What is an air fryer? This is a question many consumers are still asking. The name can be misleading, as this handy device does much more than fry up diet-busting treats. It roasts, grills, fries, and even BAKES!
We’re here to demystify the inner workings and results of this handy kitchen appliance.
Below, you’ll learn how the air fryer uses convection currents to cook your foods, examine comparisons to similar kitchen products, discover amazing uses for this device, and more.
Our Favorite Air Fryer Picks
How Does an Air Fryer Work?
Air fryers simulate the traditional frying of foods by circulating hot air around food rather than submerging the food in oil. As with frying, properly prepared foods are crispy, juicy, golden brown, and flavorful.
Air fryers work due to the Maillard reaction, a scientific principle which refers to what we usually call “browning.” A Maillard reaction occurs when the surface of a food item forms a crust due to dehydration, and the intense heat breaks down proteins, starches, and fibers. That is what gives fried, roasted, and baked foods their delicious, complex flavors.
An air fryer is a convection oven in miniature – a compact cylindrical countertop convection oven, to be exact (try saying that three times fast).
Basically, convection is the tendency of gases (or liquids) to move past each other when heated. Hot air rises, for example, simultaneously forcing cooler air to sink. Convection influences the weather; it is even at work in the molten rock that causes volcanic eruptions. But what, you may ask, does this have to do with your kitchen appliances?
Air fryers employ convection to rapidly and efficiently cook crisp foods. A heating element within the air fryer super-heats the air, producing natural convection currents. A fan within the appliance aids in air movement, circulating it even more rapidly. Perforations or holes in the cooking basket allow the hot air to flow freely around the food. This air movement increases heat transfer from the air to the food. Thus, your dinner gets done faster.
Is Air Fried Food Healthy?
Does an Air Fryer Use Radiation?
No. Unlike microwave ovens, which use a form of electromagnetic radiation called microwaves to excite water molecules, thus heating the food due to friction, air fryers do not use any form of radiation. Instead, air fryers employ a heating element similar to that found on any oven, toaster, or stovetop. The heating element works by converting an electrical current into heat.
Do Air Fryers Really Work?
We’ve already discussed how air fryers work. Now, you want to know, do they work, that is, do they work as shown on television commercials? Can they prepare crispy, amazing foods as advertised? Are air fryers worth the hype?
When used as designed and with quality recipes, air fryers do work. You can make crispy French fries, juicy roasted poultry, air fried veggies, and more. You may wish to consult our air fryer cooking charts to learn the best temperature at which to cook your favorite foods, and for how long.
What is the Benefit of an Air Fryer?
Consider the following reasons why an air fryer might be right for you:
Everyone loves the taste of deep-fried foods, but many people must avoid these for health reasons. If you’re looking to lower cholesterol or lose weight, your doctor may thank you for using an air fryer. Air fryers use around 75 percent less oil than deep fryers, providing a healthy alternative without sacrificing flavor.
Speed of Cooking
The air fryer’s small convection oven preheats and cooks more quickly than a conventional oven. You’ll have tasty meals in haste, with less wait!
Have you “gone green?” Cooking with an air fryer can help. Most air fryers are energy efficient, and shorter cook times translate to less overall power usage.
Simple and Easy
Air fryers utilize simple controls, typically two knobs for cook time and temperature, or an easy to read digital display. You simply toss the food in oil (if desired), place it in the basket, and the air fryer does the rest.
Clean Up Is a Breeze
The baskets and pans of most air fryers are dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. Also, the enclosed nature of the air fryer prevents the splatters and spills associated with deep frying and pan frying.
Lacking the large oil vats of traditional deep fryers, air fryers eliminate the risk of serious burns from spilled oil. Also, air fryers are designed so that the exterior does not become dangerously hot to the touch.
Do You Put Oil in an Air Fryer?
An air fryer can prepare foods that would normally go in a deep fryer. Spraying foods like fries or onion rings with oil allows the intense circulating heat of the machine to cook a crisp exterior and tender interior. Most recipes only call for about 1 tablespoon of oil, which is best applied with a mister.
Fatty foods, like bacon, won’t need you to add any oil. Leaner meats, however, will need some oiling to keep them from sticking to the pan.
Is Airfryer better than oven?
Do Air Fryers Work Better Than an Oven?
While air fryers and convection ovens both employ the science of convection, they have distinct differences in function and design. Both appliances may reduce cooking times due to fan-circulated, heated air.
Countertop convection ovens are generally larger than air fryers. They are designed for larger batch cooking, while air fryers typically handle two to six servings at a time.
Air fryers are easier to clean due to dishwasher safe parts and are very versatile when used with accessories.
What Can You Cook With an Air Fryer?
- French fries, tater tots, onion rings, and homemade potato chips
- Baked potatoes
- Grilled cheese sandwiches
- Roasted vegetables
- Corn on the cob
- Single-serve pizza
- Egg rolls, spring rolls, and crab rangoon
- Donut holes
Steak? Yes, you read that right. You can cook juicy, tender steaks in an air fryer. Pizza? Well, a whole frozen pizza won’t fit, but you can reheat leftovers like a champ, or make your own small, single serving pizzas using pita or naan bread.
As you can see, the possibilities are almost endless. If you can cook it at home, you’ll most likely be able to cook it in your air fryer.
Many air fryers can even accommodate the size of a whole chicken. For chickens that are five pounds and up, you’ll need at least a 5.8 quart or larger air fryer.
Does an Air Fryer Cook Foods Faster?
The short answer is yes, an air fryer cooks most dishes faster than would a conventional oven. In fact, many recipes take 20 to 50 percent less time in an air fryer. Why?
Air fryers utilize fan-assisted convection currents to increase heat transfer to the food being cooked. That means that heat from the air enters the food more rapidly than it would in a conventional oven. The appliance is also designed to minimize outside heat loss, making it very efficient.
How Much Does An Air Fryer Cost?
Air fryers are available to fit nearly every budget.
Small air fryers range in price from $59.00 to $129.00 – sometimes even less.
Larger air fryers cost between $89.00 and $299.00.
What Brand of Air Fryer is Good?
Philips released the consumer basket air fryer in 2010. It is still considered one of the best air fryers on the market.
NuWave, GoWise USA, and Cooks Essential each produce affordable air fryers with a variety of options, including digital or manual controls.
T-fal released the first ever consumer air fryer – a paddle style model – in 2006.
Tristar is the original “As seen on TV” air fryer, the producers of the Power Air Fryer XL & Power AirFryer Oven.