Air fryers have recently become the kitchen appliance to have.
The main attraction of course being the fact that you can make chips with practically no oil, cutting down on the caloric value of said chips, and making them a much healthier option.
However, there is more to air fryers than making chips, and if you choose to look at yours like a mini over that just happens to use hot air to cook rather than, well, oil – you’ll realize the recipes you can reach for are practically endless.
An air fryer is also a great option if you are cooking for 1-2 people, and you may not even need an entire over – you can prepare everything in your neat air fryer. This can save you both space and electricity, not to mention help you work on your health and fitness.
Let me first answer a few common questions I expect you will have – seeing as air fryers are definitely not a kitchen appliance we have grown up with:
How does an air fryer work?
The main source of confusion, I feel, is the fact that these gadgets are called air fryers in the first place.
They don’t actually fry anything.
Frying implies oil, and these appliances need very little oil in some cases, and no oil in most.
You place the food into a perforated basket where it is cooked as the machine blows hot air around it. This air produces what is known as a convection effect that actually cooks and browns the dish.
What can you cook in an air fryer?
One of the many benefits of air fryers is that they work pretty fast, and that you can use them both to heat up frozen foods, as well as to cook fresh foods.
You can make practically any kind of meat or vegetable in an air fryer.
Most meats won’t require any oil. You can season them with spices or herbs (make sure you stick to the dry kind), and toss them into the air fryer.
Lean cuts of meat that have very little fat will need a bit of oil to crisp up, so you can brush them with a bit of vegetable oil before air frying.
As for your veggies, you can do them with or without a tiny coating of oil as well. The oil will make them crispier, but you can forgo it completely – you can check out some online recipes while you are still getting the hang of your air fryer, and there are a couple of neat ones to try at the bottom of this article too.
Are air fryers healthy?
Which seems to be the main question on everyone’s mind.
If we were to compare air fryers to the more traditional deep frying method, the answer would be yes, 100%.
The key is in the fact that you are using less oil than you otherwise would.
However, how healthy an air fried meal is depends on the actual meal.
If you stick to plenty of veggies with as little oil as possible, you will be eating healthier than were you to base your meals on deep fried or highly processed items.
Don’t forget that you do still need to be consuming healthy fats – like olive or avocado oil – so don’t eliminate all oils from your diet completely, rather eat within your desired caloric limitations.
Let me now tell you a bit more about the best way to choose an air fryer:
What to look for in an air fryer?
Here are some of the features to look out for when in the market for an air fryer:
Manual vs. digital: some air fryers come with manual knobs that you use to set the temperature and cooking time, while others will be digital and you’ll press buttons to choose the right program
Cooking time: some air fryers need to preheat (only a couple of minutes), while others are ready to go – and some will need more time to cook your meal than others, so if speed is a consideration, take your air fryer’s power into account
Programs and features: if you like to choose your own temperatures and cook times, you will want an air fryer that lets you customize them – on the other hand, plenty of them come with pre-set programs for popular dishes like chips and meats you might want to take advantage of
Size: always an important consideration, especially if you want to store yours in a cupboard
Shaking options: most air fryers will need you to shake your chips while cooking, while others will have a built-in trick of turning your dish for you – consider how much attention you want to have to pay to your meal as it cooks
Ease of cleaning: finally, you should also consider if your air fryer basket and pan are dishwasher-proof or if you need to wash them by hand, and how fiddly it will be to clean the entire apparatus
Let’s look at some air fryers, shall we?
Let us first tackle an air fryer that is not what you would normally imagine an air fryer to be, shall we?
The Sage Smart Oven Air Fryer is, as the name itself suggests, a combination of oven and air fryer. This makes it ideal for smaller homes, or even for owners of Agas and large ovens who want to prepare a smaller, simpler dish.
It combines a convection heater with an air fryer, so you can expect to get crispy and healthy results every time. The trick is in the “smart” part of this appliance, which detects cold areas and adjust temperatures, ensuring your entire dish gets the right amount of heat.
You also get a convection and a super convection option (which is essentially air frying), which will cut down your cooking times, and ensure you wow your dinner guests every time.
