Air fryers have shot to fame in the last few years, thanks to their claim of reinventing fried foods. But what exactly is an air fryer, how do you use it and is the food cooked in an air fryer really healthy? I am going to answer all of these questions and so much more in this article below. So read on…
Air fryers are the latest ‘IT’ appliances! I mean a device that delivers perfect crispy snacks (yes, I’m talking about perfect French fries) without actually deep frying it? Now that is every foodie’s dream!
Even though air fryers seem like an expensive investment, and yet another appliance you’d need to add to your already limited counter space, it comes with its own advantages. So, if you’re on the fence about buying an air fryer, this one’s for you! In this detailed guide below, I'm going to walk you through everything you need to know about this incredible appliance to help you make an informed decision 🤗
But first things first, what exactly is an air fryer?
How an air fryer works is pretty simple. Think of air fryers like a little countertop convection oven that delivers crispy, fried food-like results by using very little oil.
It can do this with the help of a fan situated at top. This fan blows hot air all around the food in rapid circular motion, and it is what cooks the food. This rapid and circular motion of air distribution creates a similar effect as being submerged in hot oil while deep frying, and what delivers perfectly crispy results in an air fryer even though it uses hardly any oil.
Additionally, the tray or basket in an air fryer is always perforated, allowing an equal air distribution on all sides. Another major reason why your food always turns out to be perfectly crispy and cooked on all sides.
What is the difference between an air fryer and an oven?
One of the main differences between a convection oven and an air fryer is the size. Air fryers are a lot more compact than ovens, which means they require little space and easily fit on your countertops. Although, owing to its small size, an air fryer also cooks lesser quantities of food at a time as compared to an oven.
Additionally, even though both the air fryer and oven use hot air to cook food, air fryers work by rapidly circulating hot air around your food to cook it, while a convection oven uses still hot air to cook the food. This means the air fryer can cook your food a lot faster than an oven or a traditional stovetop.
How to use an air fryer?
An air fryer is a pretty versatile appliance and can be used in a few different ways. Firstly, an air fryer can be used to cook a lot of different things such as fries, chicken wings, whole chicken breasts and a bunch of frozen foods such as mozzarella sticks, samosas, french fries, etc. Additionally, an air fryer can also be used to reheat food. So if you have some leftover pizza, onion rings, biscuits, chicken nuggets, etc.
But using an air fryer does require a bit of technique and getting used to. Here are some of my best tips to help you get started -
- Avoid overcrowding the tray and make sure to place the food in a single layer. This will make sure the food is cooked evenly and prevent it from turning soggy.
- To avoid the food from burning, take the tray out and check the food for progress, after a few minutes
- This isn’t always necessary, flipping the food at least once in the middle of the cooking process will really help cook it evenly and ensure that it turns out nice and crispy.
- Air fryer gives the crispiest results when the food is dry. So make sure to pat the food dry with a clean kitchen towel to get rid of any excess moisture before popping it into the air fryer.
What are the benefits of an air fryer?
- The number one and most common reason why I love an air fryer is because it takes healthy eating to a whole new level. Cooking in an air fryer means you can cook traditionally fried foods such as fries, samosas etc, in as little as a teaspoon of oil. This makes indulging in your favourite fried snacks a guilt-free affair.
- Health reasons aside, I love how quickly I can make things in an air fryer. For example, a whole batch of this crispy sweet potato fries can be put together in 20 minutes, start to finish! This is because the air inside an air fryer is very hot and is distributed rapidly and constantly around the food, leading to a much lower cook time.
- Air fryer allows you to achieve perfectly crispy results, similar to deep frying, but by using little to no oil.
- An air fryer is also very easy to clean and maintain. Simply taking the tray out and cleaning it with regular soap and sponge is more than enough.
What are the Disadvantages of an air fryer?
While an air fryer is an incredible appliance with a lot of benefits, there are also a few disadvantages that you should be aware of:
- Limited cooking capacity. While air fryers can make great crispy snacks with little to no oil, they may not be ideal for making meals for larger families or parties. This is because air fryer baskets are small, and have limited space for cooking large quantities. In case you do want to make bigger quantities, you’d need to cook food in batches.
- Could burn food. Since air fryers cook food at such high temperatures and speed, it can lead to burnt food very easily, especially when just starting out. You may need to experiment with the timings for various foods in the beginning.
- You can’t cook everything. Even though air fryers use very little oil and make the crispiest fries, it is not possible to cook everything in it. Anything that requires a coating of batter before frying won’t turn out well in the air fry as the batter will drip out from the perforated tray or basket. This means you can’t make things like onion rings, fritters, pakodas etc. in an air fryer.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does the food stick to the air fryer tray?
Even though most air fryers have a non-stick coating, food does end up sticking to the tray sometimes. But here are some ways you can easily prevent that -
- Preheat the air fryer
- Brush a little oil on the food, especially when cooking veggies
- Lightly grease the tray
- Avoid overloading the tray
- Flip the food midway
2. Is air fryer fried food healthy?
Most definitely! The biggest advantage of cooking in an air fryer is that you need almost little to no oil. This means it majorly cuts down your calorie intake, especially when compared to deep fried foods. Also, since air fried food is not deep fried, food cooked in an air fryer contains a lot less fat than its deep fried counterparts.
3. What size air fryer is perfect for a family of 2?
A 4 quart or 3 liter size air fryer is perfect for a family of two. To give you an idea, a small size air fryer like that is perfect to cook a chicken breast along with a side of veggies. This is also the perfect size to cook snacks and reheat food. However, if you are planning to cook full meals, then you should probably consider getting a larger size.
For a family of four, I recommend a 6 quart or 5 litre air fryer. These days, most brands are launching larger capacity air fryers.
4. Is it possible to use parchment paper in an air fryer?
Yes, you can use parchment paper in an air fryer as it can withstand the high heat of an air fryer. Using parchment paper at the base also reduces cleaning time.
5. Can you use aluminium foil in an air fryer?
While aluminium foil is safe to be used inside an air fryer, it is best to avoid it when cooking acid foods like tomatoes, peppers or other citrusy foods. Instead, using parchment paper is a much safer option when cooking in an air fryer.
Do you have an Air Fryer too? Here are some beginner-friendly recipes you can start with:
- Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries that are super crispy!
- Air Fryer Brussel Sprouts (Sweet and Spicy)
- Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets
- Air Fryer Papdi
If you're looking for an Air Fryer, here's the one I use - Nutricook Air Fryer. I've been using it for a while and I absolutely love it!