Are air fryers worth it?
Air fryers – the contemporary countertop ovens lauded by critics, foodies, and savvy savers everywhere.
But are these nifty kitchen gadgets really worth the hype?
Our air fryer guide will help you decide, covering everything you need to know, from their energy efficiency and running costs to the perennial question – are air fryers actually healthy?
Let’s find out...
What is an air fryer and how does it work?
Air fryers are countertop ovens powered by a top heating element and a large, powerful fan.
Interestingly, air fryer is a misnomer as they don’t fry food – they cook using convection, circulating hot air like a conventional oven.
And that delicious, crispy coating reminiscent of fried food? That’s a Maillard reaction, occurring when proteins and/or amino acids chemically react with carbohydrates.
Thank the food gods for Maillard, because it produces food with all the taste and texture of roasted or fried food, with no oil in sight.
Are air fryers healthy?
An air fryer’s health credentials depend on the appliance you compare them to.
You’ll save yourself a massive calorie hit if you air fry instead of deep frying, but air frying frozen foods like chips and breaded fish isn’t any healthier than cooking them in the oven.
But health extends beyond calories, and the benefits of air frying (cost-effective, speedy cooking, and tastier food) may improve your overall well-being.
Not bad for a humble kitchen gadget, eh?
What is the best air fryer?
The best air fryer really depends on your needs. If you want a quick side or snack like chips or samosas, a compact 1000W air fryer ticks all the boxes.
But what if the whole family have rumbling tums? Well, you’ll need something bigger and more powerful. Plus, if you overload a small air fryer, your food won’t cook through properly.
So, before parting with cash for an air fryer, ask yourself:
Do you have enough space for it?
Is it large and powerful enough to cook your desired portions?
While simple, these two questions will determine the best air fryer for you.
Air fryers vs conventional ovens
Here are three key advantages of cooking in an air fryer vs a conventional oven:
You’ll use less oil, cutting down on fat.
Air fryers heat rapidly, slashing cooking times.
Air fryers are more energy efficient than ovens, saving you money on electricity bills.
Well, stick around because there are plenty more benefits yet!
Air frying vs deep frying
Air frying cooks food much faster than a conventional oven, but slower than a deep fryer. Air fryers are much healthier than deep fryers, though, as you only use a teaspoon or tablespoon of oil compared to immersing every last chip in a vat of fat.
Air fryers are easier to clean and don’t emanate the pungent smell of fried food either, which seems to linger forever!
What can you cook in an air fryer?
Whatever you can cook in an oven, you can cook in an air fryer.
Chicken, chips, vegetables, frozen foods like burgers, nuggets, and breaded fish – nothing’s off the menu!
You can even bake desserts like cookies and cakes in an air fryer, saving time and money compared to an oven.
Feeling full after all those treats? Just reheat them in the air fryer when you’re ready for round two!
What can't you cook in an air fryer?
As versatile as air fryers are, some foods are better cooked using other appliances and cookware. Here are a few foods to avoid cooking in your air fryer:
· Batter and cheese – they’ll turn into a hot, gloopy mess
· Rare steaks and burgers – they’ll cook right through by the time the outside has browned
· Leafy veg can be blown around by the fan, so it might not cook evenly
· Broccoli and similar vegetables can dry out or end up soggy, so you’ll need to check them regularly
So, grab a frying pan or saucepan set for these foods and let your air fryer cook the rest!
How to clean an air fryer
It’s best to clean your air fryer after each use, but don’t worry; they’re super-easy to clean.
Simply unplug the appliance and disassemble the pan, tray and basket. Then wash each component in warm and soapy water and wipe the main unit with a damp cloth. Dry with a tea towel, reassemble, and you’re done!
Five amazing air fryer benefits
#1 Cost-effective and eco-friendly
Cooking in an air fryer is cheaper than a conventional oven, reducing your energy bill and carbon footprint – a double-whammy in these testing times.
We’ve included a handy guide to air fryer running costs after these five benefits.
#2 Make frozen food taste better
We’ve all got a bag of chips or chicken nuggets clogging up the freezer, ready to throw in the oven after a long day. But air frying chips and chicken nuggets?
The air fryer’s basket and hot air circulation distribute the fat and oil from the chips, producing that distinct, crispy fried texture.
#3 Speed up cooking
Air fryers take seconds, not minutes, to preheat. Then all you need to do is set the temperature and press start to begin cooking; that’s minutes shaved off the cooking time already.
The cooking process is shorter, too – chips that take 25 minutes in the oven will take 15 in the air fryer; breaded fish that’d ordinarily take 40 minutes in the oven will take around 20-25.
So, if you’re after a nifty gadget that’ll make mealtimes faster and more convenient – you’ve found it.
#4 Easy to clean
With an air fryer, there’s no oil to clean up (like a deep fryer), and they’re a doddle to clean compared to ovens.
All you need to do is unplug the appliance, clean each part with warm soapy water, and put it back together – no brillo pads or oven cleaner needed!
#5 Year-round use
Just been blown in by an icy gust? Fire up the air fryer and you’ll be munching soul-warming food in minutes!
There are loads of tasty air fryer recipes online for the winter months, but check out our mouth-watering slow cooker recipes if you’ve got some time on your hands.
Are air fryers energy efficient?
An air fryer’s energy efficiency and the amount it costs to run depends on the model and your energy tariff.
Here’s the estimated maximum you’ll pay to run an air fryer for 30 minutes after the energy price cap increase (October 2022):
|Air fryer (W)||Weekly||Monthly||Yearly|
|1000W basket air fryer||£1.21||£4.93||£60|
|1800W air fryer oven||£2.18||£8.88||£108|
|2400W air fryer oven||£2.91||£11.84||£144|
To calculate the running costs for an hour a day, simply double the numbers above.
So, what do you think – are air fryers worth it?
Well, let’s recap.
They’ll save you time, money and calories while taking up minimal space on your counter.
We’ll let you decide…
In the meantime, if you’re hungry for more buyer’s guides, DIY tips and interior inspiration, check out our blog – we'd love to chat in the comments!