For many, there’s nothing quite as comforting as crispy, crunchy, deep-fried snacks. From French fries to fried chicken, tempura to cheesy mozzarella sticks, though we know they’re not the healthiest of foods, there’s just something uniquely satisfying about them. But what if you could enjoy fried food without worrying about what your doctor would say? Consider the air fryer, a revolutionary way to whip up your guilty pleasures. But what does an air fryer do exactly?
What Does an Air Fryer Do?
Around 2010, a new kitchen appliance made waves in the market. The air fryer, a device endorsed by no other than the likes of Gordon Ramsay, promised to “fry” all your favorite foods with no more than a tablespoon of oil. Equipped with a high-speed fan, the air fryer allows air to rapidly circulate around the food, coating it with a thin layer of oil instead of submerging it into boiling pools.
In using minimal amounts of oil, the air fryer minimizes the amount of fat that gets into your food by up to 80%, leaving you with something much healthier than the usual deep-fried snack. It also poses to be more convenient, efficient, and even safer.
Does It Taste Like Deep-fried Foods?
While the idea of guilt-free fried food is definitely promising, it’s easy to be wary of losing tastiness, crunchiness, and all the wonderful things associated with traditionally fried food. In comparison to deep-fried foods, air-dried food actually holds up pretty well. It’s not exactly the same, but the difference is marginal. Foods still retain crunchiness and crispiness.
In fact, without all that excess oil, food is not drenched and dripping with fat. Sometimes, foods with way too much oil can start to taste and smell unpleasant.
What Can You Cook With It?
The air fryer works best on frozen foods, like meat, vegetables, and snack foods like nuggets, calamari, mozzarella sticks, and French fries. Some air dryers also come with special attachments that let you grill vegetables and even bake pies and cakes!
How Much Time Does It Take to Cook With It?
Different types of food require different amounts of preparation time. Here are a few rough estimates:
- Frozen and homemade fries need about 10 – 25 minutes to cook.
- Frozen snacks like nuggets, cheese sticks, and egg rolls need only 6 – 10 minutes.
- Fried fruit and vegetable chips need a lot more time, as they contain much more moisture than other foods. Expect around 20 to 70 minutes, depending on the fruit or vegetable.
- Fish, shellfish, and chicken are all about in the same league of 10-20 minutes.
- Cakes, quiches, and pies need about 20-25 minutes.
How Is It Different From a Convection Oven?
What does an air fryer do that a convection oven doesn’t? Convection ovens usually heat up with a coil found on the bottom of the oven chamber, which is powered by electricity. With enough electricity, the coil heats up. As the heat radiates and rises upwards, a fan blows the air evenly throughout the chamber. In theory, it sounds just the same as an air fryer. But, there are some stark differences.
Air fryers are known to be a bit gentler on the food, as they do not blow air directly onto the food, nor heat up the surface. Plus, since most air fryers are smaller than convection ovens, they heat themselves, and the food, at a much faster rate.
Is It Safe?
Yes, air fryers aren’t just safe; they’re safer than deep-fryers, considering how they mostly use heat and air instead of gas and oil. Unlike gas-powered deep-fryers, air fryers are not susceptible to fire boil over. Fire boil over is when water spills onto fuel, aggravating the flame and causing it to burn up intensely. This is a major cause of home fires.
Is It Worth It?
If you’re a big snacker and love to eat fried foods as midnight snacks, air dryers might just be up your alley. What does an air dryer do for a perennial snacker? It uses less oil than your regular deep-fry method and cooks quicker as well. All this, while maintaining the crisp and crunch that you look for in junk food.
Imagine a world where you can still have your deliciously crispy snacks without having to worry about getting sent to the hospital anytime soon. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Well, that world is here.