How To Bake With An Air Fryer—A Guide To Tweaking Recipes For Your Air Fryer When You Don't Have An Oven

May 14, 2020 10 Comments

air fryer guide

We’ve received many queries on whether an air fryer can be used to bake—the answer is yes. If you do not have an oven at home, you can use an air fryer and still churn out delicious baked goods too!

As an air fryer does not have the same capacity as a conventional oven, using an air fryer to bake will require you to do it in multiple batches. You will also have to make some size adjustments to fit your baked goods inside.

The recipes you get online are usually for conventional ovens, so if you’re baking with an air fryer, you’ll need to do some slight tweaks to the baking time and temperature stated. 

And this is what you’ll learn in this article—in this guide on how to bake with an air fryer, you’ll get a deeper understanding on how an air fryer works, what you can and cannot bake in an air fryer, and how to convert common oven recipes for your air fryer. Do note that these are guidelines; results might differ slightly based on individual recipes! 

Psst—we just dropped our 2020 signature no-bake mooncake kit collection! If you want to make something without having to bake—this is for you.

How Does An Air Fryer Work?

air fryer singapore

Air Fryers from Mayer Singapore, Philips, Tefal

Air fryers are typically used to make “fried” foods without the added oil, fat, and calories. 

However, the process that occurs within the air fryer is actually far from frying. There’s a heating element inside and a fan that promotes hot air circulation inside the cooking chamber. 

The cooking process is similar to a convection oven (fan-forced setting), but in an air fryer, the hot air circulates much more quickly, allowing it to come into contact with the entire surface of the food more efficiently, giving your food a crunchy exterior.

Read More: Cooking with Convection | how does a convection oven work?

Examine your air fryer closely and notice the holes in the basket. These holes help to maximize contact between your food and the hot air, so the food can cook more quickly and evenly.

Not all air fryers are the same—some air fryers might be able to cook food more evenly than the others. If you notice that your air fryer produces unevenly cooked food, here are some things to take note—always preheat your air fryer before using, and while you’re cooking, stop halfway to flip your food inside, just like how you’d rotate the pan in an oven when baking.

What You Can And Cannot Bake Using An Air Fryer

What You Can Bake


cookiesAs explained above, hot air circulates faster in an air fryer—this means it can take from as little as 5 minutes to bake a small batch of cookies! 

Make sure to coat the air fryer basket with butter or cooking spray to prevent the cookies from sticking. You can also line the base with foil or parchment paper. 

Apart from slight adjustments to the baking time and temperature which we will cover later in the article, baking cookies with an air fryer is pretty much the same as using an oven. Stay away from any toppings that might melt, since they might get burnt.

Cakes, cupcakes, and quick breads

chocolate cake batter
These batters are relatively dense, and they’re one of the most fuss-free baked goods you can make. Since the surface of such batters will come in close contact with the air fryer’s heating element, baking these items in an air fryer will give them slightly caramelized, crisp tops. However, the centers will remain soft and fluffy, just like the ones you get in an oven!

Cinnamon rolls

    cinnamon rolls
    Cinnamon rolls are surprisingly one of the best items you can bake in an air fryer. Just make sure to do it the right way—cut them into smaller pieces, and don’t bake too many at a time. 

    If you’re using frozen cinnamon roll dough, it only takes around 9 to 11 minutes to bake them to perfection. 


    Doughnuts are conventionally cooked by deep-frying. Besides the large amount of sugar that is used to coat them, the extra oil is also one thing that keeps us from munching on too many of them. But, what if we told you that using an air fryer will yield equally delicious treats without all the extra fat and calories?

    By adjusting the time, temperature, and making sure there’s enough space between each doughnut, you can churn out healthier doughnuts at home. 

    Chiffon and Sponge Cakes 

    Cakes made from batter that is relatively thin can be quite tricky to bake in an air fryer since the batter can get scattered during baking and create a mess.

    However, you can prevent this from happening by baking them in a tall, sturdy metallic pan. The only extra thing you need to bake a chiffon cake in an air fryer is covering the batter-filled pan with aluminum foil and poking some holes in it. After the cake’s done, remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes. The result will be just as fluffy as the ones made using an oven!

    What You Shouldn’t Bake

    Smaller baked goods

    Although it is recommended to downsize regular-sized baked goods to fit in an air fryer, air fryers are not an ideal option to bake very small items like choux pastry (cream puffs), madeleines, or mini-sized cupcakes.

    Since each individual item is so small and needs to be baked separately with sufficient space apart, you'll have to bake them in many batches. This risks leaving out the remaining batter for too long.

    Leaving out choux pastry dough, or any kind of batter out for too long will affect its rising power. Leavening agents like baking powder and baking soda act for a relatively short time, so their effect might have reduced significantly by the time you bake your last few batches. 

    This also applies to mini cakes which requires the use of meringues for volume. The beaten egg whites in the batter will start to deflate over time if not baked immediately, resulting in flatter and denser cakes as a result.

    Anything with cheese

    If you’re thinking of using your air fryer to bake something with cheese as a topping, and do not want to deal with a mess later, we’d recommend otherwise. As soon as cheese touches the hot surface of the air fryer, it’ll melt, causing a mess that will be hard to clean up. However, you can still try baking stuff with cheese, as long as it is not exposed (e. g., for muffin filling).

    How to Tweak Any Recipe For Baking In An Air Fryer

    air fryer 1
    Most recipes that you find online, including ours, are given for a conventional oven instead of an air fryer, but converting an oven-cooked recipe to an air-fryer recipe is actually very simple! 

