Are you wondering what an air fryer is?

The air fryer is smaller than many may think.

What you need to know:

  • Gadget review. If there is one thing technology has done to homes, it is definately automating them. At the moment, one may not need whole kitchen ware to get the best from meats.

The first time I heard about an air fryer, I conjured in my mind some sort of esoteric gadget that was huge and powered by air.

To be honest, I hadn’t the slightest idea on how it looked, and the fact that they are unavailable in the country did not especially inspire me to check them out on Google.

However, this past Christmas one of the boys surprised me when he came over from Boston with a gift and yes, you guessed right; it was an air fryer! The first thing that surprised and amazed me was the design, shape and size.

An Air Fryer is sleek, compact and conical in shape, about 1-foot-high and round; in essence it is nothing that I imagined at all making it easy to find space even in a small kitchen. No doubt counter space is never enough in many kitchens and even when you have loads of it, there is often a tendency to clutter and fill with the latest cooking gadgets.

In point of fact, an air fryer is similar to an oven inasmuch as it is used for baking as well roasting. In other words, whatever can be done by a conventional oven can be done by an Air Fryer.

Notwithstanding, the main difference lies in its heating elements that are located on the top and are boosted by a large and powerful fan which causes the food to become very crispy in no time, and most significantly, with a minimal amount of oil as opposed to the deep fried counterparts.

On top of that, air fryers are designed to heat up rapidly and in turn they cook food quickly and evenly, owing to the combination of a concentrated heat source along with the size and placement of the blower.

Another aspect of air frying, is the clean-up part. The majority of air fryer baskets and racks are dishwasher safe which is a boost for the busy and harried housewife.

For the ones that are not dishwasher friendly, a good dish brush is the answer, one that ensures that it will get into all the nooks and crannies that allow the air to freely circulate.

What is the difference between an air fryer and a deep fryer?

This is a leading question which many people ask me and the answer is simple; air fryers bake food at a high temperature with a high powered fan, while deep fryers cook food in a vat of oil that has been heated to a specific temperature. 

At the same time both cook food quickly but an air fryer does not require preheat time, while a deep fryer can take upwards of 10 minutes to reach the desired temperature of use.

Food comes out crispy and juicy in both appliances, but doesn’t taste the same, usually because deep fried foods are coated in batter that cook differently in an air fryer vs a deep fryer.

Battered foods needs to be sprayed with oil before cooking in an air fryer to help them color and get crispy, while the hot oil soaks into the batter in a deep fryer.

Flour-based batters and wet batters don’t cook well in an air fryer, but they come out very well in a deep fryer.

The results are as good as the deep fryer. Photos | Courtesy.

Last but not least, in our view perhaps best of all, the air fryer virtually requires little or no oil vs deep fryers which use a great amount of oil to absorb into the food. We would be remiss in not mentioning another advantage of air frying being the cleanup process. The majority of air fryer baskets and racks are fully dishwasher safe while those which are not we suggest using a green scalding pad or a brush with nylon bristles.

Is air fried food healthy?

The taste and texture of air fried food is comparable to the results of a deep fryer: Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. However, you only need to use a tiny amount of oil, if any at all (depending on what you’re cooking).

So yes, compared to deep-frying, air frying is “definitely a healthier alternative if you commit to using just 1-2 tablespoons of a plant-based oil with seasoning, and you stick to air-frying veggies more than anything else,” says Dr. Paul Kasenene, a medical doctor and nutrition expert, “Any appliance that helps you and your family up your veggie game is key to weight management, reduced risk of chronic disease, and improved long-term health as we age.”

What can you cook in an air fryer?

Air fryers are fast, and once you understand how they work, they can be used to heat frozen foods or cook all sorts of fresh food such as chicken, steak, pork chops, fish fillet and veggies. Most meats require no added oil because they’re already so juicy: just season them with salt and garlic and your favorite herbs and spices. Make sure you stick to dry seasonings — less moisture leads to crispier results. If you want to baste meats with barbecue sauce or honey, wait until the last couple minutes of cooking before adding.

Lean cuts of meat, or foods with little or no fat, require oil to brown and crisp up. Brush boneless chicken breasts and pork chops with a bit of oil before seasoning. Vegetable oil or canola oil is usually recommended due to its higher smoke point, meaning it can stand up to the high heat in an air fryer.

Vegetables also need to be tossed in oil before air frying. We recommend sprinkling them with salt before air frying, but use a little less than you’re used to: The crispy, air fried bits pack a lot of flavor. We love air frying broccoli or cauliflower florets, Brussels sprouts and baby potato halves. They come out so crispy! Butternut squash, sweet potatoes and beets all seem to get sweeter, and green beans and peppers take no time at all.

Are air fryers worth buying?

First off, consider whether you’re in the market for another appliance. Many toaster ovens have air frying capabilities, like the Cuisinart TOA-65 and the Breville Smart Oven Air. Not forgetting the pressure cookers like the Ninja Foodie.

If you do decide to spring for an air fryer, consider that stand alone air fryers range in price from $40, for small compact ones, to $400 for large air fryer toaster ovens.  When shopping for an air fryer, consider how many people you’re cooking for: The smallest air fryers (1.2 liters) are good for 1-2 people, while the medium sizes (3-4 liters) are good for 2-3 people, and the largest (6 liters or more) are good for 4-6. We prefer air fryers with baskets instead of shelves because they cook more evenly.