Imagine being able to eat fried food more often and not feel guilty about it? It may sound too good to be true, but there is in fact, a way that you can. You may have heard of the kitchen appliance that’s taking the world by storm: the air fryer. This innovation in cooking allows you to fry food in the comfort of your own home, without using oil. But how is this possible, you might ask? We explain exactly and air fryer is, how it cooks your food and why it’s a great alternative to traditional frying.
What is an air fryer?
Air fryers are a small kitchen appliance (generally smaller than deep fat fryers) used to ‘fry’ food using hot air and a minimal amount of oil. The result? Food cooked in an air fryer resembles traditional fried food in terms of texture but uses a lot less oil. Enjoy your favourite fried foods without the health consequences.
How does an air fryer work?
An air fryer works by distributing air around in a cooking chamber in the same way an electric oven might. However, the difference is the air is whirled around speedily and in a cyclical way, so that the food inside receives a well-distributed flow of air. This equal and fast distribution means the surfaces of the food cooking inside are easily reached, all at the same time, so you end up with a crispy outer layer. A further aspect contributing to the even distribution of high-level heat is the fact that the food is placed in a perforated basket. This means it gets a higher level of contact with the hot, moving air current.
Air fryer recipe inspiration
Air fryers allow you to enjoy the fried foods you love (fried chicken and fries i.e. the classics), but uses up to 80% less fat than their deep fat fryer counterparts. Air fryer banana bread, sweet potato fries, halloumi fries and churros are all great options for the air fryer. If you’ve got fussy eaters in the house when it comes to vegetables, the air fryer is a great way of getting kids (and adults!) to eat their greens.
Amazon can offer plenty by way of recipe inspiration with cookbooks such as The Complete Air Fryer Cookbook, a diverse book offering a range of ideas. Good Housekeeping have also reviewed the 5 Best Air Fryer Cookbooks for beginners and experts.
Other benefits of an air fryer?
Aside from the fact that you can enjoy the foods you love guilt-free, there are other benefits to purchasing an air fryer for your kitchen:
- Fast food: As they’re smaller than an oven, air fryers cook food faster than an oven. Frozen fries for example, can be cooked in as little as 15 minutes Vs an oven which takes up to 45 minutes. What’s more, the air fryer takes very little time to heat up.
- Versatile: From sandwiches to cakes, chicken to casseroles, the air fryer can be used for a multitude of foods. You can also purchase extras for your fryer such as grill pan racks and pizza pans. The possibilities and endless!
- Save space – If you’re a bit short on space, the save-spacing aspect of this product will be music to your ears. An air fryer is only slightly bigger than the average kettle, so you can easily stow it away in a cupboard when you’re not using it. This may be particularly appealing to students and first-time home owners.
- Easy to clean after use – Air fryers are low maintenance when it comes to cleaning up. You’ll only have a pan and basket to clean up and if you’ve got a dishwasher, you can simply place it in, as most air fryers are dishwasher compatible.
- Great for those who aren’t cordon blues – if you’re not a big fan of cooking, this piece of equipment is a Godsend. You won’t have to spend time waiting for food to defrost, nor will you need to prep what you fancy eating in advance to defrost it. Cook foods from frozen and enjoy a quick and easy cooking experience.
Air fried food – to be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet
A healthy diet is synonymous with diverse and varied food choices and cooking methods. With this in mind, air fried food should be enjoyed in moderation and alongside other cooking types such as boiling, roasting and oven cooking. Consuming a high amount of low-fat and air-fried foods means you’ll be missing out on healthy fats like avocado oil and olive oil, both of which are great for skin, hair and nail health and growth.
Using your air fryer – top tips
- Give things a shake up – Open your air fryer and use a spoon to rotate the food if you’re looking to maximise the appliance’s cooking speed.
- Don’t overfill – The more space the food inside the fryer has, the better the air will circulate, giving you a better overall crisp to anything you place inside.
- Keep things dry – If foods are marinated, give them a bit of a dry off before placing them in the fryer to avoid any splashing inside.
- Make the most of the air fryer’s versatility – Air fryers don’t just fry! Try baking, grilling and roasting with it too and get the nutritional value of these other cooking methods.
- Use water to avoid smoke – If you’re cooking oily foods or have added a little oil to your meal, you may see some smoke emitting from the air fryer. If this occurs, add a couple of tablespoons of water to the bottom of the basket and your food will continue cooking smoke-free.
In the fast-paced world of today, we’re all looking for healthier and (crucially) faster ways to prepare meals. Save yourself valuable time and enjoy the illusion of having fried food but with significantly less consequences when it comes to your health and waistline. The air fryer only graced the market in 2010 and no doubt we will continue to see its design evolve and improve over the next decade.