To Buy or Not to Buy: Air Fryer
If you’ve been on the fence about buying a product, we’re going to help you make an informed decision. We’ve purchased products and tried them so we can pass along an unbiased review to you. Today, we’re reviewing the Air Fryer.
Introduced by Phillips, Air Fyers have been on the market since 2010, but have become increasingly popular in the last two years. Today, many companies including GoWise, Avalon, NuWave, Faberware, PowerFyer, and Black and Decker, just to name a few, have jumped on the bandwagon.
The Air Fryer technology works by cooking your food using super-heated air that circulates in its chamber using a fan. It’s much like a convection oven. The concept allows you to fry food without having to use cooking oil and still have crispy results.
I tested the Power Air Fryer Elite. I only had the product for 3 months before doing an earlier review. After using it nearly six or more times per week ever since, I can now say, I have a more positive review. My Power Air Fryer Elite has a 5.5 quart capacity with several preset cooking options for steak, French fries, and chicken. You can also manually choose a temperature and cooking time. I rarely use the presets.
I used to fry food in oil and butter in a skillet. You do not need oil in the Air Fryer and you can get the same results. I used to fry meatballs in a skillet with butter and oil. Now, I put them in the Air Fryer, turning them once halfway through and they come out juicy, with a crispy outside and they’re still round! I cook them on 370 for about 20 minutes. Frozen French fries and tater tots come out better than if you fried them in a fryer. Again, no oil.
I roasted a whole four-pound chicken in an hour and it came out super juicy with a crispy skin.
It supplements my oven. One day, I was baking bread and needed my oven for that, so I cooked a 3-pound rump roast in the Air Fryer. After one hour at 350 degrees, it was a perfect medium well and made the best French dip sandwiches.
I make a batch of cookie dough and freeze it. When I want a chocolate chip cookie, I grab two or three cookie dough balls from the freezer, put them in the Air Fryer at 320 for 15 minutes and I have a warm cookie whenever I want it. My Air Fryer came with a round cake pan and I use that for the cookies.
The Air Fryer is so much more than making French fries, cheese balls, and chicken nuggets. You may never have to use your oven again.
Some things you should know before you buy an Air Fryer: Get the biggest one you can find. You can cook a little in a big pan, but you can’t cook a lot in a little pan. The biggest one I’ve seen is the GoWise XL at 5.8 quarts. There are Power Air Fryer ovens at 6 quarts, but I did not test an "oven." The one I tested, like most of the Air Fryers on the market, have baskets and not trays.
Warning: It will probably stink. This is just the new parts getting hot. After the first two or three uses, the smell will go away.
I've heard other people say that they think the Air Fryers are noisy. I have not noticed that with mine. Noise is not an issue with the Power Air Fryer Elite.
Find one that has a timer at least up to one hour and a temperature setting up to 400 degrees. I like the fact I can set mine for 60 minutes, even though at some point I’ll need to turn the product I’m cooking.
Clean up is easy with the Power Air Fryer because the basket and pan are non-stick. The only problem with that is it scratches easy. Make sure you invest in silicone coated tongs.
Any vessel you use in your oven will also work in your Air Fryer, as long as it fits.
Another investment I made when I bought my Air Fryer was oil spray bottles. I have a set called EVO spray bottles. I have olive oil in one and canola oil in another. If something does need to be squirted with oil, I use these bottles. One spray equals ¼ teaspoon. I usually only need 2 sprays – ½ teaspoon – way less oil than I’d use if I fried in a pan or in a fryer.
What have I made in my Air Fryer? It might be easier to say what I haven’t made. The unit sits on my countertop at all times. I use it to cook bacon, sausage, Parmesan chicken breasts, buttermilk fried chicken, steak, meatballs, Parmesan potatoes, frozen pretzels, frozen appetizers, baked potatoes, tator tot casserole…I’ve even made homemade pizza in the Air Fryer.
Here's a picture of chicken cordon blue made in my Air Fryer. It kept the inside tender, juicy, and melty and had a crispy coating.
Baked potatoes - 400 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the potato. Spray with a couple of squirts of olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Cheesy garlic bread - 400 degrees for 4 minutes.
Baked lasagna - Cover securely with tin foil (or it will blow around). Cook at 330 for 20 minutes. Take off tin foil and bake at 350 for another 10 minutes. Keep watching so it doesn't get too dark on top.
BACON!!!! - The best way you'll ever make bacon. The picture shows that I cut it in half, but my Air Fryer will hold whole slices. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. You may want to turn it half way through. I forgot to turn it once and it still turned out good. Thick-sliced is recommended, but thin-sliced works too, it just might curl up a little.
Deep-dish pizza - 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Meatballs - First of all, I love my meatball recipe. One pound ground beef, 1/4 pound ground pork, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, one egg, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder. Bake at 370 degrees for 20 minutes. Shake them about half way through. I'll eat them plain or add spaghetti sauce, or a cream sauce made out of cream of mushroom soup and sour cream.
Baked mac 'n cheese - I assemble everything on the stove, then bake in the Air Fryer at 330 degrees for 15-20 minutes, watching it so it doesn't get too brown on the top.
Verdict: The Air Fryer is a must-have kitchen appliance. Not only will you be cooking healthier food without oil, you might even see the numbers decrease on your scale, without even trying. The Air Fryer might not be the best appliance for really large families (unless you have more than one Air Fryer), but for a single person or small family, it will make preparing meals a lot easier.
Which Air Fryer should you buy? Consumer Reports recently reviewed them.