4 Steps to Bake Desserts in the Air Fryer with 9 Accessories
Air fryers are a great choice when you want to make some delicious crispy foods using little to no oil, but can you bake in the air fryer? Yes, air fryers are also good for baking your favorite desserts and treats.
Baking in an air fryer is easy as most will have a dedicated bake preset, and some even come with baking accessories. However, like all other air fryer cooking modes, you ought to know how to use the baking function correctly for the best outcomes.
Using an air fryer to bake can save time as it heats up faster than a conventional oven. Also, it eliminates the need to fire up your oven when you only want to bake small food portions like a few cinnamon rolls or chocolate chip cookies.
In this baking in an air fryer guide, I will explain everything you need to know about using an air fryer for baking, from how to do it correctly to the best foods you can bake.
Do you need to preheat air fryers when baking?
Whether or not you preheat your air fryer largely depends on the specific model. Some models will not require preheating; hence, you just place whatever you want to bake in the basket and start baking immediately.
Other models will have a dedicated preheat button, so you only need to press it to preheat the air fryer. And so, it is important to check your air manual to know if and how to preheat your air fryer.
Also, whether you preheat the air fryer or not depends on the recipe, as some call for preheating, while for others, it is not necessary.
But while you can skip preheating an air fryer given how fast they heat up, it is always better to do it. Preheating speeds up the baking and ensures better cooking and crispier results.
How to bake in an air fryer
There are many options for baking in an air fryer, so the exact process to follow will depend on the specific recipe. However, here are a few general steps to guide you regardless of what you want to bake.
Step 1: Start by preparing the ingredients
The recipes are the same as what you would use when baking in a convection oven. For example, when making sponge cake like in the video above, the ingredients and batter consistency remain the same as when baking in an oven. And so, just prepare the ingredients according to the recipe.
Step 2: Prepare the baking pan
Next, you should prepare your baking pan. Here, you can choose to flour and grease the pan or line it with parchment paper. Again what you do here will depend on your preferences and what you are baking.
Step 3: Preheat the air fryer
Once the pan is ready, you can power and preheat the air fryer. If your air fryer has a preheat setting, this should be easy as you only push the button to preheat. If your air fryer does not have a preheat function, you can always preheat by selecting the air frying or bake mode. Allow the appliance to heat to the temperature the recipe recommends.
Step 4: Choose the bake settings to start baking
When the air fryer gets hot enough, you can now start baking. If the model you use has a bake preset, you only need to choose it from the control panel or press the bake function button. Doing this will determine the optimal baking time and temperature automatically.
It will typically take between 15 and 40 minutes to cook most baked goods in an air fryer, and the optimal temperature is between 300°F and 400°F, depending on the food.
Note: The preset time and temperature might not be ideal for some recipes, so you must check what your recipe calls for and make adjustments.
Air fryer baking accessories: How to choose the best cake pans for use in an air fryer
If you plan to bake cakes in your air fryer, you must invest in high-quality cake pans.
The good news is that whatever works in a regular oven can still work in an air fryer. Unlike microwave ovens, it is safe to use metal cookware in an air fryer.
But remember, the pans will be exposed to high heat within a short time in an air fryer, so they must be top quality. Cake pans made from aluminum, stoneware, and heat-resistant silicone are the best to use in an air fryer as they can withstand high heat.
Besides the pan material, you will also need to consider the following factors when deciding what cake pan to choose:
- Air fryer size – Any cake pan you choose should fit your air fryer and leave enough room for the hot air to circulate properly for optimal cooking results. As you choose a cake pan, consider the size of your air fryer. Typically, a cake pan between 5 and 8 inches in diameter will work for most air fryers.
- Pan depth – A good cake pan should not be too shallow or too deep. If it is too shallow, the cake will cook faster and can easily burn; if it is too deep, it can cook slowly and unevenly.
Best baking pans for use in an air fryer
There are all kinds of cake pans you can use in an air fryer, but most are either low quality or don’t bake very well. Here are two fantastic models that will be perfect for use in your air fryer:
1. BWWNBY Universal Air Fryer Accessory Set
This 2-piece air fryer accessory set will ensure you get the best from your air fryer. The set includes a cake barrel and pizza pan, made from highly durable steel to ensure many years of great service.
The BWWNBY Universal Air Fryer Accessory Set can work for both basket and shelf-style air fryers, and the size is ideal for almost any air fryer, including those with a smaller capacity.
