Air fryers became so trendy the past few years and you see newer models come to the market each and every year with new features and improvements. I’ve been using air fryers since 2016 and I might know a thing or two about air fryers that would be helpful for you. My goal here is not to convince you to buy an air fryer but help you to make an informed decision. Read it through to find out if an air fryer is a good appliance for your kitchen. If you have more questions, the comment section below of the article is always open. (This article contains some Amazon affiliate links for products I mention)
How do air fryers work?
In both air fryers and traditional ovens, food cooks primarily from convection which means in this case by heating up the air. The air fryers’ difference from the traditional ovens is that air fryers are compact, each air fryer has a fan above the heating element, and food sits on a perforated/ mesh basket. These alterations make the air circulate around the food and ensure even browning and crisping. That being said, some new ovens and convection ovens come with a fan mostly from the back of the oven. These ovens work just as well as air fryers, the only downfall I see is that they can be bigger than air fryers, thus taking too long to heat up.
Things to consider before buying an air fryer?
depending on the size, the average air fryer takes about a square feet on the counter. Weight about 12 lb – 16 lbs (5kg – 7kg) depending on the size. You can store it in a larger kitchen cabinet. But if you use it frequently, then you may have to allocate a permanent space on the kitchen counter.
Size of the air fryer:
Air fryers range from small 2qt air fryers to XXL air fryers. The size of the air fryer totally depends on how many servings you want to prepare and the type of food you make in it. I’ll give a few examples for a few common sizes below.
The smaller 2qt (1.89 l) air fryer is just enough to make 6 chicken drumlets (or 3 whole chicken wings) or 3 chicken tenders or enough roasted vegetables for one person. So for a single person cooking, this would be a good size.
The medium 4qt (3.7 l) air fryer is the one I use for my two-person home. It can comfortably hold 10-12 chicken drumlets or 5 chicken drumsticks or about 2 cups of broccoli florets. This size would be good for 2 – 3 people households depending on the types of food you make and the serving sizes.
The large 6 qt (5.6 l) – 10.6 qt (10 l) air fryers are big enough to roast a whole chicken or make about 8 – 10 chicken drumsticks. These large air fryers suit well for families with 4 – 6 members.
Each time you use the air fryer, it’s good to clean the basket and the mesh tray. Or a good wipe would be enough if it’s just a little bit of grease or crumbs. If you make something with a batter then it’s more likely that the batter will stick to the mesh tray. To reduce the mess, you can either use a non-stick cooking spray to spray the basket with or use pieces of foil just under the food you’re frying. For example, if you make crispy battered chicken drumsticks, cut a few foil pieces to match the size of each chicken piece and then place them underneath each drumstick. Make sure you do not cover the mesh completely, it would obstruct the airflow and you’d end up with a soggy and messy batter and uncooked bottom.
Inner coating, build-up material
If you buy an air fryer make sure the inner coating is PTFE and PFOA free. These nonstick coatings are toxic in high heat and in air fryers you have to heat it up fairly high to get the desired results (most air fryers typically range from 300F – 400F) Also make sure the build material is not cheap plastic that gets too hot to touch when you cook food. It’s definitely hazardous.
The shape of the Air-fryer
Some air-fryer baskets are round and some are square. I have round one. While I can fit in most of the food I cook in the round air-fryer I do get in trouble when I try to make skewers or kabobs. I can only put two skewers in the middle and all the other space gets wasted because it’s not long enough to fit in a skewer.
The energy consumption varies from the size of the air fryers and the wattage and the amount of time you’re going to run your air fryer. Please read the next section to get a clearer view of this.
Do air fryers need a lot of power?
On average air fryer wattage is around 1425w depending on the air fryer model you have. An average of a traditional oven is around 2400w. If you need another few appliances to compare this, the average wattage of a refrigerator is 800w – 1200w. And they run for 24 hours. The wattage of an electric kettle is 1500w.
Since air fryers are compact they don’t need a lot of time to heat up. I can definitely say that an air fryer takes less power than running an oven. But keep in mind that you only have limited space in the air fryer so if you have to do several batches, it might take more energy than running your oven once.
It also depends on what you cook in the air fryer. For example, roasting some broccoli only takes me about 5-6 mins without preheating and if I fry chicken thighs, it would take me about 20 – 25 mins. In traditional ovens, it would take about 10 – 15 mins just to get it pre-heated and then another 30 – 40min to get them cooked, totaling about an hour.
Since the electricity rates vary a lot depending on the country you live in, sadly I can’t find a way to calculate how much it would cost you to run an air fryer. From my experience, I use my air fryer at least 5 – 8 times a week and I haven’t noticed a significant difference in my electricity bill but again it depends on how many hours your air fryer runs and what size it is and the brand/model etc.
Best rated air fryers in the market
I have only used two air fryers so I cannot rate air fryers without testing. But for you to get an idea here’s an article published by Food Network and they have listed them after testing them thoroughly. According to them, the best
(overall) air fryer available now in 2021 in the market is Instant Vortex 4-in-1 Air Fryer (https://amzn.to/3DEGhNW). According to this Forbes article, most people claim the Philips Airfryer, Avance Turbo Star (https://amzn.to/3cFw33S) as the best one. These articles update when there is a new air fryer. So definitely recommend checking out a good reliable sauce before you decide which air fryer to buy.
