Air fryers have become an increasingly popular kitchen appliance in recent years. They provide a convenient way to make fried foods like french fries, chicken fingers, and more with less oil than traditional deep frying. Air fryers work by circulating hot air around food to produce a crispy, fried finish using little to no oil. But if you’ve used an air fryer before, you may have noticed that some models come with additional accessories like a grill plate. So what exactly is the purpose of this grill plate, and how does it work?
What is a Grill Plate?
A grill plate is a flat, ridged metal plate that sits inside the air fryer basket. It has raised grill lines that are designed to mimic a barbecue grill and add char lines to foods cooked in the air fryer. The grill plate is usually made from aluminum or a non-stick coating like ceramic. It sits directly in the basket of the air fryer, and foods are placed on top of it before air frying.
Some of the most common reasons an air fryer might come with a grill plate include:
- Adding grill marks – The ridged surface sears attractive char lines onto meats, veggies, etc.
- Promoting air circulation – The gaps between ridges allow air to better circulate around food.
- Preventing sogginess – The ridges lift food up off the basket floor so it doesn’t sit in drippings.
- Distributing heat – Grill plates help distribute hot air more evenly around food.
- Easy cleanup – Food doesn’t make direct contact with the basket, minimizing cleanup.
So in summary, the grill plate is an accessory that adds versatility to an air fryer by mimicking grill marks and improving air flow and heat circulation.
Benefits of Using a Grill Plate
Here are some of the biggest benefits you can get from using a grill plate in your air fryer:
Gets Food Crispy
The ridges on a grill plate lift food up off the flat basket surface, allowing hot air to circulate completely around the food. This improves browning and crisping, especially on foods that are prone to getting soggy like french fries or chicken wings. The grooves also let any rendered fat or juices drain away underneath the food, rather than pooling around it.
Produces Grill Marks
Marks from a grill are more than just decorative – they add great flavor and texture. When juices caramelize onto the ridges of a grill plate, they cook back onto the food and create appetizing char lines. This gives food like burgers, steaks, veggies, and more an authentic barbecue-like finish.
Promotes Even Cooking
The gaps between ridges allow air to flow freely across the entire surface of the grill plate. This creates a convection effect that cooks food more evenly than sitting directly on a solid basket would. Food cooks faster and more thoroughly without cool spots or uneven hot spots.
Minimizes Fat and Drippings
One problem with air frying is all the fat and juices that drip from foods like chicken wings, bacon, or sausages. A grill plate elevates foods above the basket floor so rendered fats can drip below instead of pooling around the food. This prevents foods from frying in their own grease.
Easy to Clean
A grill plate also keeps food from making direct contact with the air fryer basket. This minimizes how much debris and residue sticks to the basket itself, making cleanup much easier. Simply wipe the grill plate clean instead of having to scrub the entire basket.
No Need for Oil
The ridges on a grill plate prevent food from sticking, so you typically don’t need to brush or spray oil onto its surface. The grooves also catch any oil that does drip from food. This allows you to cut back on added oils for more healthy air frying.
How to Use a Grill Plate in an Air Fryer
Using a grill plate in your air fryer is simple! Just follow these steps:
- Preheat your air fryer to the desired temperature, generally between 350-400°F.
- Place the grill plate securely inside the air fryer basket if it isn’t already installed.
- Coat your food lightly with oil or rub as desired – little to no oil needed though.
- Place the food directly onto the grill plate surface, being careful not to overcrowd.
- Air fry for the recommended time, flipping halfway if needed.
- Allow excess fat/grease to drip off before removing food.
- Wipe grill plate clean after each use.
The grill plate is ready to use right out of the box with no special seasoning required. It can be washed with soap and water as needed. Avoid metal utensils that could scratch the coating.
Tips for Best Results
To get the most out of your air fryer’s grill plate, keep these tips in mind:
- Use a little oil – A light coating helps enhance browning and flavor.
- Don’t overcrowd – Leave space between foods for air circulation.
- Flip halfway – This ensures even cooking and grill marks.
