Air Fryer Basket Vs Tray: What to Use When Cooking in an Air Fryer?

Air fryers are increasingly becoming popular across the world. The appliance cooks healthier food, free of unhealthy oils and excess calories. In addition, the cooking device is more versatile and can cook a wide range of meals ranging from air-fried salmon to French fries. You can use an air fryer basket or tray when cooking. Between the air fryer basket vs tray: which one should you use? Keep reading to learn more.

Difference between air fryer basket and tray

An air fryer basket is a perforated basket-like accessory where you put food when cooking it in the air fryer. In other words, it is called the frying basket that holds your food as it is cooked by hot circulating air in the cooking compartment of an air fryer. Most air fryers are basket-styled, meaning they have the frying basket, but can have a tray that serves the same purpose.

An air fryer tray is a flat, shallow container with a raised rim that holds food in the air fryer as it cooks. Best air fryer ovens with larger cooking compartments have trays or racks. As such, you can stack more food into your air fryer without overlapping, thanks to two or more trays.

It is worth noting that some advanced oven-styled air fryers have two heating elements: one at the top and the other at the bottom. Others have even five heating elements. This allows your healthy breakfast or food in the trays or racks to cook evenly. Basket-styled air fryers have a heating element at the top, and food closer to the heating element can cook a little faster, but shaking or flipping helps the food to cook evenly.

Pros and cons of an air fryer basket

Using an air fryer basket to cook different meals is a little faster than when using the tray. Why? If the tray is not perforated, it will inhibit proper air circulation, preventing food from cooking evenly as desired. Also, the air fryer basket allows you to easily and frequently check your food add ingredients and spices as desired during the cooking process. However, it cooks less food compared to tray or oven-styled air fryers.


  • Cooks food faster thanks to proper hot air circulation
  • Easy to shake or turn food and check progress when cooking
  • Ideal for cooking a variety of foods


  • Holds less food

Pros and cons of using the tray in air fryer

Trays or racks are ideal for oven air fryers. Trays allow the air fryer to hold more food and cook evenly, especially when the air fryer has more than one heating element. In addition, trays allow you to cook multiple foods simultaneously in the air fryer oven. However, it takes slightly more time to cook food, but the latest models with more heating elements can cook faster and more evenly.


  • Allows you to cook more food at once
  • It can help you cook multiple meals simultaneously
  • versatile


  • It takes a little longer to cook food, but advanced models cook faster

Between basket-styled and tray-styled air fryers, which is better?

Choosing between an air fryer basket vs tray is a challenge, but it narrows down to the type of food you are cooking and the type of air fryer you have. If you have a basket-styled air fryer, it is always advisable to use the basket when cooking, unless the recipe recommends otherwise. Use trays or racks when baking or using an air fryer oven.

Final Thoughts

Between an air fryer basket vs tray, you cannot really tell which one is the best. It depends on the air fryer you have, the type and amount of food you want to cook. An air fryer basket is ideal when cooking small meals. However, if you want to cook more food or multiple meals like delicious bacon and asparagus at once, consider a tray or oven-styled air fryer.

One Response

  1. carlie King

    Foods that have already been cooked – defrost/airfry – what heat and how long?


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