If you are a fried food lover, you must check out this small oven that creates a golden crispy texture food using a circulating heat source. As a crispy fried food lover, fried food is one of my guilty pleasures that I don't get to indulge in often enough. It is high in calories and fat and can increase the risk of many health issues such as obesity, high cholesterol, heart disease, acne, and all things we want to avoid staying healthy.
There are many healthier ways to mimic that golden crispy texture on the outside and moist and tender inside without deep frying. Some of these healthier alternatives include baking, roasting, grilling, and air frying. The air frying method is the closest to deep-frying texture as you can get. Thanks to these methods, you can enjoy your favorite fried food while cutting back on calories and fat.
If you have never heard of an air fryer before or seen one, you may have many questions about it. Is it better for you? Is the food still satisfying? What can you put in an air fryer? I put together everything you need to know about an air fryer in this guide below to address all the questions going through your head. And I will share some of the best air fryers to purchase.
What Is An Air Fryer?
Air fryers is a kitchen appliance that cooks by circulating hot air around the food at high speed. A countertop convection oven that cooks the food and produces a crispy layer via the Maillard effect.
What are the Pros And Cons of Air Fryers
Lower Fat Cooking And Can Promote Weight Loss
Compared to a conventional deep fryer, air fryers function without fattening oils and producing food up to 80% less fat than other fryers. For someone who eats fried food often and has a hard time letting go of that fatty food, switching to an air fryer can promote weight loss by reducing fat and caloric intake.
Faster Cooking Time
Compared to other cooking methods like baking or grilling, air frying is much faster. Some air fryers require a 60 second preheat and some do not, the preheat is much less than an oven or a grill. And if you have a larger air fryer basket capacity or have multi compartments, you can make multiple dishes at once.
Easy to clean
Cleaning an air fryer is super easy. And air frying typically do not leave much of a mess after each usage unless you are cooking fatty food like chicken wings or steak. To clean your air fryer, pull the air fryer apart and wash with soap and water. Some are dishwasher safe.
Safer to use
Unlike deep frying or hot plates, the air fryer doesn't have any of the hazards. Air fryers do get hot, but there is no risk of splashing or spilling.
Environmentally Friendly And Use Less Electricity
Air fryers use considerably less power than most electric ovens, which helps you save money and reduces carbon emissions.
Many of the air fryers come with multifunctions. You can roast, grill, "fry," broil, steam, or heat food.
Less Mess And Waste
Deep fryer or pan-fries methods leave you with leftover cooking oil that is hard to dispose of and generally wasteful. An air fryer can cook completely oil-less. All the parts are coated with oven-safe, nonstick coating and are dishwasher safe.
Hand Free Cooking
The air fryer contains a timer, and it will stop on its own when it is complete so you can feel safe while multitasking.
Convenient To Use
The air fryer is ready to cook whenever you are. Some models require preheating (less than 5 minutes), but you can start cooking almost immediately with an air fryer.
Reduce Risk Of Toxic Acrylamide formation
Air frying can reduce the risk of creating acrylamides compared to frying food in oil. Acrylamide is a chemical that forms in some food during high-temperature cooking and can have health effects.
Longer Cooking Time (Compared To Traditional Fryer)
- Compared to traditional deep frying, which takes approximately 5-10 minutes, an air fryer will take at least 15-25 minutes. Still faster than any oven, though!
If you are cooking for a large group of people, you will need to air frying in several batches. If you cook for a large family, make sure you look for extra-large capacity because no one wants to cook dinner and serve it in batches.
Higher Risk Of Burning Your Food
Air fryers cook your foods between 300-400 degrees F. If you don't pull your food out at just the right time, you are at a high risk of scorching your meal!
Your Food Can Dry Out Quickly
An air fryer can dry out the food quickly if you don't keep a close eye on it. When you are cooking food in an oil fryer, you don't run this risk because your foods can develop that outer crispness while staying moist on the inside.
Build Up Potential Carcinogens
When you start roasting or cooking meat in your fryer, you may notice a buildup of a blackened crust on the outside of your food. That black crust is known as acrylamide, a fairly common compound that can potentially cause cancer. If you see this on your fried foods, you should remove it or toss it.
What To Look For to buy the best air fryer?
Air fryers are typically large and can take up a good chunk of your counter space. If you are looking to save some counter space, check out the multi-function air fryers. For example, you can get an Instant Pot air fryer used as a slow cooker, pressure cooking, and air frying.
Remember, the larger your air fryer's size is, the larger your air fryer basket will be. The best air fryers for cooking for a large family should look for an XL air fryer basket, or else you will be cooking in batches.
