As a new cooking craze sweeping the nation, the air fryer is a device designed to function as a healthy, low-oil alternative to frying food – though the name is somewhat misleading, as it is not really a fryer so much as a compact convection oven. By surrounding the food placed inside with super-hot air, it cooks the food rapidly to create a crispy texture – much faster than most ovens normally can. They are extremely useful for those trying to watch their fat intake and are meant to offer a delightful alternative to baking the traditional method, as well as a safer alternative to deep frying. The one catch is how it is meant to be used. Air fryers are meant for frozen foods; frozen french fries, chicken fingers, and the like. Attempting to cook raw foods such as freshly battered chicken and whatnot will result in inconsistent cooking, with some spots completely raw and others overcooked. Pre-frozen foods will cook more evenly because it’s already been cooked, essentially calling for you to heat it up rather than cooking it from scratch.
So what else do you need to know about this machine?
When shopping for an air fryer, pricing is often something important to take into consideration. Often an air fryer will cost at least a hundred dollars, and you will get what you pay for. More expensive fryers tend to have more features than cheaper ones, and often are of higher quality. The important thing to remember is what you’re willing to pay. Do you favor interesting features and customization, or products that simply do the job? Furthermore, you will want to look into brands. Oftentimes higher-end brands such as Phillips will fetch a higher price, but will also be of a much higher quality, whereas an off-brand fryer will be much cheaper, but you get what you pay for.
A common question people ask is “Do air fryers require oil?” The answer is: Yes, they do. Although they do require significantly less, air fryers still require the food to have some oil on them in order to get the cooking process going. Of course, it does not require nearly as much as a standard fryer; the oil will cause the chemical reaction that allows for the food to reach the crispy texture you desire, while speeding up the overall cooking process. Although given a negative connotation, oil is necessary to prevent foods from sticking, allowing it to cook faster; and it will apply a small amount of flavor to the food if the right kind is used.
Oftentimes, when working with raw food especially, you will notice that it’s hot and cold spots are very sporadic. Because of this, the first thing to keep in mind is to use frozen ingredients with an air fryer. Furthermore, not all fryers are created equal. Larger ones generally cook faster than smaller ones, and the more food you add into the fryer, the longer it all will take to cook completely. If you plan on using this for every meal, a larger fryer will be more your speed, whereas for more infrequent uses, speed won’t be as important. You will also want to preheat the air fryer before beginning. Air fryers are essentially compact convection ovens, rather than actual fryers, and so they will need to be at the temperature you want prior to cooking.
Ease of Use
Air fryers are remarkably simple to use. Place the food on the rack, spray it down with oil, mix to distribute the oil evenly, and season before turning on the fryer and letting it do its work! The best part is the device’s versatility. Some devices include a timer built into the hardware that shuts off the heat automatically, while others don’t include any timer at all. Even better, some include buttons for preset settings, similar to that of a microwave. Some people will choose to “set it and forget it,” while others prefer to stick to a recipe more closely, but ultimately – it is up to you. It all depends on what you as a consumer want, and it’s very easy to work with.
What to Look For
When shopping for an air fryer, there are a few points to keep an eye out for. First and foremost, you will want to take a look at how it can be cleaned. You will want something that washes easily, ideally able to handle a dishwasher. You will also need to check reviews to make sure the paint doesn’t chip. If it does, it can get into the food which can be very dangerous. You will also want to take note of the temperatures the fryers can reach. A wider range will be more expensive, but will allow you to cook more than a lower range can.
Air fryers, while their names are misleading, are used similarly to a convection oven. The advantage of this is that they require significantly less oil to “fry” food, but with the disadvantage of it not cooking all food the same way, resulting in some being able to cook with more efficiency than others.
Generally, frozen processed food could cook just as well, albeit more slowly, in an oven as it could in the air fryer, whereas unprocessed raw foods such as raw vegetables and battered raw meat tends to not cook nearly as evenly, with some spots being underdone and others being overcooked on the same piece of food.
Furthermore, air fryers are versatile pieces of equipment, with different models having different features, from timers to different trays and racks that allow for easier cleaning and customization. Ultimately, purchasing an air fryer boils down to personal preference. Do you want something that includes tons of features and customization, or do you want something simple that just does a job and nothing more? The former will of course cost significantly more, but you will get what you pay for.