Common Air Fryer Problems & Troubleshooting Help

When you purchase a new appliance, it can be hard to determine whether it is behaving correctly or not.

Is the sound it makes normal? When is it time to call the manufacturer?

Air fryers are solid little machines, but as with any appliance, things can go wrong. It could have a defect before you even buy it, as some manufactured items are just lemons, an accident could happen, or problems could be due to improper use.

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Much of what goes wrong with an air fryer can be traced to human error. Its a new kitchen gadget, and mistakes are going to happen, especially as air fryers have a few quirks, and it isn’t likely that the new user is versed in all of them. Here are some problems that are usually due to user confusion and how to correct them:

Problems that are probably linked to user error:

1. “White smoke”: This would alarm anyone, surely, as any smoke coming from a machine should. In the case of air fryers, the most likely cause is too much fat or oil in the appliance.

Note on smoking air fryers: Many tutorials discuss white, black, and blue smoke with varying explainations. Try to determine if the smoke is actually steam, and to identify how it smells. Does it smell like food, or a burning clutch, or an electrical fire? Proceed from your observations, and always take smoke seriously.

To put briefly what has been explained at length elsewhere, air fryers do require a little oil, but it’s not applied directly to the air fryer. The oil should be lightly sprayed on the food, for crispness and browning.

Also, some foods, such as bacon, have a very high natural fat content. There is a trick, often used by professional Chefs, of laying the bacon flat on parchment paper to absorb some of the grease it emits, but whether one should use an air fryer to cook bacon at all is questionable.

A novice air fryer cook can’t be blamed for thinking that air fried bacon will be less fatty and giving it a try, but that white smoke will teach them. Also, people new to air frying often think that if it cooks so well without a pan of hot oil, adding a little extra oil or fat will lead to even better results. It doesn’t.

No appliance ventilates smoke well. That’s why ovens have hoods. An air fryer emitting smoke indicates that fat is burning off. It’s unclear why the pamphlets insistently say that the smoke is ‘white’. We did find one that claimed that the smoke is black.

Oil smoke generally smells like a grease fire, not an electric one. If the smoke is black and the smell electric, or of burning plastic, the cause probably isn’t over oiling.

2. Steam: Less alarming than smoke, steam simply means that your cooking method, or the food you are cooking, is too wet. Air fryers aren’t suitable for soups or stews. They work by using a very dry heating method, which is why you need to spray foods with oil to protect their natural moisture and achieve the right crispness.

An air fryer will not work for steaming veggies, unless you use a very specific technique to do so, involving a covered pot and a few spoonfuls of water, which we have never demo tested. Boiling veggies won’t work any better in an air fryer than it would in an oven.

Also, foods dripping with very loose, wet batters like tempura are doomed in an air fryer, even if such a batter magically crisps in hot oil.

So if your air fryer is steaming, think about what might be too wet. Even cleaning your air fryer and leaving the parts quite damp when you reassemble them could cause steam. Happily, this won’t lead to any permanent damage.

3. The machine won’t turn on: You checked that the machine is plugged in, right? Right. We all miss that once in a while.

With an air fryer, you must press the Power On button before you have selected the temperature and time, or chosen a preset, then press Power On again, and allow it to preheat. Air fried foods usually need to be shaken, stirred, or flipped, but don’t turn the power off when you do so, or you need to power it back up to continue.

4. Difficulty sliding outer basket into place: Similar to smaller kitchen appliances such as food processors, juicers, and mixers, all of the parts of an air fryers have to be inserted correctly or the appliance won’t fit together. This is probably for your safety. If the basket won’t slide in, reassemble the other parts, making sure they fit snugly and try again. Lift the basket a little while sliding to position it correctly.

5. The air fryer is hot to the touch: As with any cooking appliance excepting microwaves, air fryers become hot to the touch while in use. Warn your friends and children about this if necessary.

6. Undercooking or overcooking of food: A major complaint about air fryers is that the suggested cooking times and temperatures are not always accurate, and in our view it is rarely wise to rely on presets, be it programmed into any cooking appliance. Even the best, most usable recipe can’t predict how big your ‘large’ eggs are, or at what altitude you live, or how wet or dry your veggies are, or whether you put the ingredients in the air fryer at room temperature or refrigerator cold.

