COOKING FOR TWO: Once skeptical air-fryer fan shares tips and a recipe

Air Fryer Chicken Wings
(For The Washington Post/Scott Suchman)
Air Fryer Chicken Wings (For The Washington Post/Scott Suchman)

I was once an air fryer skeptic.

Thanks to the prodding of readers and the internet at large asking for more air fryer recipes -- and accepting that the new appliance is here to stay -- I finally caved to the pressure and bought one for myself at the end of last year.

And now, dear reader, I am ready to eat my words and admit that I, too, am an air fryer fan.

Its small capacity makes it more energy-efficient than standard-size ovens when cooking meals for only one or two.

If you, too, are new to the world of air frying or are looking for more helpful ideas, here are some rules and tips I've learned along the way to get the most out of the appliance.

1. Do not use nonstick cooking spray

Consider this your regular reminder that you should not use aerosol cans of cooking spray on nonstick cookware, which includes air fryer baskets. "Manufacturers warn that cooking oil spray can not only burn but also leave a sticky residue that can affect the release of food from the pan," my colleague Becky Krystal wrote. However, spray bottles filled with oil are OK to use.

2. Cook food in a single layer, in batches

The air fryer is all about -- well -- air. Meaning, you need to allow for good airflow to create all the browning and crisping the appliance was designed for. As such, you don't want to crowd the food in the basket too much, leaving space for the air to circulate. Depending on the size of your air fryer and the quantity of food you wish to cook, you may need to air fry in batches to achieve the best results.

3. Move the food for even cooking

While convection is more efficient than a standard oven, it's still a good idea to shake or flip most items for more even cooking. I typically do this once about halfway through the cooking time.

4. Not all air fryers are created equal

In addition to size, strength among models can vary. Even in testing recipes at home and at the office, I noticed that the model at the office produced slightly browner food than the one at home. As such, you may need to adjust time or temperature from published recipes to achieve your desired results.

These air fryer chicken wings are easy, quick and irresistible. The chicken pieces are tossed with baking powder for enhanced browning and crisping. Old Bay, the seasoning blend founded in Baltimore and designed for seafood, lends its distinct flavor profile that includes celery salt, pepper, paprika and warming spices. The chicken wings are great as written below, or you could use this recipe as a blueprint to season them with your own spice blend and/or toss them with your favorite wing sauce.

This recipe was tested in an Instant Pot Vortex Plus 6-quart air fryer and a Cosori 5.8-quart air fryer. Depending on the appliance you use, you may need to adjust the cooking time and/or temperature to achieve the desired results.

Air Fryer Old Bay Chicken Wings

1 pound chicken wings (drumettes and flats)

2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

1 teaspoon baking powder

Blue cheese or ranch dressing, for serving

Set the air fryer to 400 degrees.

Place the wings in a large bowl and pat dry.

In a small bowl, whisk together the Old Bay Seasoning and baking powder to combine. Sprinkle the wings with the mixture and toss until evenly coated.

Once the fryer is ready, add the wings to the basket in a single layer evenly spaced out. Cook in batches if necessary; the wings can touch, but don't overcrowd them. Close the basket and air fry for 25 minutes, turning the wings halfway through. Transfer to a shallow bowl or platter, and serve with blue cheese or ranch dressing for dipping.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (5 wings without sauce) contains approximately 303 calories, 25 g protein, 22 g fat, 1 g carbohydrate, 105 mg cholesterol, 841 mg sodium and no fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1

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