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How to Use an Air Fryer

The air fryer has been the hottest kitchen appliance around for the past few years. Everyone is using them, and they are flying off the shelves every holiday for gift giving. During 2020 we purchased one, knowing we’d be doing a lot of cooking at home. However, we never really learned how to use it. Until now.

Air frying isn’t a fad and it is a fantastic cooking appliance, especially for busy families or anyone looking for hassle-free cooking. Keep reading and learn how an air fryer works and why it should be part of most kitchens.

air fryer 2
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

What Is an Air Fryer?

An air fryer is a mini convection oven. With heated circulation technology, it uses a powerful fan to move hot air around the food. Simply put, it’s a way of cooking food using hot air. A heating element heats the air inside the appliance and circulates the convection heat around the food, cooking it from all angles. This ensures the food is cooked evenly and thoroughly, producing perfectly crispy results every time.

One advantage air fryers have over a full-size convection oven is their smaller size. This means the air circulates close to the food, cooking it more quickly. Because of this, cooking is much faster than in a conventional oven.

Digital Temperature Control

The air fryer has a digital display that sets the desired cooking temperature. So it will automatically adjust the heat to maintain the set temperature throughout the cooking process.

This is especially handy if you’re cooking something that requires precise temperature control, like delicate pastries or tender meats. It takes the guesswork out of cooking and ensures your food is always perfectly cooked.

Benefits of an Air Fryer

Using an air fryer has many benefits, including low oil consumption, easy and convenient meal prep. Plus, it offers quick and easy cleanup.

Low Oil Consumption

One of the main reasons people love using an air fryer is because it allows for healthy frying. Traditional frying methods require a lot of oil, which can add unnecessary calories and fat to your food. On the other hand, an air fryer uses minimal oil, making it a healthier option.

This is especially great if you’re trying to watch your intake of unhealthy fats or follow a specific diet. You can still enjoy delicious food with a crispy texture, making following a healthy meal plan much more manageable.

Convenient and Easy Meal Prep

In addition, the air fryer is a hassle-free cooking solution. It’s quick and convenient, so it is an excellent choice for busy people or families looking for an easy meal prep option.

You won’t need to spend hours in the kitchen preparing meals. With an air fryer, you can have a delicious, home-cooked meal on the table in no time. Toss your ingredients in the basket, set the timer, and let it work magic.

Better Taste

Some foods, including many healthy vegetables, simply taste better when they are air fried. As Brooke from Minimalist Mama explains, “Broccoli in the air fryer is a complete game changer — the air fryer crisps the broccoli in just the most delicious way, so you can avoid that soggy, mushy texture that some people just can’t get over.”

Another huge benefit of air fryers is their versatility. You can cook a variety of food, including chicken, frozen food, healthy vegetables like asparagus, chicken wings, and even cookies. The possibilities are endless.

It also is excellent for heating up leftovers so they taste almost as good as when they were first made. So leftovers stored in your refrigerator will get eaten, not thrown away. For example, we’ve successfully used our air fryer to reheat pizza. Now we’ll have to try it when reheating lasagna, too.

Quick and Easy Cleanup

air fryer inside
Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

Cleanup is also simple with this countertop appliance. Most models feature a nonstick cooking surface to allow for easy removal of food and quick cleaning. Wipe down the inside with a damp cloth, and you’re good to go. Many brands are also dishwasher safe.

Air Frying vs. Deep Frying

The air fryer offers health benefits compared to traditional frying methods. As mentioned earlier, conventional frying methods, like using a deep fryer, require large amounts of oil. Sure, deep-fried foods taste great, but that cooking method adds calories and fat to your food.

An air fryer, on the other hand, uses minimal oil. And switching to air-fried foods cooked with less oil can help you reduce your risk of health problems due to high fat intake.

But make no mistake, you can make plenty of unhealthy things in an air fryer. You still have to make good choices; this appliance alone won’t make you healthier.

Tips for Using an Air Fryer

If you are new to air frying, getting used to cooking with one might take some time. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind.

  • Don’t overcrowd the food — This appliance works by circulating air, so you have to leave room for the air to move. Resist the temptation to pack as much food as possible into the basket and leave some space around each piece of food.
  • Use some oil — While the air fryer uses less fat, most food tastes better with a little bit of oil. An oil spray bottle is a great way to add flavor without ending up with greasy food.
  • Watch the cooking time — You’ll discover that this cooks more quickly than a traditional oven, so you can overcook your food if you aren’t paying attention.
  • Start simple — Begin with basic recipes with just a few ingredients. Save the more complicated recipes like Southern fried chicken or egg rolls until you have some experience.

Here are a few of my favorite beginner meals.

Where to buy air fryers

If you’d like to buy an air fryer, the links I’m about to share are called affiliate links. That means that if you click through to shop, we may receive a commission. There is no cost to you for using our links.

So, where to buy? Well, honestly, nearly every retailer that sells countertop appliances, such as the Ankarsrum Mixer that we love so much, sells air fryers. We bought our Power XL air fryer from Walmart and purchased it when using Walmart Grocery Pickup. I’ll never forget when the bagger put our purchase in the car, saw the box and added, “Oh, man you’re gonna love this thing.” He was right.

Other places where you can buy air fryers including Target and, of course, Amazon. We’re about to share a bunch of recipes using our new Instant Vortex 6QT XL Air Fryer, 4-in-1. So, stay tuned.

What size air fryer do you need?

When we bought our first air fryer, we had no idea what size we needed. So, we got a two-quart air fryer. Turns out that’s the smallest size and not really great for making meals. Yes, to snacks. No, to full-size meals. Here is a list of the different sizes of air fryers and what they can and cannot do.

  • Two- or three-quart air fryer: Good for reheating a single slice of pizza, cooking two servings of French fries or a very small meal for two people.
  • Four- to five-quart air fryer: A family of three could get away with an air fryer of this size for cooking small meals.
  • Six-quart air fryer: When we decided to try to make a copycat rotisserie chicken in the air fryer, we purchased a six quart air fryer as it could handle a small, whole chicken. It can do so much more, too, and is great for a larger family looking to cook meals using it. Again, we bought the Instant Vortex 6QT XL Air Fryer, 4-in-1.
  • Eight-quart air fryer: An air fryer this size looks more like a big toaster oven and can act as an air fryer and convection oven. You can do so much with an 8 quart air fryer.

Portions of this article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

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