What Is Air Frying Anyway And How Does It Work
Despite what it sounds like, air frying doesnt actually fry your food. Instead, air fryers are mini convection ovens that use fans to rapidly circulate hot air, cooking food faster and more evenly than a standard oven does.
Convection has been around for more than a century. The first commercially sold convection ovens were developed by the W. L. Maxson Corporation in the 1940s as a way to reheat frozen food for airplanes. And they worked much the same as todays air fryers and convection toaster ovens do: As the fan circulates hot air around the food, it crisps the outside in a way that mimics deep frying. But your tastebuds will tell you that air-fried food isnt anything like traditionally deep-fried food in flavor and texture.
Dont Worry About Buttons Or Functions
Similar to capacity, our experts agreed that the buttons on an air fryer are just marketing jargon. Those buttons do the same thing, Weinstein said, which is turn the heating element on and turn the fan on. Dont be fooled by an air fryer with a thousand different functions if youre using an air fryer to air fry, then all you need is the air fry button.
Budget Pick: Cosori Pro Air Fryer
*At the time of publishing, the price was $85.
The Cosori Pro Air Fryer was the best pod-shaped model we tested for under $100. Although the Cosoris 3.7-quart capacity is slightly larger than that of the Philips Premium Airfryer HD9741/96, it doesnt cook as evenly, but considering its relatively low price, we think its results were good enough. The Cosoris many preprogrammed settings werent as accurate as those of the Philips, eitherwe preferred using the manual controls for selecting the time and temperature instead. Like the Philips, the Cosori has a square-shaped basket that fits more food than the round baskets in other models. The Cosori also comes with a recipe booklet, which is helpful if youre new to cooking with convection technology.
Like the Philips, the Cosori has a removable basket to hold your food while it cooks. We prefer this design to the removable trays of a lot of newer models, because trays tend to fall out when you flip the bucket upside down to transfer food to a platethis was the case with the Ninja AF101 Air Fryer we testedand when the tray comes flying out, it could potentially cause burns. We also like that the Cosori has a plastic guard that covers the baskets release button , which prevents you from inadvertently pressing it while shaking your food. Without the guard, its easier to accidentally press the button, which would release the bucket and send it crashing onto the floor.
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A Guide To Air Fryers: Everything To Know Before You Buy
Considering an air fryer to make healthier meals in 2022? We answer all your burning questions about the trendy countertop cookers.
Senior Editor / Home and Kitchen
I live in Brooklyn where I write about food subscriptions, cooking, kitchen gadgets and commerce. Anything with sesame is my all-time favorite food this week.
Air fryers have made a whole lot of noise in the kitchen appliance space over these past few years. If you’ve become a little air fry-curious, there are some questions you might want to have answered before you invest in yet another small kitchen appliance. If starting from scratch, you’ll want to know exactly what an air fryer does and how it’s used. Does an air fryer actually fry? And are air fryers healthier than normal ovens? Also, what can you make in an air fryer, and which type of air fryer oven is best for your cooking habits? Most importantly, is an air fryer worth buying with so many other kitchen appliances available, or are these trendy countertop cookers just a bunch of hot air?
In this air fryer explainer and buying guide, I’ll explore the best uses for the trendy air fryer, and break down the various types of air fry ovens along with average costs to help you make a more informed purchase.
First, a little background.
Do Air Fryers Use A Lot Of Electricity
Yes, air fryers do use a lot of electricity. But its not as much as youd think. In fact, the average air fryer will only use about 1,000 watts per hour. For comparison, thats less than half of what a microwave uses and about two percent of what your refrigerator uses.
The reason for this is because air fryers dont heat up the air as an oven does. Instead, they use a fan to circulate hot air around whatever youre cooking so it gets crisp on all sides at once. This makes them more efficient than traditional frying methods since you dont have to worry about uneven temperatures inside the food itself.
Also Check: Where Is Cosori Air Fryer Made
How Does Air Frying Compare With Oven Cooking
Although theres no health advantage to cooking oven-ready items in an air fryer, youll probably find that you can roast fresh items in an air fryer using less oil than youd use in an oven. If you parboil potatoes and spray them with oil, you can pop them in an air fryer and get very crisp roast potatoes in 20 minutes.
Another advantage is that air fryers get extremely hot very quickly, and the circulating air means that food will get perfectly browned all over. This means youll be able to cut your cooking time and up the crunchiness in the finished product. It also makes it easier to cook things like sweet potato fries, which can go limp in an oven.