The pans have a food-grade non-stick coating to make it easy to remove the food and to make clean-up easy. Also, both are dishwasher-safe to ensure clean-up is a breeze.
2. HYTK 4 Cup Muffin Pan
If you like cooking cupcakes and muffins in your air fryer, the HYTK 4 Cup Muffin Pan is perfect. The set includes two 4-cup pans made from durable carbon steel material and with a nonstick surface for easy food release.
The pans can work for any air fryer out there thanks to their ability to withstand a wide temperature range between -40°F and 450°F.
These pans will not warp even when subjected to drastic temperature changes and do not release toxic substances when cooking at high temperatures.
Cleaning the pans should also be hassle-free as they are dishwasher safe
Other 7 accessories that you need for baking in an air fryer
Cake pans will probably be at the top of your mind when shopping for accessories for baking in an air fryer. But, while cake pans are versatile and useful for baking other foods and not just cakes, here is a list of other accessories you will need.
- Cupcake mold – A standard cupcake tray is unlikely to fit your air fryer’s basket. If you plan to use an air fryer for baking cupcakes and muffins, you need to invest in cupcake molds, as the individual cups can fit any air fryer basket. Cupcake liners can also work well as cupcake molds, especially those made from heat-resistant silicone.
- Donut molds – Regular donut molds will also not fit your air fryer basket. But if you cannot get individual ones, you can always buy the regular molds and cut them into separate sections that can fit the basket.
- Oven-safe glassware – Oven-safe glassware can also be handy for putting baked goods in an air fryer. Pyrex dishes are one of your best options here, but it is important to make sure you choose the right size by considering the dimensions of the air fryer basket.
- Pizza pans – You can still make pizza on your small air fryer model. All you have to do is get a good mini pizza pan that can fit the basket. Pizza pans are often part of an air fryer baking accessories set like the one by BWWNBY above, but you can still buy them individually.
- Kitchen mitts – Well, you will also need something for handling your air fryer and baking accessories when hot, and here nothing beats a pair of good quality kitchen mitts.
- Measuring spoons and cups – Most baked goods require you to measure the ingredients accurately, so you should get some measuring spoons and cups if you do not already have some in your kitchen.
- Parchment paper – You will also need parchment paper to line your baking pans, molds, basket, and trays. Make sure you choose parchment paper safe for use in an air fryer or at least something rated to handle temperatures up to 450°F.
Ideal air fryer baking temperature and time
The ideal baking temperature and time depend on what you are baking. It is important to follow what your recipe recommends.
However, they also depend on the size of what you are cooking and its moisture content. The larger the dough or batter size and the more moisture it contains, the longer the baking time. With that in mind, you should expect a vanilla sponge cake or banana bread to take much longer to cook than chocolate chip cookies.
All in all, the average baking time when using an air fryer can be anything from 15 to 40 minutes, and the typical temperature ranges between 300 and 400°F.
Air fryer dessert recipes: best foods to bake in an air fryer
Although an air fryer can bake most of the foods you can bake in a conventional oven, a few seem to come out better than others.
1. Baking Cake
Whether you want to make a simple sponge cake or something financier, air fryers do quite a good job once you master the technique and get other things like the time and temperature right.
The heating element in an air fryer is at the top of the appliance, so the top of the batter will be exposed to high heat if the cake pan is too close. However, you can ensure the top does not burn and instead gets that caramelized, crispy top characteristic of air-fried cakes by reducing the temperature for low and slow baking.
If your air fryer comes with a recipe book, there should be at least one cake recipe. But if not, NDTV food has a detailed one for you.
Bread, buns, and cinnamon rolls are also quite easy to make in an air fryer as the process is identical to using a regular oven.
It takes around 20 to 30 minutes to bake bread in an air fryer at 380°F. Like cake, it is important to watch the bread as it bakes to ensure the top does not burn.
Also, make sure you have a good bread pan that will help ensure even cooking and that the bread retains shape as it expands when baking. The Food Network has an easy-to-follow air fryer bread recipe that you can try out.
3. Baking Cookies
Cookies are one of the easiest and fastest foods you can bake in an air fryer. There is not much to do besides cutting your store-bought cookie dough and putting it in the air fryer to start baking. Of course, you have to place the cookies over parchment paper to prevent making a mess.
Even if you are making the cookie dough from scratch, you can still have your chocolate chip cookies or any other type ready to eat in under 30 minutes, as the bake time is under 15 minutes for most recipes. Here is a simple air fryer chocolate chip cookie recipe.
