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An air fryer is a popular kitchen appliance that mimics deep frying while cutting down on calories and fat. Some of the benefits of air frying include healthy cooking, convenience, functionality, and value.
If you have heard about air frying but do not know what exactly it is, then you are in the right place. This guide explores the benefits of cooking with an air fryer along with several top-rated models so you can find the air fryer that is right for you.
- What is an air fryer?
- How do air fryers work?
- Air frying is healthier than other cooking techniques
- Air frying is incredibly versatile
- Air fryers offer portability and convenience
- Air frying is safer than deep-frying
- Cooking with an air fryer is quick and easy
- Air fryers offer exceptional value for the money
- Air fryers are ideal for cooking in small batches
- Air fryers are easy to clean
- Which air fryer should I buy?
- Best budget air fryer:
- Best large-capacity air fryer:
- Best compact air fryer:
- Best overall air fryer:
An air fryer is a kitchen appliance, similar to a toaster and oven, that rapidly cooks food and produces results similar to that of deep-frying. Air fryers allow you to enjoy foods like crispy fries and chicken tenders in the comfort of your own home, with added health benefits.
How do air fryers work?
Air fryers are compact convection ovens. They cook by rapidly circulating hot air around the food. They do need a small amount of oil to operate since this is what the circulating air heats up to create that crispy, browned effect.
You simply place your food in a frying basket or on a tray (depending on your model of air fryer), add the required amount of oil, set the temperature setting you want to use, and let the air fryer work its magic. Most air fryers offer manual temperature settings between 100-400 degrees, along with preset cooking modes customized to specific ingredients or meals.
Air frying is healthier than other cooking techniques
Air frying is healthier than deep-frying because it significantly reduces the amount of oil used, resulting in cooked food with lower calories and fat content compared to its deep-fried counterparts. According to an Insider article, lower calorie and fat content can reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Due to the health benefits of air frying, some people appreciate the air fryer as a convenient tool to achieve their fitness and weight-loss goals.
However, while your air fryer can cut down on some unhealthy aspects of cooking, it does not alter the nutritional content of your recipes. This means that to truly achieve healthy cooking, you need to start with healthy and nutritious recipes. However, your air fryer will allow you to indulge in your favorite comfort foods as well with less guilt.
Air frying is incredibly versatile
You can cook a wide variety of delicious meals in your air fryer. You are really only limited by the size of your fryer, and to which ingredients will work with the air fryer basket/tray. You cannot add a lot of liquids to your air fryer recipe (unless they are frozen), and soups and broths should also be avoided. You should also skip air frying cheese on its own without a base because it will melt right through the basket and create quite a mess. However, as long as you keep those guidelines in mind, the sky is the limit with your air frying cooking capabilities.
Air fryers excel at rapidly cooking frozen foods, offering an alternative to microwaving and time-consuming traditional oven cooking methods. A quick Google search on air fryer recipes reveals everything from baked goods, southern fried chicken, roasted vegetables, and everything in between. Chances are, you can easily make your favorite meals using an air fryer.
Air fryers offer portability and convenience
Since air fryers come in a range of sizes and capacities, you can choose the fryer that works best with your unique kitchen setup. And, because air fryers perform multiple functions, they can likely replace some of your other small appliances like toaster ovens. Due to their portable nature, you can easily take your fryer with you while traveling or moving.
Air frying is safer than deep-frying
Traditional deep frying involves large amounts of hot oil, which tends to spill and splatter. Many people are wary of deep because of this, and they want to avoid the risk of accidents and burns. Luckily, air frying can produce the same cooking results as a deep fryer, without the excess oil and safety risks.
Cooking with an air fryer is quick and easy
As already mentioned, air fryers offer rapid heating, which cooks food more quickly than other appliances like ovens. And, air fryers are easy to set up and use, making them accessible to anyone, even without a wealth of cooking knowledge or skills.
Cooking with an air fryer is difficult to mess up since most models offer cooking presets and detailed instructions with recipe books. If you do find yourself running into cooking challenges with your air fryer, their popularity means that there are plenty of online resources you can turn to for troubleshooting, quick fixes, and recipe inspiration.
Air fryers offer exceptional value for the money
Compared to the cost of traditional ovens, which can be up in the $1000 range, air fryers off a significant value. There is an air fryer to fit every budget. According to Taste of Home, the price of air fryers continues to drop as they become more commonplace in households.
This means that, while you can certainly splurge on more expensive models if you want, you can also find several air fryer models under $100. In fact, every air fryer model included in this guide is under $100.
Air fryers are ideal for cooking in small batches
Because of their compact size and capacity, air fryers are ideal when cooking for 1-2 people. If you like to avoid having leftovers to deal with after every meal, air fryers make it easy to control the quantity of the food you make. This helps you cut down on food waste, which is good for you and the environment.
Air fryers are easy to clean
Since air fryers require very little oil to use, and they use fans to circulate heat, they are a breeze to clean after use. All you have to do is wipe the inside and basket clean, and you are good to go. If you do happen to make a mess in your fryer, they are easy to spot-clean with some soap and a towel. Additionally, some models are even dishwasher safe!
Which air fryer should I buy?
If you are thinking about investing in an air fryer, start by asking yourself these questions: What kind of food do I want to prepare? What kind of features are important to me? What is my budget? With the popularity of air fryers continuing to rise, you can find an air fryer to fit all of your needs.
Best budget air fryer:
If you are looking to upgrade your cooking outfit on a budget, this is the best pick for you. Rated 4.5 stars on Amazon with almost 30,000 reviews, you can be confident that the GoWISE USA 1700-Watt 5.8-QT 8-in-1 Digital Air Fryer will perform at a high standard while being easy on your wallet.
Costing only $67 right now on Amazon, this air fryer is a great deal to consider. While you can find cheaper air fryers on the market, this model offers the best combination of features, capacity, and dependability for the money. The 5.8-quart capacity is sufficient for most cooking needs, and it offers 8 different cooking modes and options for ease of use.
Best large-capacity air fryer:
Maybe you need a larger air fryer to cook large meals for your family and friends. Luckily, there are several options to choose from. The best one we found is the Instant Vortex Plus 10 Quart Air Fryer available on Amazon.
This one is also rated 4.5 stars with over 35,000 reviews. If you already know and love the Instant Pot and other Instant family appliances, then this air fryer is a great pick for you, equipped with similar cooking modes and controls.
Best compact air fryer:
If you have a small kitchen space to work in, you might need an air fryer that takes up as little space as possible. While most air fryers are relatively space-efficient, we found the Magic Bullet MBA50100 Air Fryer to be the best option for limited counter space. It can handle 2 quarts of food at a time and produces quality cooking results.
Best overall air fryer:
Blending functionality and value, the Ninja AF101 Air Fryer is the best overall pick. It has a 5-star rating on Amazon with over 31,000 reviews, which is quite remarkable. It is $99.99 currently, making it a little more expensive than budget options. It offers preset cooking settings and a 4-quart frying basket and produces excellent frying results with a wide array of foods.
An air fryer can turn your favorite fried foods into healthier versions of themselves, offering cooking convenience at an affordable price. If you are looking for a small appliance that combines healthy cooking, compact size, value, and functionality, an air fryer might be for you.