What Is an Air Fryer: Pros, Cons, Uses and More

What Is an Air Fryer

Last Updated on May 4, 2021

By now, you have probably heard people talking about the popular kitchen appliance called an air fryer and how much they love cooking with them.

But what is an air fryer, and why does everyone seem to like them so much? Are they ideal for cooking different dishes? Are they more convenient than others have claimed? Should you get an air fryer or not?

This article answers these questions and covers their main benefits, disadvantages, and helpful tips you need for air fryers.

Everything You Should Know About Air Fryers

Air fryers are fairly easy to use. However, you must know their basics to make sure that you are using them to their maximum potential.

Is Air Frying the Same As Deep Frying?

While air frying makes food crispy like deep-fried food, these two cooking methods are different. Deep fryers cook food in a vat of hot oil, and a significant amount of the oil is absorbed into the food, which alters the flavour somewhat. Meanwhile, air fryers use little to no oil and rely on heat and circulating air to cook crispy food.

Deep frying food requires a preheat time upwards of 10 minutes while air fryers are ready to go almost right away. Deep-fried food can also use wet batters. It also comes with a higher fat content thanks to the excess amount of oil.

How Do Air Fryers Work?

Air fryers are essentially convection ovens that come in a smaller, more compact appliance. Just like a convection oven, an air fryer uses a heating element and a fan to circulate hot air throughout the interior and around the food. Unlike a traditional oven, which doesn’t circulate the high heat and hot air with a fan, an air fryer cooks food faster and more evenly, resulting in crisp air fried food at the end.

Air fryers often feature a digital display with preset and customizable programs for easy functionality. The programs allow you to customize the temperature of the heat and the cooking time.

Is Air Frying Food Considered Healthy?

Typically, air-fried food is lower in fat when compared to deep-fried foods making them healthier. However, that doesn’t mean everything you make in your air fryer will be healthy. Of course, it depends on what types of food you make.

Even though less oil is needed, if you are making french fries or cookies, you won’t consider them healthy. But, if you are only comparing deep-fried chicken to air-fried chicken, then yes, it will be healthier.

Air Fryer Pros: Are Air Fryers Worth Using?

Air fryers are worth using for a variety of reasons. Here are some of them:

  • They cook at rapid speeds
  • It can be good for your health
  • They have easy to use digital temperature and time control settings
  • They make crispier food than your oven is capable of making due to the circulated hot air inside
  • Can cook just about anything

Are There Any Cons Associated With Air Frying?

Nothing comes without cons. Here are the ones we found about air fryers:

  • They can be loud
  • Smaller air fryers force you to make smaller batches instead of larger family size portions
  • While they are dropping in price recently, they are not inexpensive
  • They can take up a considerable amount of counter space

Are Air Fryers Hard to Clean?

The best air fryers are typically relatively easy to clean, especially if you clean them after each use. Many air fryer models even feature dishwasher-safe internal components. Even if your air fryer doesn’t recommend putting the basket and pan in the dishwasher, they should still be pretty easy to clean with dish soap and warm water.

In general, air fryers only become difficult to clean when you allow food particles, grease, and other residues to build up in the corners and become cooked onto the interior surface.

Air Fryer FAQs

We have gathered some of the frequently asked questions about air fryers below.

What Are the Types of Air Fryers?

Most of the best air fryers come as a stand-alone appliance. However, with their growing popularity, some air fryer variations have started to appear.

Variations on the original style model include:

  • Additional interior shelves that fit into the cooking basket and pan.
  • A rotisserie fork.
  • The option to perform different cooking functions such as toasting like an oven dehydrating.

If you are short on a cabinet or countertop space, you may want to consider one of these versatile appliance options instead of an air fryer alone.

What Are the Different Air Fryer Sizes?

When determining the best air fryer for your home, you may also want to consider the capacity. Generally speaking, air fryer capacity sizes range from 2 quarts to 16 quarts on the extra-large models.

Smaller air fryer models, ranging from two to four quarts, are suitable for one to two people and are generally less expensive than larger air fryer options. Air fryers with a capacity of five to seven quarts are ideal for smaller families. Meanwhile, air fryers in the 8 to the 16-quart range are suitable for larger families and groups.

What Types of Food Can You Cook in an Air Fryer?

When it comes to air fryer recipes, the possibilities are pretty astounding. You can cook both fresh and frozen foods, as well as heat up leftovers.

As a general rule, you can alter a regular oven recipe by subtracting 25 degrees off the temperature and cooking the food for 20%.

You can also cook different food types like chicken nuggets, french fries, chips, fried chicken, cookies and other baked goods, roasted vegetables, fish, nachos, grilled cheese, s’mores, burgers, and more, all using little to no oil at all.

Many air fryers will even come with a recipe book to provide lots of inspiration for your next air-cooked meal, which is a great place to get started.

Is There Food That Should Not Be Cooked in an Air Fryer?

It was mentioned you could cook just about anything in an air fryer, but few things will not provide you with the best results.

Wetter batters can create an unnecessary mess in your air fryer. A wet batter will also drip and result in a less even cooking process. If you choose to use batters, use one that is drier, like with panko style bread crumbs, and make sure to place a piece of parchment paper beneath the battered food items to catch any drips and keep the batter as concentrated as possible.

Fatty cuts of meats may also tend to cook unevenly due to their high level of moisture. In some cases, they may even create smoke which can alter the taste and make the food inedible.

Other Air Fryer Pro Tips

  • A little bit of oil can go a long way, especially with fish and vegetables, which tend to dry out faster than others. A thin coating of oil will help to lock in flavour and moisture, so the food stays juicy and crisp but not dry.
  • Dryer food and batters are better in an air fryer. Ensure you do not put too much oil on your recipes or take longer to cook and may not cook as evenly.
  • Don’t skip the shake or flip part of the cooking process. If you do, some parts of your food will brown, but it will be highly inconsistent.
  • Don’t overfill the basket, or the food will not cook evenly and may burn in some spots.
  • Clean your air fryer every time you use it. This will make the cleaning process easier and will also help ensure your food tastes great every time.
  • While many air fryers recommend you preheat the device for several minutes, this step is often unnecessary. Due to the small interior space, it should heat up rapidly even without using a preheat function.

Could an Air Fryer Be a Good Fit For Your Family?

What is an air fryer? It is a healthy cooking method that uses less fat. You can use it for cooking different food types, from vegetables to fried chicken.

Now that you know, what will you do next?

At this point, you are probably sold on the benefits of air frying. If you don’t already own an air fryer, you are probably considering buying one. What recipe will you cook first with your air fryer? Fries? Roasted vegetables? Chicken tenders? Or will it be one of your homemade recipes? The options are nearly limitless.

Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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