By Tope Babatope
Did you know you can now make deep fried foods that are less greasy and healthier? Did you know you can fry foods without using a large quantity of hot oil? It’s time to throw away those frying pans in your kitchen and replace them with air fryers, an innovative worktop kitchen appliance. Air fryer, which is being made by a ton of technology companies, can give you the taste of deep frying without all the grease. This all sounds awesome, but do air fryers actually live up to the hype? And should you get one?
How it works
Air fryers come in different shapes and sizes, from 2.75 quarts to around 6 quarts, but they all work basically the same way.
Each one has a basket (and sometimes removable racks) that you put food in. The basket slips into a cavity in the unit. When you turn the air fryer on, the food is blasted with hot air.
The name is perplexing
No, it doesn’t actually fry your food. It runs on circulating hot air, which makes it more like a worktop convection oven than a fryer. So basically, with the air fryer, you’re baking. Hence, if you like baking plenty of things that are supposed to be fried, e.g. potato tots and French fries, they would come out pretty crispy using the air fryer, especially if you toss them in a light coating of vegetable oil first. Getting a dedicated appliance that bakes when you have an oven can seem redundant, though.
Redundant or genius?
If you live in an apartment or dorm without an oven, an air fryer might be your best bet to cook these kinds of foods. Plus, they take less energy to cook up a few servings of fries than an oven does, and they won’t heat up the whole kitchen.
Air fryer also retains more moisture in the food while it cooks. This can lead to more succulent chicken wings and fried fish.
One last perk? Air fryers can cook much faster than an oven, by as much as 50 per cent.
What exactly can air fryers cook?
Well, it all depends on which one you buy. Some can cook homemade wings, fried chicken, corn dogs, chicken strips and even doughnuts, as well as straight-from-the-freezer classics like mozzarella sticks, fish and vegetables. Basically, if you can cook it in an oven, you can cook it in an air fryer.
Other air fryers claim they can cook a wide range of foods, but are best just for cooking fries. Be sure to check out which is the best for all-around cooking.
Check out the extra features
While most air fryers are just a basket or rack and a heating unit, there are a few that come with some useful features you may want to take advantage of. Some come with a motorised mixing paddle, which mixes your fries and tots so they’re all cooked evenly.
Also, look for features that make the unit easier to clean. For instance, some come with a non-stick basket and a drawer that are dishwasher safe. Some units also come with a two-tier cooking rack so you can bake flat items like fish fillets.
Air fryers range from around $70 (N25,200) to $300 (N108,000) and are available in malls and online shopping sites.
If you’re living on a budget, it may be a better idea to choose a toaster oven with a convection feature because it’s more versatile. With a toaster oven, you can toast, bake and broil using one appliance, while an air fryer can just bake.
If you just love fries and you have the space and the budget for an air fryer, though, go for it. Many models offer up crisp deliciousness with very little oil, just as advertised