Trend Indexing: The air fryer is infamous among naysayers for “not really frying anything,” but you can fry a sunny-side-up egg in your air fryer, and banish the haters to where they belong (hell). In just five minutes, you can fry a sunny-side-up egg, complete with slightly crispy edges and a runny yolk.
This is great news if you love fried eggs, but even better news if you’re tired of hearing “It doesn’t really fry anything.” How many times have we air-fryer-devotees had to listen to those words? How many times have we, with our hands ripping hair from our scalps, had to beg someone to look past the name, and approach the appliance with an open mind? Seemingly mentally strong men—men who are famous for being logical and scientifically minded—have had their psyches foisted into turmoil by the name of this appliance, unable to get past the slight inaccuracy of it all.
“But iT doEsN’T FrY aNYthInG,” the haters bleat, over and over, to anyone who dares share their favorite air fried salmon recipe.
Well, no more. Now it is our time to be pedantic. Now we can say, heads held high, “Bro, yes it does. It can fry an egg.”
How to fry an egg in your air fryer
All you need is an egg and a little bacon grease. Why didn’t I think of this before? I don’t know. Frying eggs on a sheet pan has been floating around in my consciousness for a while, and air-fryer fried eggs are the next logical step. I am ashamed it took me so long, but at least I got there eventually.
If you have a basket style air fryer, you don’t even need a pan; just remove the little tray and crack the eggs directly into the bottom of the (nonstick) basket. The whipping winds and hot grease combine forces to cook your breakfast in the shortest of orders, without any goopy white.
If you want, you can cook some bacon in there first, let the fat render off, then cook the eggs in the hot grease. Three strips of bacon gave off enough grease for me to cook four eggs, and I probably could have fried even more, had I not grown tired of eating eggs.
Getting the grease hot is key, as it helps establish the border of the egg white. Once the air fryer (and grease) are heated to 375℉, pull out the drawer, tilting it slightly so the grease pools near the front, then crack the eggs in the grease and let them set for 20 seconds or so, until the outer edges of the white start to set. This keeps the white from flying around too much when you first close the drawer, though little wispy bits of white are nothing to be upset about.
Photo: Claire Lower
After about three minutes, the white will be set and the yolk will be runny, with no goopy white spots in sight. Some of the white might blow over and cover the yolk, but don’t worry, the yolk will not be hard (unless you keep cooking it).
Even if your eggs come out looking like this:
Photo: Claire Lower
The yolk will come out looking like this:
The yolks are wildly different because the one on the left is from my dad’s chickens and the one on the right is from the grocery store. Photo: Claire Lower
Air Fryer Fried Eggs
- 2 tablespoons of bacon grease (or a couple of strips of bacon)
Remove the little tray from your air fryer basket and set it aside. (I cannot vouch for frying eggs in a toaster-oven-style air fryer, but I think you could pull it off with a little sheet pan.)
If you are cooking bacon with your eggs, place it in the (cold) basket. Set the temperature to 375℉ and let the bacon heat with the basket. Let the bacon cook for a little longer once the air fryer reaches 375℉ until it has rendered off a good bit of fat and is a couple of minutes away from being done. If you are not cooking bacon at this time, you can just add a couple of tablespoons of bacon grease to the drawer and let it melt while the air fryer heats up.
Crack your eggs into some tea cups or ramekins, then open the air fryer drawer and scoot the bacon towards the back (if using). Tilt the drawer towards you so the grease pools towards the front, then pour your eggs into the grease. Let the whites set for about 20 seconds, until you see a border start to form. Close the drawer, let the eggs cook for a minute; take a peep to make sure the whites haven’t gone too crazy, and scoot them back toward the egg if they have.
Cook two more minutes for runny yolks, or longer if you like your yolks more set. Remove with a slotted spatula and eat immediately, with a sense of superiority, for you have truly fried something with your air fryer on this glorious day.