What Is An Air Fryer?

Looking for something more convenient to aid in your everyday cooking and boom! Someone suggests getting an air fryer.  As a hearing about this kitchen appliance for the first time, the first question that comes to mind is “what is an air fryer?” – This article will attempt to answer that burning question of a soon-to-be or new owner of an air fryer.

What Is An Air Fryer?

An air fryer is a small kitchen machine that has been designed to simulate deep frying without using oil. It uses circulating hot air to cook the food, and similar to an oven, it can bake and roast. However, the significant difference is that its heating components can be found at the top, followed by a big, strong fan to circulate the hot air and produces crispy food quickly.

What Is An Air Fryer? 1
(CC BY-ND 2.0) by TheBetterDay

Whew! That sounded like a lot, right? Not to worry, the rest of this article will give you a broader understanding of what an air fryer is.

Using an Air Fryer?

An air fryer is a countertop kitchen equipment that uses convection ovens to distribute hot air or oil around the food in a bid to cook the food evenly and crispy. Countertop air fryers are fast becoming a modern kitchen appliance because of its convenience and cooking efficiency. Like an oven, food being prepared in an air fryer should be regularly rotated and stirred to ensure an even browning of the food. Most air fryer models come in a 2-liter to 6-liter capacity and usually range anywhere from $70-$200 depending on the model. It is a time-saving appliance and much faster than a deep fryer. Think of the air fryer as something in-between a toaster oven and a deep fryer, except for the gallon of oil.

Pretty much, almost anything can be cooked with an air fryer. Anything that can be cooked in an oven can be cooked in an air fryer – the air fryer is just faster. Air fryers tend always to produce foods that are crisp on the outside while keeping the inside soft. Since little or no oil is not needed, the taste of the food tends to remain fresh and light.

Features of an air fryer

● Timer and Temperature

Once turned on, the air fryer will heat up in an instant. The equipment is furnished with adjustable temperature control, which allows the user to set the temperature for each meal. When the food is ready, and the air fryer timer runs out, it will alert through its ready sound indicator. If the user does not get to the fryer on time, the air fryer will automatically switch off to prevent burning.

● Food separator

 Some air fryers come with a food separator, which helps prepare multiple meals at once without worrying about the flavors mixing. However, when using a food separator, it is highly recommended to a similar pair of foods. The reason is that the foods will be able to share the same temperature settings.

● Air filter

Air fryers have an in-built air filter that removes unwanted vapors and food odors from spreading around the house. 

● Cleaning

The parts of the air fryer are made up of non-stick material, which prevents food from sticking to places that could make it difficult to clean. Experts recommend that the parts of the equipment be soaked before washing.

How healthy are air fried foods?

Air fryers are usually a healthier alternative to deep fryers. Air frying involves eating fresh and healthy foods, especially as one does not need much oil. The extra hot distribution of heat ensures that the food is cooked beautifully without so much oil.

Pros of air fryers

  • Healthier: It is a healthier way to cook, mainly because you can use very little oil to get crunchy and crispy textured foods, which helps to cut back on fatty oils.
  • Less cleanup: There is little cleanup required and not so much splashing of oil while cooking.
  • Crisp: Due to its small cooking area and closeness of the heating area to the food, the food tends to turn out crisp.
  • Fast: The air fryer baskets are smaller, which helps in cooking the food faster.
  • Less preheating: No or less preheating is necessary compared to the deep fryer.
  • Less oil: It helps to promote weight loss and healthy eating by using less oil.
  • No overheating: It has its exhaust and cooling system, which eliminates the fear and worry of overheating.
  • Saver than deep fryers: They can be safer than deep fryers and pose a significantly low safety risk.
  • Reheating: It is perfect for reheating foods and cooking frozen foods without oil.
  • Timer: It can automatically shut off by itself when the food is ready.
  • Less grease: Using little or no oil, you avoid greasy stains on your plates and hands.
  • Less smell: The air fryer has a way of dispelling the smell of the food while cooking.
  • Less stress: It is perfect for people who have a tight and stressful work schedule and barely have time to cook and eat healthy food.
  • Reduce toxic acrylamide: Air fryers help reduce the risk of toxic acrylamide formation. Acrylamide is a compound that can be formed when frying in oil, especially during high-heat cooking methods. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, acrylamide could be linked to the development of certain cancers, although the results are still uncertain.

