Air fryers are a relatively new technology. Introduced in 2005 for commercial kitchens, they quickly found a consumer market. Cooks love how they mimic the taste and consistency of deep-frying without the calories and oil, with less time and mess, all while being very energy-efficient. But are air fryers worth it? If you’re considering an air fryer, this article covers what you need to know to make a good decision on buying one.
How do air fryers work? Understanding the technology is the key to grasping the benefits of air fryers. They use hot air instead of hot oil to cook. A fan circulates superheated air around food in a sealed cooking chamber. It seals in moisture and flavor within a crunchy, golden crust, similar to frying. If the choice is deep fryer vs. air fryer, remember that air fryers cook food without saturating it with oil. They also cook faster and use less energy.
Air fryer benefits are many. Besides taste, convenience and health benefits, air fryers use less energy and throw off less heat.
When it comes to speed, air fryers win. Unlike a conventional oven that has to be preheated or deep fryers that need to heat oil before you can start cooking, air fryers go from room temperature to hundreds of degrees in mere minutes. Your oven is just getting hot in 20 minutes, while your meal is done and ready to eat in an air fryer. You use less energy because it’s on for less time before your meal is ready.
Are air fryers healthy? Traditional frying douses your food in high-fat oil that soaks in while you’re cooking. Deep-frying chicken requires three or four cups of oil, while air-frying takes just a tablespoon.
High-fat foods are linked to chronic life-threatening diseases. Higher calorie counts lead to an unhealthy body weight. Plus, cooking in fat at high heat can release chemicals, like acrylamide, that have been linked to cancer. Air-frying healthy alternatives to deep-fried classics can help keep you out of your doctor’s office.
Frying using traditional methods throws grease particles into the air that build up on kitchen surfaces in a sticky mess. You also have grease-covered cooking utensils to clean, not to mention disposing of the used oil. With an air fryer, you can just pop the basket and pan in the dishwasher. Many are coated with a nonstick coating to make washing even more effortless.
Do air fryers use a lot of electricity? The quick answer is no. Compared to an oven or boiling oil on a stove, air fryers are real power misers. Energy efficiency is one of the major benefits of air fryers.
Air fryers do more than mimic fried cooking. You can use one to reheat leftovers, thaw frozen food, bake, broil, roast and mimic stir-frying. Some brands of air fryers come with accessories that allow you to cook multiple items at once or speed grill foods. You can find a ton of recipes that take your air fryer in many different directions than mere frying.
On hot days, even with the air conditioner on, cooking the conventional way can be unbearably hot. An air fryer uses a sealed cooking compartment, so it emits less heat. And because it cooks fast, it isn’t cranking heat out into your kitchen for hours, driving up your indoor air temperature and making your HVAC work extra hard.
A key benefit of air fryers is that they don’t use very much electricity. First of all, they don’t draw a lot of wattage. And second, because they don’t emit much heat, the energy they do use is efficiently focused on cooking, not heating the room.
And third, they cook fast, meaning they’re not on and using power as long as other kinds of cookers. A study covered in Yale Environment Review reports that cooking accounts for 20% of home energy use. You can calculate how much energy your appliances are using and customize the calculations based on what you cook and how you cook with this appliance energy calculator.
When comparing air fryer vs. convection oven, the technology seems similar, but the differences are significant. Both use fans and superheated air, but in different ways. The air fryer holds food in a basket so hot air is more evenly circulated. It uses a higher-speed fan, which speeds up cooking. If you’re looking for a close-to-fried result, the air fryer is the better choice.
There’s nothing quite like deep-fried chicken or homemade doughnuts. If you don’t want the calories or mess, an air fryer can be a good alternative. You get the same succulent meat or French fry with crispy crust — with none of the greasy fat.
Some people say air fryers don’t do well with food coated in spices or batter because the internal fan blows the coatings off. Still, considering the taste and health benefits, air fryers are a good substitute for deep fryers.
Ovens are old, even ancient technology. They have worked for thousands of years turning out delicious meals. The newcomer with less than 20 years on the market is the air fryer. Interest in air fryers continues to grow, however, because of the significant benefits over ovens. They cook faster, healthier and more efficiently.
Because of how air fryers work, foods are cooked quickly, so nutrients in the foods tend to be retained. Add in their small size and easy cleanup, and their popularity is understandable.
When considering an air fryer vs. Instant Pot®, there are more differences than similarities. While both are energy-efficient and healthy ways to cook, the resemblance ends there. Instant Pots use liquids to cook food; how air fryers work is by using hot air. An Instant Pot can take hours to cook, whereas air fryers are done in minutes. Both are useful appliances; they just work in very different ways.
Air fryers are a good choice if you have a small kitchen. They pack a lot of utility into a small package. If you’re time-crunched but health-conscious, air-frying healthy meals is a great option. They tend to have smallish capacities, so most are suitable for singles, couples and small families. Given the relatively low price, if you love the taste of fried food, an air fryer can be a real value.
To get the most from your air fryer, consider the factors important to you. Think about the kinds of food you like to cook and eat, and how many people you’re feeding. Are speed and convenience factors? If space is an issue, air fryers are a super option, taking up as much counter space as a coffee maker. To make an air fryer a worthwhile purchase and to get the benefits of low air fryer electric consumption, you need to use it instead of your oven and stove-top on a frequent and regular basis.
Now that you know the benefits of air fryers and how they work, it’s clear that an air-fryer can be a valuable appliance in your kitchen. From frying foods quickly to cooking healthier foods overall, you can use air fryers to cook your way to delicious food while saving energy.
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