Air fryers are taking the home cooking world by storm. But is it just a fad or are air fryers here to stay?
Air fryers are popular because they promise that holy grail of home cooking: healthy junk food. Or at least, food that has the crispy texture and taste of fried food.
But can they keep that promise? Well, actually yes (to an extent).
The first thing to know about air fryers is that they don’t actually fry anything. An air fryer is essentially a countertop oven that uses hot air to cook food. Basically, that means they can cook things quite quickly at low temperatures, similarly to how a fan-assisted oven can slash minutes off your cooking.
The cooking isn’t always entirely oil free – some recipes call for coating or tossing your ingredients in oil first – but cooking something in an air fryer will require significantly less oil than frying or roasting it will. French fries cooked in an air fryer, for example, contain up to 3 times less fat than those that have been deep-fried.
But the amount of fat isn’t the only reason to use an air fryer. Even when using oil in air-fryer cooking, crucially, the oil will remain far from reaching its smoke point. That means the oil doesn’t become more toxic with the heat, remaining at a stable heat that doesn’t create trans fats.
So yes, air frying is healthier. But what else do you need to know before splashing out on your own air fryer?
Essentially, using an air fryer requires just 3 simple steps:
Place your food in the air fryer basket.
Set the temperature and the amount of time you want the food to cook for.
Let the food cook.
For the most part, this is slower than frying something in a pan, but quicker than cooking it in an oven. One thing to note – and an important thing to consider when buying an air fryer – is the capacity of the cooking basket. Food needs to be spread out in order to allow the hot air to circulate, so one downside to air fryers is that they can’t cook very much food relative to their size. At least, they tend to look like they should be able to cook more to the uninitiated.
And the results? Well, if you ask us, the recipes we’ll be sharing down below are all pretty damn delicious. Taste is subjective of course, and a large part depends on what exactly you’re trying to cook, not to mention the quality of your air fryer.
Air frying isn’t for everyone, but nor is greasy food. And even if you don’t think food tastes quite as good fresh from the air fryer as from the deep fryer, air fryers do have one huge advantage going for them. They make cooking food that’s both healthy and delicious extraordinarily easy.
Delish also has a great recipe for air fryer steak here. Admittedly it takes quite a bit longer to cook steak in the air fryer than in the pan, but it’s no more work, no less tender, and tastes just as good.
It might be a bit optimistic to think fish and chips can ever be good for you, but they can at least be healthier than usual, thanks to this air fryer fish and chips recipe from Taste of Home (just try not to be put off by their insistence on calling it 'fish and fries'). Alternatively, head over to Skinny Taste and try Gina Homolka’s recipe for 'healthy' fries here. Or try her eggplant stick recipe instead, as a delicious potato fry alternative.
While we’re on the healthy options, what about Brussels sprouts? Surely we all know by now that they can actually taste good when roasted in the oven rather than boiled in hot water, but what about in the air fryer? Yep, you guessed it – they’re just as good. Click here to get the air fryer Brussels sprouts recipe from Delish.
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