In recent years, we’ve seen a growing focus on clean eating, and a healthier lifestyle seems to be on everyone’s mind. As a result, appliances like air fryers have seen an exploding demand among consumers – everyone seems to either have one or is at least considering buying one. But how exactly does an air fryer work, and does it really recreate the taste and crunch of fried food? Let’s take a closer look at this hot trend and how it works:
What Exactly is an Air Fryer?
Simply put, an air fryer is an appliance that uses heated air and little to no oil to recreate the texture and flavor of deep-fried foods, but without the extra calories and fat. Initially patented by Philips, there are now several brands that offer air fryers in the market with various features and in a range of prices.
How Does It Work?
Air fryers rapidly heat up the air and circulate it around the food to do all the cooking. The top portion of the appliance houses the fan and the heating apparatus. The food items are placed in a frying style basket which is fitted below. When we switch the fryer on, the air inside is heated as high as 230 degrees and is rapidly circulates down to the food basket repeatedly.
When this happens, the outer layer of the food gets evenly crisped nice and brown, while the inner portion still retains its moisture and chewiness. This is how the air fryer is able to mimic the crispy outer layer of deep-fried food without drying out what’s inside.
What Type Of Foods Can I Cook In An Air Fryer?
Contrary to popular perception, you can actually cook way more than french fries in an air fryer. They’re quite versatile and allow you to cook a variety of food items. You can cook anything from fish, vegetables, chicken nuggets, chicken breast, sausages, bacon, toasted bread, muffins, and even pies in an air fryer.
The newer available models also come with a range of features that let you customize your cooking process even further. Temperature customization lets you set the exact temperature at which you’d like your food to cook. Some models come with pre-set cooking modes for dehydrating, baking, roasting and even baking. Some variants come with extra attachments such as an egg poacher tray that allow you to get more out of the product.
What Type of Food Cannot Be Cooked In An Air Fryer?
While air fryers are quite versatile, they still have some limitations. For example, you cannot prepare foods that require a liquid batter unless it is fully frozen. Secondly, very large batches of foods may be difficult to accommodate in one go. This is because there is limited and compact space in a fryer basket.
Benefits of An Air Fryer
Getting an air fryer can supplement an already healthy lifestyle in many ways. Here are a few of the ways in which it can be beneficial:
- Healthier Food: Air fried foods are known to have up to 70 to 80% fewer calories than deep-fried food. This can significantly reduce your excess calorie intake, and lead to a fitter physique over time if done along with exercise and healthy eating habits.
- Fried-Like Crunch: Air-fried foods allow you to enjoy almost the same texture, flavor, and crunch as deep-fried foods, without the health risks that are linked to fatty fried foods. Many studies have linked the regular consumption of fried foods with heart diseases, diabetes, and even certain types of cancers.
- Easy To Use: Air fryers are very easy and intuitive to use. All you have to do is place the desired food items in the fryer basket and set the duration and temperature. After that, all the cooking is carried out by the fryer, without needing any tossing or turning of the foods, unlike in conventional cooking where you may have to stand over the stove at all times.
Can You Cook Without Oil In Air Fryer?
Yes, your food will turn out just as crispy and brown without needing any coating of oil in an air fryer. However, for more delicate dishes like fish fillet, it may be a good idea to very lightly brush a coat or two of oil before cooking. This is to ensure that the food doesn’t get stuck on the fryer basket’s metal grill.
Points to Consider
Even though air fryers have all the makings of a sensible addition to your kitchen, there are a few things you should keep in mind before buying one:
- Even though air fryers can help you eat healthier, getting one does not automatically mean that you are eating healthy. It is important to include a healthy mix of all major food groups like vegetables, whole grains, meats, dairy, and nuts to ensure that you have a balanced and nutritious diet.
- Air fryers come in a wide range of prices, features, and added attachments. It’s important to pick one that works for your budget needs. You may not need to buy the most complex or expensive option in the market if a simpler variant can perfectly serve your purpose.
- Air fryers are not exactly small appliances and may need a decent amount of space on your countertop. Do consider that when deciding which size you should go for.
Air fryers are a great way to enjoy that satisfying crunch and flavor of deep-fried foods, minus the unhealthiness. They’re intuitive and easy to use and can be used to cook a variety of meats, vegetables, and dishes. There’s a wide range of options available in the market, and it’s important to go for one with features that work for your needs and your budget. When supplemented by regular exercise and a wholesome diet, air fryers can be a great hack to ‘cheat’ on those tasty fried foods, without actually cheating!
Hello there, my name is Tracey Allen from New York. I am a cooking enthusiast and a restaurant industry veteran. I have been spreading my passion for air fryers and simplified cooking with colleagues and friends for close to a decade. If you have any questions about air fryers, air cooking or healthy cooking feel free to contact me on the contact page.