Air fryers have become a very popular kitchen appliance, especially in the last few years. With all the other appliances on the market, do air fryers really live up to the hype? We think they do! Here are the benefits of cooking with an air fryer.
What is an air fryer?
An air fryer is a miniature version of a convection oven that you can set on your countertop. Air fryers simulate deep frying without submerging the food in oil. A fan circulates hot air around the food, producing a convection effect, that cooks, browns, and crisps food quickly using little to no oil.
How does an air fryer work?
Air fryers function like a countertop version of a convection oven. They don’t fry foods the same way deep frying or pan frying does. An air fryer is an electric appliance that has a heating element that super-heats the air within the fryer, which produces natural convection currents. The air fryer’s fan forces the hot air to circulate rapidly and distribute the heat evenly around the food placed within the air fryer’s basket. Cooking food at high temperatures makes it cook faster and come out crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside as if it were deep fried.
Types of air fryers
There are two primary types of air fryers. The conventional design, which has a drawerlike basket that you place food inside to cook, and a newer design, that has a tray or rack that you place food on. The primary difference between the two designs is that the tray design allows you to monitor the food as it cooks through the viewing window. The tray design can also have multiple racks, which will allow you to cook a full meal, (meat, vegetable, and sides) simultaneously.
What to cook in an air fryer?
You can cook just about anything in an air fryer. Air fryers can cook proteins like chicken, steak, pork chops, and fish. They are also great for cooking vegetables, French fries, and some desserts. There are cookbooks written specifically for air fryers, but many recipes can be found online, such as: 23 Essential Air Fryer Recipes, 75 Air Fryer Recipes You Have To Try, and 65 Easy Air Fryer Dinner Recipes.
What not to cook in an air fryer?
Foods dipped in a liquid batter such as onion rings or fried chicken cannot be cooked in an air fryer, as the batter will drip through the holes in the basket. You also cannot cook doughy foods like doughnuts.
Air fryers and oils
Air fryers still require small amounts of oil when cooking most foods. Try using different oils to boost the flavors of the foods you cook. You can use avocado oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, and vegetable oil in your air fryer. Be aware of the smoking point of the oil you choose to use because that will limit the temperature at which you can cook without burning or smoking the oil.
The benefits of cooking with an air fryer
Most air fryers do not require preheating, which will save you preparation time. They also cook foods quickly, many recipes taking 20-50% less time to cook than other methods. Air fryers will not heat up your kitchen the way an oven does. They use around 75% less oil than deep fryers, so you get to enjoy healthier food without sacrificing flavor. They are also simple and easy to use, and cleanup is a breeze as most baskets and pans are dishwasher safe.
Tips for using air fryers
Make sure there is nothing behind your air fryer that is blocking the flow of air. Preheating the air fryer will allow for better distribution of the heat to ensure that the food cooks evenly. If food particles are smaller than the holes in the fryer basket, they will fall through and burn at the bottom. Some foods may need to be weighed down against the heavy air flow or need to be held together using toothpicks. Food needs to be turned over, flipped, or shaken at least once while cooking. Use tongs to remove hot food from the frying basket.
Air fryer safety tips
It is important to thoroughly clean your air fryer after every use. Always use a kitchen thermometer to check the internal temperature of your food. Prevent foodborne illnesses by cooking your food thoroughly. Read the appliance manual before use to ensure food safety. For a chart of safe minimum internal cooking temperatures, click here.
Cleaning your air fryer
Wash the basket, tray, or pan after every use. Most are dishwasher safe, or you can wash them in warm, soapy water. Pieces that have baked-on grease need to be soaked in hot, soapy water and then washed once the grease is softened. Never use medal utensils to remove crumbs or baked-on grease. Wipe down the interior of the air fryer with a damp cloth or sponge and then wipe it dry. Use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe down the exterior of the air fryer after every couple of uses.
Air Cookers. (n.d.). What is an Air Fryer? Retrieved from: https://www.aircookers.com/what-is-an-air-fryer/
Mississippi State University Extension. (2021). All About Air Fryers. Retrieved from: http://extension.msstate.edu/publications/all-about-air-fryers
Stetzel, Sue and Teddy Nykiel. (2021, June). What Is an Air Fryer? Here’s What It Really Does to Your Food. Retrieved from: https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/what-is-an-air-fryer/
Thurrott, Stephanie. (2020, July). Air fryer guide: How air frying works and the best recipes. Retrieved from: https://www.nbcnews.com/better/lifestyle/best-air-fryers-recipes-ncna1114616
Consumer Reports. (2021, August). Air Fryer Buying Guide. Retrieved from: https://www.consumerreports.org/appliances/air-fryers/buying-guide/