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What Is an Air Fryer?

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Air Fry your favorite fried foods with little to no oil. Use Smart Presets to easily air fry, roast, bake and reheat.

What is an air fryer

An air fryer is a kitchen appliance that uses heated air to crisp up foods without the use of oil. Compared to traditional frying, it reduces calories and fat and may lower the risk of developing potentially harmful compounds like acrylamide in carbohydrate-rich foods (1). However, it takes longer to cook food and produces a different texture and flavor.

These small appliances are a popular choice for making frozen snacks and meals that taste like they’ve been deep fried, from air-fried mozzarella sticks to air-fried chicken wings. They’re also great for preparing fresh, homemade foods that often feature a crispy coating, like air-fried sweet potato fries and air-fried zucchini chips.

The key to success with this type of cooking is to cut vegetables and meat into smaller pieces, like medallions or cubes, so the hot air can reach all surfaces and result in even browning and crispiness. It’s also helpful to brush foods with oil before placing them in the air fryer, or to dip them in a light coating of panko, shredded cheese, breadcrumbs or other dry ingredients before frying. While a variety of frozen and prepared foods can be made in an air fryer, it’s best to avoid using the appliance for leafy greens. In fact, most manufacturers recommend against using their products to make foods dipped in wet batter or coated with delicate, mushy ingredients.

How does an air fryer work

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Like a convection oven, an air fryer heats food by circulating hot air around it. But whereas an oven requires a lot of space and takes a long time to preheat, an air fryer is small, takes no more than minutes to heat up and sits on your kitchen counter.

An air fryer uses a heating element near the top of the cooking cavity, a fan that carries heated air rapidly around the food and a perforated basket in which the food sits. It’s the rapid circulation of hot air that makes foods, such as french fries or unbreaded chicken wings, crisp up.

Foods cooked in an air fryer require only a tablespoon or two of oil, compared to the three to five cups of fat needed for traditional deep-frying. The fatty oils sear the surface of the food, locking in flavour and caramelising sugars. They also add a crispy texture that’s hard to achieve with other cooking methods, such as roasting and grilling.

However, while air frying reduces the amount of fat in a meal, it should not be used to replace more healthful cooking methods, such as roasting and baking. People who use air fryers should still try to eat a wide variety of foods and maintain a balanced diet. For example, a fried chicken breast with skin on will contain 13.2 g of fat, but oven-roasted or pan-seared chicken will contain only 0.39 g.

Are air fryers healthy

An air fryer is a popular appliance because it allows you to create the flavor and texture of fried foods with less fat. However, it is important to remember that eating an air-fried meal isn’t necessarily more healthful than a roasted, grilled or slow-cooked dinner. While frying foods in an air fryer may reduce the amount of fat and calories you consume, it can still produce potentially harmful chemicals like acrylamide.

A diet high in acrylamide has been linked to certain cancers, and limiting your intake of fried foods can help reduce this risk. Adding herbs to your air-fried meals (such as parsley or chives) can also help curb the production of this chemical by up to 90%.

But, despite these potential downsides, an air fryer can still be a healthy addition to your kitchen, especially if you’re open to nontraditional cooking methods. When used in conjunction with other cooking techniques, such as sauteing and roasting, it can provide you with a variety of nutritious dishes that would be hard to achieve with just a skillet or microwave oven. Just make sure to read the label on your air fryer to ensure it is made from durable, non-stick materials that don’t release toxic fumes during use.

Can I cook frozen foods

Most air fryers are capable of cooking frozen foods, though some will require more time than those prepared in an oven. The reason for this is that air fryers heat foods from below, so they need to be thawed before being cooked. However, it’s important to note that frozen foods cooked in an air fryer aren’t actually fried; they are simply browned in a way that mimics the crispiness of frying.

Most frozen appetizers, like onion rings and potato skins, work well in an air fryer because they typically contain oil inside or on the outside of the food. For best results, place frozen appetizers in a single layer for faster cooking and make sure to preheat your air fryer before adding the foods. Also, keep in mind that a higher temperature setting will produce a crunchier result while a lower one will produce a more tender texture (via Cleveland Clinic).

Air fryers can also be used to cook frozen vegetables because they tend to have similar textures to fresh ones when they’re properly prepared. For best results, preheat your air fryer for about 5 minutes before placing the veggies in. And, as always, be sure to use a food thermometer to ensure that the frozen foods are fully cooked and hot before eating them (via Build Your Bite). To find out how long it will take for your specific air fryer to cook different frozen foods, consult this handy air fryer cooking chart.

Is it easy to clean

Since air fryers use hot, circulated air rather than a pool of grease to cook foods, they’re easy to clean—and much safer to cook with. However, like any appliance that gets used regularly, it can accumulate food particles, grease, and other grime over time. So, it’s important to make regular cleaning a part of your air fryer routine to avoid a buildup of gunky grime and to keep your food tasting its best.

If you find yourself struggling with especially sticky areas or hard-to-remove patches of baked-on grease, NewAir recommends using a baking soda paste to remove them. Simply mix a half cup of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water to create a thick paste, and apply it to the affected area using a nonabrasive sponge or toothbrush. Leave this solution to work on the grease for about 20 minutes, and then gently scrub away. Once you’re finished, rinse the basket or tray and replace them in your air fryer.

You should also check the heating coil in the top of your air fryer for any traces of oil or residue after every use (make sure to unplug and let it cool). Then, using a damp kitchen sponge with dish soap, wipe down the outside of the main unit and any removable trays or baskets. Dry the entire machine thoroughly before reassembling your air fryer and storing it upright when not in use.

What can I cook in it

The air fryer is like a small, powerful oven that uses hot air instead of oil to cook foods. It can do everything that a deep fryer can, but in less time and at a lower temperature. Air fryers also tend to produce crispier food than conventional ovens. Air fried foods come out a little greasy, though, so it’s best to be careful with the amount of fat used in recipes. If you’re cooking fatty foods, try adding some water to the bottom of the air fryer. This will catch the excess grease and help prevent it from smoking.

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Frozen foods work well in an air fryer. Try air fried fries (make sure they aren’t overlapping) or crispy chicken nuggets. Air fried frozen vegetables like carrots or beets are delicious too. We also love a simple air fryer tilapia with zucchini fries and salad for a healthy dinner or chicken taquitos wrapped in bacon made from air fried chicken.

You can also make some baked air fryer foods. Air fryer recipes for shrimp skewers, a chocolate cake or calzones will turn out tasty and fluffy. Air frying is great for reheating leftovers, too, as it won’t make them mushy like a microwave will. Use the preset Smart Programs to quickly air fry, roast, bake and reheat. Perfect for a busy family, college students or those living in tiny apartments.