Although Air Fryers have been on the market for over a decade now they are more popular right now than ever before. As you may know, I have recently published a recipe book called Air Fryer Cookbook to meet the demand for healthy and varied recipes using the Air Fryer. However, you may be wondering what the benefits of air frying are and if there are any drawbacks?
Just briefly, before we go further it’s probably a good idea to introduce the Air Fryer to those who haven’t yet heard. It’s basically a super-hot, super-powerful mini oven AND a great alternative to a deep-fat fryer. That’s because like a deep fat fryer it contains a basket and/or shelf that allows the food to be suspended, and therefore accessible to heat from all sides. That means food can get nice and crispy in there. Instead of being placed into hot oil as the food would with a deep fat fryer, the food is cooked by very hot circulating air which is similar to a convection oven.
So, how about these benefits?
1. Simple to Use
Air Fryers are incredibly easy to use. You simply set the temperature and the time you want to cook your food. Preheat the Air Fryer for 1-2 minutes then pop your food in and wait for it to cook. This way of cooking is hard to mess up.
2. Cost Savings
One thing is for sure, you won’t use anywhere near as much energy powering your air fryer as you do your oven and hob. Based on cooking a standard portion of chips/fries:
- Using an air fryer for 17 minutes will use 0.31 kWh
- Using a large regular oven for up to 1 hour will use 0.6 kWh
- Using a deep fat fryer for 14 minutes for two portions will use 0.41 KWh
It is clear to see that an Air Fryer outperforms a conventional oven by almost 50% in terms of efficiency. It also cooks the same portion size of chips/fries in almost half the time. Ref: Energy Efficiency Of Air Fryers For 2021 – (10warriors.co.uk)
3. Easy to Clean
Once you are done cooking just enjoy the meal and allow the air fryer to cool down. Remove any dishwasher-safe inserts such as the tray/s and place those in the dishwasher then take a cloth and some soapy water and clean the basket. It’s so easy.
4. No or Low Added Fat
Probably one of the most popular reasons for purchasing an Air Fryer is the ability they have to produce the best tasting non-deep-fat-fried chips/fries you’ll ever taste. This is true. Not only is it true of potato chips/fries but also of other root vegetable fries. You’ll find this machine makes the most wonderful celeriac fries and sweet potato fries for example. The amount of fat used is miniscule by comparison to that used in deep-fat fryers. Furthermore, there is evidence from a 2015 study showing that air-frying reduced acrylamide content in fried potatoes by about 90% compared with deep-fat frying. Acrylamide is a natural chemical formed when starchy foods are cooked for too long or at too high a heat – think burnt toast! It’s not proven to be carcinogenic to humans but the WHO have said it is “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
5. Quicker to preheat and cook
Air Fryers (and ovens) tend to heat up to the desired temperature and then cycle their electric use to try to maintain a set temperature. However, the internal dimensions of an Air Fryer are going to be much smaller compared to an oven therefore it doesn’t take as long to heat up to the right temperature (in fact it’s almost instant, 1 to 2 minutes at most) meaning cooking time is reduced. Even a convection oven cannot beat an Air Fryer for pre-heat times. A convection oven takes anywhere up to 10 or more minutes. This method of cooking is so much quicker. An Air Fryer cooks food up to 25% quicker than convection ovens (and produces tastier food).
Once the food is cooking it is cooking and you can do other things. You might want to check in from time to time as some machines are more powerful than others but once you’ve done that recipe once you will know how long it takes and then the whole process , once cooking, becomes completely hands-free!
The air fryer isn’t just for great tasting chips, nor is it just a smaller, faster, more efficient oven, it also can be used to bake, dehydrate, reheat and even make toast. That’s because it has a range of temperatures from very low to high. In fact, one of the most popular reasons for buying an Air Fryer is that you can get the best and most efficient cooking and reheating of previously frozen foods.
There are many reasons why Air Fryers have become so popular. Yet, are there any downsides? Well, there is some research showing that air fried oily fish may contain less omega 3 fats. There is also evidence that air frying can increase the number of inflammatory compounds. Having said that, whenever a food is cooked its composition changes and inflammatory compounds can form. Even roasting and microwaving fish for example can change its fat composition leading to inflammatory compounds. One way round this (as the same research showed) is to cook the fish in the air fryer with anti-inflammatory herbs and spices e.g. parsley, basil, turmeric or ginger
On balance, I believe an Air Fryer is a great addition to a kitchen. It encourages you to eat more varied dishes because it’s quick and easy to use. Many of us are time poor and want simple meals that taste great and that’s what the Air Fryer can help you to produce. Whether you want crispy, home-made breaded fish, or baked stone fruits this is an appliance that does make life easier. I’d love to hear from you and find out why you love yours so much?