Air Fryer experiments from French fries and chicken to squid

An air fryer is touted as a fantastic kitchen appliance using hot air to cook food, providing a healthier alternative to deep frying. They seem to be easy to use and perfect for novices.

Without earlier FOMO, I belatedly bought a small Ninja AF100 air fryer to reduce the amount of olive oil I spend in frying and to both save time and get more even results. As a single, this sized fryer is perfect for me, often leaving some leftovers.

Before we begin, some general tips I learned from exploring the web:

  • Even though healthier cooking by eliminating deep-frying oil is an important feature, a small amount of cooking oil is still needed (I use olive oil). To prevent food from sticking to the air fryer basket, lightly coat it with cooking spray or a small amount of oil.
  • Don’t overcrowd the basket: Ensure there’s enough space between food items in the basket so that hot air can circulate and cook everything evenly. It’s better to cook in batches if needed.
  • Use parchment paper to line the basket – it has no effect on cooking but minimizes basket cleanup. I haven’t experimented with it, but some bloggers use aluminum foil. Costco has great prices for both parchment paper & AL foil.
  • Air fryers vary in power and efficiency, so keep an eye on your food during cooking. I start with the recommended cooking times and temperatures, but for new recipes, check the progress often.  Unlike ovens, you can quickly pull out the basket, shake to redistribute if necessary, then push the basket back in without significant loss of heat.
  • Remember to check progress at about ½ the cooking time – toss the ingredients lightly as if you were making an omelet.

Small Bites, Big Flavor: Dim Sum with Air Fryer or Steamer

To avoid duplicating instructions

for the simple preparation for air frying, I don’t leave detailed recipes below.  If you want more examples, a search google for

{air fryer {food item}

Here are the results of my first week with my new tool. All used the air fryer setting unless stated otherwise. All temperatures are in Fahrenheit. In all cases, I reviewed progress at halftime and adjusted the temperature if needed. Air fryer was pre-heated for 5 at the desired temperature..

Basic preparation unless otherwise indicated.

  • I place food items in a large [recycled] bag grocery store produce bags are perfect. You need enough space to toss the food easily.
  • To just coat with oil, add 1-2T of your oil of choice, Hold the bag closed and shake. Use your other hand to separate the items at the bottom so all items get a chance. Then empty the bag into the parchment paper lined basket.
  • If you’re dredging or breading, first add ¼ cup flour or cornstarch to the food, toss to coat.
  • Add the egg mixture, toss.
  • Add panko / breadcrumbs if suggested, toss. Empty onto a cooking grid over a lined baking sheet to let them think about their sins for a few minutes.

OK, let the experiments begin…

Chicken wings

Test 1

I used 2T olive oil tossed in the plastic bag for 1 ½ lb of wings, after separating the drumettes from wingettes.  Cook 390⁰ for 20-24’  

Excellent result for my first try – crisp, delicious wings, cooked perfectly. (

Next  time, I added 1 T sesame oil, 1 T olive oil, ¼ t black soy sauce. Toss, then add ½ c panko. Toss again & fry 20-22’ @ 390⁰

These were even crispier with a light coating that didn’t overpower the chicken. Black soy sauce is a more concentrated form of soy sauce; you can substitute regular soy sauce but the taste will be less intense.

Variations – add

  • finely chopped garlic, or garlic powder
    finely chopped ginger root
    cilantro or Italian parsley
    skip the soy sauce and add oregano, rosemary, thyme et al
    paprika, cumin, cayenne, or red pepper flakes

French Fries

This is a major selling point of air fryers, it seems.  French fries are popular and widely consumed in the USA. Americans consume billion of servings of French fries annually.

French fries are typically made from deep-fried, thinly sliced potatoes and are known for their crispy and savory appeal. While delicious, they are also considered a less healthy option due to their high calorie and fat content when prepared using traditional deep-frying methods. However, the popularity of air fryers, offers a healthier alternative allowing people to enjoy French fries with less oil. It also avoids the mess created when deep frying and the need to closely monitor results.

 My test:

I used about 1 ½ lb of peeled russet potatoes cut into ½ -3/4” wide fries. (I freeze the peels to add to stock later)

I ran and rinsed the fries under cold water several times to remove some of the starch. Then patted them dry.

