Are you a fan of crispy, fried foods, but wish they were healthier? Cook them in an air fryer. This kitchen appliance has delivered crunchy, flavorful dishes with a fraction of the oil.
But how do they work? Are they worth the investment? And what can you cook with them? Keep reading to get an overall picture of what you need to know about air fryers.
In short: The air fryer uses hot air, circulated by a fan at high speed, to cook food evenly and quickly.
This rapid circulation of hot air cooks the food quickly and evenly. It makes food crispy on the outside while it's cooked on the inside.
Let's take a detailed look to understand how this process works.
Air Fryers Overview
What Is An Air Fryer
An air fryer is a countertop appliance that uses hot air to cook food.
- The air fryer consists of 3 main components: the heating element, the fan and the cooking chamber.
- It’s basically a mini convection oven. An air fryer has a heating element and a fan. The fan circulates the hot air around the food rapidly.
- The rapid circulation of hot air causes a crispy exterior similar to that of deep-fried food, while causing a well-cooked interior.
- Most air fryers come with a basket or tray that allows excess oil to drip away from the food, resulting in a healthier finished product.
Who Invented An Air Fryer
An air fryer was first invented in 2005 by Mr. Fred van der Weij, a Dutch inventor. Philips introduced it in 2010. Since then it has become a popular kitchen gadget worldwide.
The technology behind an air fryer is not new; convection ovens have been around for decades. But the compact size, quick-cooking capabilities and versatility of air fryers make them unique.
How Does An Air Fryer Work?
The Core Air Frying Technology
The core technology behind air fryers is convection cooking.
- This method uses hot air, circulated at high speed by a fan, to cook food evenly and quickly.
- The air fryer will have a timer and temperature control, so you can set it to cook for the desired time and at the desired temperature.
- The frying basket or tray also allows the excess oil to drip away from the food during cooking.
- The hot air is circulated around the food in the basket, cooking it evenly.
- Once the timer goes off, the air fryer will switch off and the food will be cooked.
Are Air Fryers Better Than Convection Ovens?
While both air fryers and convection ovens use hot air to cook food, there are a few key differences between the two.
- Air fryers are typically smaller and more compact than convection ovens, making them fit for small kitchens or apartments.
- They also heat up faster and can cook food more quickly than a traditional oven.
- However, convection ovens have a larger capacity, making them better suited for larger families or for cooking multiple dishes at once.
Are Air Fryers Better Than Deep Fryers?
The choice between an air fryer and deep fryer will depend on your personal health preferences and cooking needs.
- While air fryers do require very little oil to achieve a crispy texture, it is significantly less than deep-frying, making it a healthier alternative.
- However, the taste and texture of air fried food may not be exactly the same as traditional deep-fried foods.
- In contrast, traditional deep-frying involves submerging the food in hot oil, resulting in a much higher fat content.
Pros & Cons Of An Air Fryer
- Air fryers use less oil than traditional deep frying, resulting in healthier meals.
- They are also quick and easy to use, making meal prep a breeze.
- They are best used for frying foods that taste better and crispier when cooked in a toaster oven, or a regular oven.
- Air fryers also allow you to cook a variety of foods in one appliance, eliminating the need for multiple kitchen gadgets.
- Some air fryers can cost upwards of $500. If you’re on a budget, you may only choose basic models with less advanced features and cost around $100.
- Air fryers can also be limited in terms of capacity and may not be suitable for larger batches of food or baked food as in the convection oven.
- Some users have noted that air fryers can sometimes produce overly dry or unevenly cooked food.
- Air fryers can be difficult to clean, with the basket or tray requiring frequent scrubbing to remove any food residue. If you don’t line the basket with foil or parchment paper, you’ll likely have to scrub it clean after each use.
What Food Can Be Cooked In An Air Fryer?
Air fryers can be used to cook endless variety of dishes, from fried chicken to roasted vegetables to baked goods.
- Some popular air fryer recipes include (frozen) French fries, chicken wings, chicken nuggets, and mozzarella sticks.
- Roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and carrots can be cooked in an air fryer for a crispy, healthy side dish.
- Main dishes like chicken breasts, chicken legs, salmon fillets, burgers and steaks can also be cooked in an air fryer.
- Additionally, many air fryer models come with pre-programmed settings for popular dishes making it easy to achieve perfect results every time.
What Air Fryer Should You Buy?
There are a lot of different brands out there. But which ones should you buy? Here are a few things to consider when making your decision:
You should consider how big of an air fryer you need. If you have a large family or entertain often, you'll need a larger model. But if you're cooking for one or two people, a mini air fryer will do just fine.
Different air fryers come with different features, such as pre-programmed settings, automatic shut-off, multiple cooking racks, two baskets, and accessories. A toaster oven combo (a.k.a. "convection toaster oven") combines a traditional toaster oven with air fryer technology.
Air fryers can range in price from $100 to upwards of $500. Consider how much you're willing to spend and what features are most important to you, or just a simple and budget-friendly option before making a decision.
Some popular air fryer brands include Philips, Ninja, Cosori, PowerXL, Chefman, Instant Vortex, Galaz, Paula Deen and DASH. Be sure to do your research and read reviews before purchasing to find the best fit for your needs.
Air fryers use convection technology to cook food quickly and efficiently. With the right air fryer, you can enjoy a variety of delicious and healthy meals without the hassle of traditional deep frying.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Need our assistance with choosing which of the best air fryers meets your cooking needs? Check out top picks in the blog post below!3 BEST LARGE AIR FRYERS
You're sure to find the perfect air fryer for your kitchen.