4. Baking Potato
You will not need any cookware to bake potatoes in your air fryer as you can just throw them in the basket over parchment paper. All you have to do is season the potatoes with kosher salt and drizzle a little oil to ensure they get a nice crisp.
If you keep things simple, the bake time is 30 to 40 minutes at 400°F. However, some people make their air fryer baked potatoes a little fancier by stuffing them, and some prefer to cover them with foil when baking. Check out this recipe for an idea of how to bake potatoes in an air fryer.
5. Baking Hand pies
Hand pies are the perfect size for baking in an air fryer, and you can make them even if you don’t have any bakeware you can use on your air fryer. They should take under 30 minutes to prepare and bake, making them perfect when you want a quick fix treat.
You can quickly make hand pies with store-bought pie dough and your favorite sweet or fruit filling. Also, don’t forget to brush the pies with a generous amount of egg wash to make them super flaky. Here is a more detailed air fryer hand pie recipe you can follow easily.
What you should avoid baking in an air fryer and why
While you can bake several food types in an air fryer, there are some baked goods you should avoid as they will not come out well or can give you a hard time.
1. Mini-baked foods
You should not bake smaller baked goods like cream puffs and mini cupcakes in an air fryer. Although they are small, you can only put a few in the air fryer at a go to ensure there is enough space between them for optimal circulation of the hot air. This means that the rest of the batter or dough will have to be left out for a long, which can affect the rising power.
2. Foods with a lot of cheese
Any food with a lot of cheese that will be in direct contact with the hot air can be messy to bake in an air fryer. When the cheese is exposed to hot air, it will melt and make a mess. Also, it can harden on the surfaces of the air fryer, making it hectic to scrub off afterward. However, you can still bake foods with cheese filling with no issues since the cheese will not be in direct contact with the heat.
3. Wet batters
Foods like cakes start with a wet batter, but you should never bake any food with such a batter in an air fryer if you do not have a pan or tin that can hold the batter. Trying to bake wet batter foods in the basket only makes a mess, and you will not get the desired cooking results.
Air fryer baking vs oven baking
The choice between air frying and oven baking is not always straightforward for many home cooks. However, understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each method and what each is best for should make things a lot easier.
Pros and Cons Of Air fryer baking
Pros of Air fryer baking
- Takes up less kitchen space – An air fryer is a compact kitchen appliance that will take up little space on your kitchen counter. This appliance allows you to bake all your favorite foods even when you do not have enough space for a full-size oven.
- Faster cooking- An air fryer will heat up faster than a conventional oven, get to a higher cooking temperature, and not lose a lot of heat. And so, it will typically cook much faster.
- Easier to clean up afterward – There will be less clean-up to do afterward when baking in an air fryer. All you need to do is throw the accessories into the dishwasher, wipe the air fryer surfaces with a damp cloth, and you are done.
Cons of Air fryer baking
- Smaller cooking capacity – Even if you get the large 32-quart air fryers, they will still not give you the same cooking capacity as a full-size oven. The smaller capacity means you have to cook your food in several batches, which can take a lot of time.
What it is best for When you want to quickly make small portions of crispy baked foods.
Pros of Oven Baking
- More cooking space: Ovens have plenty of cooking space, and so you can cook large batches of food.
- Readily available: Most homes already have a conventional oven, so it will be readily available when you want to bake something.
Cons Of Oven Baking
- Larger kitchen footprint: A conventional oven will take up more room in your kitchen. It might not be very convenient for those with smaller kitchens.
- Limited functions: An oven can bake as well or better than some air fryers, but the latter beats it regarding versatility. Most ovens cannot saute, steam, or air fry food.
What is it best for: When you want to bake large batches of food
Handy tips for the best results when baking in the air fryer
- Always read the air fryer manual to get specific directions on how to use it for baking
- Remember to preheat the air fryer before baking
- Keep checking what you are baking after every few minutes
- Never overcrowd the basket or overfill the cake pans when baking
- Adjust recipes meant for oven baking to suit the air fryer (reduce the cooking temperature and time)
- Ensure that whatever you are baking is never too close to the heating element
That should be everything, or at least most of the things you need to know about baking in an air fryer. But like everything else you can use the air fryer for, baking also requires a little practice to perfect your skill, and the more you bake, the faster you master the technique.
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My love for food was influenced by my brother, a chef at a 2-star Michelin restaurant, and we often exchange food knowledge together. It’s been 12 years since I first stepped into the kitchen, and with my vast experience and expertise, I will share many ideas on how to make dishes more delicious!