We are not totally convinced this is going to be an established Method of Cooking - but there is a lot of talking about it - especially with the current Cost of Living issues - so we thought we should offer an explanation of what this new Method of Cooking is about
How does an Air Fryer work
Well, put simply, it’s a compact Oven with a built-in fan.
By circulating really hot air around your food at high speed using Rapid Air Technology an Air Fryer will ‘fry’ your food using a fraction of the Oil you’d normally use for Deep Frying.
Air Fryers don't actually fry.
First of all, Air Fryers don't actually fry.
Instead, the food goes into a perforated basket and the machine cooks the food by blowing hot air around it. The force of the air produces a convection effect that cooks and browns the exterior of the food in the basket.
As long as the temperature of the air reaches more than around 320°F, breaded foods like frozen Chicken Tenders or unbreaded starchy items like French Fries or Tater Tots, will in fact turn brown.
Not always ideal for larger families
Two or more drawer models allow you to cook different things at once
Models vary but you can get large capacities and more features such as Rotisserie, reheating baking and grilling functions
But they are bulky, and their capacity can be a little meagre - so not always ideal for larger families
What can I cook in an Air Fryer
Golden crispy Fish and crunchy on the outside fluffy on the inside Chips, home-made Chicken or Vegetable Nuggets ready to dip in your favourite Sauce, eat-with-your-hands Chicken Wings (made with your own special blend of Herbs and Spices), Burgers, Buffalo Cauliflower Bites, Chinese-style crispy Duck - and so much more.
You can even make Cupcakes in an Air Fryer, so dessert’s sorted too. And all without switching your oven on or using loads of Oil.
What else can I cook in an Air Fryer?
Chunky chips. Skinny chips, French fries. Sweet Potato Fries and Wedges. Vegetable Chips, anyone? The humble Chip comes in all shapes and sizes, and an Air Fryer will cook them all to perfection, with the same crisp texture and taste you’d get from Deep Frying. And with only a teaspoon of oil. You can also really up your Chip game by experimenting with flavoured Oil, like Chilli for a cheeky kick, or dust with Herbs or Spices.
As well as all the delicious food we’ve already talked about above, you can also use an Air Fryer to make Pork Chops, healthier Steaks, Salmon Fillets, and juicy Chicken Breasts. And if you enjoy pub classics like Scampi or Onion Rings, you can cook them from frozen using no oil at all.
One drawback to the Air Fryer is that you can't cook foods dipped in liquid Batter, such as Onion Rings or Fried Chicken.
The Batter will simply drip through the holes in the basket and make a big mess, nor can you cook doughy foods like Doughnuts or Beignets. So you're limited to breaded or dry-seasoned items.
You're also limited in terms of portion sizes, but we'll get into that a bit later. Towards the end of this article, we'll also discuss one particular task that Air Fryers do exceptionally well.
Pay for itself
While you’ll need to make an investment up front when you think of all the money you’d normally spend on takeaways and eating out, it could pay for itself in no time.
Do Air Fryers save electricity?
As Air Fryers cook quite quickly compared to your oven (with no preheating time) don’t have as much internal space to heat up and aren’t usually on for as long, they are generally cheaper to use than your main Oven. Good news if you’re trying to use less energy at home.
Can you put foil in an Air Fryer?
If you want to keep your Air Fryer cleaner or stop flavourful juices dripping away, the short answer is yes. But only in the basket, where it will be weighed down with the food you’re cooking, and ideally, don’t cover too many holes in the basket as that will hamper the air circulation and stop your food cooking as evenly.
Also, don’t put foil at the bottom of your Air Fryer as you don’t want it blowing around and coming into contact with the heating element. Perforated parchment paper is probably a better bet if you have to use anything at all.
How do you clean an Air Fryer?
Because you use virtually no Oil during cooking, Air Fryers are relatively easy to clean. On most models, the crisper drawer and tray can be removed and simply hand-washed in hot soapy water. To clean the base unit and control panel, wipe with a clean, damp cloth and dry thoroughly before storing.
Which Air Fryer is best for me?
Well, you need to ask yourself some questions. What’s your budget? How many people will you be cooking for? Do you want to cook two different kinds of food at once? How much space do you have? Do you need to do more than air fry?
Are Air Fryers more Healthy?
One of the main selling points of Air Fryers is that foods cooked in them are healthier than foods cooked in a Deep-Fryer, because an Air Fryer uses less Oil.
We know that all cooking Oils are pretty healthy. As long as you're not frying your foods in Vegetable Shortening or Lard, there's nothing particularly unhealthy about the Oil that goes in a Deep-Fryer.
Oil has calories
Of course, oil has calories and while calories themselves are not unhealthy, if you're looking to cut calories, using less oil might be a good idea.
Well, that depends. When cooked at the proper temperature (between 350° and 375°F), deep-fried foods actually absorb very little oil.
In other words, the amount of added calories from deep-frying is negligible. French Fries are just a high-calorie food, whether they're cooked in Oil or not.
Do Air Fryers Make Tasty Food?
What's more meaningful is whether the food cooked in an Air Fryer tastes good. If the food that goes in is tasty, it'll be tasty. But again, the issue with foods like French Fries, Chicken Wings, and Tater Tots is never that they don't taste good enough.
The issue with those foods, to the extent there is an issue, has more to do with health, as well as convenience. Deep-frying might be the best way to cook conventional fried foods, but mucking about with Oil isn't all that convenient.
Are Air Fryers Convenient?
One issue with Air Fryers is their capacity. Because they work via the principle of convection, there has to be adequate space between the individual items for the hot air to flow evenly around them.
Small batches at a time
Therefore, to get nicely browned food, you won't be able to fill up the basket. And that means cooking small batches at a time.
That's not a problem, unless you need to feed more than two people at a time.
Also, depending on the food, cooking time can approach 30 minutes per batch (with frequent shaking of the basket to ensure even cooking), so hopefully those two people aren't super hungry
The best bit - reheating previously fried foods
One task that Air Fryers seem to be well-suited for is reheating previously fried foods.
Unlike the Oven or Microwave, which will turn crispy things soggy, the hot, convection effect of an Air Fryer is just the thing to reheat crispy foods so that they stay crispy.