Posted by RC Willey Community on September 14, 2021
Air fryers. You might have heard about them before; they've become very popular in the last few years. As an avid home chef, I found mentions of air fryers on my favorite cooking blogs long before I made the leap to purchasing an air fryer for myself. And boy, do I wish I had done so earlier because the air fryer has revolutionized the way I cook.
One of the best things about air fryers is you don’t need to be a Michelin Star chef to use one and reap the rewards. An air fryer is a great tool to have in your kitchen whether you’re an experienced cook or a novice. Air fryers hold numerous benefits for all home chefs, from eliminating the need for additional appliances to enabling you to cook healthier meals without sacrificing flavor. Here are just a few of the benefits of air fry cooking:
1. Healthy cooking made easy (and delicious)
Are you looking for a simple way to eat healthier? So am I! And the air fryer is one tool that can help you reach that goal—without even having to give up some of your favorite “unhealthy” foods.
As its name suggests, the air fryer is designed to “fry” foods using very hot air. This means you don’t need to dunk your food in a vat of oil to get that crispy, crunchy fried finish. French fries, buffalo wings, fried chicken, potato chips, mozzarella sticks, fried pickles, and so much more can be “fried” in the air fryer with either no oil or a LOT less oil than would be used in traditional oil frying. This means you’re consuming less fat and fewer calories.
In addition, research has shown that heating cooking oils to high temperatures can make them release inflammatory compounds that can contribute to chronic disease, including cancer. With air frying, you eliminate the need for these heated oils.
Try out my favorite sweet potato fry recipe if you’re ready to see how the air fryer can fry. Believe me, you won’t miss the traditional fryer at all!
2. Less mess means less cleaning
Traditional oil frying methods are not only unhealthy, but they’re also quite messy. You end up with a pan of used oil that needs to be thrown out, and that oil has usually splattered around your kitchen a bit, too. You also have to let your home-fried french fries, potato chips, or fried chicken drain off excess oil onto a paper towel before serving.
All of that mess is nonexistent with an air fryer. Since you aren’t frying with oil, there’s no oil to throw out, no splatter to clean up, and no need to “drain” your food. If any oil, fat, or water does come off of your food while it’s cooking in the air fryer, it’s contained within the appliance and is collected on a tray or drawer for you to easily clean up. Plus, most air fryers are dishwasher safe, so you can toss the fryer basket or tray into the dishwasher for a fast, convenient clean.
3. All-in-one versatility
If you’re like me, you really enjoy your kitchen appliances. I have several that I feel I can’t live without—the air fryer being one of them. However, it’s easy to gradually acquire a few too many appliances, and pretty soon, your kitchen is cluttered with a dozen little machines that have only one function.
The air fryer, however, does so much more than only fry. Most air fryers can fry, roast (like this fan-favorite air fryer brussels sprouts recipe), toast, broil, dehydrate, bake (did you know you can bake cookies in an air fryer?!), and more. So if you’re looking at an air fryer toaster oven, get ready to get rid of your old toaster, your food dehydrator, and maybe a few other appliances that have been collecting dust under your counter. Plus, air fryers are excellent for reheating food. Are you tired of your leftover pizza getting warm but soggy in the microwave? An air fryer quickly reheats your food while keeping it crispy.
Or you can opt for a range with air frying capabilities and eliminate the need for an additional appliance altogether. Did you ever think the day would come when you could air fry chicken, vegetables, burgers, desserts, and much more right in your oven? That day has come! This makes it easy to declutter your kitchen, knowing you have all of the functionality you need in one place.
Which Type of Air Fryer Is Right for You?
All air fryers work using the same basic concept: they circulate very hot air to cook food. However, as mentioned above, there are a few different styles of air fryers. Here are the three main types of air fryers and some tips for choosing the right one for you:
Basket air fryer
The basket-style air fryer is a countertop appliance that features a drawer with a removable basket (similar to a deep fryer basket). A heating element is positioned above the drawer, and a fan blows the heated air down into the basket to cook the food. Basket air fryers, like this Ninja Digital Air Fryer, are typically cylindrical in shape. The Ninja Digital Air Fryer also has multiple functions, including dehydrate. It features a ceramic-coated basket that is both non-stick and dishwasher safe.
A basket air fryer might be right for you if you want to take up the least amount of counter space, as air fryer ovens (see below) are usually larger. Basket air fryers also heat up the space around the appliance less, making it a great option for cooking during hot weather. A basket air fryer allows you to pause the cooking part way through to shake the food, ensuring even cooking and crisping. Finally, basket air fryers are typically the least expensive style of air fryers, making it a great choice if you’re on a budget.
Air fryer oven
An air fryer oven also uses a heating element that is positioned above the food and a fan that circulates the hot air. Instead of a drawer with a fryer-style basket, however, an air fryer oven is similar to a toaster oven. It has racks that hold crisper or baking trays beneath the heating element.
Air fryer ovens typically have more functions available than basket air fryers. The Ninja Foodi Air Fryer Oven, for example, can air fry, air roast, air broil, bake, toast, and dehydrate. It also has bagel and keep warm settings. In general, air fryer ovens have greater capacities than basket air fryers, so you can cook or warm more food at once. The rack positions allow you to move your food closer to or farther from the heating element to control the cooking. In addition, you can see your food through the glass door while it cooks, which isn’t possible with basket air fryers.
Range or Wall Oven with Air Fry
Welcome to 2021: we now have ranges with air fry functions! In this air fryer option, your oven comes equipped with air fry functionality. This eliminates the need altogether for an additional countertop appliance. A range with air fry allows you to “fry” foods—in a healthier way—right in your oven.
If you are in the market for a new range or you are choosing appliances for a new kitchen, a range with air fry is an excellent option. Ranges with air fry are available with either gas or electric ranges. For example, you can choose between this GE Electric Range with Air Fry, this GE Gas Range with Air Fry, or this GE InstaView Gas Range with Air Fry. The Samsung Gas Range with Air Fry also offers a larger capacity (6 cu ft) to give you more space to cook more food, faster. (Did I mention that the Samsung Gas Range with Air Fry is smart, too? This enables you to monitor your cooktop and adjust the oven temperature from anywhere.) And of course, these ranges have all of the normal functionality of a range as well.
What Can You Cook in Your Air Fryer?
As I’ve mentioned, air fryers are incredibly versatile, so there are few foods that cannot be cooked in an air fryer. Meats, seafood, vegetables, sandwiches, and even desserts can all be cooked in your air fryer. In the first month of owning my air fryer, I used it to cook: chicken breasts, roasted potatoes, sweet potato fries, zucchini fries, okra, hamburgers, pizza, Chick-fil-A style chicken sandwiches, bratwurst, pork chops, corn on the cob, salmon, chimichangas, and stromboli. (My family didn’t know what hit them!) When I say the sky's the limit when it comes to cooking with an air fryer, I mean it!
Here are a few of my favorite air fryer recipes to get you started:
- Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
- Air Fryer Baked Potatoes
- Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp
- Air Fryer Carrots
- Air Fryer Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions
One more benefit of air fry cooking? There are tons of other people out there with air fryers, so recipes are plentiful! If you ever wonder if a recipe can be made in the air fryer, a quick online search will turn up helpful information and probably more than one recipe that’s ready for you to use.
It’s clear to see that air fry cooking holds huge benefits—and frankly, it’s fun to see what you can cook in your air fryer next. Learn from my mistake of putting off adopting air fry cooking, and pick up your air fryer or a range with air fry sooner than later. You’ll be glad you did!