One Step You Should Never Skip When Air Frying Frozen Hash Browns

Most people want their mashed potatoes to be mushy, but hash browns? Not so much. Crispy hash browns are a breakfast staple at many restaurants like McDonald's, Denny's, and Burger King. There are also frozen options that let you enjoy that irresistible, crispy, potato-y texture at home. But unless you want to refry your hash browns and add more calories and fat to them, using an air fryer is a great alternative.

Medical News Today claims air fryers offer a variety of benefits, including weight loss promotion and a reduced risk of toxins. They can also be safer than deep frying with oil, but not everyone takes full advantage of the features and settings that air fryers offer when cooking frozen and other foods.

Case in point? Frozen hash browns. There's one step that some experienced air fryer users claim you should never skip when air frying frozen hash browns — if you want crispy hash browns, that is.

Preheat your air fryer before air frying

Air fryers have been around for decades, per Chicago Tribune, so there are dozens of brand and model options available. Many of these options offer a preheat setting, just like an oven does, but not everyone uses it. They just go straight for the "air fry" button. While this setting alone is enough to cook your food, using the preheat setting can make it nice and crispy.

Katie of bits + bites, who has shared many air fryer recipes and tips, claims preheating your air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit will give you crispier hash browns. If your air fryer doesn't have a pre-heat setting, it could mean that it preheats automatically, but others require manual preheating, as Insider explains.

The senior vice president of product development at SharkNinja, Purvin Shah, told Insider that preheating your air fryer gives you the best cooking and crisping results. Why? Because adding food to an already-hot cooker removes moisture — including moisture from ice crystals on frozen hash browns — from food surfaces. Plus, the cooking process starts sooner than it would in a room-temperature air fryer, which will give you that nice, crispy texture.

Be sure to check your air fryer's instructions to determine the recommendations for air frying frozen foods for the best results. Preheating obviously adds more minutes to your overall cooking time, but you just might find it worth it when you take a bite of that crispy, just-like-the-restaurant-kind hash brown.