Here's Why It's A Terrible Idea To Put Shredded Cheese In The Air Fryer

Who doesn't love melted cheese?  Chefs and home cooks love using hot, melted cheese to elevate their dishes. The ooey-gooey topping is the perfect complement to burgers, sandwiches, and fries, but also great as the main ingredient in snacks like mozzarella sticks, fried cheese curds, and more. 

However, the kind of cheese, each with its own melting point, and the equipment you use will make a difference when preparing a dish. Microwaves, ovens, stovetops, and toasters soften cheese at different rates and at varying temperatures. Then there are air fryers, which have exploded in popularity among home cooks for their quick cooking capabilities and ease of use. Air fryer aficionados will claim almost every dish is made better in an air fryer. So why shouldn't you throw a handful of shredded cheese on your next air fryer creation? Because the end result is not going to turn out the way you expect.

What happens to shredded cheese in an air fryer?

While many home chefs celebrate the air fryer for its quick cook times, the high temperatures these devices use to achieve such fast cooks are precisely why you shouldn't put shredded cheese in them. Air fryers run so hot that shredded cheese will melt too fast, according to Allrecipes. The cheese will fall off whatever food you placed it on, resulting in a sticky or burnt mess stuck to the bottom of your air fryer. You will end up spending more time scrubbing it off in your kitchen sink than savoring your melted creation. Kind of defeats the "quick and easy" purpose of using an air fryer, right?

While some spillage is par for the course when melting cheese in an air fryer, the problem significantly affects shredded cheese. Pre-packaged, pre-shredded cheeses tend to liquefy at a different rate than non-shredded variants. In an air fryer, this results in cheese that could melt before the rest of the food is cooked. Using larger pieces of cheese, such as slices, cubes, or balls, can help the cheese melt more smoothly.

The right way to use cheese in an air fryer

Thankfully, there are some air fryer hacks that can help mitigate the mess of spilled melted cheese. For one thing, if your cheese is totally contained by a non-cheese food item, like bread or pasta, then you will likely not see such a large mess at the end of cooking. Homemade mozzarella sticks are a tried-and-true air fryer recipe, but they only work because the breaded coating encapsulates the melted mozzarella. Grilled cheese can also work in the air fryer, though drippage from between the bread slices can still be an issue. To cut down on clean-up time, use oven-safe parchment paper to catch any spilled cheese, then you can just throw it away after cooking.

There are also some cheeses with high melting points that just won't turn into goo at the bottom of your air fryer basket. These cheeses include halloumi and feta. The cheese will soften in an air fryer, but it won't melt into liquid or harden into a burnt crisp.