We all know it’s not healthy to deep fry, but sometimes it’s just too hard to resist the crunchy texture and incredibly satisfying taste of foods that have been deep fried. That’s why the Air Fryer has gain such popularity over the years. You can get that same crispy crunchy texture in an air fryer without the oil.
It’s true. You can cook healthier at home with an air fryer, with less mess, less fuss, and all the great texture and flavor of deep frying. The air fryer takes away the hassle of oil but still produces a great crunchy texture and taste.
Deep frying at home has always been a messy proposition that I don’t love. Having to replace the oil all the time is a major hassle. When you’re running it, if you’re not extremely careful, you can get oil all over the kitchen from splattering. It’s messy and tedious.
An air fryer is much cleaner and faster to use. It’s easy to maintain, and it doesn’t require a lot of space to store it. If you’ve been thinking about whether to get one, I highly recommend making the switch from your traditional deep fryer to an air fryer. You won’t look back. Trust me.
You’ll learn all of our reasons for this recommendation below in our air fryer overview. We’ve also included 6 of the best air fryers you can buy today with reviews, to help you choose a model.
What is An Air Fryer?
Let’s start with the basics. You may not know what an air fryer really is, or you may have seen it on TV, but aren’t quite sure what the benefits really are.
When it comes right down to it, an air fryer’s purpose is to mimic the way a deep fryer would cook food – giving it that golden, crispy exterior that we all love so much – only without using all that oil. You don’t submerging your food in hot oil to cook it in an air fryer.
An air fryer contains a heating coil and a fan. It simultaneously heats to a high degree and circulates hot air around the exterior of the food, much like a fan oven, and crisps up the exterior, while cooking the food to the perfect internal temperature, often in half the time it would take to roast or bake it.
Try These Air Fryer Recipes
Why Buy An Air Fryer?
The biggest reason to buy an air fryer is to achieve the same affect as a deep fryer, but in a much healthier manner. However, there are many other great reasons to use an air fryer for cooking at home.
Here are a few of the main reasons you might consider buying an air fryer.
1. Less Mess
While there are some deep fryers that keep a firm lid on the splatters, literally, they still produce a lot of mess to clean up. With a deep fryer, you have to change the oil regularly, and clean the greasy, grimy interior. Not to mention that while cooking, the oil often splatters around the kitchen.
And let’s not even discuss those times when you accidentally knock the whole machine over and oil pours everywhere. Yes, I’ve done that before. It was a huge disaster.
An air fryer is much cleaner because there is no messy oil left behind in the fryer, except the little bit that might drip from the food as it’s cooking. It’s easy to wipe down after each use. There’s no splatter. Not a problem if you knock it over.
>> If you’re interested in alternative ways to cook food faster and more conveniently, you might also like the Instant Pot. Learn more about the Instant Pot and decide if you should get one.
2. It’s Healthier Than Deep Frying
Deep frying your food can add an incredibly amount of calories and fat to the final product. Plus, many oils used for deep frying are unhealthy and high in trans fats.
Air frying, on the other hand, only requires a small amount of added oil, if any (many foods don’t require oil to cook well in the air fryer). You will still get the crispy exterior – crispy french fries or onion rings, for instance – but without the added calories and fat.
3. It’s Versatile
An electric air fryer isn’t an incredibly expensive kitchen appliance. For around $70, you can get a very good air fryer that allows you to do a lot of different types of cooking at home, in one appliance.
The best air fryers allow you to fry, bake, grill, roast and dehydrate. So you can use it for french fries, a whole roast chicken, any type of frozen foods, pizza, even steak. We’ve cooked cinnamon rolls, breakfast sandwiches, muffins. You name it.
4. It’s Energy & Time Efficient
The air fryer has saved us an incredible amount of time. It doesn’t require a lengthy preheating time, so you can just put it in and cook it immediately. This is way less time than it takes in the oven to do the same thing.
For instance, when cooking frozen french fries, it takes 10 minutes to preheat the oven and 25 minutes to cook the french fries. In the air fryer, it takes just 18 minutes to cook frozen french fries, with no preheat time. That’s nearly half the time it takes in the oven.
And speaking of the oven, using an air fryer is much more energy efficient than using your oven to cook the same food. The appliance is small and it takes much less energy to run it than it would your oven.
It also keeps the room cooler, which is a major plus during the summer when you really don’t want to use the oven at all.
How Does an Air Fryer Work?
One of the best ways to understand how an air fryer works is to watch it in action. You can see the Philips air fryer in action in the video below. This will show you how an air fryer works, and how it can crisp up the food without the oil of a deep fryer.
