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How do you keep the top of the frozen pot pies from burning while letting the bottom cook?

5 Answers 5

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Often when I want to reduce browning, I turn to water, since 100/212 is too cold for browning.

Spray/mist the top of the pot pie before cooking, or after 10-20 min of cooking. This will keep the top's temp down for a while as the water evaporates. Don't water-log it enough to make them soggy, but a few good spritzes until it beads will buy you several degree-minutes of time/temp slope.

You'll have to experiment with the exact timing and amount to fit your food/cooker/pref, but it's simpler than radiation shielding in a convection situation, leaves no waste, and the added moisture helps the rest of the food cook faster w/o drying out.

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The simplest solution will be to cover it loosely with some foil. The foil should cover the top and come down the sides a little to ensure that the top doesn't get too hot.

To crisp the top, remove the foil about 20-30 min prior to the end of cooking time, depending on pie size.

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  • "Air fryers" heat mostly through convection, while the foil trick helps mostly with radiation. You already said "loosely", I'd underscore that by saying "intentionally minimize contact between foil and pie" so the convection gets inefficient too.
    – rumtscho
    May 25, 2023 at 8:40
  • @rumtscho Air fryers cook with both! The original designer of the Philips air fryer talked about how convective cooking alone didn't produce as good a result (for chips) as convective+radiative.
    – Sneftel
    May 25, 2023 at 8:41
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Tenting with foil has been mentioned, and it does solve the problem, but I find foil to be fiddly and annoying in an air fryer: it can blow off the container, particularly if you dare to pull it back to check on the food and don't perfectly re-fasten it.

Instead, simply reduce the temperature. A lower temperature with a longer cooking time will allow the crust to brown and crisp without burning, while thoroughly heating the filling. You don't need as high a temperature in an air fryer as you do in a convection oven; as a rule of thumb, go 20 degrees Celsius lower.

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This may be very "out of the box", but if your pot pie is the kind where the upper crust closes it up perfectly, try starting it upside down, then turning it at some point, maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of the cooking time. You'll have to experiment a bit to see how much time you have before it becomes soft enough that you run a risk of deforming the top crust, or leaking. And don't put the naked top crust on the bottom of the air fryer, use something like a metal pie dish or cake pan.

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This is a very similar problem to toaster ovens; the heating element is far closer and directly exposed to the food unlike a full-size oven so you end up "convection broiling" the food.

upside down air fryer

These air fryers look like they would be actually "worse" than most toaster ovens since there is only one top heating element (the air fryers in the pictures are upside down) and no shield which is fairly common in toaster ovens. I'm not bullish on water since it's being blasted with the hottest air and is right under the heating element so I doubt it would last long. I'd experiment with some foil like @bob1 says and pull it off a couple minutes before the pot pie is cooked through (this was originally going to be a comment on that answer but you can't add pictures in comments).

Image from fabulesslyfrugal.com

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