Many people are trying to incorporate healthier cooking habits these days by switching to foods and appliances that are healthier than what we have used in the past. The air fryer is a good example of that. It has become such a popular item that most department stores carry them in the kitchen section, when before you could only find them in gourmet cooking stores. But if you’re new to air frying, you might not know very much about them, what benefits they offer and how to get the best one for the money. This buying guide will be able to guide you in selection your first machine.
What is an Air Fryer?
You probably know what it is already, especially if you are considering buying one. But not everyone does because they aren’t so common that everyone has one yet. An air fryer is a new technology that allows you to roast, grill or fry food without very much oil or grease, which means that you cut out an incredible amount of the bad stuff that comes with the fried food taste we love here in America, while still getting the same end result.
Basically, it works by circulating hot air to heat currents and fry the food, cooking the outside crispy and leaving the inside moist. An air fryer can eliminate up to 80% of fat in some of your favorite foods. In fact, many culinary experts call the it an innovation equal to the invention of the microwave in the 1970’s.
The first question that people ask when they hear about one for the first time is whether the food tastes differently, and how it contends with the deep-fat fryers that they are used to using. The truth is, air fried food tastes a little different, but before you click away – many fried-food lovers who taste air fried food for the first time actually prefer the taste. It actually tastes better in most cases than grease-laden, deep-fat fried foods.
There are some other benefits as well. You have likely already figured out that air fried food is a great deal healthier for you than foods fried in grease and fat, but you also don’t have the grease that clings to your French fries, tater tots and fried chicken and drips coats your fingers so that you have to keep a paper towel handy. You also don’t get the smell of grease lingering in your home like a houseguest that stays long past his welcome. Also, air frying food is easier than grease frying. Finally, the air fryers heat up much faster than deep-fat fryers although admittedly they do take longer to cook food – about 25 minutes on average. That’s about half the time it takes to bake a casserole anyway.
Ways to Use an Air Fryer
There are a number of ways that you can use one. Most of the foods that you loved cooked in grease can be fried in one, but there are more ways than you probably know that a hot air fryer can be used.
One of the benefits of doing your grilling in the air fryer is that you don’t have to keep watch on your foods and flip them over so that both sides get heated evenly. With one of these babies, you just shake to pan to get the food to relocate a little. Most of the time, it will come with an accessory to grill food, either a layer or a pan, each with a handle, so that you can easily put food in and take food out.
Believe it or not, you can even bake in a fryer. Most models come with a baking pan that will allow you to make all of your favorite foods. Some models do not come with the baking pan and you will have to buy one that fits (usually from the manufacturer). The baking time in an air fryer is 15-30 minutes.
You can use these things to roast food as well! From roast beef to vegetables and everything in between, you can prepare your favorite roasted foods with the airfryer. A slow cooker is, by definition, slow and takes all day. Your oven takes quite a long time as well, but the air fryer will cook food up to 25% faster than your conventional oven.
Obviously, the fourth way that you can use an air fryer is to fry. No oil is needed, but if you want some you can add it to your food before you fry it. Never put oil inside of the pan. Oils that can be used with an air fryer include canola, sunflower, peanut and olive oil.
The type of foods that you can cook with these machines is wide and varied. Basically, anything that you can fry with a deep-fat fryer, you can use with an air fryer and that includes foods that are covered with bread crumbs or flour, like fried (or un-fried in this case) chicken. The only thing that you cannot use one for is vegetables that can be steamed like carrots and beans, as well as anything that you are frying in a batter.
What are the Best Brands to Buy?
There are so many brands out there that it can be impossible to shop by brand, particularly since what you should be concerned about is the next section – what factors to consider when buying. But brands that are consistently rated high in air fryers include Phillips, GoWISE, Ivation, Big Boss and Homeleader.
Things to Consider When Buying an Air Fryer
When you know what to look for, it can make the process of buying an air fryer much easier. Here are the factors you should be considering:
Capacity: You want to be able to put enough food to feed your family in the fryer, and not have to cook a little bit at a time. What capacity you need will be determined by how many people you are cooking for.
Size: Size is also a consideration because some models take up a great deal of space. If you have a huge kitchen you probably don’t need to worry, but you might need to go smaller if you live in a tiny apartment.
Settings: What temperature can the fryer reach, and does it incorporate a time are two examples of settings you should keep in mind.
Features: Other features like the ability to change the levels in the baskets to cook different types of food and other features should be weighed when you are considering which one to buy.
Cost: Cost is also obviously something to consider. The starting price range for an air fryer is about $80 and a high range one will cost you $250-$300.