There are in fact 10 settings you can choose to use: you can toast, you can do crumpets, you can grill or roast, bake, make pizza, warm or reheat, and there is a slow cooker option alongside the air fry one as well.
If you want to try out an air fryer, but also don’t just want an air fryer, if your kitchen space is limited and you want a very intelligent appliance that will make cooking a breeze – this is the model for you.
Moving over to the world of actual air fryers – although I’ll completely understand if you were completely taken with the Sage Smart Oven and don’t want to be looking at anything else.
This Tower model has that typical air fryer design, but is not overbearingly large so as not to be able to fit on your countertop, and storing it shouldn’t be too much of an issue either.
It has a temperature dial which lets you set it anywhere between 80 to 200°C, so you can perfectly adjust to level of crispiness.
The drawer and basket are easy to detach, although they are not dishwasher safe, so you will have to do the washing yourself. Considering there won’t be oil to contend with, it should be an easy task.
You also have a 30-minute timer you can use to schedule a cycle, and the air fryer will switch off once the meal is prepared. Good for when you come home and want to get a meal going but also want to shower and tidy up a bit first.
Easy to use and with just enough room for adjustment, this air fryer can be your ally on the road to eating healthier.
If you are on the market for a small air fryer and want something highly compact that can fit into the smallest of spaces, this guy can be a great choice.
It does everything you would expect from an air fryer, and lets you fry, grill, roast or bake a dish with little to no oil. You can do both veggies and meats easily, and of course, low-fat high-crisp chips.
The temperatures can be adjusted up to 200°C, so you truly can get practically anything done with this air fryer. You get the 30-minute timer too, and an indicator light will tell you when the frying is underway.
You will have to figure out cook times yourself though, as there are no pre-set programs here. There are suggested prep times for different dishes, but you will still have to come up with your own times and temperatures.
The basket and drawer are non-stick and easy to remove, so you won’t have to fiddle with the cleaning.
Light and compact, this is a great air fryer for small families or singles – definitely not a good option if you have more than two mouths to feed.
If you are on the other hand looking for a very large air fryer, this Cosori model might be more to your liking.
It has a 5.5 litre capacity, which should be enough to feed even a larger family. The trick is apparently in the square design, as it provides for more space than the traditional rounder models.
This naturally means you need to find space for it, but if that’s not an issue and you have the space – you won’t find a much bigger and better model.
The basket is also PFOA- and BPA-free, and it is also dishwasher safe, so the washing up will be made a bit easier as well.
You get a “preheat” and a “keep warm” function too, meaning you can get crispier foods, and that they will stay warm until the entire family has gathered around the table. There is also a “shake reminder” that will notify you when you need to shake up your crisps to get an even fry.
There are 11 settings you can choose from, so you won’t have to spend too much time on figuring out what goes in for how long and at which temperature.
This air fryer also comes with a recipe book, which can be especially handy if you are not quite sure where to start your air frying adventure.
A great choice for larger families, enabling you to roast an entire chicken with the use of less oil.
Another large air fryer here, not as large as the previous one, but should be something you can work with if it’s not just you at the dining table.
Its capacity is 4.2 litres, plenty of space for a family, allowing you to cut down on your cooking times and your calorie intake at the same time.
There are 7 settings (chicken, chips, fish, steak, pork, shrimp or cake) you can choose from, but you can also adjust the temperature and timing yourself, so there is plenty of personalisation at your disposal.
This air fryer also comes with a built-in over-heat protection as well as auto-off sensors, so you can rest assured you won’t be setting your kitchen on fire any time soon.
The basket is also dishwasher safe and comes with a non-stick coat, so you shouldn’t have to worry about cleaning it either.
In short, this one can be a good choice for a family or if you entertain a lot and would like to make delicious and healthier meals with an air fryer. Mind the bulk though and consider your countertop space.
If you are a huge fan of chips – this is the air fryer for you.
However, you can do more than fries, as there are 8 settings you can choose from: shrimp, cutlet, pizza, dish, grill, roast, cake, and of course, chips.
