Air fryers have become one of the most popular kitchen appliances in recent years. Their ability to make fried foods like french fries and chicken wings crisp and delicious using little to no oil is revolutionary. But one question many new air fryer owners have is whether you can cook foods in a bowl in an air fryer.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about putting bowls in air fryers. We’ll look at the pros and cons, what types of bowls work best, tips for cooking in bowls successfully, and how to avoid potential problems.
How Air Fryers Work
Before we dive into using bowls, it’s important to understand the basics of how air fryers work. Air fryers cook food by rapidly circulating hot air around it at high speed. This allows the food to cook evenly and develop a crispy, fried texture with minimal oil.
Most air fryers have a basket or drawer design with slots on the sides and bottom for maximum air circulation. The slots allow the hot air to reach all surfaces of the food for even cooking. This air flow is essential for getting the signature crispness associated with air frying.
Can You Put a Bowl in an Air Fryer?
So can you put a bowl in an air fryer? The short answer is yes; you can cook food in a bowl inside an air fryer. However, there are some important factors to consider to ensure successful results.
The main consideration is that bowls can block the air flow inside the cooking chamber. Most air fryer baskets and drawers are designed for maximum air circulation around individual pieces of food. Putting a large bowl inside takes up space and prevents the hot air from reaching the food as efficiently.
This doesn’t mean bowls can’t be used at all. But some adjustments will need to be made to prevent issues with uneven cooking. Let’s look closer at the pros and cons of using bowls in air fryers.
Pros of Using Bowls in Air Fryers
There are some advantages to using bowls in air fryers in certain scenarios:
- Convenience for cooking liquids or batter: Bowls make it easy to cook wet batters like muffins or air fry oatmeal. The bowl contains the batter neatly.
- Easier cooking of small or loose ingredients: Things like chopped veggies, croutons, and nuts are easier to cook in a bowl than loose in the air fryer basket.
- Prevents grease spattering: Using a bowl for fatty foods like bacon helps keep the air fryer clean.
- Easier removal: A bowl makes it simpler to get smaller cooked items out of the air fryer.
Cons of Using Bowls in Air Fryers
However, there are also some downsides to be aware of when putting bowls in an air fryer:
- Uneven cooking: As mentioned, bowls can disrupt the air flow, leading to uneven heating.
- Food doesn’t get as crispy: Areas blocked by the bowl may get less crispy than exposed areas.
- Possible overcrowding: Large bowls take up a lot of the cooking space.
- Hard to see food: You can’t easily check food or shake the bowl like you can the basket.
- May require more cooking time: The disrupted air flow can increase cooking times.
- Risk of melting: Some bowls may not handle the heat well and melt.
Best Practices for Using Bowls
If you want to use a bowl, following some best practices will help ensure you get the best possible results:
- Use small to medium-sized bowls to minimize disruption of air flow. Oversized bowls are more likely to cause issues.
- Don’t overfill the bowl, which can impede air circulation inside the bowl itself. Leave space around the contents.
- Shake or stir the bowl’s contents midway through cooking to expose all sides to the hot air.
- Use oven-safe bowls that can withstand air fryer temperatures. Ceramic, glass, and metal bowls work best.
- Spray or brush bowls with oil to prevent food from sticking.
- Increase cooking times as needed to account for uneven circulation. Check frequently for doneness.
- Rotate or flip the bowl during cooking to cook evenly if possible.
What Types of Bowls Can Be Used?
Not all bowls are well-suited for air-frying. Look for bowls designed for stovetop or oven use; avoid plastic bowls, which may melt. The best bowl materials include:
- Metal (cast iron, stainless steel): Gets hot evenly and won’t melt. Avoid very thin foil.
- Ceramic: Withstands high heat as long as it is not too thin. Glazed is best.
- Glass (Pyrex): Oven-safe glass bowls hold up well. Avoid very delicate glass.
- Silicone: Heat-resistant silicone can work in some air fryers, but check the temperature rating.
Avoid any plastic, wood, or paper bowls inside an air fryer. Make sure any glazes or decorations on ceramic bowls are oven- and microwave-safe before air-frying.
Bowls for Different Foods
What type and size bowl to use depends on the type of food being cooked.
- Smaller bowls for nuts, shredded veggies, and croutons: Use mini 1-2 cup bowls. Stirring midway is essential.
- Ramekins work for bites like appetizers, falafel, or meatballs. Choose oven-safe ceramic or glass ramekins.
- Larger bowls for wet batters or soups: 3–4 cup oven-safe microwaveable bowls are ideal.
- Round bowls are better than oblong ones because round shapes allow more air flow than narrow rectangles.
- Individual mini bowls rather than large bowls: Multiple small bowls take up less space than one large bowl.
Tips for Cooking in Bowls Successfully
Here are some top tips for getting the best results when cooking in bowls in your air fryer:
- Don’t overfill the bowl; leave space for airflow.
- Use denser batters rather than thin, liquidy batters.
- Brush bowls with oil for crisping.
- Shake or stir the bowl contents frequently.
- Add a few minutes to the cooking time.
- Make sure the bowls fit properly in your fryer.
- Arrange multiple bowls carefully to allow air flow.
- Check doneness early to prevent burning.
Common Problems and Solutions
Even using best practices, you may encounter some issues when using bowls in the air fryer. Here are some common problems and how to avoid them:
Food is mushy or undercooked.
Increase the cooking time and check more frequently. Denser batters may need significantly longer.
Food is burned or dried out.
Don’t overfill bowls, which can trap heat. Reduce time and monitor early.
Bowls are tipping over or touching walls.
Use bowls that fit properly in your fryer. Reposition midway through cooking.
Ceramic bowl cracked in air fryer:
Avoid ceramic bowls with thin walls or glazes not rated for high heat.
Food stuck to the bottom of the bowl:
Lightly oil the bowl interiors before cooking. Let it cool before removing the food.
FAQ About Cooking in Bowls
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about using bowls in air fryers:
Can you put a metal bowl in an air fryer?
Yes, metal bowls are a great choice, as they get hot evenly and won’t melt. Stainless steel or cast iron bowls work well. Avoid very thin foil.
What happens if you put a plastic bowl in an air fryer?
Plastic bowls should never be used, as they can melt or release chemicals when exposed to hot air fryer temperatures.
Can Pyrex go in an air fryer?
Yes, oven-safe Pyrex or other glass bowls are a good option for air fryers. Make sure any glass bowl is rated for oven or microwave use, and avoid delicate glassware.
How do you cook oatmeal in an air fryer?
Mix oats and water in a small to medium microwave-safe bowl. Cook 5–15 minutes, stirring halfway, until thickened. Toppings can be added in the last 2 minutes.
Hi, I’m Julie, the passionate foodie and founder of Juliesfamilykitchen.com. I created this blog out of a drive to prove someone wrong, and then I realized how much I truly enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. In my free time, when I’m not running around after my kids or spending quality time with my partner, you can usually find me in the kitchen experimenting with new dishes.