Design For Easy Cleaning
The best air fryers should be easy and afford-less to clean. An air fryer will need cleaning after each use and you will want to make sure your air fryer is easy to pull apart and wash.
Tip: A removable drawer makes it a lot easier to clean your air fryer after use.
Higher wattage means a more powerful.
Air fryers aren't cheap. They can arrange between $50-300 depending on the functionality, size, and other factors.
Most air fryers are made of plastic with a metal basket inside, which may be hazardous to your health and bad for the environment. The cheaper and older plastic can leach out chemicals and phthalates into your food. And unfortunately, BPA free alternatives are just as damaging.
Not to mention the nonstick coating used on the air fryer basket tray may be coated with Teflon or other chemicals, which may release toxins during cooking and have potential health impacts.
The best air fryer should be non-toxic to your health and good for the environment. It should be PTFE and PFOA free, stainless steel, ceramic coated, or should from make it glass.
To help you find the best air fryers that are non-toxic, I have found ten non-toxic air fryers on the market today that don't contain Teflon. But please do conduct your own research before purchasing an air fryer.
10 Best Air fryers That Are Nontoxic And Saver
Best Multi-Function Air Fryer
If you feel overwhelmed by how many kitchen countertop appliances you got, look no further than Ninja Foodi 9-in-1. This gadget is a pressure cooker, air fryer, yogurt, dehydrator, steamer, roaster, saute, broiler, and slow cooker, all in one appliance.
- Multi-function appliance.
- A ceramic coated pot that is nonstick and PTFE/ PFOA free (safe enough).
- Easy to clean, and the basket is dishwasher safe.
- Large capacity and can cook for the whole family.
- Can cook up to 8 chicken breasts and hold up to 7 lbs chicken.
- Large in size. It takes up a lot of square footage on your counter and storage space.
- The machine can be on the heavy side.
Most Spacious Multi-Functional Air Fryer
If you have limited counter space but still love the multi-function appliance idea, then check out this Ninja Foodi SP101 Foodi 8-in-1. For easy store away, simply flip the oven up. This gadget is an air fryer, air roast, air broil, bake, bagel, toast, dehydrator, and keep warm- all in one appliance.
- Stylish and easy to stow away.
- Versatile and multi-function appliance
- Dishwasher safe air fryer basket
- Nonstick pan is PTFE/ PFOA free.
- It comes with heat and reheats.
- It can fit a 13-inch pizza or 6 piece chicken breasts.
- Lack of headspace and hard to cook large tall items like squash.
- The timer can be quiet for some.
- It can be hard to clean.
- Require 60 seconds preheat
Best Glass Air Fryer
This supersize air fryer allows you to observe your food while it's cooking in a clear glass bowl. Unlike most air fryers, Big Boss oil-less air fryer basket is made of a transparent glass bowl and makes it non-toxic and entirely plastic-free! This air fryer allows you to fry, bake, grill, dehydrate, and roast with little or no oil.
- Glass basket
- Up to 16 quarts of large capacity and large enough to cook a full turkey.
- No preheat is needed, and you can toss in frozen food with no thaw needed.
- Multifunction appliance.
- Cooking rack to cook foods.
- The glass bowl can be heavy for some.
- It can take longer to cook.
- It is bulky and can take a lot of counter space.
Best Stainless steel Toaster Oven air fryer
This is a multi-functional stainless steel appliance that can act as an air fryer, convection bake, convection broil, broil, bake, warm, and toast. The stainless steel appliance features a 0.6 cubic foot nonstick interior oven.
- Choose from 7 functions: Air Fry, Convection Bake, Convection Broil, Bake, Broil, Warm, Toast
- Capacity: 0.6 Cubic Foot Interior With Light.
- Large enough to AirFry up to 3lbs, toast 6 slices of bread, bake a 4lb chicken or 12″ pizza
- Glassdoor allows you to monitor food as it cooks.
- 60-minute timer.
- Adjustable temperature.
- Toast shade selector.
- Included accessories: Oven Rack, Baking Pan, Air Fryer Basket
- Easy to clean and easy to use
- Controlling the temperature is difficult.
Best multifunction Family Friendly air fryer
The super versatile convection digital air fryer comes in 13 cooking functions. The large stainless steel interior can toast 9 slices of bread, roasting a 14-pound turkey, slow cook with a 5-quart dutch oven, and comfortably fits most 9x13 inch pan. All reasons making this air fryer perfect for cooking for a crowd.
- Large capacity and perfect cooking for up to 14 people.
- LCD display with 13 cooking functions.
- The multi-function appliance is made with stainless steel.
