Air fryers have become increasingly popular over the last decade or so and their universal appeal is due to its ability to ‘fry’ food without oil. Another reason air fryers have gained so much favor is that our busy lives often leave us with limited time to cook healthy meals that are tasty too.
An air fryer is, in essence, a miniature convection oven. Just like a convection oven, an air fryer has a heating element and a fan. The heating element and the fan work together to surround the food with hot hair and keep it circulating around the food. This results in even cooking and food that is crisp and delicious.
You may have seen an air fryer advertised on TV, or over the internet and wondered if this is an appliance you would like to add to your kitchen arsenal. You’re probably asking yourself, “Are air fryers worth it, and should I get one?”. You’re not alone. We’ll look at some of the features of an air fryer to help you decide whether or not you should buy one for yourself.
Consider The Cost
Most air fryers are quite affordable. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of simple models under $100.00, and most of them work really well. Their affordability is their biggest plus as there is an air fryer to suit every budget. The affordable price also makes them a great gift idea for newlyweds, students in dormitories and as a housewarming gift for someone with limited kitchen space. Don’t just look at them as a gift for others when it’s an inexpensive appliance that you’ll love to use too.
Some air fryers are considerably more expensive. These are often made with better quality materials and they have more features. They are often larger and may be more suitable for large families. When shopping for an air fryer, consider what you will be using it for and what you can afford to spend.
The biggest reason air fryers are so popular is their versatility. Their obvious use is to air fry foods without oil, but you can do so much more than fry up a batch of french fries. Depending on your specific type of air fryer, you can bake small cakes or cookies, roast whole chickens or larger cuts of meat, grill or poach fish, grill your favorites steaks or chops and even cook complete dishes like quiche, pizza or lasagna, as well as cooking a full roast dinner with baked potatoes and vegetables.
The very fact that most air fryers offer so many different cooking methods means they can replace several different appliances. The added benefit is that this one little unit only takes up a minimal amount of counter space and if you live alone, you won’t need a full-sized oven and stove if you have an air fryer.
Air fryers are small and they don't weigh much. This makes them perfect for weekends away in cabins or holiday apartments or for live-in students. You can take them with you anywhere. As the cooking chamber or drawer is usually contained within the unit, there is no sputtering oil, excessive steam or smells coming from the air fryer. The compact size is also ideal, even in large kitchens. You can put it on your countertop when you're cooking and put it away in a cupboard when you're done.
We all want to eat healthier, but often that means a compromise. Fried food is loaded with fat and excessive calories because the food is literally submerged in hot oil. No matter how much we try to keep the oil out of the food, a considerable amount of it will be absorbed into the food. Air frying food requires the tiniest amount of oil and, in some cases, none at all. Many air fryer owners invest in an oil sprayer or just buy commercial oil sprays and give their food a quick spray before cooking the food in the air fryer.
You’re also more likely to experiment with different cooking methods and ingredients when you have an air fryer and if you choose whole foods instead of processed foods, you will find yourself making meals that are delicious and nutritious. You can even have your favorite fried foods like french fries, chicken wings or classic fish and chips. Without the excess oils, even crumbed foods are healthier.
Having an air fryer in your kitchen can save you money in a number of different ways. Firstly, food cooks faster in an air fryer so you'll use less electricity. In many cases, you can cook a complete meal for yourself in less than 15 minutes. As you can cook all of the components of your meal in the one unit, you won’t need to turn on multiple hotplates and the oven just to make yourself a quick dinner.
You'll also save money on food. Cooking from scratch is often a lot cheaper than buying pre-packaged food and certainly less than ready-made meals. When you have an air fryer at home, you'll also be less likely to grab dinner at the nearest drive-thru. If you spend a little time portioning food and packing it after doing the grocery shopping, you'll be able to plan and budget a whole week’s worth of meals and have all of your components ready to cook. Over time, this will save you a lot of time and money.
Today's modern lifestyle means we are always on the go. The result is a shortage of time to cook proper, nutritious meals for the family. No one wants to come home from work and spend the next several hours cooking dinner for the family. With an air fryer, you can have a tasty and healthy dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less. It's simply a matter of placing the food in the air fryer and setting the temperature and timer. By the time you set the table and make a side salad, dinner is ready. You won't need to use multiple pots and pans, which means less washing up. The removable parts of the air fryer are usually dishwasher safe so cleaning up is even less of a hassle.
Capacity – Most air fryers are small and compact. That means they aren't exactly suitable for large families or if you like to cook for larger groups of people. While some air fryers can cook an entire chicken, many others can't. The other issue is that if you do place a whole chicken in your air fryer, there will be no room for side dishes like potatoes or other vegetables. Outcome the pots and pans which really defeats the purpose of cooking with convenience.
More Preparation Needed – The air fryer works by circulating hot air around the food and this continues during the entire cooking process. This means you need to be quite good with your food preparation skills and ensure all your food is cut or chopped into uniform pieces. Otherwise, you could end up with a batch of food where some pieces are cooked perfectly while others are either overcooked or undercooked.
Trial And Error – All air fryers come with an instruction manual and many also come with a recipe book. Both of these have suggested cooking times, but they are only suggestions. You will need to experiment a little with cooking times and temperatures. The trouble is you could end up throwing away several batches of food before you get it right.
Food Can Dry Out – Air frying food is excellent for achieving that delicious crispiness, but leave your food cooking for too long and you end up with food that is too dry to be palatable. The other possible outcome is burnt food. Cooking with an air fryer is often unpredictable and will need some practice before you can achieve those perfect air fried meals.
Cooking Time Is Longer – While many foods can be cooked quite fast in an air fryer, it is still considerably longer than deep frying. This longer cooking time can be a source of frustration when you have hungry kids screaming for dinner. If your air fryer has a small capacity, this can make matters worse as you’ll need to cook several batches to appease the appetites of a large family.
Still Want An Air Fryer?
Once you get accustomed to your air fryer, you will find it a great addition to your home. They are a healthier alternative to deep fryers and are more economical as well. One this you will need to consider is how much you are prepared to spend on your air fryer. This will depend on how often you plan on using it.
If you only plan on using it once or twice a week, you can get away with getting a compact and less expensive model. However, if you plan to use it on a daily basis or several times a week, you should look at a good quality model. It will cost more, but you’ll be able to delight your family with things like french fries, chicken nuggets or wings on demand without worrying about drenching these foods in oil.
If you're still not sure, wait a little while longer. Like all appliances, technological advances mean these items get better and cheaper. One thing is for sure. If you love fried food but worry about clogging your arteries, an air fryer is sure to bring a smile to your lips without adding those dreaded inches to your hips.