The air fryer is the hottest appliance today. In theory, they let you enjoy all those fried foods without adding all the fat calories from oils.
But an Air Fryer actually doesn’t “fry” your food like a deep fryer. It is a countertop convection oven that produces crispy foods that mimic the original fried versions with a faster baking/roasting time than your conventional oven. If you think about the air fryer as a counter-top convection oven you’ll find dozens of uses that will make your new air fryer indispensable in the kitchen!
Consumer reports just produced its countertop appliance review. While they, and we, admit that the air fryer doesn’t exactly replicate deep frying methods, the air fryer does create nicely cooked food fast. My favorite fryer — the Power AirFryer XL — makes the Consumer Report List of the Top Air Fryers.
From French Fries to Chicken Wings.
Any brand air fryer will cook frozen french fries or chicken strips. When you start searching for the perfect air fryer determine what size you need. This item is counter top friendly, but if kitchen space is at a premium, and whose isn’t these days, you want to buy enough capacity to accommodate your family. Consider how many people you need to feed or if you’ll want to cook an entire roasting chicken in this unit.
Air Fryers range in size from a small 2-quart capacity all the way up to a large 6-quart size. The average size for 2-4 people is 3.5-quarts, but if you’re feeding a larger family definitely go up in size so that your brood can all eat dinner together.
You won’t just use this unit for french fries, onion rings and chicken. The countertop air fryer is a great mini oven for everything from meatloaf to cakes and pies.
Check out my Breakfast Burrito recipe for the air fryer. Don’t stop there — this is good for roasting chicken, making crispy and healthy chicken strips, roasting steaks and burgers, baking pizza with a crispy crust and even making cakes and pies.
Baskets and Baking.
The fryers we looked at all include the basic base — a closed-in container with a fry basket that either sits in the bottom or snaps into the unit with a handle. The slotted fry basket is the key to crispy foods because it allows the air to circulate freely around the potatoes, onions, bread or chicken. Fats from foods like chicken or hamburgers drip away through the openings in the basket.
Some units now come with a baking pan that will sit inside the basket. You can buy accessories specifically for the air fryer — cake pans, muffin tins or roasting racks. These specially-designed pans increase the flexibility of the appliance, so if you can find a unit that includes one or two of these you are already prepared to experience the air fryer as a baking companion.
Once you’ve decided on the capacity of an air fryer, start thinking about the features you want. The range is limitless. Some appliances come with presets for everything from fish to eggs (yes you can hard-cook eggs in your fryer). The presets automatically set to the right temperature and time for many foods, but you pay a little more for that feature. If you’re fine setting up your own time and temperature you will save $10-$20.
The convenience of an Air Fryer with built-in presets make life easier. On most units, you’ll find a preset for fries and chips, meat, shrimp, cake, chicken, steak, and fish.
If you want to convert your family recipes from conventional ovens to work in the air fryer start by reducing the temperature by 25 degrees and set your times for 75% of the original time. For example, if Grandma’s pound cake baked at 350 degrees for an hour, set the air fryer for 325 degrees and check it at 45 minutes.
Normally I don’t even consider color when buying an appliance. But many people use their air fryer every single day. If you are going to leave this out on the counter all the time it is nice if you also like its appearance. Most fryers come in basic black. But you can get your air fryer in black, silver, red or white.
Which air fryer do I recommend?
My favorite appliance is the GoWISE 5.8-Quart Programmable 8-in1 air fryer.
- For its size, it is priced well at about $100.00.
- It is big enough to handle a 6-pound chicken or a whole bag of frozen french fries or onion rings.
- You can cook two steaks or a meatloaf that feeds a family.
- Any of the accessories fit into this unit easily.
- It comes in 4 basic colors — black, red, white and plum. (This is the one for you purple lovers!)