    Here are some points to consider if you are baking with an air fryer instead of an oven.

    1. Reduce the suggested temperature by 25°F/14°C

    There is a formula to successfully convert a regular recipe to one for an air fryer. The first step is to reduce the temperature by 25°F, or approximately 14°C. To help you out, you can use this Oven-to-Air Fryer Converter to make tweaking oven recipes for your air fryer easier! 

    2. Reduce the baking time by 20%

    Since the compact interior of an air fryer makes it faster for hot air to reach your food, your food will be done in less time. Using the suggested baking time given for the conventional oven recipe will probably result in overbaking. 

    To prevent this from happening, reduce the suggested baking time by approximately 20% or one-fifth. If the original recipe suggests baking for 20 minutes, 16 minutes would be enough in the air fryer.

    3. Check for doneness periodically

    Just like how you’d bake items in an oven, utilize the pause button on your air fryer to check for doneness and to ensure even cooking. Rotate your food occasionally so they’ll cook evenly and be done at the same time.

    Important Things to Remember when You’re Using an Air Fryer to Bake 

    air fryer

    1. Always preheat your air fryer before using it.

    Just like an oven, an air fryer will function at its best if you let it reach the proper temperature before using it for baking or cooking. 

    By preheating the air fryer, optimum cooking conditions will be reached, and your food will be cooked evenly. Spending a few extra minutes to preheat the air fryer will help you avoid under baked cakes and cookies, especially if you haven’t had much experience baking with an air fryer.

    2. Don’t overcrowd the pan/basket.

    Cooking a big batch of food might seem like it’s going to save time, but there’s actually more risk of ruining whatever you’re making. 

    Overcrowding your air fryer will lead to uneven cooking. Having a batch of cupcakes with some having burnt tops and some with gooey centers isn’t ideal. Allowing some space between your food ensures that the hot air will circulate properly. This also ensures that the entire batch gets done at the same time.

    3. Clean your air fryer properly after usage.

    Cleaning up after cooking is probably something that we do not look forward to. But, to keep your air fryer in its best condition, never forget to clean it up after you’re done! 

    When you bake or cook something using an air fryer, crumbs might get left behind in the basket. If you don’t clean it after you’re done using the air fryer, these crumbs will burn the next time you use it, and produce an unpleasant smell. 

    Give your air fryer a check—if it’s one of the newer models, the parts are likely to be removable. This will certainly make cleaning up much easier.

    4. You still need some oil/butter.

    Using an air fryer doesn’t always mean you can completely avoid oil. Most recipes still call for some oil or butter to be used, especially for greasing the pans or air fryer racks to prevent your baked goods from sticking.

    Aside from preventing sticking, using a little bit of oil or butter also adds flavor. Just like how you’d spread butter or oil on a baking sheet/pan to keep your baked goods from getting stuck, this rule also applies when you use an air fryer to bake.

    Read More: 6 Different Types Of Oil and How To Use Them For Baking

    Baking Couldn’t Be Easier with an Air Fryer

    Air fryers are highly efficient and they can help you save more time in the kitchen, but keep in mind that their functionalities are slightly limited when it comes to baking, as compared to a conventional oven.

    However, with some tweaks and adjustments, you can still churn out delicious baked goods! Just remember the most important rules—never overcrowd, and adjust the cooking time and temperature.

    Itching to use your air fryer to bake? Try baking these recipes—Citrus Cream Cheese Cupcakes, Gula Melaka Brown Butter Brownies, and Orange Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies


    This is an independent article written by Bakestarters and has no affiliation with any companies or brands. 

    For more cooking and baking tips, facts, and trivia, follow us on Instagram @bakestarters

    10 Responses

    Bakestarters Admin
    Bakestarters Admin

    January 27, 2021

    Hi Aidni,

    Yes, it should be 14°C as you mentioned, and we’ve corrected the mistake on that part. Thank you for pointing that out! :)

    Bakestarters Admin
    Bakestarters Admin

    January 27, 2021

    Hi Bachan! Yes, you can put the air fryer basket in the baking tray to bake.


    January 26, 2021

    Can i remove the air fryer basket and put in the baking tray to bake in the air fryer


    January 26, 2021

    Hello, thanks for the info! Just one note on temperature conversion, should this line: ‘The first step is to reduce the temperature by 25°F or approximately 4°C’, instead read 14°C? As this is closer to the conversion of 25°F.

    Bakestarters Admin
    Bakestarters Admin

    December 10, 2020

    Hi Val! To check if your pan’s suitable for an air fryer, we recommend referring to the manufacturer’s directions.

    It’s possible to air-fry your vegetables, but it would be better to pre-cook on a stovetop beforehand. We suggest air-frying at 180°C for 10-15 minutes, and check periodically to avoid overcooking.


    December 10, 2020

    Can I use a round 8”x3” coated stainless steel cake pan in the Air Fryer to bake vegetables in a sauce?


    December 10, 2020

    Some very good tips! I just got my first air fryer & really love it! I’ve been reading every article I can find & yours was great, & very informational. Hope to see more recipes for air fryers. Thank you!!!

    Dianne McDevitt
    Dianne McDevitt

    December 10, 2020

    Very informative. I was particularly looking for the correct reduction in temperature and time of baking. I’m baking an apple pie on this Thanksgiving Day. I hope your formula works!


    November 25, 2020

    Thank you. Most helpful. I will now try to bake our favourite fruit cake. Fingers crossed!


    November 25, 2020

    Interesting and helpful reading

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