- Easy to clean and easy to use.
- The appliance itself can be heavy for some.
- Use a lot of power: 1800 watts.
Best Compact Air Fryer
This is the perfect compact air fryer for a single or couple size meal. This Elite Gourmet personal compact air fryer is space-saving and can hold up to 1.5 pounds of food.
- PFOA/PTFE free nonstick basket
- Adjustable temperature and timer.
- Cool to touch handle
- Easy to clean and easy to use
- Dishwasher safe
- The labeling on the air fryer is easy to smudge off.
Best Air Fryer For Large Family
If you are looking for an air fryer to feel a crowd, look no further than this GoWise digital air fryer. It features a 7-quart cooking space with 8 cooking functions. Range from 180°F to 400°F and allow to set the temperature in increments of 5.
- PFOA-free nonstick material.
- A large basket makes it perfect for a family.
- LCD display with 8 cooking functions.
- Removable pan, oil container, and lid for easy cleaning.
- Auto shut off.
- For a smaller family, recommend the smaller size.
- Can be loud
Best Air Fryer As Attachment
Whether you have already owned an instant pot or want a new Instant Pot, you can now Instant Pot Duo Pressure cooker with an air fryer! If you already own an instant pot, you can purchase the air fryer lid separately and still gain the capabilities. The Instant Pot Air Fryer lid allows air fry, broil, bake, roast, reheat, and dehydrates. While the Instant Pot itself can pressure cooks, sautes, steams, slow cooks, and sous vide.
- 11-In-1 1-Touch Cooking Programs
- Stainless-steel inner pot
- The air fryer basket has a ceramic nonstick coating
- Food is easy to remove
- The basket is easy to clean
- Can purchase air fryer parts separately.
Best Air Fryer With Multiple baskets
Don't like your food to touch each other? Then look no further than this first air fryer with two independent baskets that allow you to cook two foods, two ways, at the same time.
- Two independent baskets
- 6 Customizable programs: Air Fry, Air Broil, Roast, Bake, Reheat, and Dehydrate
- Easy-to-clean baskets and easy to use
- Nonstick ceramic coating that is free of lead, cadmium, BPA, PFOS, and PFOA
- It can take up a lot of counter space.
Best Air Fryer Without Basket
Are you looking for plastic and stainless steel free options? Look no further than this NutriChef convection oven that has a built-in fan that circulates hot air. This appliance can cook, baking, grill, steam, broil, roast, and air fry!
- An extra wide cooking glass bowl that can hold up to 18 quarts.
- Two-wire cooking racks
- Easy cleaning and easy to use
- Dial labels can be easy to rub off.
- The bowl can be heavy for some and slippery when wet.
Air Fryer FAQ
What Can You Cook in an Air Fryer?
You can put pretty much anything in an air fryer, from vegetables to your protein. All, without oil. You can also use an air fryer to heat your frozen pre-made food like dumplings, chicken wings, falafel, egg rolls, pizza bites, quiche, and much more. The possibilities are endless.
Some of my favorite things that I enjoy making with my air fryer include kale chips, french fries, chicken fingers, toothpick lamb with cumin, steak, and salmon.
Does Air Fried Food Taste Good?
Air-fried food does not taste the same as deep-fried. It is less greasy, slightly drier but still does have a crunch. In most cases, the taste difference does not deter people from using an air fryer.
Is Air Fryer Healthier?
When comparing side by side with conventional frying, the answer is yes. If you eat many fried foods, then a fryer is a healthier alternative in terms of your oil consumption.
Here are some nutritional examples:
However, if you are looking at the bigger picture, it is better to move away from "fried" food, even if it's not dredging in oil. Whether you are cooking fries or chicken nuggets, they are not the most nutritious foods. When food is cooking at high temperature, certain vitamins and minerals are reduced or lost during the cooking process, including:
- Fat-soluble vitamins
- Water-soluble vitamins
There have been many pieces of research that have demonstrated raw foods are more nutritious than cooked. But, I understand it is unrealistic to cut fried food out of your diet completely. If you are looking to cut down on fried food, you should have an action plan and do it the right way. And if you are looking for "healthier" alternatives, then air frying is a healthier choice than deep-fried.
Remember air frying can still run the risk of creating acrylamides, which can negatively impact your health. Your air fryer itself can contain toxic chemicals that could leach into your food.
What Can You Do With An Air Fryer?
Surprisingly there are many things you can make with an air fryer. You can use it to reheat take out or leftovers, bake crisp desserts, homemade chips, air fried ravioli, puff pastry, dinner rolls, crotons, quiche, and much more!