Is Getting an Air Fryer Worth the Investment?
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It’s a cruel fact of life: fried food is so good for your tastebuds (and nucleus accumbens), and so not-great for pretty much all the rest of you. Sure, you can bake things instead of frying them, but it’s just not the same. Enter: the air fryer. Is it worth getting one? That depends.
After being inundated with slow cooker and Instant Pot content from every corner of the internet, you may have kitchen gadget fatigue by now, but allegedly, this other wunder-appliance can turn out all the crispy, crunchy fried foods you love with way less fat. (And despite its many virtues and seemingly miraculous culinary capabilities, the Instant Pot does not yet have a crisping function. That said, they are now making their own air fryer.)
Instant Pot Vortex Plus 7-in-1 Air Fryer Oven, $119 at Walmart This 7-quart model from the makers of the Instant Pot includes a rotisserie function for perfect chicken. Buy Now How Does an Air Fryer Work? (And What Makes Air Fried Food Better for You?)
The air fryer works by circulating super hot air around foods with just a thin coat of oil (some recipes add no oil at all), so you’re looking at at least around 70 to 80 percent less fat than traditional deep frying would use.
It’s also much less terrifying than a pot of viciously bubbling oil that can spatter and burn, and fairly easily catch fire, and there’s no need to wrangle with disposing a quart of smelly used cooking grease once you’re finished.
Read More on CNET: Tips for Using an Air Fryer | We Tested 8 Leading Air Fryers to Find the Best
Naturally, air fryers can handle healthier versions of all the usual suspects, from chicken nuggets and egg rolls to potato chips and french fries, whether freshly made or frozen. But wait—as with any other infomercial-worthy product, there’s more!
Does an Air Fryer Cook Food Faster?
A bit, yes. The air fryer, like the Instant Pot, does also make quick(er) work of cooking in general. That’s thanks to the fact that air fryers reach high temperatures in mere minutes (unlike many ovens that can take 10-15 minutes just to preheat), and then that hot air is circulated for faster cooking all around. Since almost everyone is pressed for time these days, shaving even just a few extra minutes off of the dreaded waiting-for-dinner limbo is a bonus.
Ninja 4-Quart Air Fryer, $99.99 on Amazon This mid-size model is well-reviewed and also functions as a dehydrator, if you like more bang for your buck. Buy Now What Else Can You Make in an Air Fryer?
You can use an air fryer to make a range of other non-fried foods, like pizza, bacon, roasted garlic, toasted nuts, brussels sprouts, and even cakes. Why would you do that, you may ask? Well, why not? It could be a boon to those with tiny kitchens and those with no stoves at all, and potentially a good summer option for anyone, since it wouldn’t heat the whole room like a traditional oven. Plus, if you commit to buying an appliance, the ideal aim is to use it as often as possible in order to feel you’ve gotten your money’s worth.
In fact, the first two things I made in mine were toasted marshmallows and ersatz doughnuts. Crispy tofu and crisped-up Trader Joe’s appetizers came later. All were delicious.
Dash Deluxe Electric 6-Quart Air Fryer, $84.99 on Amazon If you prize aesthetics as well as performance, this adorable aqua air fryer has solid ratings and a mid-century vibe. Buy Now
Read More: 15 Air Fryer Recipes That Will Surprise You
How Much Does an Air Fryer Cost?
Prices vary widely, but expect to spend at least $60; one of the the top-rated models on Amazon is currently $75.71, but similar models run closer to $100—and some, like the Ninja Foodi Multi Cooker, hover around or even top $200 (but to be fair, it does have more functions than plain old air fryers).
Ninja Foodi Multi Cooker, $189.99 on Amazon It's a pressure cooker, steamer, and air fryer, along with several other things, in one—plus, it has a roomy 6.5-quart capacity. Buy Now
Pay attention to size, too; the standard seems to be around 3.5 to 3.7 quart capacity across brands, but you can find “XL” versions that go up to 5.3 and 5.8 quarts, and even really large 16-quart models. I have a 6-quart model and personally wouldn’t want it to be any smaller, but am usually cooking for two to three people, so YMMV.
So, Should You Get an Air Fryer?
Bottom line: Is it worth it? As with many things, you truly have to try it yourself before you can say.
If you already have a convection oven, there’s no need to bother, since air fryers are really just mini versions of them (though sometimes you might prefer to use a smaller appliance for mini meals and snacks).
Otherwise, some potential drawbacks to consider would be the extra counter and cabinet space the appliance takes up (ours is larger than I was imagining when I ordered it and we store it on a shelf in the garage when not in use); the reality that most models can’t cook a large amount of food at one time; and the fact that they can produce uneven results, depending on what brand and size you purchase.
And even some avowed air fryer fans admit that the taste and texture of air-fried foods aren’t exactly like what you’d get with eight inches of oil and a metal basket—yet many are willing to make that small compromise for the benefits of relatively healthier eating and easier, less-messy cooking.
Presto Fry Daddy Electric Deep Fryer, $24.99 on Amazon When the ultimate crunch is more important than health-consciousness, only true deep-frying will do. Buy Now
You still can’t live on air-fried chicken alone (at least probably not for very long). But you can enjoy all your favorites a little more frequently and with fewer potential consequences—health and safety-wise—if you embrace the power of air frying.
I don’t regret buying mine (especially since it was on sale), and I’ve been pleased with the results (especially the lack of preheating required), but also don’t feel like I couldn’t live without it.
Air Fryer Recipes
Still on the fence? Check out some what it can do and see if that’ll sway you.
“The Complete Air Fryer Cookbook” promises everything from mixed berry muffins to spicy beef stir-fry, and “Air Fry Everything: Foolproof Recipes for Fried Favorites and Easy Fresh Ideas” covers egg rolls, doughnut holes, and coconut shrimp, just for starters.
