Air fryer has recently gained popularity online, despite being around for a couple of years already. Thanks to the extended time spent by people at home and the many celebrities promoting their own air fryers, many of us also got intrigued about this new kitchen must-have.
Air fryers are known to be the secret to healthy but satisfying recipes. One of its main selling point is how compact it is. It occupies almost the same space as the standard rice cooker, sometimes even smaller. However, if you have tried shopping for air fryer yourself, you will also see that the price can quite hefty, relative to other cooking appliances that you already own.
So, is owning an air fryer actually worth it? Let’s weigh the pros and cons below to help you decide, if you haven’t it.
How does an air fryer work?
Contrary to your usual frying method, an air fryer utilizes fry heat to cook your ingredients. Along with the fast-heating element, it also has a fan inside to facilitate circulation of the heat to ensure that the food is cooked evenly. This results to that perfect crisp, but less the amount of oil. Despite its name, your food is actually not literally fried. It works more like a convection except that the strong hot air mimics the result of your usual fried food. Air fryers come with perforated baskets where you will put your ingredients to be cooked. The temperature inside can be as high as 160°C, causing almost any sort of food from chicken to potatoes to turn perfectly brown. Most air fryers also come with a timer to prevent burning your food.
Advantages of air fryer
One of the main selling points of air fryer is the ability to prepare healthier meals. With “healthier”, this generally refers to crispy food but with significantly less oil. Take for instance your favorite fried chicken. An air fryer is the main secret behind that greaseless chicken we all love. There are also other recipes that you can easily turn into a healthier version with an air fryer including French fries, crispy tofu, and even steaks.
Air fryers offer convenience like a convection oven, except it’s easier to use and takes up minimal space in the kitchen. It also cooks faster than your usual oven and therefore consumes less electricity in preparing your meals. Aside from the actual cooking time, you can also skip thawing when cooking with air fryer. For instance when preparing fries, you can simply throw in the frozen potatoes inside your air fryer and expect it to come out as crispy as its deep fried version. The strong force of heat inside the air fryer allows it to cook swiftly and evenly. There are also certain recipes that may not require oil, at all. This is the perfect option for people who are trying to cut their oil or fat consumption.
Much like ovens, air fryers also have its own timer that you can conveniently re-set anytime. It is spill-proof and easy to clean. Overall, what you are paying for in buying an air fryer is its efficiency, along with the newer and more interesting recipes that you can prepare with less hassle.
Disadvantages of Air Fryer
Despite the above advantages though, air fryer is still not the gold-standard for cooking, and even for preparing healthier meals. It is better considered as a complementary cooking appliance rather than relying on it solely for food preparation. There are still a lot of recipes and ingredients that you cannot cook with an air fryer. In fact, any starchy ingredient will not work well with an air fryer.
Given the structure of an air fryer, you can also imagine how difficult it is to deal with stuck or spilled-over food. Cleaning and maintaining an air fryer can also be challenging. Because of this, it is not necessarily something that you want to reach for every day given the amount of work it needs to clean it up. If you live in a large household, an air fryer is also not the ideal choice of cooking appliance unless you are willing to prepare your recipe multiple times. This will however have a huge impact on your electricity consumption.
Also remember that while air fryer can mimic your favorite meals, but with a healthier version, the food may not taste the same. In fact, it can come out drier than usual. This will certainly take a lot of getting used to.
Making healthy meals without air fryer
The good news is there are still more ways to make your food healthier sans an air fryer. When it comes to baked recipes, nothing still beats the power of a reliable oven. You can also buy a steamer, which costs a fraction of either the air fryer or oven so you can have more oil-free recipe options. You can also choose the quality of the oil you are using so you can still enjoy fried food occasionally. Check for the smoke point and fat contents of different types of oil and see which works best for your lifestyle and health choices.
Air fryer offers a new convenient way to prepare our meals. Even those who are new to cooking can prepare a sumptuous meal with this cooking appliance. However, due to its limitations, you may still need to have all the other standard cooking appliances first prior to investing on an air fryer.