Deep-frying makes a mess. Oil splatters over the stovetop as you cook—and then there’s the spent fat to dispose of. An air fryer, on the other hand, uses hot…
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air and very little oil, so cleanup, by comparison, is a cinch.
But you’re not off the hook completely.
During air-frying, any oil or fat in the food basket drips or splatters into the pull-out drawer that encases the basket.
You might not notice it after a few batches of fries, but over time that grease can build up in the drawer and on the heating element, and you may start to smell odors or even see smoke as your food cooks. And those bits trapped in the basket’s holes will keep on cooking and can burn to a crisp.
That’s why you should clean your air fryer after every use.
Our testers found that the nooks and crannies on some air fryer components are a bear to clean, and the crevices on the exterior take effort, too.
Only one of the more than two dozen models we’ve tested snags an Excellent rating in our cleaning test, as you can see in our air fryer ratings. The majority earn a Good rating or lower in ease of cleaning, meaning they require some elbow grease.
How to Clean an Air Fryer
Many of the air fryers we’ve tested are claimed to have dishwasher-safe components, and we note this in our ratings. The owner’s manual will offer cleaning tips specific to your air fryer, but in general, here’s what Larry Ciufo, who tests air fryers for CR, suggests you do:
1. Don’t delay cleaning, or you’ll come to regret it. “Do not allow the crumbs and bits of food to sit overnight, or the basket and drawer will be a nightmare to clean,” Ciufo says. “When you’re done cooking, unplug the air fryer, let it cool, and then empty out the oil from the pullout drawer and dispose of it.”
If you’re air-frying food with a sticky sauce, such as marinated ribs, clean the basket and drawer while they’re somewhat hot—the mess will come off easier.
2. Clean the food basket and drawer with warm, soapy water. Use a soft sponge or cloth—no abrasives. If food is stuck on these components, soak them in hot water and dish detergent to loosen the food, then clean.
Consumer Reports, Kimberly Janeway
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