On top of this, air fryers vary by make and model. You simply have to learn to adjust your air fryer’s times and temperatures so they work for yo

7. Other cooking issues: Especially fries. Let’s look at this issue from afar for a moment. Air frying is a new concept, and what better to introduce it with than the most familiar and beloved of fried foods, the french fry?

And fries are the first dish that most people try to cook in their new air fryer, which unfortunately leads to mixed results because fries are also the poster food for using correct technique in an air fryer. We’ve noticed that the manufacturer response that people are using the wrong kind of potatoes is far from helpful. It’s probably not your potatoes.

Since fries are so popular, they come in many different forms, and people have their particular favorites, only a few rules apply to all air ‘fried’ fries. One rule is to never overcrowd your basket. This is true of any cooking method, as is that you must shake the basket, just like you see professional fry cooks do.

If you use precooked fries, they should be sprayed with a little oil before air frying, as most air fryer ‘fried’ food should be.

Personally, we always boil raw, cut fries for a few minutes before frying them.

Raw potatoes should be dropped into a bucket/pan/bowl of water as they are cut. Most people know that this prevents discoloration, but it also rinses away excess starch and potato liquid. A freshly cut, very moist potato verges on one of those wet foods you shouldn’t try to air fry if you want crisp results.

If you are determined to cook raw, potatoes straight from your cutting board, do choose a drier variety of potato (russet), and hope for the best, because potatoes vary from crop to crop just like any vegetable does.

As for other cooking problems, if your food cooks unevenly, flip it, or stir it, and don’t forget that spritz of oil to help with even cooking and browning.

8. Lingering food odors: The air fryer needs to be cleaned. Convection cooking sprays tiny particles of food around more than conventional cooking does.

Common Cooking Problems

1. Black or blue smoke: An air fryer emitting black, noxious fumes is in trouble. Unplug it right away. This is very uncommon, but it could be dangerous, and you should immediately consider returning the machine.

If you are not faint of heart, you might examine the air fryer, once it has cooled of course, to see if there is a visible cause for the smoke. Did something get stuck in the motor somehow? Did a lot of grease build up unnoticed? Did your children try to air fry their Barbies or dismantle the machine to see how it works?

2. Air fryer won’t power up at all. Since you’ve consulted number 2, above, and know that your air fryer is plugged in and that you turn it on correctly, you may have an electrical problem in your machine, and should call the manufacturer.

3. Timer and temperature control issues: There are complaints of this defect on the web. It would be best to call the tech support number for the maker of your machine to resolve this issue. We did not see any at home resolutions offered online.

Need help with your air fryer? Post the problem you’re having below and we’ll try to help!

featured image source: Fiona Moore

57 thoughts on “Common Air Fryer Problems & Troubleshooting Help

  1. Love my air fryer but the handle on the basket has broken and I can’t find where to get a replacement basket. Can you help

  2. I have a power air fryer Model AF-530 and I am disappointed with it. I dip my chicken in egg batter and then flour it. When it cooks half the time I try to turn it over it has stuck and it also has my kitchen all smoked up. I need help.,,

  3. @Norma How long have you had your air fryer? There might be grease buildup inside the cooking elements. You needs to spritz the basket with a little oil when you are cooking with flour.

  4. I have tried 3 different Oil Free Fryers, they worked ok but they beep a lot between cooking, even when the basket is outside it keeps beeping. At least 20 – 25 Sec and the noise is louder than a Smoke alarm. (The noise is so strong it gives us almost a hear attack and all my dogs run to the backyard and refuse to come back in the house). All 3 are doing this and not all can have a defect, what is it I’m doing wrong. Red the instructions 3 times. Tried the Farberware Fryer, the Power Air Fryer and the NuWave. Don’t know what I’m doing wrong, please help.

    • @Gisela I just bought both the Power Air Fryer and Nuwave 6 qt but haven’t hooked them up yet. I’ll do a little investigating and research to see if I can duplicate the problem your having.

  5. Thanks for your answer. I have the NuWave 3qt at my home ready to return. I will wait with the return until I got some more news from you. Thanks soooo much for your help. I like the fryer but not the noise.

  6. I have the Power AirFryer Oven, Model: CM001. Twelve minutes before the timer went off, it started beeping and would not stop. Even unplugging it and letting it sit unused for as while does not stop it. Once it is plugged in again, it starts back where it left off before being unplugged. None of the buttons, including the power button, have worked since the beeping started. I even left it on and let it run its course. Once the fryer stops, the beeping continues and the buttons still do not work.

