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Where should rack be in air fryer?

Air fryers have become increasingly popular in recent years as a healthy alternative to traditional deep frying. One of the key components of an air fryer is the rack that holds the food while it cooks. Properly positioning the rack can help ensure even cooking and optimal results. This article will explore the ideal rack placement in an air fryer and provide tips for getting the most out of this handy kitchen appliance.

What is an Air Fryer?

An air fryer is a small countertop convection oven that uses hot air to cook food. A fan circulates the hot air around the food at high speed, cooking the food and producing a crispy texture similar to deep frying. However, an air fryer requires little to no oil, making it a much healthier cooking method.

Air fryers work by rapidly moving hot air with a convection mechanism while food sits in a fryer-style basket. This allows the outside of foods to get crispy using little to no oil while the inside cooks through. The result is food with up to 80% less fat than traditionally fried foods.

Common foods cooked in air fryers include french fries, chicken, fish, and veggies. Many air fryer models come with multiple racks and baskets to accommodate cooking larger meals.

Air Fryer Rack Types

There are a few common types of racks that come with air fryers:

  • Mesh racks – Made of woven criss-crossed metal that allows maximum airflow. Smaller foods may need a secondary tray to hold them in place.
  • Crisper trays – Solid sheets of metal with holes or slots cut out to allow airflow while holding smaller ingredients.
  • Skewer racks – Allow you to cook meat, veggies, and other foods on skewers.
  • Multi-level racks – Some air fryers come with racks that have two or more tiers for cooking larger batches.

Knowing what type of racks came with your model allows you to best utilize them when cooking.

Air Fryer Rack Position

For most air fryers, there are two potential positions for the rack:

  • Lower position – The rack sits nearer to the bottom of the air fryer, farther from the heating element.
  • Upper position– The rack slides into slots nearer the top of the fryer, closer to the heat source.

In most cases, the upper rack position is recommended when air frying. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • More direct exposure to circulating hot air results in faster, crispier cooking.
  • The top of the food is closer to the heating elements, browning the tops evenly.
  • Oil and fat will drip down away from foods instead of pooling around them.
  • Foods cook more quickly, saving time and energy.

The closer proximity to the heat source gives food that signature crispy texture air fryers are known for. While the lower rack position can still be used, it may result in longer cook times and less even browning.

Tips for Rack Placement

Here are some tips to get the most out of your air fryer by properly placing racks and foods:

  • Consult your air fryer manual for the recommended rack positions for different foods.
  • Smaller ingredients and foods that release more oils are best cooked on the upper racks.
  • Larger roasts and whole chickens can be cooked on lower racks farther from the heat.
  • When cooking multiple racks of foods, swap their positions midway through cooking for even browning.
  • Use tongs or silicone mitts to remove and adjust racks to avoid burning yourself on hot metal.
  • Spray racks with oil or use parchment paper to prevent delicate foods like fish from sticking.
  • If foods are browning too quickly, move racks to a lower position or reduce temperature.

Choosing the Right Rack for the Ingredients

Picking the proper rack for what you are cooking is also key to getting perfect results. Here are some guidelines for common air fryer ingredients:

Ingredient Best Rack Type
Fries, veggies, nuggets Mesh – Allows maximum airflow around small foods
Shrimp, scallops, sliced meats Crisper tray – Holds these small ingredients in place
Kabobs, sausage Skewer rack – Keeps food anchored and exposed to air
Whole chicken, roast Mesh or crisper tray on lower rack – Provides room around large item

Get the Most Out of Your Air Fryer Racks

Here are some final tips for maximizing the performance of your air fryer racks:

  • Invest in extra racks so you can cook multiple foods at once. Look for official branded racks made for your model.
  • Purchase a rack insert or silicone mat to expand your cooking surface area.
  • Use foil or baking paper to tent delicate items or prevent overbrowning.
  • Brush racks with oil regularly and hand wash to prevent residue buildup over time.
  • Winglets on some racks help capture oils – rotate rack orientation mid-cooking to improve coverage.


Properly positioning racks closer to the heating element in the upper position of your air fryer results in faster, crispier, and more evenly cooked food. The increased hot air flow and direct heat exposure browns and crisps the exterior while retaining moisture inside. While the lower rack position can still be used, the upper position takes full advantage of your appliance’s convection heating. Follow rack placement best practices and choose racks suited for the ingredients you are cooking. With some trial and error, you’ll be air frying like a pro in no time.