An air fryer will be faster than oven cooking. Because of the quicker cooking time and the smaller size of an air fryer compared to your oven, its more energy efficient. This means that its a more environmentally-friendly cooking option and one thatll save you money in the long run. Its a good cooking appliance to use if you want to minimise electricity bills.
Like oven cooking, youll still need to keep an eye on your air frying food and probably turn it over once during the cooking process.
You Cant Cook Everything
While you cook just about anything on a stove or in an oven, the air fryer has limitations.
Here is a brief list of foods you should never cook in an air fryer and why:
- Wet-battered foods: The forced air will blow the batter off and cause a mess.
- Whole chickens and roasts: Large items like whole chickens and bone-in roasts tend to cook unevenly.
- Pork bacon: Like wet-battered foods, the bacon grease will fly around the interior. It can burn on the heating element and cause a big mess.
- Cheese: Because the heating element is so close, it will melt quickly and liquefy instead of making a crispy exterior like an oven can produce.
- Raw grains: Raw rice, farro, and other grains do not cook evenly they are better suited to stovetop cooking or appliances like rice cookers or Instant Pots.
- Leafy greens: They are lightweight and will fly around the air fryer. As a result, youll get uneven cooking.
- Broccoli: It dries out and tastes like cardboard.
- Toast: It blows around and spreads crumbs all over the inside.
- Popcorn: Air fryers dont get hot enough to pop the kernels.
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What About Using A Full
For the record, you can get similar air-fried results when cooking food in a full-size oven with convection. But because a full-size oven is so much larger than a toaster oven or an air fryer, it takes much longer to preheat and can take longer to cook food. The Cuisinart TOB-260N1 toaster oven preheats almost immediately, making it the better choice if speed is part of what appeals to you about an air fryer.
Dash Compact Air Fryer
First up was the Dash DCAF150 Compact Air Fryer. At $100, this basket-style appliance has a plastic exterior and comes in a few colours . Using it is incredibly straightforward: put food in the basket and turn the dials for time and temperature. Since these were oven fries, I didnt add any oil. I couldnt find any information on how much food the basket would ideally hold, but it seemed like 12 oz of fries fit nicely, so thats what I used. You do need to stir the fries partway through cooking, but after 20 min at 400F, the fries were evenly cooked. The one annoyance is that once youre finished, you cant just tip the basket on your plate to remove the food, which feels counterintuitive. It has a false bottom that collects excess cooking oil tipping it would pour the oil back onto your food. Overall though, I was actually surprised by how good a job this air fryer did. It may not be able to handle main-type dishes at its size, but can cook sides and vegetables quickly and efficiently.
Read Also: Dinners To Make In Air Fryer
What Kind Of Food Can You Make In An Air Fryer
Answer: Air fryer allows the making of almost all kinds of foods. From French fries to steaks and other food, including chicken, meat, fish, vegetables, etc.
Additionally, the making of crispier and tastier frozen food items is also possible. The main benefit of using an air fryer is cooking a particular meal in minimum oil that helps in maintaining good health and thereby a healthy lifestyle.
Want to bake, grill, or roast the food? There are multiple brands that are offering multi-purpose air fryers.
Is Air Frying Healthy
In comparison to deep-fat frying, air frying is a healthier alternative â using convection cooking rather than oil means there’s less fat in the finished food, which in turn means fewer calories. However, air frying does have some negatives, so it should be considered as part of a balanced diet. Read more about the health credentials of air fryers in our guide â is air frying healthy?
Read Also: Instant Vortex Mini Air Fryer Recipes
Different Texture To Food
Some people would complain that food cooked in air fryers has a peculiar texture and taste. That is true for microwave-cooked food as well. You only need to get used to it.
Air fryer, judging from consensus, is really good for frozen food items such as chicken nuggets, etc. It fries them quickly with a minimal amount of oil.
Air Fryers Are More Expensive Than Deep Fryers
Yes, this is completely true. But can you also prepare a steak, fish, vegetables, bread, cake, eggs or a whole chicken in your deep fryer? I dont think so.
Again, an air fryer is a more healthy alternative for a deep fryer. But it is also an alternative for a small oven, a wok pan and baking pan. This makes an air fryer a versatile kitchen appliance that can prepare all kinds of foods. This makes it, in my opinion, worth the extra money you have to pay for an air fryer compared to a deep fryer.
I have to agree that some air fryers are quite expensive. Think about the Philips Airfryer XXL, most people cant justify for themselves to pay over 200 dollars for a deep fryer. But I do think especially Philips Airfryers are worth the extra money. That is because the Philips Airfryer is the original air fryer. It is the machine that offers the best air frying results, has the largest selection of accessories and has a big community of air fryer fans all over the world where air fryer recipes and experiences are shared daily.
