The Ninja Foodi Air Fryer is one of the most popular air fryers on the market.
If you are a new user and wondering whether or not you need to preheat the air fryer before you begin preparing your favorite dishes in it, the answer isn’t a straightforward yes or no.
There are a few different views on this subject and it depends largely on what type of food you’re going to be cooking in your Ninja Foodie Air Fryer.
How To Preheat Ninja Foodi Air Fryer
Read on to get our best explanations and tips on this topic.
To preheat or not?
It depends on the food
As we said earlier, whether you preheat or not largely depends on the kind of food you’re going to be cooking. Your food will not spoil if you don’t preheat for everything, you just may not get results that are as crispy as you’d like.
For instance, chicken. If you like your chicken with very crispy skin, it’s best to preheat the air fryer before putting the chicken in.
However, if you’re cooking it with a sticky, sweet marinade where you don’t require a crispy finish, you don’t need to preheat.
Cooking very thick cuts of meat such as unflattened chicken breast or roast beef also means that you do not need to preheat your air fryer.
These cuts need to be cooked all the way through to the middle and not merely crisped up on the outside.
If you preheat the fryer, the meat will cook too fast on the outside and the center may still be undercooked.
However, steaks or lamb chops that you want to be browned and crispy on the inside but medium-rare on the inside will require a preheated air fryer.
Are you getting the idea?
The same goes for if you are cooking pastries. You don’t want the inside stodgy and raw while the outside is burned.
Put pastries like small sausage rolls and pies into the air fryer without preheating to ensure that your result is a crispy, golden outside and a soft, fully cooked interior.
Reheating is a good instance of when we need to preheat the fryer. If you are warming up leftovers or thin frozen foods like pizza, you will get a good result quickly this way.
Preheat for anything thin where you want a crispy, caramelized sear on the outside of foods that cook fast like fish, chops, and chicken tenders.
Preheat your Ninja for ready-cooked frozen foods such as chips, fish fingers, pies with cooked fillings or pizza bases.
It depends on the model
To preheat or not also depends on what model of Ninja Foodie Air Fryer you’re using. The smallest ones have the heating element very close to the food items.
The food, therefore, starts cooking much faster. Also, the unit heats up extremely fast because of the small size. Therefore, for smaller units, you do not need to preheat.
How long should we preheat for?
According to the manufacturers, the ideal preheating time of the unit is 3 minutes but you can leave it on for a good 5 minutes before putting your food in if you want to make your fries even faster.
We suggest 3 minutes for the smaller models and 5 minutes for the bigger ones, which take a little longer.
Some of the models have pre-set preheating functions that you just need to click on to start the process. The machine will then time it for you. For other models, you will need to set the temperature yourself.
Simply choose maximum heat, alternatively, choose the recommended temperature for that type of food.
For example, pizza should be cooked at the maximum setting possible for a super-crispy result.
Here’s a 5-step guide to preheating your device. Remember to follow the steps as directed for the best results.
Step 1. Check the user manual
Most air fryers have a 2–5-minute preheating time but most Ninja Foodi models have a 3-minute standard preheat time. If you have never used an air fryer before, it’s best to read the manual first.
This is mainly because the instructions given in the manual will tell you more about the particular unit you have than other generic guides on the internet.
Step 2. Make sure that the air fryer is clean
If you have used the air fryer before but you’ve only just figured out that you need to preheat it, check if the frying basket, the heating element, and the interior of the Ninja Foodi are clean.
Any residue from the previous cooking session will affect the taste and outcome of your dish.
If it’s the first time that you’re using the device, make sure that all the packaging and plastic bags from the manual have been removed.
It sounds obvious but more than one person has cooked the instruction manual before!
If you’re going to be cooking with baking parchment, remember not to preheat your fryer with it in but only to put it in when you add the food.
This is because the parchment will move as the unit heats up and it may come into contact with the heating element, causing it to burn.
If cooking pizza where you want a crispy base, put the rack in before you preheat so that the pizza is going to go straight onto a very hot dish or base.
Step 3. Assemble the accessories before you plug the device in
If you wish to use any of the given accessories like the multi-layer rack or crisper plate, place them inside first. This way, you won’t have to struggle to place them in after the unit has heated up.
Once you’re done with the assembling, plug in the device. Make sure that you have checked the voltage, wire, and heating socket since it’s an electronic device, and it’s best to cover your basics before planning to make a meal.
Step 4. Turn on the fryer and set the timer
Turn the device on and set the timer to 3-5 minutes as per the manufacturers of your Ninja Foodi. Get the food ready with your coating, spices or marinades while you wait for the fryer to heat up.
Step 5. Choose the highest temperature or recommended cooking temperature for preheating the fryer
Like your baking oven, your air fryer will also need to be preheated at the maximum temperature. Alternatively, heat it to the temperature recommended by your recipe or the packaging on the frozen food box.
This will shorten the time your unit takes to reach the maximum heat and be ready to air fry your food.
How to tell when the Ninja Foodi Airfryer is preheated
Open the air fryer and check if the heat is coming out by bringing your hand closer to it.
If the baskets are too hot to touch, your air fryer is perfectly pre-heated and ready to make your fries as crispy as you have imagined.
Some units have a light that switches off once the unit has reached the desired temperature.
To sum up: why we preheat before cooking
If you don’t preheat the oven, the food is cooking at a lower temperature for the first few minutes. This can cause it to under-brown and become soft rather than crispy and golden.
Preheating the air fryer will ensure that the food in the basket will begin to cook immediately, becoming crunchy on the exterior without steaming slowly into a soggy mass.
Your food will cook more quickly than in an oven this way, saving you both time and energy bills.
Final bonus tip!
If you want truly crispy results, after preheating your fryer, remember never to overcrowd the basket or rack. There needs to be a little space between the food pieces so that the air can circulate properly.
If you’re unsure, rather cook the food in two smaller batches. Otherwise, the food will steam instead of frying.
Good luck and we hope you enjoy using your Ninja Foodie Airfryer!