enol Gonzalez Carbajo/istockphoto

10. Super Soft Foods

Soft foods such as avocado and overly ripe fruit (ahem, bananas) lack structure and can turn into a mushy, unappetizing mess when cooked in an air fryer. Instead of retaining their soft and creamy consistency, they're more likely to collapse and lose texture. Instead, opt for grilling, baking, or using them fresh for salads and desserts. 

French Bread

11. Certain Baked Goods

If you're thinking of freshening up that baguette in an air fryer, think twice. Baked goods, especially bread, can quickly lose their moisture while in an air fryer, turning them into a dry, hard rock. If you want to revive stale bread, give it a sprinkle of water and pop it in a conventional oven or toaster for a few minutes.