Its size (clocking in at 4.2 litres) means you can serve pretty much 4-6 people, making this one a great option for those who like to entertain, as well as families with some hungry youngsters.
You can adjust the temperatures you use from 80°C to 200°C – meaning you truly can get those amazing crispy results. The timer goes up to 60 minutes, and it also has an auto shut-off, so you won’t unintentionally end up burning those crisps (come to think of it, does anyone ever burn their food intentionally?).
You can also chuck the basket in the dishwasher, which will certainly be a much appreciated feature.
This air fryer will need some time to preheat, so factor that into your cooking times – but other than that, it’s a reliable and efficient appliance that will deliver those munchy crisps with practically no oil.
No list of kitchen appliances would be complete without an item from Morphy Richards, would it?
This one is a bit on the small-er side (I’d actually classify it as a medium), and it boasts 3 litres of capacity. You can get away with a smaller chicken, or do a proper portion of crisps and veggies.
You get a manual time and temperature controller, so you can tweak your dishes to your own specific taste.
Temperatures range between 80°C and 200°C, which should be enough for most of your dishes. The timer goes up to 30 minutes, and there is an auto-off feature too.
The basket itself is of course removable, but not dishwasher safe, so you will need to do a bit of washing up after cooking.
Simply put, this is an easy-to-use and straightforward air fryer. Nothing fancy and no bells and whistles, but it does the job it’s meant to do well, and won’t take up an inordinately large amount of counter space.
If you like the brand anyway, this appliance won’t let you down either.
Here to close our list of larger air fryers is this XL model from Salter. It has a 4.5 litre capacity, which should fit your large portions nicely as well.
Temperatures go up to 200°C which is the standard, and you can adjust both the temperature and the time yourself with the touch of a couple of buttons. You also get a couple of helpful hints on the dashboard, telling you which temperatures and times usually work best for which dishes.
You of course don’t have to adhere to them, and can tweak your choice according to personal preference.
The basket is easy to remove and clean, but you will have to do it by hand.
Another reliable option if you are looking for a straightforward air fryer. It won’t have you swooning over its features, but your chips will come out amazing every time.
This is another multifunctional appliance that you will love using – which is why I’ve saved it for last, just so we can end this like we’ve started it, with an item that is all that and more.
This is in fact a pressure cooker – and an air fryer, and a fair bit more, all in one.
Not the most obvious of combinations, but it seems to work perfectly.
You actually get a pressure cook, a slow cook, a steam, a sear, a roast/bake and a grill option, alongside the air frying benefits.
Considering that you only use the one pot, this can be your one-stop cooking station, and you won’t need to use anything else.
You can choose various sizes – from 4.7 litres to 7.5 litres, and the number of functions varies with the size of the appliance as well (you can get 6, 7 or 9 of them).
The clear advantage is not only in the variety of options (you can do all that on the hob after all) – it’s in the speed and the size of the actual appliance. It’s faster than a stove, and it’s compact enough to fit into smaller spaces.
It’s easy to use and you’ll get used to it in no time, plus you truly will enjoy all the options and recipes you can make with this guy.
Considering this air fryer (can I even call it that?) has sold out repeatedly when it was first launched, you can definitely consider it a coveted and desirable ally to reside in your kitchen.
Expensive – but considering what you are getting for the price, an amazing purchase!
Easy air fryer recipes
If you are new to the world of air fryers, let me lend you a hand by sharing a few easy air fryer recipes you might like.
Let’s start with some potatoes.
Do a bit of googling and you’ll soon realize the options are endless. If you have purchased your air fryer aiming to eat healthier, focus on the veggie recipes first, and you’ll find yourself eating dishes you have never tried before.
Which air fryer should I buy?
If you are in the market for a multi-use, multi-dimensional appliance that can do more than just air fry, take a look at number 1 and number 9 on my list – both of them are simply amazing!
On the other hand, if you are just looking for an air fryer, all the other models are great – all you need to do is consider their size and capacity.
Enjoy your new air fryer, and let me know what you’re cooking for dinner!