Healthy Alternative to Frying

What You Need To Know Before Buying An Air Fryer

Question: How many times have you had something fried within the past 30 days? Most people will have something fried once, maybe twice a week. When you put it into perspective, that’s a lot of fat that you’re ingesting. All that fat equals empty calories and who knows how many pounds added to your waistline.

There’s no denying that fried food is absolutely delicious. There’s something incredibly comforting about enjoying a fresh bunch of French fries, a piece of fried chicken, or gooey mozzarella sticks. Sadly, these foods aren’t part of a healthy diet and if you consume too much fried foods, it could cause some serious health issues for you.

Before you start panicking and thinking that you can never have fried food again, you’ll be happy to know that it is possible to enjoy those foods without deep frying. When you use an appliance called an air fryer, you can enjoy your favorites without the excess fat and calories.

Healthy cooking

In this guide, we are going to break the lid off of the mystical world of air fryers. By the time you’re finished reading, we hope that you’ll have a better understanding of what air fryers are, how they work and the benefits of using one of these units instead of deep frying. We have a lot of ground to cover, so grab yourself a snack and get comfortable!

What Is An Air Fryer And How Do They Work

An air fryer is a small appliance that can be used to created dishes that are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside—much like your typical deep fat fried foods. The fryer is roughly the size of a juicer and while the devices have been around for some time, they are really becoming popular among those who are living a healthier lifestyle.

When you want to make cook something that is normally fried, you will place the food inside the air basket that is included with your device. The fryer uses a technology called “Rapid Air Technology.” What this technology does is it circulates superhot air around your food.

Dad and daughter cooking.

This technology is responsible for giving food like fish, fries, chicken, and so much more that desirable crispy texture and that golden brown color indicative of perfectly fried foods. When you use one of these fryers, you’re going to have about 75% less fat with your food than if you were to fry it the traditional way.

Deep Fryer Vs. Air Fryer: Why Choose Air Fryers

Maybe you’re still on the fence about which type of fryer you should go for: deep fryer or air fryer. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of choosing an air fryer:

Low Fat Meals

Instead of using several cups of oil to cook with, you are only using a couple table spoons instead—sometimes you don’t even need that much!

Automated Cooking

Cooking with an air fryer is relatively simple. You don’t really have to keep a close eye on the unit while it cooks, unlike the deep fryers. To use these fryers, you can just press a few buttons and that’s it. Plus, if you choose a paddle type fryer, you don’t even have to check on the food or shake it as it cooks.

Fuss-Free Operation

Not only is the cooking process automated with an air fryer, but it is as easy as pressing two buttons—the timer button and the temperature control button. Heck, there are some fryers where you can use a preset, making it only one button to press!

Fast And Convenient

When you’re cooking with one of these units, you can cook the food in a fraction of the time as if you were to cook it on the stove, oven, or even a deep fryer. This is because the unit doesn’t need to be pre-heated and you can even put frozen food (fries, nuggets, and the like) right into the unit. A short time later, your food is done!

Chicken drumsticks in air fryer

Safe

Unlike with deep frying where the oil can pop and seriously hurt you, an air fryer offers splatter free cooking. Also, there are safety measures on these units that will prevent them from becoming a hazard. For example, many models have an auto shutoff feature so your food doesn’t burn, but so the unit doesn’t over heat and become a fire hazard.

Also, these units tend to have non-slip feet, which ensures the machine isn’t going to slip and slide across the counter.

Health

It goes without saying that when you cook with an air fryer, you are greatly reducing the amount of empty calories and unnecessary fat. By using one of these units, you can enjoy great fried food without the negative health effects.

Types Of Air Fryers

As you do a bit of browsing on the internet for an air fryer, you will notice that there are two types of fryers:

Paddle-Type

Paddle-type air fryers give you the ability to “set it and forget it.” While we don’t recommend that you really just let the fryer run without checking on it from time to time, this type of fryer does give you the ability to tend to other things while the food is cooking. With these types of fryers, the food is going to be turned by the machine so you don’t have to do anything.

It’s worth noting that these units are versatile because they can also make saucy dishes like a curry or a risotto very easily.

Basket-Type

With this type of air fryer, your food is going to be cooked in a basket that comes with your unit. The basket typically will have a handle so you can toss the food in intervals during the cooking process.