Out of the two air fryers I’ve used I really like and highly recommend the Ninja 4 qt air fryer (https://amzn.to/3HKybWH). It’s granite coated, compact, and is the perfect size for my 2 person family. I’ve made many different foods with it over the past two years and it still works like a new one. Cosori is another good air fryer brand (https://amzn.to/3FD0GDO) that is very popular and loved by many in air fryer cooking groups. Phillips air fryer is also very popular among south Asian countries and has a good reputation. The new Ninja Foodie (https://amzn.to/30J4GTZ), which can do both air-frying and pressure cooking is also trending now. And I have a couple of friends who loves this one.
Can my air fryer replace the deep fryer?
In my opinion, you cannot 100% replace deep frying with air frying. These two methods use different ways to crisp up your food. Deep frying is quicker and gives a better crispy texture. Air frying gives similar results with some food but it’s not always similar to deep-fried food. For me, an air fryer is more like a compact oven that has the ability to roast and give a better and even crispness to my food rather than “frying” my food. For example, if you’re going to make crispy chicken or beer-battered fish, the deep fryer produces the best crispy crust. The air-fried crust would also get crisp up but the result would be more similar to oven-baked crispy chicken or oven-baked battered fish. It would take relatively more time, the crust would be dry and pale in color, you’d see uneven cooking due to some areas being closer to the heating coil. And most of all it can be messy if it’s battered food. And there’s a high chance that the batter sticks to the basket of the air fryer before it crisps up.
Some fried foods are hard to make in the air fryer and can sometimes be hazardous. For example, it’s hard to make papadum/papad (a popular Sri Lankan/Indian flour cracker that is deep-fried until crispy), or anything very thin and light that can fly around the air fryer when the fan is on. Which is hazardous as they can get stuck in the coils and the fan. Papadums (or most of the very thin quick-frying food) take seconds to deep fry and give out a better texture.
What do I cook most in my Air Fryer?
- To fry chicken. I use these fried chicken in other recipes such as Sri Lankan devilled chicken to add to my fried rice or to roast chicken kottu. They’re even good on their own. Air-fryer is perfect to make chicken wings too. Another favorite chicken recipe is air-fried chicken tikka and tandoori chicken.
- To roast vegetables. Common vegetables I roast are broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, and peppers. I even roast frozen vegetables without thawing in the air fryer and they come out great.
- To make fries, hash browns, and potato wedges. Always come out crispy with no deep frying.
- Reheat leftover crispy chicken, pizza, croissants, and other bakery buns and bread such as garlic naan, fish buns, sausage buns, egg buns. Croissants turn out as they’re fresh out of the oven. The pizza bottom gets nicely crusted and the cheese melts too. Bakery buns need a lower temp setting or cover with a foil but they come out so good too.
- To re-fry my fried snacks such as Sri Lankan fish rolls, chicken cheese rolls, cutlets, fish patties.
- To fry eggplants for my favorite fried-eggplant curry or fried eggplant salad.
- To fry sausages, hot dogs, chicken nuggets. No oil needed, no turning, they come out perfect.
- To make mini banana bread when I only have one banana. I use a mini loaf pan (5-3/4 by 3-1/4 by 2-1/4-Inch) and cover with a foil.
- To make a quick cheese bread or mini pizzas when I have some leftover pizza dough. Need to cover the top with foil to stop the cheese from melting and drying out too quickly. But they turn out amazing. I use mini loaf pans or a small round cake pan.
- To roast nuts and legumes for snacking such as cashews and chickpeas.
Advantages of Air-fryer
- Need less oil (or no oil for some food) and get a nice crispness to my food without making them greasy.
- Much quicker than baking in the oven and gives out a better crispy texture.
- No pre-heating is required for most of the food. Even if it does, it would only take a couple of minutes.
- I can always take a peek at my food and adjust temp and time accordingly as it wouldn’t take much time to heat up or cool down.
- Can use it in the summer hot weather without worrying about oven heating my house.
- can use expensive healthy oils (avocado, grapeseed) in air frying without breaking the bank since I only need a little bit.
- Save electricity because it does the job much quicker than the air-fryer and also it’s compact.
- Much safer than deep-frying. Even a kid can use it.
- Can use it as a dehydrator to make dehydrated vegetables and meats.
- Most air-fryer baskets are dishwasher safe so cleaning is easy. Sometimes just wiping the basket is enough. After reheating bakery goods or frying fresh fries for example.
Disadvantages of Air fryers
- Air-fryers are not quiet appliances. Specifically the fan in it.
- Takes up space from the counter.
- You may get tempted to make more fried food
- Can’t make larger batches for big families due to limited space in the basket
- Takes more time than deep-frying to cook the food.
- Expensive than deep-fryers
- Have to adjust the air fryer recipe cooking time and temp according to your air fryer. (not calibrated well)
- Some food can stick to the basket so hand-cleaning would take some time
- Nonstick-coated baskets are toxic in high temperatures.
- Uneven frying can occur in some food. Areas, where it’s closer to the coil, can brown quickly.
Hope you found the article helpful in making your decision about air fryers. If you have any questions or if you’d like to add some insights from your own experiences, please comment in the comment section below. It would be a great help for all the readers.
Amazon Affiliate links for the products I mentioned