But, when you just want to buy a new deep fryer for deep frying your food. You dont really see the advantage of the health benefits and dont want to use all the extra possibilities of an air fryer. Then you are better of buying a more budget-friendly deep fryer that uses oil instead of hot air. It is up to you of course.
Also Check: Air Fryer Frozen Beef Patties
Air Fryer Attachment For Your Instant Pot Is A Great Option
If you already have an Instant Pot, you can buy an Instant Pot air fryer lid to attach or a Mealthy which will clamp on top and air fry food down below. I found the air fryer lids work exceptionally well, although they don’t have a large capacity for cooking.
The Duo Crisp is a powerful air fryer but it’s also a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker and more.
Read more: Best Instant Pots of 2022
How We Test Air Fryers
We’ve tested more than 40 air fryers in the Good Housekeeping Institute Kitchen Appliances Lab, including traditional basket-style air fryers, air fryer ovens, air fryer toaster ovens and even several microwaves and multi-cookers with air fry capabilities. We also cook with them quite regularly and have developed countless recipes for them.
When we test air fryers, we evaluate their performance and ease of use by air frying frozen and fresh french fries as well as chicken wings. We don’t test baked goods like cake because cake and most other desserts benefit from an even distribution of gentle heat and most air fryers don’t have heating elements on the bottom in addition to the top . We score the food on its crispiness, juiciness and evenness, and we consider details like how quickly it cooks, how helpful the user guide is and whether the machine is loud. We also evaluate features like the control panel, temperature range and whether the accessories are dishwasher-safe.
Also Check: Instant Vortex 6 Quart 4in1 Air Fryer
Should You Buy An Air Fryer
Air fryers are among the newest and most popular types of countertop appliances. But does an air fryer deserve a spot on your kitchen counter? If youre thinking about buying one, weve got all the information you need to decide.
If youd like to see some buying options, check out our round-up of the best air fryers weve reviewed.
Solo Air Fryer: Best For Most People
The most basic of air fryers looks like a small robot. They are generally just a cylindrical base with a basket to hold the food that pulls in and out. These come as small as two quarts and can be as big as six or seven. These models come with digital controls or manual dials. There are also air fryers with dual compartments so you can make two types of food at different temps simultaneously. Ninja makes a particularly good one with two 4-quart cooking baskets .
Solo air fryers are the least expensive too, and they can be had for as little as $30. I’d say if you just want to try air frying but don’t want to commit a lot of money or kitchen space, opt for one of these.
Ninja’s basic air fryer oven is one of the best we’ve tested.
Read more: The best air fryers in 2022
Don’t Miss: Cosori Air Fryer Recipe Book
Air Fryers Are Difficult To Clean
Cleaning an air fryer is the biggest complaint I come across when researching air fryers. It is true that cleaning an air fryer is more easy to do in comparison with a conventional deep fryer. But still, people ask me frequently how to clean an air fryer properly.
The reason people have difficulties with cleaning their air fryer is because, I think, they use their air fryer just like their old deep fryer. This means that after usage the owner stores the air fryer away, just like they did with their old deep fryer, without cleaning it.
Yes, an air fryer is an alternative for deep fryers. But you have to see an air fryer more like any other pan in your kitchen. After using a pan or pot you clean it before you store it away in one of your cabinets, right? You basically have to do the same thing with the parts of an air fryer. This means that it is recommended to clean all the parts, such as the frying basket and the pan, thoroughly so you can use a clean air fryer the next time you want to use it.
When you dont make it a habit of cleaning the air fryer after each and every usage, it will be very difficult to clean the parts. Food residues and fat accumulates at the parts of your air fryer and can turn black after a while. These scorched and burnt on food residues are very difficult to remove and they are unhealthy for you.
Are Air Fryers Worth The Money
I believe that air fryers are a great way to expand the cooking alternatives of any kitchen. I also believe that anyone could benefit from an air fryer, be it a veteran in the kitchen or a newbie with no understanding of basic cooking.
But when it comes to spending money, I believe the purchase of a product should be justified.
Besides the promise of recreating the wonders of fried food without the calories, an air fryer has a couple of other functions and features that I think are reason enough to consider an air fryer.
In order to really know if the air fryer is worth it in your case, you must really try it for yourself. However, seeing as that may be hard, the second best option is to research the appliance and everything it has to offer.
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