  7. Hello.
    I cooked frozen prawn croquettes in my Airfryer and they came out cooked through and crispy, but they didn’t look very good. They actually looked the same uncooked beige as when I put them in. Should I have added oil?
    Thank you

  8. I have the 6 qt nuwave airfryer. We used it 2 times without any problems. On the 3rd night we placed 3 boneless pork chops, and had to add additional time to get them cooked. At the end of the cycle, unit began beeping continuously, and all buttons nonfunctional. You cannot see any display of numbers at all. We unplugged the unit, and planned to use it again the next night. Upon plugging it in, the unit still makes the continuous beeping, and no buttons function or displa rendering it useless. We have tried multiple plug outlets, but same issue. Does anyone know how to fix this problem? Will try calling nuwave again tomorrow, but they have limited business hours!

  9. Plugged mine in and started cooking some fries and half way through it shut down. Now it wont turn on and smells like burning wires. Very 1st time using it

  10. I just used my Brio 6qt fryer 1st time, made some fries. Tried a second batch and cant get it to turn on been 15 minutes thought it needed a cool down period. Help

  11. I just used my Nuwave 6qt for the first time – the house is filled with a chemical plastic smell, the food tasted like it as well. I’ve read it can be an issue and some people say it never goes away.

  12. Hi I opened new air fryer . But my fan won’t work with that . It showing power button on . Indicates heat light also . But won’t heat . Please suggest this problem solution .

  13. I just bought the nuwave Brio 6 qt. I put it on preheat and it said it was ready, it made a rattling noise and then E3 showed on the display (overheat). I tried calling customer service but it was closed. I don’t feel real confident in using it now. Is overheating an issue?

  14. Got air fryer for Christmas. Dryer off 3 chicken thighs. Battered them. Put in basket turned on 396 degrees for 20 minutes. Opened up and chicken still covered with flour. Cooked for another hour before meat was done lightly browned skin and was stocked to basket. What’s wrong big let down!

  15. I used my power air-fryer for the first time using the rotating mesh basket last night. It rotated fine for about 3 or 4 minutes then quit rotating. I tried reinserting it and the first time it worked for about a minute. After that it wouldn’t rotate at all. You can see where it looks like it’s trying to rotate but isn’t catching. It was about a pound of tater tots. I ended up using the flat basket tot finish cooking them. Am I doing something wrong?

  16. I own a Cook’s Companion 4.2 qt air fryer and it has a chemical hot rubber smell when I turn it on. I thought it was because it was new, so I let it run empty for about 15 min on 400 to “burn off” the smell, but that didn’t work. Anyone else have that problem? I’m afraid to cook anything in it because I don’t want the food tasting like hot rubber.

  17. My Costway brand air fryer from ebay has that plastic smell and food taste too.The chicken didn’t brown and meat.temp. was only 150 degrees.I’m trying to return it also.How do you know if its.working right- food doesn’t look cooked or brown enough?

  18. I bought the NuWave Brio a week ago, tried using it once and got an error code of E3. I sent a message on this forum, my husband emailed them and tried calling and was on hold over an hour and he finally hung up. I have decided to return it and get another brand because of this (customer service). Thanks but no thanks Nuwave!

    • How long have you had your air fryer? Is it brand new? I’ve seen this issue a few times even on brand new air fryers. My guess is the abuse they take during shipping might knock the fan component loose.

  19. I own the power AirFryer XL and every time I open the basket to flip my food or check on it, it won’t close and start again. When hot it seems the basket doesn’t fit. I have to wait for it to cool down before I fall mush cooking. Did I get a lemon??

    • Having the same problem. Bought it today, using it for the 1st time. Put food in, cook for time limit. Turns off, take basket out to flip and wont slide it easy. Have to let it cool before it will power back up.