Cons of air fryer

  • No large portions: Cooking big servings of food cannot be done except one cooks in multiple batches, which would take up a lot of time and could be stressful.
  • Not cheap: Air fryers are not incredibly cheap.
  • Some are difficult to clean: Depending on the design and model, some can be a big headache to clean.
  • Risk of burning: There is a high risk of burnt food. The average temperature for cooking with an air fryer is 300-400 degrees. Therefore, if the person cooking loses concentration, for even a few seconds, the chances of the food getting burnt are high.
  • Can give dry results: Since little or no oil is required, the tendency for the food to turn out very dry cannot be denied. That is why one has to take extra care and be cautious when cooking crisp food.
  • Big machine: Air fryers can be massive in size, so it is imperative to ensure adequate space in the kitchen assigned for the air fryer before purchase.

What is the difference between an air fryer and a deep fryer?

  • Air Fryer is Quick to use: Even though both appliances cook food quickly, air fryers do not need preheating before being used while deep fryers require up to 10 minutes or more to preheat before use.
  • The air fryer uses multiple temperatures: Air fryers operate at a high temperature with a well-powered fan while deep fryers have to be heated up to a specific temperature.
  • Air Fryer uses Little oil: Little or no oil is required when using an air fryer, but when using a deep fryer, a considerable amount of oil is needed, absorbed into the food.
  • Air Fryer is easy to use: Air fryers are easier to operate when compared to deep fryers.
  • Air Fryer is versatile: Air fryers can cook more kinds of food than a deep fryer.

What are the best air fryers?

When choosing an air fryer, it is important to do proper research and select the one that best suits your needs, capacity, and style.

Some of the more popular types of air fryers in the market include:

● Cosori 3.7 qt. Digital Air Fryer

It is stylish, looks great, its basket is wider than most in its size group, and the non-stick basket style/ smoothness of the basket tray makes clean up easy.

● Ninja 5 qt. Digital Air fryer

 Its basket is ceramic coated, has a wonderful strong fan that helps food cook faster than other air fryers. It has been termed as the most versatile air fryer. The Ninja foodie includes air frying competences, pressure cooking, slow cooking, baking, and steaming purposes. To avoid accidents, especially when air frying and pressure cooking, it also has 14 safety functions.

● Ti luxury 5.8 qt. Digital Air Fryer

 It is a bigger air fryer used mostly for people with large families, especially when more food needs to be cooked.

● Gourmia 6 qt. Digital Air Fryer

Gives good results, and great controls, and a large basket size.

Factors to keep in mind when choosing an air fryer

There are a couple of factors to bear in mind when entering the market to shop for an air fryer. They include:

● Space

Ensure that you have or know exactly how much available bench space you have.

● Ease of Use

The controls should be simple to understand and operate.

● Cleaning

The equipment should also be easy to detach and clean the basket.

● Loading

Pay more attention to drawer-style models for convenience and safety.

● Controls

Many model temperatures can be set up to 400 degrees while some have just one temperature setting.  Most people like to have the option of a reheat button. There are two kinds of control; the dial or digital. Dial controls consist of a temperature dial and a timer dial, which pings when the timer ends. It is also not so accurate. Digital control, on the other hand, is more accurate in timing, temperature readings, and some even have pre-programmed settings.

● Functionality

Ask yourself if your model is the type that you can pause to stir, or is it the type that you would have to reset?

● Size

 Most air fryer models are built to be big enough for one or two people. A person looking to cook more and serve a more massive crowd might consider buying a large model.

