‘Air frying’ has become a buzzword. It’s gained endless traction in the food world as a healthy alternative to deep fat frying, with celebrity endorsements, guides and recipes. So, I’m here to ask: is buying an air fryer oven actually worth it?
Yes, it really is.
Despite its name, it’s a mini convection oven. Over the last few decades of addictive fast food, we have come to love those crispy fries and chicken wings, which we assumed were only possible when cooked in sizzling fat. Therefore, by calling this gadget an air fryer, we immediately associate it with delicious fried food, yet it comes without those pesky health risks. Plus, it does actually deliver perfectly cooked, crispy, golden fries every time, with 80% less calories. Healthy, quick, and convenient – the perfect fries, in my opinion.
All of them include a non-stick draw into which you add your fries, marinated chicken, or even rings of donut dough. Slide it back inside and set the timer. Each machine has a heat element and a fan which pulls the hot air out and around the food. The convection plate at the bottom sends the heat back up, resulting in an even heat transfer penetrating the food, reducing the cooking time and conserving energy. Forget heating your large and powerful convection oven for a couple of portions of fries.
And, even though I’ve raved about its ‘frying’ abilities, it does so much more than mimic a deep fat fryer. Just like an oven, it can bake. Fill the non-stick drawer with brownie batter and, roughly 45 minutes later, out comes a tray of gooey brownies. Roast a chicken, bake a pizza, or try your hand at dehydrating some kale to make chips.
Useful accessories include frying pans and cake molds. Ninja offers crisper plates, and the PowerXL Air Fryer Pro has an additional rotisserie function, including a convenient glass window to observe your chicken’s rotation.
So, with all of that in mind, are there any disadvantages to consider?
A classic model isn’t ideal for cooking more than two people’s dinner as the drawer’s capacity does not allow space. The machine is pretty compact in order to be easily stored or left on the work surface, so if you’re cooking more than two portions, the heat won’t penetrate the food evenly. If you’re at college with a roommate or living alone, then it is an ideal mini-oven for baking experiments and late-night snacks. For family meals though, keep your eyes open for brands that provide extra-large varieties, such as the GoWISE 7-quart, Maxi-Matic 10-quart or Cosori 31-quart.
Furthermore, while a vast number of air fryers boast that their non-stick coating is dishwasher safe, take that with a pinch of salt. Over time, dishwashers corrode non-stick pans so if you want to preserve them, wash by hand.
In my opinion, with everything considered – the speed, healthy meals, and snacks, baked treats, the energy saved, and how compact it is for storage – the air fryer oven is an incredible addition to my kitchen.