Is your air fryer not cooking evenly? You might be overcrowding the basket. Here are 7 possible reasons why.

Air fryers are one of the best inventions of the 21st century. They offer versatility, safety measures, ease of use, and most importantly, the possibility of preparing any food you want with a fraction of the oil. What’s not to love?

I am yet to meet someone who has bought one of these appliances and regretted it, they’re life-savers.

But enough of that, I’m not trying to sell you on a brand-new air fryer. If you’re reading this, you already own one, and it’s not cooking your food evenly. Why?

The answer is never simple, as the issue could stem from either user error, or a faulty component. The only way to find out is to carry out a detailed troubleshooting process.  Lucky for you, I’ve gone ahead and prepared everything in advance, so you don’t have to worry about the research.

Below, you’ll find a list of the most common causes behind this situation, and how you can fix them as soon as possible. I promise that, by the end of it, your uneven cooking days will be nothing but an unpleasant memory.

Are you ready? Let’s get busy!

Fixing an Air Frying That Won’t Cook Evenly

You’d be surprised at how many times air fryer owners try to find the most technical, far-fetched answers to their food not cooking evenly, only to find the issue stemmed from something they were doing wrong.

#1 You’re Overcrowding Your Basket

Try cooking in smaller batches

The first thing you want to look at when your air fryer is not cooking evenly is the size of the batches you’re preparing.

Overcrowding your appliance’s basket could lead to several problems and leave you with an undesired culinary result. Most air fryer manufacturers include the appliance’s maximum capacity in the user manual.

When this limit is exceeded, your food will not cook properly, as the necessary air recirculation cannot take place due to volumetric restraints caused by your food.

Solution: Try to be a little more conscious about your portion sizes. If you find yourself constantly in the need to prepare many batches at once for friends and family, it might be a good idea to check out other models.

If you’re not sure what size will work for you, the information is easily accessible online.

Air Fryer with not cooked potatoes inside
The size of the batches you’re preparing is a factor to look at when your air fryer isn’t frying properly.

#2 Obstruction

If distributing your batch sizes did not work, you’ll have to take a look at possible obstructions caused by not cleaning your air fryer properly.

In order to guarantee that your appliance will operate in the most hygienic conditions, you should clean its basket and the surrounding area at least once a day. This will not only prevent food residue buildup, but also get rid of any unwanted smells.

Failing to do this could block your basket’s grid and compromise the adequate airflow inside the air fryer’s chamber, resulting in unevenly cooked food.

Solution: Scrub off any excess food residues from your appliance. You can use warm water, and a semi-soft brush, along with dish soap to guarantee the best cleaning procedure.

Making this a habit will benefit your health, and extend your unit’s lifespan.

#3 You Don’t Preheat Your Air Fryer

Make sure to preheat your appliance prior to cooking

Yet another reason why your air fryer might not be cooking your food evenly is failing to preheat it.

While air fryers are not as big as ovens, they do work similarly. You would not put in cupcakes to bake without first making sure the appliance is at the desired temperature, would you?

Well, the same principle should apply to air fryers.

Setting the desired cooking temperature and waiting a couple of minutes for your unit to reach it, is a good practice that should be followed for all your air fryer recipes. Doing so will guarantee even cooking, and incredible results every time.

Solution: As a rule of thumb, waiting between 10-15 minutes should do the trick.

If you have a food thermometer, you can try and be more precise to guarantee the internal temperature of the appliance has reached the desired levels.

#4 You Don’t Rotate Your Food

Keep rotating your food so it can cook evenly

Unlike those big ovens at rotisserie chicken stores, air fryers do not have rotating components, which means you’ll have to take care of moving your food manually.

If your air fryer is not cooking evenly, chances are you’re leaving parts of your food exposed to direct heat for longer periods than others. This is normally okay with foods like onion rings and fries, as having some uncooked areas won’t be the end of the world, but partially raw chicken, for example, could make you sick.

Air fryers are appliances that do not require a lot of your attention to operate, you just set them to a desired time and temperature, and that’s pretty much it; however, if you want the best results, you’ll have to keep your eyes open.

Solution: A phone alarm always works wonders for me. Unless your recipe indicates otherwise, try setting a reminder every 5 minutes and carefully rotate your food, so all angles are covered.

#5 You’re Not Using Enough Oil

A small drizzle should be enough

I know this sounds counterintuitive. After all, isn’t the purpose of having an air fryer to reduce the amount of oil you put in your food?

Of course! But extremes are always bad.

While using too much oil can have negative effects on your health, using too little, can also be detrimental. I’m not saying you should drench your meals in vegetable oil, but a small drizzle could help cook your food much more evenly.

Cooking chicken in air fryer with a little bit of oil
While air fryers do not require oil for frying, a small amount of oil is always suggested.

#6 Your Fan Is Broken

A broken fan blade could compromise airflow

If none of the previous solutions worked for you, it’s time to start looking into the internal components of your unit.

A failing fan could be causing your food to cook unevenly, as even the slightest damage to it could compromise its ability to properly circulate the hot air inside your cooking chamber.

Moreover, this issue could also contribute to overheating, which can blow your thermal fuse, damage your heating element, and even potentially kill your air fryer.

Solution: Provided that your fan is damaged and needs replacing, you can do so by following these steps:

  1. Carefully unplug your appliance and let it cool down
  • Locate the screws at the top (or the bottom, depending on your model)
  • Remove them with a screwdriver
  • Remove the outer plastic lid and expose your air fryer’s guts
  • Locate the fan and the heating element and gain comfortable access to the former
  • Check for any broken pieces or other signs of damage

This process should be fairly simple, but in case you’re a visual person like me, there are tons of online videos you can follow step by step to disassemble your air fryer.

#7 You Have a Faulty Heating Element

Check your heating element at the first sign of failure

Lastly, it’s time to check on your heating element.

In case you’re not familiar with this component, its job is to transform the electrical energy it draws from your wall outlet into heat through a series of metal coils. When it fails, it can either produce no heat, o generate too much.

If your air fryer’s not cooking evenly, this component could be working and failing intermittently, causing some areas of your food to cook, and leaving others partially raw.

Provided that this is the source of your unfortunate situation, I would advise against operating your appliance until you replace the part.

Solution: Follow the steps from the previous point to expose your heating element.

Once you have comfortable access to it, you can test it with a multimeter to determine its viability. If there are any signs of intermittent conductivity, or no conductivity at all, it’s time to get a replacement.

Conclusion

Having your air fryer not cook your food evenly can not only be frustrating, but also potentially detrimental to your heath.

Being these appliances relatively new, most users still do not fully understand how to properly operate them, which, more often than not, contributes to the original conundrum.

Remember, while your air fryer is fantastic, it still needs your help to provide you with the results you’re looking to get from it. Try to stay near your appliance while it operates, use enough oil, let it preheat,  and do not forget to turn your food now and then. Simple actions like these will make a night and day difference.

If you determine the culprits to be technical in nature, by all means, go ahead and try to fix them, but if you ever feel doubtful, please call a technician. Your safety is the most important thing.

Thank you for reading. If you found this article useful and managed to resolve your issue, why not keep learning from our other great resources below?

I see delicious meals in your future!