Related Reading: 7 Air Fryer Cookbooks (Including Options for Vegans and Keto Eaters)
Here’s a handful of home-cooked examples of its abilities to ogle—and maybe try for yourself soon:
Air Fryer Sriracha-Honey Chicken Wings View this post on Instagram
Air fryer sriracha honey chicken wings. My first foray using an air fryer! I wasn't happy about sharing these but I did. #airfryer #ontheblog #food52 #wings #sriracha #newairusa #newairhq #feedfeed
A post shared by Karen's Kitchen Stories (@karenskitchenstories) on Apr 5, 2017 at 12:23am PDT
The air fryer promises to make crispy chicken wings easy and healthy, and you can coat them with all kinds of flavors, but this spicy-sweet honey-Sriracha sauce is especially appealing. Get the Air Fryer Sriracha-Honey Chicken Wings recipe.
Air Fryer Coffee and Chili Rubbed Rib-Eye Steak and French Fries
View this post on Instagram
First time making steaks in the air fryer, and omg! These are just cheap cuts of meat, and they are so tender and perfect!! #airfryer #steaks #cheapmeat #airfryersteak #striploin #keto #ketofood #ketofoodie #ketofoodporn #ketogenic #ketogenicdiet #ketogenicfood #ketosis #ketogenicweightloss #ketorecipes
A post shared by Meaghan_Brooke (@meaghan1984) on Mar 4, 2019 at 1:25pm PST
You can make both this juicy steak and oil-free fries to go with it in the air fryer, though not at the same time (and not if you’re keto). Sub in air fryer sweet potato fries on the side if you prefer. Get the Air Fryer Coffee and Chili Rubbed Rib-Eye Steak and French Fries recipe.
Air Fryer Parmesan Dill Fried Pickle Chips View this post on Instagram
Airfryer Parmesan Dill Fried Pickle Chips are a quick and easy 5 ingredient appetizer made extra crunchy in your Airfryer without all the fat from oil. This low-fat snack is sure to satisfy your craving for something salty! #OnTheBlog #LinkInProfile #Airfryer #Pickles
A post shared by Danielle | The Creative Bite (@thecreativebite) on Mar 7, 2017 at 4:24pm PST
Bring the state fair into your home kitchen and make fried pickles! (You can also make more universally appealing and reasonably healthy potato chips in the air fryer if you like.) These are coated in dill-parmesan breadcrumbs, so they’re really rather fancy, as frickles go. Get the Air Fryer Parmesan Dill Fried Pickle Chips recipe.
Air Fried Samosas View this post on Instagram
Cheers to health! Have some guilt free samosas. … yes they are airfried! #onmyblog #newblogpost #samosa #teatime #foodstyling #foodphotography #foodporn #foodgasm #feedfeed #foodfix_recipes #chainashta
A post shared by 𝑺𝒉𝒂𝒉𝒆𝒆𝒏 🧿 𝑺𝒑𝒐𝒐𝒏 𝑭𝒐𝒓𝒌 𝑨𝒏𝒅 𝑭𝒐𝒐𝒅 (@spoonforkandfood) on Jan 25, 2016 at 9:43am PST
These crispy dough pockets of spiced potatoes make a great accompaniment to Indian food, of course, and they are much healthier than delivery or take-out versions. Get the Air Fried Samosas recipe.
Keto Air Fryer Shrimp Scampi View this post on Instagram
Just 8 minutes start to finish to make this air fryer low carb keto shrimp scampi. So simple to make, so delicious, you won’t believe it. Watch the video at the end on how to make this Keto shrimp scampi in your air fryer. #twosleevers #airfryer #airfried #shrimp #scampi #keto #ketofam #ketolifestyle #ketogenic #lchf #eatfatlosefat #ketolife #ketofood #lowcarb #lowcarblifestyle #lowcarbdiet #lowcarblife #lowcarbfood To get this recipe, follow the link in my profile! https://twosleevers.com/air-fryer-keto-shrimp-scampi/
A post shared by Two Sleevers (@two_sleevers) on Nov 22, 2018 at 12:21pm PST
Yes, it does seafood too—beautiful air fryer fish and chips for sure, but you can think even further outside the Gorton’s box and make shrimp scampi, in only 8 minutes. Add some mashed cauliflower if you’re keeping keto, or serve it over pasta if not. Get the Keto Air Fryer Shrimp Scampi recipe.
Air Fried Churros with Chocolate Sauce View this post on Instagram
We know you won't be able to have just one of these churro bites with an ingenious sour cream chocolate sauce for dipping. The batter can also be baked or fried, or you can even use an air fryer for extra crispiness! Grab the recipe via the link in our bio (Image: @joe.lingeman | Styling: @_ripe_ | Recipe: @stirandscribble)
A post shared by Kitchn (@thekitchn) on Mar 26, 2019 at 5:01am PDT
Honestly, these could be reason alone to buy an air fryer: squiggles of crisp cinnamon-sugar-dusted dough, with an orange-accented dark chocolate dipping sauce to make you swoon. Get the Air Fried Churros with Chocolate Sauce recipe.
Air Fryer Air Baked Molten Chocolate Cake View this post on Instagram
#AirBaked #Chocolate #MoltenLava #Cake made in my Avalon Bay #AirFryer 100W model from @air_n_water. #Recipe #OnTheBlog today! #Foodie #Dessert #Chocoholic #FoodPorn
A post shared by Jenna Marie's (@mommatoldme) on Mar 27, 2015 at 9:53am PDT
Want to make mini molten chocolate cakes without heating up your kitchen, and in only 20 minutes? With an air fryer, you can do it any time! Get the Air Fryer Air Baked Molten Chocolate Cake recipe.
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