  20. We just bought a nuwave 6qt air fryer. We used it thr other fay on tater tots from the store and they turned out surprising well for being beginners. Well I tried to do some fries today and I think I have an issue. I put it to 400 degrees and hit the preheat and hit start. The fan kicks on but that’s it. It doesn’t get hot at all. I left it in preheat for over 10 minutes and the pan as well as the element are room temp. I’m certain yhat they are meant to last more than one use, any ideas? Thanks

  21. I had a brand new power air fryer XL. Loved it. Made the turkey Reubens, bacon wrapped tots. But, out of nowhere, the screen stopped working completely, and when I plug it in, it immediately turns on and runs and I don’t know what setting or temperature it’s running at and there’s nothing I can do to change it because the screen never comes on. Any ideas? Please

  22. Hi I have the power airfryer xl and whenever I use it my dogs FREAK out shake, whine and pant like crazy go outside and won’t come in they have never been sensitive to sound before but thinking the beeping is to much for them is there anyway to shut the beep off ?? Love the product but can’t keep putting my dogs through this 😞 Any help would be great !!

  23. I have NEW Healthy Choice Air Fryer Model No AF1050, when I turn it on all the lights on panel flash and machine beeps and after a little while just switches itself off, does anyone know what the issue can be please

  24. My air fryer turns on and sound like it’s cooking but after the timer goes off the food is still cold and uncooked. I have only used it one time previously and it worked fine.
    What could be the problem?

    Power Air Fryer XL

    • @April my guess is you have a gowise air fryer? E1 would be an electrial error. How long have you had your air fryer?

  25. We have the power fryer XL and when we first got this we noticed a big plastic type smell and taste to the food and unit we thought it was just new but now have used many times and we just cannot get the slight plasticy unit taste to stop… I am
    Not a fan of heating and cooking with plastic and noticing most of the inside of the unit is plastic is concerning now to me but we love how well it cooks! Got any ideas??? My biggest thing is that it’s safe

  26. I have a Nuwave 10 qt brio air fryer, love it to death, but the lid will not close, got it for Christmas. Tried everything to get it to close, but it will not! Hoping for any kind of help, thanks

  27. Hello,

    Someone mentioned this before and I’m having the same issue, we just used our air fryer for the first time and the whole house smelled like burned plastic and my food tasted exactly like it? Is this possibly an issue with the air fryer? My husband was making chicken wings?

  28. The handle on my Philips Airfryer came loose, meaning the latch connecting basket to base was insecure. Bought a mini offset wrench with thin, 22 mm., head and tightened the two recessed screws at bottom of handle fixing. You can’t actually see screw heads but they are Philips (crosshead). They probably loosen from shaking the basket.
    Perfect again

  29. I have a 6qt Emeril Lagasse AF that has worked perfectly since I got it in Nov 17. Today I was trying one potato for chips. I sliced it thinly, soaked the slices overnight in cold, lightly salted water in the fridge. Then I nuked them for 3min, and dried them before putting them in the AF. I cooked them for 5min at 375 and all was well. I flipped them over and put them back in, and my AF won’t cook. The timer works fine. I’ve tried several times, I let it cool off, nothing! There’s nothing blocking anything. The door fits fine. It’s nice and clean. I didn’t use any oil; I hardly ever do. Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

  30. Got a salted air fryer turn it on and after about 5 mins it completely shuts down really pissed of not cheap have lost receipt can anyone help

  31. We just got a NuWave 6qt Airfryer Model 37001. Used it the first night for french fries at 1800 watts on the frozen fry setting. Used it last night to make frozen pierogies on one side and frozen chicken tenders on the other. Ran for about 6 minutes then completely shut off. No buttons worked, blank screen. It sat for about another 7-8 minutes unplugged, I heard a click, plugged it in and it started up. It shut down on me again and basically the same process to get it going again. Am I doing something wrong?

    Is it necessary to press the pause button before pulling the basket out while cooking? I need to shake up whats in there sometimes to cook evenly and it seems like it shuts down shortly after i pulled the basket and returned it to the cooker.

  32. I purchased the Power XL 5.3Qt airfryer from Maxkon in Nov 2017. Had been used it many times without any problem but today, after heating it for 15 mins, set temperature 390o F and time for 15 mins to fry the pork chops. Machine working but when I open the basket after it beeped, nothing happened to the meat (still raw). What wrong with it?
    I unplug the AF and plug it in, still have the same problem. What should I do to fix it? Please help.

  33. Hi, i just bought a new air fryer. And when i try to turned it on the first time it displayed an “E01” on its led display. I’ve reassemble the basket, plug in and out, try trouble shooting it but it still display the error. What shud i do?

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