There are a few differences between a paddle-type and a basket type:

  • Basket types usually require you to stop the cooking process from time to time to check on the food, whether you are tossing the fries or flipping the chicken. With a paddle-type, you don’t have to do anything because the machine does it for you.
  • Basket types cannot make liquidy dishes. A paddle-type is perfect for making liquid dishes because it stirs the mixture for you, ensuring that the ingredients are mixed together while it cooks.
  • ​Basket types tend to be better for food that is coated in a batter or breading. The paddle type can ruin your breaded foods because of the paddle moving the food. However, you can find some paddle type fryers that have special trays that you can purchase that will allow you to cook breaded foods.
  • ​Basket types have fewer parts that move, which means there are less chances of something breaking down in the unit. This means the unit could have a longer lifespan, depending on the brand and the make.
  • You may see some other types of fryers like an oil-less fryer or programmable fryers. The air fryer is designed to be oil-less, but it is recommended to use at least a table spoon of oil so that your food is crispy and tender.
  • ​The most air fryers are programmable in some way. Some units will have preset cook settings that makes the cooking much easier—you don’t have to fiddle with time and temperature. Also, some units will even give you the ability to save your own settings.

Air Fryer Categorized By Air Circulation

You’ll notice that when you are looking at the air fryers, there are three different ways the air circulates in the machine.

  • Static Air Fryer - With this type of fryer, your food is stationary and the hot air is going to circulate around the food. This is the most common type of air fryer.
  • Dynamic Air Fryer - With this type of fryer, your food is going to be stirred gently with a paddle as the hot air circulates.
  • Halogen Air Fryer - With this type of fryer, a special halogen light takes the place of the heating coils. These fryers are commonly referred to as “Halo Fryer” and they can be either static or dynamic. These fryers tend to be more efficient because the halogen heating element is believed to be better than the regular coils. However, there is no clear evidence of this. It is worth pointing out that with a halogen fryer, the bright light inside the cooking chamber allows you to clearly see your food cooking, as they typically have a clear lid.

Popular Air Fryer Manufacturers

In the world of small kitchen appliances, you are going to find familiar brands putting their own spin on the air fryer. Here’s a look at some of our favorites:

Farberware

Farberware has been a staple in the small kitchen appliance arena for more than 100 years. The company is known for creating durable products that are functional, affordable, and most importantly, durable. There are a few different models of the Farberware air fryer available, that range in price from as little as $80 to as much as $135.

White Faberware air fryer.

Power

The Power Air Fryer is a unit that you’ll typically see on infomercials at 2am and you can’t sleep. The fryer is endorsed by culinary expert, Eric Theiss. Theiss once was a chef and owns a fine dining establishment in West Chester, Pa. called Meritage. These fryers are often sold anywhere from $115 to as much as $255.

NuWave

The NuWave Air Fryer is another unit that you may have seen advertised in a late night infomercial or o QVC. The Nuwave company doesn’t just focus on air fryers, as they offer countertop ovens, induction cooktops, and nonstick cookware as well.

The NuWave air fryer can set you back anywhere from $100 to $200, depending if you want accessory packages with your unit.

Philips

Philips is a very well-known and respected name in the industry. Not only does Philips make appliances for the kitchen, but they have sound and vision products, personal care, mother and child care products, and so much more. If ever there was a company that was a jack of all trades, it might be Philips.

Air fryer - black Philips.

The Philips air fryers range as little as $90 for a certified refurbished product, to as much as $300 for the largest option.

GoWISE

GoWise is a budget friendly company that creates products like the air fryer for those who are looking for all the features of more expensive brands without the high price tag. The GoWave company doesn’t just specialize in air fryers, as they also make accessories for the GoWave Air Fryer, scales, pressure cookers, flashlights, and so much more.

The air fryers that GoWise offers range from $100 to as much as $250.

How To Clean And Maintain Your Air Fryer

Keeping your machine in good condition is important, especially if you’ve come to love using the machine and don’t want to spend a lot of money on a new one. Fortunately, caring for one of these handy gadgets is incredibly simple.

After each use, follow these steps to clean your fryer:

  • Unplug your fryer from the socket and let it cool down.
  • Wipe out the inside of the unit with a clean, damp rag.
  • ​Wash the pan, tray, and basket with hot water and soap.
  • ​All the removable parts are dishwasher safe, so go ahead and put them in the dishwasher.
  • ​Clean the inside of the fryer with a clean damp cloth and hot water.
  • Remove any food that may have gotten stuck to the heating element.
  • Make sure everything is good and dry before reassembling the fryer.

Other Useful Tips

  • When you do you stuck on food anywhere on the fryer, you don’t want to use any utensils to remove it because it could scratch off the nonstick coating. Use a non-abrasive cloth or sponge to remove any leftover foodstuffs from the basket, drip pan, or heating element.
  • If the food has hardened on the pan or basket, let them soak in hot water and dishwashing soap. This will loosen the remnants, making it easier to clean.
  • ​You don’t have to clean the fryer after each batch if you are cooking consecutive batches. You can wait until the final batch before you take the unit apart and clean it.
Maintain Air Fryer

To maintain the life of your fryer, it is going to require that you do some regular maintenance, which includes:

  • Making sure the wires are in good repair. Never plug in any cords that are frayed or damaged.
  • Always make sure the unit (especially the heating element) is clean prior to cooking.
  • ​Make sure the unit is on a flat surface when cooking.
  • ​Make sure the unit is not against a wall or other appliances when cooking to prevent overheating.
  • Visually check the components of the unit to make sure they are not damaged.

