One of the more popular kitchen appliances these days is the air fryer. You may have seen the mid-afternoon or late-night infomercials featuring these counter-top ovens. They seem to be able to handle just about anything from broiling to dehydrating.
You may be wondering if you should take the plunge and add one these versatile machines to your stable of kitchen gadgets. If so, here are some things to keep in mind before making your choice.
An Air Fryer Is Like a Mini Convection Oven
An air fryer doesn’t actually fry food at all, at least not in the traditional sense. Instead, an air fryer cooks by using the convection method. While cooking with a microwave, for example, can lead to undercooking or uneven cooking, the convection method helps ensure even cooking by circulating hot air around the food.
Though air fryers are a relatively new gadget, convection ovens have been around for a while. Many full-size ovens feature convection capability and people swear by it for baking and cooking foods evenly.
So, an air fryer is just a more compact version of a convection oven. And besides size, another advantage is that an air fryer gives off less heat than a standard, full-size convection oven. The heating mechanism in an air fryer may also be closer to the food, reducing cooking time for yet another benefit.
An Air Fryer Fries Without Frying
While frying in the traditional sense means submerging food into hot oil, an air fryer requires very little oil. The oil in this instance simply coats the food while the convection mechanism circulates the hot air around the food.
This means that air frying is not the same as traditional frying in terms of texture and taste. Traditional frying mainly provides flavor because the oil penetrates the food. But with air frying, oil doesn’t permeate food in the same way, so air-fried food likely won’t have the exact same texture and seasoning that traditional fried food has.
This may disappoint some people who are looking for the crunch and seasoning of traditionally fried foods. But air fryers are ideal for those who are willing to sacrifice some of that texture to make their fried foods more healthy. It’s easy to see the appeal of being able to make a batch of fried chicken or French fries with only one tablespoon of oil.
So, Which Air Fryer Should I Choose?
There are a variety of air fryers to choose from. The best- rated models include:
NuWave Brio Makes Air Frying Easy
NuWave makes the 3-quart Brio Digital Air Fryer featuring a non-stick fry pan basket. With a digital touch screen display and automatic shutoff feature, the Brio is easy to use.
Six pre-set options allow you to precisely cook specific foods like fries, steak, poultry, fish and chicken nuggets. The LCD display shows the exact temperature at which your food is being cooked and also features an automatic re-heat button.
Ninja Air Fryer Max XL is Perfect for Big Jobs in the Kitchen
Ninja offers a large capacity air fryer with their Air Fryer Max XL. The Max XL lets you to crisp, air fry, roast, bake, dehydrate and broil with up to 75% less fat than traditional frying. Its temperature range is between 105 to 450 degrees, giving even the most serious chefs the versatility to prepare virtually any type of food.
The XL comes with a large ceramic-coated nonstick basket, a broil rack and a list of recipes. Ninja actually makes several types of air fryers, but the Max XL is one of their highest-rated models.
Emeril’s Power AirFryer 360 Comes in 2 Sizes
You may remember Emeril Lagasse from his very popular cooking show and his trademark catchphrase “bam.” Now the world-famous chef lends his name to the Power AirFryer 360.
While it may look like a traditional toaster oven, the Power AirFryer 360 is as versatile as it comes, enabling you to fry, toast, bake, rotisserie, roast, slow cook and reheat. The Power AirFryer 360 comes in two sizes; the regular (with capacity suitable for a 10 lb. chicken) and the XL (with capacity just right for a 14 lb. turkey).
An air fryer may take the place of your traditional toaster or countertop microwave, potentially creating extra kitchen counter space. Although powerful, these air fryers are very affordable, ranging in cost from just over $100 to the mid $200 range.
If you’re looking for ways to expand your repertoire in the kitchen, consider a simple yet affordable air fryer.