Are Air Fryers Worth the Hype?
Article By: Maria Tucker, MPH, RDN, LDN, CDCES
Maria Tucker is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with over 20 years of experience assisting patients with diabetes, obesity, and nutrition-related conditions. Maria is also the Founder of MyBiyaya.com, a site dedicated to healthy recipes and kitchen shortcuts.
In the last ten years or so, air fryers have gained widespread popularity... But what even is an air fryer you might ask? Well, in the simplest sense, an air fryer is like a mini countertop version of a convection oven. Modern ovens now have a convection feature, with a powerful fan circulating hot air around the food which cooks it more evenly and in less time. Air fryers save time and allow for more even cooking. They became popular as an alternative to deep frying, getting the crispiness of fried food but with little to no oil and a lot fewer calories.
Over the years, air fryers have evolved into multi-task kitchen appliances. Some air fryers can also cook rotisserie chicken, dehydrate fruits, vegetables, and meat, bake a small cake, etc. Before you buy an air fryer, ask yourself these questions to determine which model is right for you (or if you even really need one):
- Do I have counter space for an air fryer?
- What do I want to cook in it?
- How much food am I going to cook at one time?
- How much do I want to spend?
- How often will I use it?
Once you’ve answered these questions and have decided you DO need or want an air fryer, the next step is to figure out which type of air fryer to buy. There are two common styles of air fryers: basket style and toaster oven style.
1) Basket style air fryers. These come in small and large capacity models, some with multiple functions while others only serve as an air fryer. Several online product review sites agree on the following air fryers as worth your money:
- Instant Pot Vortex Plus Air Fryer – made by the same company that brought us the Instant Pot, this is a favorite because it has a see-through window which allows you to check on the food without having to pull the basket out. It has a pre-heat function and a light that turns on automatically before the timer goes off.
- Cosori Pro II 5.8 Quart Air Fryer – this budget-friendly option has a square basket which offers good cooking surface area and has easy-to-use control panels.
- Dash Compact Air Fryer – this is a budget-friendly air fryer with a smaller footprint than other basket style air fryers. Great for small kitchens, it is simple and easy to clean with a non-stick basket.
2) Toaster oven style air fryers. For this category, think of a countertop convection oven that cooks crisp French fries, chicken tenders, and other foods quickly and evenly. Most toaster oven style air fryers are multi-function, offering features such as bake, dehydrate, rotisserie, and grill. Like basket style air fryers, toaster oven models come in small and larger capacities. These brands have received high marks from several online product review sites for their ease of use, clean-up, and affordability.
- Cosori 10-Quart Toaster Oven Combo – fancy a multi-function, 14-in-1 kitchen appliance? This is the one for you! It has preset cooking settings for a variety of foods plus bake, roast, toast, dehydrate, and keep warm. It has a large capacity and syncs to the app on your phone for remote control.
- Instant Vortex Plus, 10-Quart Air Fryer – featuring non-stick accessories for easy clean up, a large capacity, and multiple functions, this brand is from the makers of the Instant Pot. Great for large families, this air fryer offers convenience and efficiency.
- Chefman Multifunction Digital Air Fryer – this is another large capacity air fryer, great for large families. It has multiple functions and the large glass window makes monitoring cooking progress a breeze. Its dishwasher-safe accessories, like the removable drip tray, make clean up quick and easy. It has several pre-set functions, making it easy to use even for a beginner cook.
These brands are just a few of the many air fryer options available on the market. It is important to keep in mind that simply using an air fryer does not make the food you cook in it magically healthier. For example, crisping frozen French fries or breaded chicken tenders that have already been fried and then frozen will already be high in fat even before being cooked in the air fryer.
Remember, too, that any new kitchen gadget or equipment you buy to help you prepare healthier food will not help if you do not use it, and use it wisely.
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.
Leave a comment