Air Fryer Recipes

Now that you know a lot about air fryers, let’s take a look at just a few recipes that you can make with these gadgets.

Beer Battered Onion Rings

Ingredients

  • ⅔ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ​1 teaspoon paprika
  • ​1 teaspoon salt
  • ​½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ​¾ cup beer
  • ​1 egg, beaten
  • 1½ cups fine breadcrumbs
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, peeled and sliced into ½-inch rings
Beer Battered Onion Rings

Instructions

1. Set up a dredging station. Mix the flour, baking soda, paprika, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Pour in the beer, add the egg and whisk until smooth. Place the breadcrumbs in a cake pan or second shallow dish.

2. Separate the onion slices into individual rings. Dip each onion ring into the batter with a fork. Lift the onion ring out of the batter and let any excess batter drip off. Then place the onion ring in the breadcrumbs and shake the cake pan back and forth to coat the battered onion ring.

Pat the ring gently with your hands to make sure the breadcrumbs stick and that both sides of the ring are covered. Place the coated onion ring on a sheet pan and repeat with the rest of the onion rings.

4. Pre-heat the air fryer to 360ºF.

5. Lightly spray the onion rings with oil, coating both sides. Layer the onion rings in the air fryer basket, stacking them on top of each other in a haphazard pattern.

6. Air-fry for 10 minutes at 360º F. Flip the onion rings over and rotate the onions rings from the bottom of the basket to the top. Air-fry for an additional 6 minutes.

7. Serve warm with ketchup or your favorite dip.

Air Grilled Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tomatoes
  • Herbs
  • ​Pepper
  • Cooking Spray
Air Grilled Tomatoes

Instructions

1. Wash tomatoes. Cut in half (doesn't matter in which direction.) Turn over, spray bottoms lightly with 1 spray of cooking spray.

2. Turn all halves cut side up. Spray lightly with 1 spray of cooking spray. Sprinkle with ground black pepper and your choices of dried or fresh herb or herbs, such as: parsley, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, sage, etc.

3. Place tomato halves into top tray (or snack tray) of Actifry cut-side up. (No need to spray the top tray.) Turn Actifry on for 20 minutes. (In a basket-type air fryer, try 160 C / 320 F with no preheat for 20 minutes.)

After 20 minutes, check for doneness, which will vary based on size of tomatoes, how many halves you are actually doing at once, ripeness of tomatoes, your personal preference, etc. If needed, give them another few minutes.

4. Tip! If you are making a meal for which you also require the bottom Actifry bowl, cook the grilled tomato halves to 20 minutes, remove top pan from Actifry, proceed with cooking in the bottom bowl, then when everything else is ready, just place the top pan with the tomatoes back in for a 2 minute reheat.

Air Fryer Fried Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 egg beaten
  • ​4 small chicken thighs
  • ​1 1/2 tbsp. Old Bay Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 tsp seasoning salt
Air Fryer Fried Chicken

Instructions

1. Pre-heat the Air Fryer to 390 degrees.

2. Whisk together the flour, salt and the Old Bay.

3. Dredge the chicken through the flour mixture, then into the egg, then back into the flour mixture again. Shake off excess flour very well.

4. Place the 4 chicken thighs into the bottom of the AirFryer cooking compartment. Cook for 25 minutes or until the chicken reaches 180 degrees.

5. Remove and serve.

Wrapping It Up

An air fryer very well may be the answer to your prayers if you’re trying to live healthier but you can’t seem to reconcile the fact that fried foods aren’t the best for you. With an air fryer, you can sate your fried food cravings without packing on the pounds. Not only can you make fried foods, but you can make a variety of other dishes too.

If ever you’re wondering what exactly you can make, most fryers come with a recipe book, but even if you choose one that doesn’t, there are countless free resources online that will give you some ideas.

Chicken drumsticks from air fryer

With everything that we covered today, you might be interested in jumping onto the air fryer bandwagon. If that’s the case, welcome aboard! There are many different types of fryers out there and it can be a little daunting trying to choose which is the best air fryer for your needs.

Fortunately for you, we anticipated this and to help you out, we’ve created an air fryer buying guide that will help you figure out what to look for. We’ve also included a few mini-reviews of great options for your consideration!

Let us know in the comments below what made you want to ditch the deep fryer and opt for an air fryer!

Resources:

​MeredithLaurence.com - Beer Battered Onion Rings

HotAirFrying.com​ - Air Grilled Tomatoes

TheKitchenMagpie.com - Air Fryer Fried Chicken

​TheDallasSocials

Meredith Laurence

Care2​

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