Whether you’re a fried food fan or simply after quick convenience, the best air fryers have become a popular kitchen appliance. For those who have not caught on yet, air fryers are mini, countertop convection ovens that circulate hot air at high speeds. As a result, these brown and crisp foods in no time, using little or no oil, and making it a far healthier alternative than deep frying in a vat of oil. But are air fryers really worth the hype?
As someone who reviews and writes about kitchen appliances for a living, I’ve always been cynical about the latest ‘fad,’ and we’ve seen many (sandwich makers, anyone?). But, I’ll admit, even I was toying with the idea of having an air fryer.
So, last month, I actually bought an air fryer to see what all the fuss was about. Here’s what I've learned so far.
If you're new to owning an air fryer, be sure to avoid this TikTok air fryer hack which is currently trending — it will likely break your machine.
I’ve owned an air fryer for one month — here’s what I’ve learned
French fries are crispier and tastier
Whenever I cook frozen fries in my oven, they always seem to have a soft texture with a disappointing crisp. In which case, I’ll crank up the gas and leave it in to cook for a little longer (annoying). But cooking fries in an air fryer has impressive results each time. Fries come out much crispier and with a texture to rival the fast-food restaurants. If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out these 5 best air fryer recipes for restaurant-quality food.
They are extremely versatile and cook foods quickly
Who knew that something so small could be so mighty? Just like your trusted oven, the air fryer can bake, roast, fry and grill your favorite foods. During my one month of using it, I had cooked a range of foods from French fries, roast potatoes and vegetables to chicken and fish dishes. I was impressed that the food was ready in less time, and tasted just as good as in my conventional gas oven.
You can use it to reheat leftovers
One thing I hate is lukewarm food, and I often find that fried dishes lose their crispy texture once warmed up in my trusted microwave. Now, I simply pop my leftovers in the air fryer and heat for one minute. Not only will it warm things quickly, but they'll still have that delicious crispiness. Just note that you’ll have to reheat in single portions each time to allow for an even crunch.
Cleaning is a breeze — but I found a hack
A downside of kitchen appliances is the clean up afterwards, especially if parts can’t be thrown into the dishwasher. I found cleaning my air fryer super easy to wash by hand, and much quicker than waiting to load the dishwasher. But, I also found an easy hack. Use a circular foil tray or aluminum foil to line the fryer base before cooking your food. Then all you have to do is dispose of it afterwards, without the fuss of cleaning the base each time. Simple! However, if your air fryer has seen better days, you’ll need to know how to clean an air fryer and get rid of baked-on grease.
They're pretty inexpensive
Air fryers are generally affordable, and there is one for every budget. Depending on the size and specifications, prices range from as little as $24 to $500 for the more powerful, advanced models. I managed to get my 2-liter capacity air fryer for less than $50, and have been pleasantly surprised at the performance. What's more, if you're only going to use it for small quantities or snacks, there's no point spending a fortune. If you want to find a bargain, check out our best air fryer sales and deals to suit your budget.
They can't cook everything
Bear in mind, there are some things that simply won’t do well in an air fryer. You may fancy roasted broccoli, but this contains less moisture, meaning it dries out very quickly. The same goes for leafy green vegetables, which can burn easily. If you want to know other foods you can't cook in an air fryer, read the 9 things you should never put in an air fryer for peace of mind. While you're at it, make sure you're not making any of these air fryer mistakes as well.
You can easily overcook things
Since air fryers are mini convection ovens, they usually speed up the cooking process. As a result, they tend to overcook foods, even at the suggested time on the packet. For example, my vegetable spring rolls were too hard and almost inedible despite cooking for the suggested 15 minutes. To prevent overcooking, I would reduce the time by five minutes to get the right texture. In any case, you can always adjust to your preference.
They get really hot
Don’t be fooled by their small size; air fryers can get just as hot as a conventional oven. What’s more, they heat up very quickly and retain their hot temperature for long. I learned the hard way when turning over my katsu chicken without using the appropriate tongs! In any case, always use wooden or heat-proof tongs to turn over or remove food safely.
The bottom line
After owning my air fryer for one month, I use it to cook practically everything, but it also makes a great food warmer. What’s more, it’s handy to use, convenient and easy to clean, which is always a bonus. I hate to admit it, but I’m a converted air fryer fan!
Next: Are air fryers actually healthy? Here's what the experts say.