Air fryers are kitchen equipment which uses hot air that circulates inside to cook food.
If we are going to state the main difference between air fryers and traditional cookers, we would say it’s the quantity of oil (or the complete lack of it) used when cooking.
While regular cookers or ovens require a certain amount of oil to get the food ready, air fryers need only a very thin layer which if combined with heat, will be more than enough.
Besides oil usage, there are more features that make the air fryer a perfect kitchen device to have at home. And one important feature includes being compact, which not only means it consumes lesser space but produces negligible or no smoke/heat as well.
While there are already many of us who know that it uses air to cook, how it actually works is more interesting in itself. After all, it is a rather revolutionary method of cooking!
Simply put, the circulating air is very hot that it can sink deep into the center of the food, provided you set the right temperature required for the food.
There is a fan that pulls the air inside. When the air gets in touch with the heater, it becomes hot. After that, the air is pushed down continuously where the food lies and rotates there.
When the air trapped inside becomes hotter, the pressure also builds up. For this reason, air fryers come with an exhaust system.
This feature drains the hot steam away after finishing to filter it first, therefore, making the appliance eco-friendly too.
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The complete buyer’s guide to air fryers
The features that we will list down below make a perfect air fryer but then again, keep in mind that a single fryer cannot possibly inherit all of the following aspects – it will always lack one thing or the other.
However, the idea is to get one that has features which can fulfill most of your requirements. And with that in mind, let’s take a look at how to find the best air fryer for you.
There are certain kinds of air fryers out there that come with different sizes. The cooking space inside an air fryer is measured in liters or quarts.
Normally, the small ones are around 1-2 quart range, while larger units can go up to 5 quarts and above.
So if you have a big family, opting for one around 5-6 quart range or above would be a perfect idea. With this range, you can also use it to roast a whole chicken. On the other hand, a fryer that’s around 3-4 quart range will serve a small family of 5.
In addition to that, there are fryers that come with two baskets for cooking two or more varieties of food.
You will find that many air fryers come with a plug which works until 1500 watts and has a 3 point pin.
We recommend going for a fryer which is versatile and can be used for cooking multiple items.
When looking for this feature, don’t forget that the temperature control plays a huge part in it. For instance, chicken nuggets will require heat temperature of about 200 degrees F, while vegetables need lesser heat.
Air fryers without pre-program settings also have higher versatility for cooking a wide range of food. Most of these machines can act as alternatives to regular cookware as well, which makes them highly convenient in terms of saving space and money.
Before we go into this feature, it’s worth noting that different people have different preferences when it comes to controlling the device. Some want more control over it while others like the idea that the machine does everything by itself.
For this reason, pre-sets or pre-programmed settings are not really a compulsory feature to look for, but more of a choice instead.
Keeping that in mind, an air fryer with pre-set programs is perfect for those who are getting themselves familiar with air frying. It really helps to save time while you’re managing other tasks.
Also, if you want to avoid the potential burning of food, you might want to include this feature on your checklist.
On the other hand, experts tend to prefer air fryers without preset programs so they can cook with more precision.
However, if you are a beginner looking for an air fryer with pre-program settings, make sure it is easy to operate. Some machines have a one-touch setting which eliminates all complications in the process of cooking.
Finally, the automatic shut-off feature is also a must when you have a busy schedule. When the food is ready, the device will turn off automatically and give you an alert.
When purchasing home appliances especially the expensive ones, we always look for a warranty. The same aspect applies to buying an air fryer.
In order to ensure you don’t waste money on a machine that may not serve for an expected period, it is always safe to check for a warranty.
Although the warranty period totally depends on different brands and manufacturers, we would suggest looking for an air fryer that comes with at least a 1-year warranty.
Besides that, also check for return and refund policy, even if you’re buying from well-known brands because the delivery process can mess up your device at times.
There are many air fryers out there which use a little amount of oil for cooking, in which we personally find that it is already a good way for meeting healthy requirements.
But in case you’re aiming for a total oil-free diet, look for an air fryer of such. There are a few air fryers which suck out the oils from the food and release it to the drip bowl.