● Versatility

While many air fryers are mono-use, other models double up as smart ovens or have extra features that make them useful for other things, e.g., steaming, roasting, or slow cooking.

● Budget

Your budget is also an essential factor when planning a buy air fryer. An air Fryer cost anywhere between $45 up to $800, depending on the brand, size, and features.

● Capacity

The smaller units are usually around 1 quart to 2 quarts, and medium ones are around 1.8 quarts to 2.5 quarts. The air fryers with larger capacities measure up to 5 liters and above.

● Wattage

 It is essential to check that your kitchen outlet can accommodate the watt consumption of the air fryer.  A standard air fryer naturally uses between 800 watts to 1500 watts. The more the watts of the air fryer, the higher the temperature will reach. There are air fryers with up to 1800 watts and above.

Who is an air fryer best suited for?

 An air fryer will be well suitable for:

  • Small households: Small households and people who  live alone and who enjoy frozen pre-cooked food
  • Have no oven: People who live in a caravan or campervan of home without any oven.
  • Like crispy food: People/cooks who enjoy using crispy foods to experiment

Other accessories that can be used in combination with the air fryer

Although most standard air fryers do not require additional accessories, however, if the user wants, there are a few accessories that he or she can purchase. They include:

● Grill pan

The grill pan should be one that is designed for your air fryer. The grill pan will make things like grilling meat, fish, and vegetables easier. It will also ensure the food is ready at a faster time.

● Baking dish

Certain foods must be cooked in a casserole dish. Any dish that can fit into the air fryer can be used. When using a baking dish, it should be placed in the air fryer basket. This allows for ideal airflow in the air fryer.

● Grill mat

A grill mat is used to keep the basket clean, and it is usually easier to clean than the air fryer basket. It can also serve the same purpose as the flame distributor; however, the grill mat should not be close to and not touch the heating component.

Frequently asked questions

● Can I open the air fryer while cooking?

For fryers that have their opening at the top by lifting the lid off, it is not recommended to open it while cooking. For other fryers, as long as it slides open from the side or front, it should be okay to open while cooking. Always remember to consult the manual to be sure.

● How much food can be cooked at once in an air fryer?

Most times, a ‘maximum’ sign is stated on the basket of the air fryer, which usually means they should not fill the air fryer more than 2/3 full.

● Do I have to use a particular type of oil when using an air fryer?

Not at all. There is no particular type of oil for cooking in an air fryer. Just remember to use very little oil when cooking- you do not want your meal getting unevenly cooked or messed up.

● Can aluminum foil or baking paper be used?

They can both be used as long as enough space is allowed for proper air circulation.

● What happens to the smell of the food when it is cooking?

The air fryer has a filtering option that ensures no food or cooking odor is spread to the home.

Final Remarks

What are air fryers again? Air fryers are a modern kitchen appliance that requires little or no oil in cooking. It can be seen to offer a healthier way to eat, a time saver, and can allow one to enjoy their favorite food without feeling guilty or worried about adding unnecessary weight. It is rapidly growing, and soon, it just might become essential equipment in any home.

As much as the air fryer is widely accepted and starting to grow on people, there are still some people who are still skeptical about using the product. The increasing demand for air fryers is mostly due to the awareness and constant cry for healthfulness and consumption of fried foods. Manufacturers of this helpful appliance called the air fryer, ensure that they portray the air fryer to make and enjoy fried foods without the unfavorable health effects of oil-fried foods.

Air fryers can be purchased at supermarkets or online. There a variety of brands to choose from. Besides preheating and frying, air fryers have other cooking alternatives like baking, grilling, and pan-searing. It is worthy to note and remember that as much as air fryers provide a healthier way to consume fried foods than deep fryers, it is still fried food, and people should continue to ensure they limit their fried food intake all in all as this is highly beneficial to a person’s health. For better health, people should concentrate on diets that include vegetables, fruits, and lean protein.

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