cooking beef in the air fryer
Who doesn’t love finding something that makes life easier, especially meal prep? Air fryers have seen a surge in popularity, but when it comes to beef, does the air fryer measure up or are they literally just full of hot air? In this article you'll find some tips and tricks for cooking up beef with your new air fryer and nine of our favorite beef recipes that will be sure to earn a spot on your permanent meal prep rotation. Scroll to the bottom of the page for nine delicious air fryer beef recipes.
what type of beef is best in the air fryer
As with all dry-heat cooker methods (grilling, broiling, pan frying and oven roasting), tender beef cuts perform best in the air fryer. Those cuts include Top Sirloin, KC Strip, Ribeye, Tenderloin and Tri Tip. Ground beef also can be easily prepared in an air fryer. Because an air fryer works much like a convection oven, what you are cooking tends to dry out. That said, selecting cuts with a higher degree of marbling will give you a better eating experience when prepared in the air fryer. The caveat to this is if you are making beef jerky in the air fryer, we recommend using a leaner cut of beef like an Eye of Round or Top Round.
how to cook a steak in the air fryer
We recommend steaks with a minimum of 1-inch thickness and seasoned with salt and pepper or your favorite dry rub. Preheat the air fryer on the steak setting for 3 minutes. Once preheated, place your steak on the tray or in the basket and cook according to your air fryer’s recommendations. Make note you’ll want to flip the steak halfway through the cooking time to ensure even cooking. For a 1-inch-thick steak, this will be roughly 12 minutes total cooking time for medium doneness. For best results, use an instant-read thermometer to ensure you don’t overcook. Remove the steak from the tray or basket, plate and cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
A quick note about browning
You will quickly notice that the beautiful crust that forms when you grill or pan sear a steak is missing when you air fry a steak. This browning, or Maillard reaction, occurs when beef is cooked at high temperatures and proteins and carbohydrates on the surface of the steak react and combine to form an outer crust and seal in the juices. Air-frying a steak does not create a Maillard reaction, so juices are lost when cooked this way. For this reason, we recommend air-frying steaks with a higher degree of marbling, like ribeyes or strip steaks, to help ensure a better eating experience.
how to cook ground beef in the air fryer
Cooking ground beef in the air fryer can give you a convenient, hands-free approach to preparing this mealtime staple. You will get the best result if you stick with ground beef that is no leaner than 90%. Because the fat gets drained away as it cooks in the air fryer, the ground beef will dry out more than when cooked on the stovetop. You will want to use thawed ground beef. Preheat the air fryer on meat setting for 3 minutes. Crumble ground beef in the tray or basket, then cook beef on meat setting for 5 minutes. Stir and crumble more if desired, then cook an additional 3-5 minutes until beef is cooked through. Much like steaks in the air fryer, you may notice ground beef lacks the browning effect you normally get on the stovetop.