If you’re trying to lose weight, such fryers would be a perfect pick for you!
Wattage and Power Usage
The first thing to consider when looking at a fryer’s wattage is your own kitchen outlet – will it support the power consumption that the appliance will use?
Since most air fryers operate at 1000-1500 watts, it is important that the outlet also supports consumption which covers that range.
In case you’re considering to buy a model that consumes more power, then the support needs to be more than 1800 watts in order to be safe.
But, you’ll find most fryers out there which consume lesser than 1500 watts, and this is perfect for reducing the electricity bill.
When we talk about the safety of a cooking appliance, burns come first.
With air fryers, the handle and the inside baskets should be well insulated in order to protect your hands from burning when holding them, even at high temperatures.
Also, do not forget to test the base of the appliance. If it is too slippery, there might be a chance that it will slip off the surface when you move it. The lid must be tight, secured, and locked.
The outcome of your food largely depends on the temperature of the air fryer.
Higher temperature will give rise to better-cooked food. Not only that, they also make food preparation quicker and prevents it from accumulating grease.
We would suggest purchasing an air fryer with a temperature that can go up to 400 degrees and above.
It would be better if the fryer has lights and timers which will indicate the food is ready, thereby making the cooking process much easier for you.
Apart from the above important features, there are other aspects which you might want to look for in an air fryer if you want to be specific:
Some air fryers which run at 1500 watts or below are great for normal cooking.
Then there are fryers which operate at more than 2000 watts. Not that this feature is a necessity for everybody but if you have a big family, going for the latter option is not a bad idea.
The difference is that the higher the watts, the more food you can stuff inside the fryer without worrying about undercooking.
As a reminder, going for powerful fryers requires high support outlets as well.
A kitchen appliance which does intensive work on the inside requires a strong body and secured tiny pieces.
Although a warranty is available, it is good to inspect the fryer yourself. Check that everything is tightly fit. In the case where you have any doubt, make sure to ask the seller before investing in it.
Mostly, the warranty only counts for the machine while other extras and key parts such as the baskets are excluded. Still, we would recommend looking for a ceramic-coated basket which can last longer.
Air fryers are made to ease our cooking purposes. So, when you compare it to using regular cookware, you’ll find that it is easier to clean.
Besides, you need a lot of cooking pans and pots to prepare the different items, or just one air fryer to do all the work.
We find it very convenient for people with tight schedules.
What are the types of foods I can prepare with my air fryer?
There’s a wide range of food that you can prepare with the air fryer. Such examples are chicken, corncobs, peppers, frozen and processed foods, and snacks. As far as chicken is concerned, grilled and roasted chicken are also included.
However, you cannot cook solid foods and vegetables which require steaming.
Which kind of oil is good for air frying?
You can use the oil of your preference for cooking with an air fryer. They include groundnut oil, olive oil as well as sunflower oil.
Using too much oil can make the food sticky. Therefore, if you want crispy food, try rubbing a thin layer of oil over the food before cooking it.
How do I set the temperature if I use a recipe of my own?
While this depends on the kind of food you’re cooking, we can suggest setting the temperature based on how you normally cook them.
If you use low heat with normal heating to fry foods, turn the temperature to 130 degrees F; if you want to cook deep fried foods, the temperature should be about 200 degrees F.
Can I preheat my air fryer?
Although it is not necessary, you can preheat the air fryer for a maximum of 5 minutes if you want to speed up the cooking process.
How long will it take to cook frozen food in an air fryer?
Depending on the food you’re cooking, set the timer longer than you would usually do for that particular dish. This is because frozen foods require a longer cooking time.
Can I add ingredients and shake the air fryer in between the cooking process?
There are some fryers which allow you to shake them in between the cooking time while there are some which automatically shakes the food. It depends on which brand you’re using.
You can also add ingredients in the middle of the process.
While cooking with an air fryer makes things very easy and convenient, the only disadvantage is that you can’t cook all types of foods, especially meats and vegetables – at least not raw. You can cook other meats and vegetables once they are made tender first before sliding them into the fryer.
Overall, these inventions are making our cooking and cleaning faster than usual, which is good for busy individuals.