What is an air fryer?
An air fryer is like a small countertop version of your convection oven. Because of its small size, it heats up faster, reducing energy usage – and cooking time! The appliance has both a heating mechanism and a fan, so when you place foods in the air fryer basket, hot air is able to circulate around the food. This results in deliciously crispy food with a minimal amount of oil. And to top it off, the baskets of some brands are dishwasher safe, which makes cleaning a breeze!
What you can cook in an air fryer
Air fryers can be used to cook various types of foods, fresh or frozen. To cook lean meats, you only need a small amount of oil and some seasoning. Within a few minutes, you‘ll have chicken breasts, steaks, or chops that are moist and juicy!
Other foods you can make include meatballs, spring rolls, fish, frozen bread dough, frozen pastries, seafood, and so much more! You can even bake cakes, by placing your pan with cake batter inside the air fryer. If you want to bake cookies, simply line the basket with foil, and carefully place the rolled dough inside the air fryer.
…and what you can’t
Because the cooking vessel is basically a basket, you can’t cook anything liquid. You can avoid this issue by freezing it first, or placing the batter inside a pan, and then add the pan to the air fryer basket. You will need to experiment with vegetables, as some veggies tend to go soggy (Brussels sprouts being a delicious exception).
Anything cheesy would also be disastrous…as soon as the air fryer heats up, the cheese will start to melt, creating a mess within the machine. Finally, if you are regularly making food for a large family, the air fryer might not be the way to go. Even the larger machines can only cook a limited amount of food. In that case, you’d be better off using a conventional oven.
What to consider when buying one
Today, there are several types of air fryers on the market. You will first need to decide what size you should purchase. If you live by yourself, or in a household of only two people, then a smaller 3 to 5 quarts sized air fryer would do the job. If you are a family of four, however, you might need a bigger size.
You would also need enough counter space. The appliance is larger than a toaster, so it takes up considerable space on the counter top. This is not an issue if you use your air fryer several times a week, but if you only use it once a month, you might not want to give up your kitchen space. The perks of using an air fryer would definitely be the health benefits. When compared to deep fried foods, an air fryer uses less than a third of the amount of oil.
Make sure the type of air fryer you purchase has dishwasher-safe parts. You can imagine the mess fried food crumbs can make! And if you’re investing in such a pricey item, you want to make it worth your while!
What have you cooked in an air fryer before? Tell us in the comments below!