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What does broil do on air fryer?

Air fryers have become increasingly popular in recent years as a healthy alternative to deep frying. One of the handy features on many air fryer models is a broil setting. But what exactly does the broil function do on an air fryer and when should you use it?

What Is Broiling?

Broiling is a cooking method that involves exposing food to direct, intense heat from above. Traditional broiling is done in an oven under the oven’s broiler, which generates high heat from a top heating element. The food sits directly under the broiler, usually on a pan or broiler pan, and cooks quickly from the exposure to the intense overhead heat.

Broiling in an oven is great for cooking items like steaks, chops, and other meats quickly to get a nice char while keeping the interior moist. It also works well for finishing off dishes to get a crisp, browned top. The intense dry heat from above caramelizes the exterior while locking in juices.

How Broiling Works in an Air Fryer

Air fryers work by rapidly circulating hot air around food to produce a crispy exterior through convection cooking. But many air fryer models also include an internal heating element at the top that can generate intense overhead heat for broiling.

When you select the broil setting on an air fryer, this top heating element turns on to produce very hot, direct heat from above while the air frying fan continues circulating air. This allows the food to cook from two directions – from the intense heat from the broiler above and the super hot circulating air all around.

The combination of direct overhead heat from the broiler and the convection cooking from the hot air produces results similar to high heat oven broiling or grilling. It gives a nice char and caramelization on the top and a hot, crispy exterior.

Benefits of Broiling in an Air Fryer

There are a few advantages to using the broil setting on an air fryer versus broiling in the oven:

  • Much faster preheating – Air fryers preheat in just a few minutes, while an oven can take 10-15 minutes to preheat the broiler.
  • More even cooking – The hot air circulates around the food as it broils above, helping prevent uneven cooking.
  • Crispier results – The hot air gives a crispier texture than oven broiling alone.
  • Smaller batches – Since air fryers have less interior space, broiling is great for single portions and small batches.
  • Simultaneous cooking – Some air fryer models allow you to broil at the top while air frying at the bottom, so you can cook two items at once.

When to Use the Broil Setting

Here are some of the best uses for the broil function on an air fryer:


The high heat from the broiler is perfect for cooking meats quickly to get a nice sear on the exterior while keeping the inside tender and juicy. It’s great for steaks, chops, chicken breasts, fish fillets, and more. You can season or marinate the meat as desired beforehand.


Broiling is handy for glazing foods or melting cheese on top. Try broiling for the last 1-2 minutes of cooking time when making dishes like honey glazed salmon, parmesan crusted chicken, or cheesy casseroles.

Toast toppings

Use the broiler to melt and brown toppings on bruschetta, garlic bread, crostini, or open-faced sandwiches.

Finishing vegetables

The high heat from the broiler is perfect for getting a nice char on vegetables. Try broiling asparagus, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, and more to finish off these sides with a bit of caramelized flavor.

Browning toppers

Add some crunch to casseroles, gratins, and bakes by broiling to brown crumbs, cheese, breadcrumbs, or batter on top.

Tips for Broiling in an Air Fryer

To get the best results when broiling in your air fryer, keep these tips in mind:

  • Preheat properly – Allow the air fryer to preheat for a few minutes on the broil setting before adding food. This helps the broiler reach the proper high temperature.
  • Use broiler-safe pans – Be sure to use oven-safe pans and utensils rated for high heat when broiling.
  • Watch it closely – Broiling works fast, so keep a close eye on food to prevent burning. Flip items halfway through for more even cooking.
  • Brush with oil – Lightly brushing food with oil helps promote browning and searing when broiling.
  • Pull food forward – For more direct exposure to the broiler, pull the air fryer basket out a bit so food sits closer to the heating element.
  • Elevate foods – Elevate foods higher in the basket so they are closer to the broiler if needed. You can set items on a rack, pan, or balls of foil.

Broil Setting Temperature Range

The broil setting on most air fryers reaches temperatures between 400-500°F. However, different models have varying broiler strength and intensity.

Some air fryers simply activate the top heating element, while more advanced models engage a supercharged broiler setting. The higher the broiling temperature range, the more it can mimic an oven’s broiler for fast, crispy, charred results.

Common FAQs about Broiling in an Air Fryer

Can you broil meat in an air fryer?

Yes, broiling in an air fryer works great for cooking meats like steak, chicken, pork chops, kebabs, and more. The high heat from the broiler sears the exterior to lock in juices while the air fryer fan keeps the inside tender.

Should you flip foods when broiling in an air fryer?

It’s a good idea to flip or turn foods halfway through broiling in an air fryer. This promotes more even cooking and browning. Thinner items may not need flipping if they cook fast.

Is broiling healthy in an air fryer?

Yes, broiling can be a healthy cooking method when using minimal added oils. The direct dry heat helps remove excess fat from meats while cooking quickly. Broiled veggies develop a delicious caramelized flavor.

How long does it take to broil in an air fryer?

Broiling time can vary based on the temperature, the specific air fryer model, and the type and thickness of the food. Generally broiling takes 5-15 minutes in an air fryer since the heat exposure is so direct and intense. Watch food closely to prevent burning.

Can you broil frozen foods in an air fryer?

It’s best to avoid broiling frozen foods in an air fryer. The very high heat can lead to uneven cooking results. Always thaw foods before broiling for food safety and better texture.

The Best Foods to Broil in an Air Fryer

The intense heat from an air fryer’s broiler allows you to create delicious charred, crispy results with these foods:

Meat Seafood Vegetables
Steak Salmon fillets Asparagus
Chicken breasts Shrimp Brussels sprouts
Pork chops Scallops Broccoli
Lamb chops Tuna steaks Cauliflower
Kebabs Fish fillets Eggplant
Sausages Zucchini

The options are virtually endless for ingredients that will shine when cooked under the intense overhead heat of an air fryer’s broiler. Be sure to flip or turn foods halfway through for the best results.


The broil setting on air fryers allows you to char and crisp up a variety of foods right in your countertop cooker. The combination of direct heat from above and super hot air circulating all around helps mimic the effects of oven broiling and grilling for fast, delicious results. When cooking meat, seafood, veggies and more under the broiler, keep a close eye to prevent burning and enjoy restaurant-worthy finishes with ease at home.