- Brush on sauces at the end – Adding them too early can cause burning.
- Experiment with times and temps – Adjust to get your desired doneness.
- Preheat properly – Let the grill plate heat for 3-5 minutes before adding food.
Cleaning Your Grill Plate
It’s important to clean your air fryer’s grill plate properly after each use. Here are some tips:
- Let the grill plate cool completely before cleaning.
- Wipe off any food debris and residual oils with a paper towel.
- For stuck-on messes, use a nylon scrub brush and soap/hot water.
- Avoid abrasive cleaners or metal brushes that could damage the coating.
- If needed, wash in the sink and dry thoroughly before storing.
- Re-season with a thin layer of oil before first use or as needed.
Proper cleaning preserves the performance and longevity of your grill plate. Avoid letting large amounts of grease and food build up over time. With regular cleaning, your grill plate will continue providing great results.
5 Best Foods to Make on a Grill Plate
Wondering what to cook using your new air fryer grill plate? Here are 5 of the best foods to try:
Burgers cooked on a grill plate get incredibly crispy edges and perfect char lines on both sides – like they came fresh off an outdoor barbecue.
Get restaurant-quality sear marks on steaks without firing up the actual grill. The ridges add flavorful texture.
From zucchini and asparagus to potatoes and carrots, vegetables shine when air fried on a grill plate. Enjoy crispy exteriors with tender interiors.
The grill plate crisps up chicken wings, legs, thighs, and more for an extra crunch. The juices fall below to prevent sogginess.
Crisp up whole slices or strips of bacon perfectly in the air fryer. The grill plate prevents curling while lines add charred flavor.
From meats to veggies and more, the grill plate offers limitless options for putting tasty grill marks on all your air fried foods!
Frequently Asked Questions
Should the grill plate touch the heating element?
No, the grill plate should not make direct contact with the heating element in your air fryer. It’s designed to sit securely inside the air fryer’s basket, elevated above the bottom where the heating mechanism is housed. This allows air flow underneath the grill plate.
Can I put food directly in the basket without the grill plate?
It’s best to use the grill plate as it’s intended in order to take full advantage of the benefits it provides, like grill marks, improved air circulation, grease drainage, etc. However, putting food directly in the basket is generally okay for items that don’t require char lines or have minimal grease drippings.
What’s the best way to clean tough stains off my grill plate?
For really stubborn stains or built up residue, fill a sink or container with warm water and dissolve 1-2 tbsp of baking soda in it. Submerge the grill plate and let it soak for 15-20 minutes. This should help loosen even the most stuck-on grime. Use a nylon brush or sponge to gently scrub away any remaining debris.
Should I preheat my air fryer before using the grill plate?
Yes, it’s best to preheat your air fryer for 3-5 minutes before placing food on the grill plate. This allows the metal plate to get piping hot, which helps create better sear marks and crispiness when you add the food. Starting with a hot grill plate is key.
Can I put foil over the grill plate for easier cleanup?
It’s not recommended to cover the grill plate with foil, as this can hinder air circulation. The gaps between the ridges are designed specifically to allow optimal airflow. Foil may also prevent drippings from falling through properly. For easy cleanup, simply give the grill plate a good wipe after each use rather than trying to cover it.
What types of oils work best for coating the grill plate?
Good options for lightly oiling the grill plate include avocado oil and grapeseed oil due to their high smoke points. Olive oil is fine for lower-temp cooking. Spray oils are also very convenient for an easy, even coating prior to air frying. Avoid thick, heavy oils like vegetable or canola oil.
A grill plate is a simple but game-changing accessory for air fryers. The ridged surface mimics the effects of an outdoor grill, infusing food with crispy textures and tantalizing char lines. Grill plates promote better air circulation and heat distribution for faster, more even cooking. They also make cleanup a breeze by keeping food elevated above the basket floor. Putting this inexpensive tool to work unlocks the full potential of your air fryer. So equip yourself with a high-quality grill plate, and enjoy giving all your favorite foods a quick barbecue-style makeover!