The more deeply I get involved in healthy eating, the more appliances and kitchen gadgets I learn about. Have you heard of an air fryer yet? They are becoming an increasingly popular way to prepare crunchy foods without the oil and fat (and mess) of a deep fryer.
Air fryers are most popular for making crispy French fries (chips) with minimal oil or without any oil at all. But people use them for all sorts of foods, like onion rings, roasted vegetables and even air fried chicken. You can make kale chips in 10 minutes using an air fryer.
Air fryers have a grill element at the top that heats up and a fan that pushes the air down. Food gets cooked and crisped by circulating hot air. One manufacturer calls the air “superheated”. The whole device is engineered to move the very hot air in a specific pattern that cooks the food quickly.
It’s a combination of heat from the top that radiates into the food and convection from the bottom, that does the job. It works much faster than a regular convection oven, and because there is heat from the top and the bottom, there is no need to flip the food over during heating, the way you would in a conventional oven.
If you’re wondering about the safety of all that superhot air circulating in an enclosed space, be reassured that air fryers have a filtered exhaust system that releases some of the pressure, insuring that the appliance is safe to use.
British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay says “air is the new oil.” While cautioning that French fries from an air fryer don’t taste exactly like ones from a deep fryer, they are made with a small fraction of the oil that a deep fryer uses “and the chips come out crisp on the outside and tender on the inside – they’re a healthier version, and they taste great.“
Based on my research, if you’re going to invest in an air fryer, buy the best one you can afford. There’s no comparison between the lower end of the market and the ones that get the best ratings. For tons of recipes, search air fryer recipes on Pinterest or in Google. To get you started, here’s one for flourless, crunchy onion rings.