The Secret Ingredient For Gorgeously Browning Meat In Your Air Fryer

Crispy browned pork in air fryer
Crispy browned pork in air fryer

Meat is so often the centerpiece of a meal, around which sides and carbs and sauces and salads are arranged, each a supporting role to the protein of choice. But while that starring role is almost always super savory and umami rich, there is a secret ingredient that can take your air-fried meat to another level -- and it's one that might really surprise you: Sugar. While the natural sweetener is, of course, most often considered part of the dessert course, when it comes time to air fry your next meat dish, you won't want to sleep on this tip for perfectly browning your protein.

Air fryers are essentially mini convection ovens that get their cooking power from their high temperatures and small size, which concentrates the heat. What that means is that when your meat has been coated with just a bit of sugar, that sweet stuff caramelizes, forming a crust that lends the meat both an enviable crackly texture and a hint of sweetness.

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Introducing Sugar To Your Air Fryer Meat Dish

Beef lemons tomatoes air fryer
Beef lemons tomatoes air fryer - AUYNantapon/Shutterstock

There are a number of ways you can introduce sugar into your meat preparation before it hits the air fryer. A super simple way is to include a bit of granulated sugar or brown sugar into a dry rub or a glaze. Dishes like simple and versatile jerk chicken wings, or even a show stopping honey brown sugar glazed ham (which, believe it or not, you can air fry) benefit in a big way from those staple ingredients.

Honey is also an ideal option, and brings its own deliciously floral flavor, too. You can use honey in a honey-mustard and cider marinade for spareribs, which also work well in an air fryer. Molasses is already known for its ability to take your barbecue sauce from good to great, but it's also another liquid sweetener that will help you achieve that beautiful browning in a recipe like one for molasses-mustard glazed beef ribs or a ginger molasses marinade.

More Ways To Ensure Browning In Your Air Fryer

Sausages in a layer in air fryer
Sausages in a layer in air fryer - Brebca/Getty Images

When air frying meat with sugar, be mindful of how much oil you're using. One of the main selling points of an air fryer it its ability to do more with less of your precious and sometimes pricey liquid fat. However, too little or too much will impede your protein's ability to get brown and crisp, so try to stick to the amount called for in your recipe.

And while the air fryer gives the impression you can "set it and forget it," the reality is that most foods benefit from a flip part of the way through the cooking process. If your meals are coming out unevenly browned, it might just be a matter of making sure you stop to turn the contents, which will help that hot air reach all sides.

Another common faux pas is packing your basket.If you're cooking for a crowd, the small size of the air fryer might seem a bit frustrating, but if you're too eager, you can create a scenario in which the hot air can't reach all of your food evenly. It's better to cook in batches, so all those delicious sugars can properly caramelize and brown up beautifully.

Read the original article on Daily Meal