Can You Put Oil in an Air Fryer?

Yes, you can put oil in an air fryer, but it’s not necessary for all foods. The primary appeal of air fryers is their ability to cook food with little to no oil, producing a crispy texture similar to deep-frying but with significantly less fat and calories. However, adding a small amount of oil to certain foods can enhance the flavor, prevent sticking, and improve the texture of the finished dish.

How to Use Oil in an Air Fryer

Choosing the Right Oil

  • Opt for oils with a high smoke point, such as avocado oil, canola oil, peanut oil, or light olive oil. These oils can withstand the high temperatures of air frying without breaking down or smoking.

Applying Oil to Food

  • Light Coating: For foods that benefit from a bit of oil, like vegetables or potatoes, lightly coat them with oil before cooking. You can use a spray bottle to evenly distribute a thin layer of oil over the food. This helps achieve a golden, crispy exterior.
  • Brushing: Alternatively, use a pastry brush to lightly apply oil to the food. This method works well for coating delicate items or getting into nooks and crannies of textured foods.
  • Tossing: For items like French fries or vegetable pieces, tossing them in a bowl with a small amount of oil can ensure even coverage.

Avoid Pouring Oil Directly Into the Air Fryer

  • Do not pour oil directly into the air fryer basket or the bottom of the air fryer. Excess oil can cause smoke and may damage the appliance over time. It can also make cleaning more difficult.

Benefits of Using Oil in an Air Fryer

  • Enhanced Browning and Crisping: A little oil can go a long way in improving the color and crispiness of air-fried foods, mimicking the texture of deep-frying.
  • Improved Flavor: Oil can carry flavors from spices and seasonings, enhancing the overall taste of the food.
  • Moisture Retention: Lightly coating food in oil can help retain moisture during cooking, preventing it from drying out.

Tips for Using Oil in an Air Fryer

  • Use Sparingly: A small amount of oil is usually sufficient. Overdoing it can lead to excess smoke and may affect the cooking performance of your air fryer.
  • Consider an Oil Sprayer: A refillable oil sprayer can be a convenient and economical way to apply a light, even coating of oil to your food.
  • Avoid Aerosol Spray Cans: Some commercial aerosol spray oils contain additives that can damage the non-stick coating of air fryer baskets. If using a spray, opt for a pump sprayer filled with pure oil.


Incorporating oil into your air frying can enhance the flavor, texture, and appearance of your dishes, provided it’s done correctly. By choosing the right oil, applying it properly, and using it sparingly, you can enjoy deliciously crispy and healthy meals from your air fryer.

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Bubbly Chef author