Used 390⁰ – cooking 25’, tossing ½ way thru

Excellent right out of fryer, but as they cooled became soggier than my regular homemade fries. Rather than deep frying I use about 1’4 to 1’2” oil in a cast iron skillet

More experimenting needed

Hatch peppers

Hatch chile peppers are grown in the Hatch Valley region of New Mexico, USA. They are prized for their unique flavor and have varying levels of heat and flavor profiles. The ones I’m using have a hotness a bit below jalapenos. They appear in our Seattle supermarkets in bulk, and many people buy them to roast, peel, and freeze for year-round.

Using about 5-6 peppers at a time, toss with 11-2 T of oil.

Set the air fryer to roast at 400⁰, for 6-8’. Check for nicely browned and blistered skin all over. If not turn the peppers to expose the un-blasted side & continue roasting  for 3-4’ at a time.

Remove to paper towel on plate, cover w paper towel and lightly cover w plastic wrap until cool & skin comes off easily.  I just use my bare hands, but you can also use a paper towel to remove the skins. (The skins are another useful item to freeze for a spicy stock for a Mexican or Asian soup) However you flay them be sure to wash your hands with soap and water and avoid touching your eyes – do that once & you’re unlikely to forget in the future.

I had 4 lb of peppers to roast, so I just repeated, adding 1 T of oil when needed, and layered with paper towels on the plate.

You can use the peppers directly or store in the refrigerator for a few days.  I use my foodsaver to store 5-6 peppers in a vacuumed bag. I cut off the top. You can also slice lengthwise and remove the vein & seeds. Then freeze flat. 

Hatch .peppers are perfect for chile rellenos.


The skins were nicely blistered and came off easily, compared to stove roasted peppers over an open flame where the skin is usually patchily blistered.

Also, the air fryer peppers were cooked uniformly, as opposed to grilling on a gas stove where you need to turn frequently & still may not get overall blackened. 

One minor downside is you don’t get that nicely blackened skin which can be left in small bits on gas grilled peppers. (Noticeable on canned peppers)


Adding squid (aka calamari) to your diet has several benefits. Calamari is low in calories, high in protein vitamin B12. It’s an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and also contains calcium, iron, and vitamin C. In olden days, seafood stores would almost give these away, even a few years ago, whole squid was reasonably priced. Now it rivals the price of (recently inflated) chicken and pork

I usually buy & clean whole squid (a squishy process many avoid, but I see it as an anatomy lesson )  This time I bought thin 1/4’” mantle steaks of large squid from Costco ($4.50/lb)

I cooked 1 lb  cut into 1” strips


  • dredge in flour with 1 TB salt, 1 T freshly ground black pepper
  • add 1 whisked egg + ¼ cup olive oil (or ¼ cup milk) toss
  • add ½ c panko, toss & spreads out on gridded cookie sheet as described above. Let rest for 10-15”
  • Air fry at 400⁰ for 6-8’  testing to avoid over cooking

Resulted in tender with a crispy exterior.

Trying to sauté or deep fry squid can easily turn tender creatures into rubbery tire shreds. this method keeps the squid tender & juicy (how often have you heard that about a calamari recipe?) of course you’ll have to forgo the delicious deep-fried olive-oil soaked bread crumbs

Overall I’ve been more than pleased

with my first air fryer results. All attempts produced perfectly done food at the desired crispness. The French fries need some work, but that will change

As always, your comments, recipes, blogs and links are welcome.

Next up, experimenting with

  • Asparagus
  • Eggplant
  • Eggplant parmesan, which i often make (and one of the few thing my brother-in-law & I agreed on). It’ll have stiff competition from delicious versions by 2 of my sisters-in-law
  • Potstickers – another dish I make from scratch using won-ton / gyoza wrapper
  • Zucchini and other squash
  • Roasted corn for Mexican dishes

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By Cascoly

I've been exploring and leading trips for over 40 years. climbing & trekkng in the Alps, Andes, North American mountain ranges and the Himalaya. I'm retired from mountaineering now but world travels in Europe, Africa & Asia continue to expand my portfolio. Besides private travel, I now focus on escorting trips to India & Turkey. Other interests include wide reading in history and vegetable gardening / cooking. You can download digital images here, or find images at We have many thousands of images we haven't displayed yet; so, if you have a special need or request please contact us