You can enjoy crisp fried potatoes and fresh chicken wings without the spatter, odor and added calories of oil with an air fryer.
This small batch machine doesn't need a lot of counter space and cooks by crisping food in hot, moving air. Air fryers make French fries almost guilt free!
Our Top Pick: Philips Digital Airfryer
What Is An Air Fryer?
Air fryers are small batch cooking tools that cook previously fried foods such as frozen French fries in a reservoir of hot air.
It's important to note that an air fryer can crisp up a product that's been previously fried, but can't add the layer of crunch created by hot oil.
However, you can crisply cook raw foods in your air fryer with a light brushing of oil on the food.
Does it really work? There are two things you must consider when comparing air-cooked foods to deep-fried foods.
- Air fryers work in small batches. The more food you place in the air fryer, the less room there is for air to circulate. When you start, err on the side of less food, rather than overloading the tool and getting soggy fries as a result.
- Previously fried foods such as tater tots or frozen breaded shrimp already have an exterior coating of fried product; a caramelization of sorts, or perhaps a breading. Air fryers do a great job of crisping this outer coating without needing extra oil.
How Does An Air Fryer Work?
Air fryers are fairly simple tools. From the bottom up, you have a heating element, a fan to move air, a hopper basket to contain food, a temperature control and a timer. Note: Some air fryers heating elements and fans are located on the bottom rather than the top.
While heat and time can cook most any food, loading the hopper basket properly and adding the movement of hot air can produce crunchy fried foods.
Are air fryers healthy? If you're a fan of crisp, deep-fried foods, an air fryer can provide you with a lower-fat French fry.
Air fryers are great tools for previously fried foods such as frozen French fries. Additionally, with practice and a little oil, you can make your own chicken wings, crispy potato chips and other side dishes.
It's important to note that air fryers are not fix it and forget it tools! Keep your eyes (and nose) focused on this tool while you're learning to use it to avoid burning your dinner.
Why Get An Air Fryer?
Deep frying foods at home can take a great deal of oil and time. Additionally, once you're done, you've got oil left to either try to re-use, or discard. Hot oil in the kitchen can be extremely dangerous, and will leave a spattered mess on countertops and cabinet surfaces. Finally, deep frying can leave a lingering odor in your home.
If you'd like to reduce the amount of fat in your diet but continue to enjoy your favorite fried snacks and side dishes, an air fryer can be a great investment.
These units generally require a little over one square foot of counter space and need no more power than a toaster or coffee pot.
Air Fryer Features
Heat Source & Air Movement
The heat source in an air fryer is located in the bottom of the cooker. You can expect temperatures of up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit / 204 degrees Celsius.
Once the air is hot, it's directed through the food from a fan blade at the bottom of the air fryer. Hot air is forced from right above the heat source through the food in the hopper basket.
This handy basket is built to be easily removed from your air fryer, loaded, and placed above the heating element and fan and often features a cool to the touch handle for easy removal.
Loading this basket properly is critical. If this basket is overcrowded, or if food is stacked tightly together, the air movement won't crisp it and you'll wind up with soggy instead of crunchy. It's said that air frying is deep frying without a deep fryer.
If you've ever overloaded a deep fryer or failed to preheat the oil properly and watched your meal sink to the bottom and turn brown, you'll understand how air frying can fail.
Temperatures And Cooking Times
Like any tool that combines heat and food, your air fryer will need to be monitored. Because it's most effective when cooking in small batches, this is not a tool you can start and walk away from.
Once you've tested out a few air fryer recipes, you'll have a better idea of what your air fryer can do. When considering air fryer vs deep fryer taste, it's important to do your sampling fresh from the hopper basket for proper crunch comparison.
Your air frying machine will include both a temperature control and a timer, and most have an automatic shut-off. However, stay vigilant! The line between crisp and incinerated can be dangerous.
The air fryer is functionally a small and very intense convection oven. You can take the time to experiment and get creative with your air fryer by adding a bit of water to poach fish, or grill a small piece of beef.
Check out Gordon Ramsay cook tiger shrimp with the Philips Airfryer:
Luckily, a few air fryer manufacturers have teamed with well-known chefs to produce cookbooks that offer home cooks the chance to try new techniques with their air fryer.
Do air fryers work as fryers? Yes! They also work as ovens and grills, so have fun!
Air Fryer Safety
When comparing an air fryer vs deep fryer, safety concerns put the air fryer way ahead. While deep frying can lead to delicious and tasty foods, it is messy, dangerous and odorous.
Spatter is a constant concern when cooking with hot oil.
Additionally, the line between hot oil and smoking oil can get very close. The scent of burned oil can linger in curtains, carpets, and other soft goods for weeks.
Cleaning Up Your Air Fryer
Most air fryers can be taken apart and run through the dishwasher after using. Use a brush to clean away any stuck on food in the basket, and wipe down the exterior to clear away any spilled food.
Be sure to follow the instructions included with the fryer so you get the air system cleaned appropriately; it will reduce the risk of odor contamination the next time you use your air fryer.
Clean-Up: Air Fryer Vs Deep Fryer
You don't have to worry about storing or discarding your leftover oil. Your cabinets and countertops will not be spattered with oil, and you don't have to wait for oil to cool down before you dispose of it. In the comparison between oil frying and air frying, air fryers make clean up a breeze.
Air Fryer Vs Convection Oven
Cooking with hot air has been popular for quite a while, and if you have a convection oven, you're probably aware of how effective hot air can be in producing delicious food.
However, not everyone has a convection oven, and the investment for such a tool can be large. If your standard oven does a good job overall but you'd like to try a hot air tool, an air fryer is a great beginning to your hot air cooking adventure.
Is Air Frying Healthy?
Previously fried foods such as frozen potatoes generally have fat included in them already, so cooking them in an air fryer won't make them fat-free. However, you will greatly reduce the amount of added fat in your cooking by switching from oil to air.
You will probably need to brush any raw, unprocessed foods with a bit of oil to get them to crisp up in your air fryer, but you will greatly reduce the fat content of standard oil deep frying techniques.
This tool provides plenty of heat and air movement in a very small package. While it may not be possible to cook for large groups easily in your air fryer, you can easily prepare side dishes and appetizers for plenty of folks with this tool.
Households are getting smaller, and not everybody wants to fire up the oven for every meal. An air fryer is a great tool for side dishes and appetizers. There are terrific recipes available from famous chefs to use in your air fryer.
Don't overload the hopper and don't leave your air fryer unattended! Have fun experimenting with this tool, and eat healthy!
Did you enjoy this guide? Let us know in the comments with your experiences and questions about air frying at home.