How to Choose the Right Air Fryer
You’ll want to consider these important things before purchasing a power air fryer. As we’ve said, there are so many different ones out there, so you can narrow down your needs and find the oil-less fryer that works best for you. Be sure to ask yourself these questions before buying:
Size & Capacity
One of the most important factors to which air fryer you buy is the size and capacity. As you can imagine, they come in all different sizes. There are small ones that don’t take up much space in the kitchen, but that can only hold a small amount of food. And there are large ones that fit a lot (even a whole chicken or turkey!) but take up much more space to store.
Most fryers can cook between 1.5 and 2.5 pounds of food at a time. If you’re cooking for just one or two people, a smaller fryer (usually 3.7 qt) would probably suit you just fine. If you’re cooking for 4 or more, you’d want a larger size (usually referred to as XL).
Extra features include temperature gauges, baskets and trays, timers, pre-set buttons, dishwasher safe parts, etc. These extra features can turn the cooking process into a breeze, while machines lacking in features can make it a chore.
For instance, a removable basket will make it much easier for you to clean the machine after it’s been used. Don’t underestimate the features you might want. They can add slightly to the overall price, but those features may well be worth it.
You really don’t want to skimp on wattage with a power air fryer. A higher wattage means it is a more powerful fryer. It’s easy to become frustrated with low-wattage fryers that don’t seem to do their job well.
Typically, fryers range in wattage from 800-2100. It’s wise to make sure your power outlets can support a higher wattage before you purchase it.
Air fryers range in price from around $65 to $250. Likely you’ll be getting more features for the higher-end products, but you need to read the included features to be sure.
The price also takes into consideration the brand. A brand name, like Hamilton Beach or Philips, will cost more than a no-name brand, but that doesn’t mean a no-name brand isn’t a good one. Read the reviews to know what you’re getting.
Top Rated Air Fryer Reviews
The best air fryer for you is heavily determined by your individual needs and preferences. But here we selected 5 of the best air fryers, based on customer reviews.
- 4 quarts (fits 2 lbs or fries)
- Temperature range: 105 to 400 degrees F
- Ceramic-coated nonstick basket
- Can be used as a dehydrator
- Dishwasher safe parts
- One-touch control panel
- 4 programable cooking functions
- 1500 watts
Also available in a 5.5 qt capacity: Ninja Max XL
GoWISE USA is another brand that does a very good job and the footprint is smaller than some, so it might fit your kitchen space better.
- 3.7 quarts
- Temperature range: 176 – 392 degrees F
- PFOA-free non-stick cooking basket
- 8 programable cooking functions
- Digital display
- Available in 3 colors
- 1400 watts
Cons: Can only cook for up to 30 minutes. Some customers have reported that the non-stick surface comes off quickly. Not dishwasher safe.
There are many different sizes so you can find one that suits you. There’s a 5 quart, an 5.8 quart, a 7 quart and an 11 quart. See the options here.
The NuWave Brio is unique from others in that it uses a digital switch to check the temperature 120 times per second to minimize temperature fluctuations. It also has a preheat and a reheat function, which others don’t have.
- 3 quarts
- Temperature range: 100 – 400 degrees F
- PFOA-free non-stick cooking basket
- 6 programable cooking functions
- Preheat and reheat modes
- Digital display
- 1300 watts
The NuWave Brio comes in a larger 6-quart size with 1500 watts.
Cons: The parts aren’t dishwasher safe. You must be very careful when scrubbing the non-stick material because it has a tendency to peel off. Also, the basket feels a little flimsy.
The Dash is the smallest of the air fryers. It’s meant to be a convenience for smaller spaces and those who just want to quickly heat up food. It’s also half the size. So if you’re looking for something for 1 person, for a dorm room, or for a work lunch room, this is the one.
- 2.6 quarts
- Temperature range: 200 – 400 degrees F
- Non-stick cooking basket
- Dishwasher safe parts
- Analog temperature and time setting (up to 30 mins)
- Automatic shut off
- No complicated buttons
Cons: No digital display. Numbers can wear off the timer.
There is a larger 6-quart Dash that is better suited for a family or as a permanent appliance in the kitchen.
There are a lot of buttons on this air fryer, so it’s not for everyone, but it does do a good job with even cooking, and its square basket makes it easier to fit all types of food.
- 3.7 quarts
- 11 preset cooking functions
- Non-stick, dishwasher safe, PFOA-free and BPA-free
- Square basket fits most foods
- Digital display and one-touch panel
- Has a unique preheat and “shake” reminder
- 1500 watts
Cons: Lots of buttons can be annoying to some. The fan is loud.
There’s a much larger 5.8 quart version, if you need more space.
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Many of the air fryers on the market today have very similar features, but if you know what you’re looking for, you can find the perfect one for your needs.
We hope that our well-researched list will help you choose the model that’s right for you. If you buy one, we’d love to hear what you think and if it met your expectations. Leave us a comment!
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Laura is a home cook who loves making new recipes and finding new favorite things to eat, whether at home or abroad. She also runs a popular travel blog and spends a lot of her time traveling for food.