If you don’t have an air fryer yet, you might want to consider getting one if you have the counter space. They’re convenient, health-conscious, and fun to use. In a world now obsessed with better health and dietary practices, air fryers have become increasingly popular. According to some reports, air fryer sales have increased by 76% between 2020 and 2022, representing a revolution of people shifting to less fat-saturated, healthier methods of cooking their favorite foods.
The air fryer is a unique product. It’s similar to a countertop convection oven, as it doesn’t actually “fry” your food. Instead, these devices, initially patented by the Philips Electronic company, mimic the results of deep-frying with hot air and minimal use of oil.
Air fryers work by circulating air around your food to create a crispy texture on the outside, with a moist and delicious flavor within. With the right air fryer, you can make almost anything, from delicious vegetable sides or moist meat entrees, to tasty desserts. People use air fryers to make healthier versions of their favorite foods.
Many people also find they cook more often once they purchase an air fryer because they’re fun and convenient to use. Cooking at home more regularly instead of eating out often leads to weight loss, as does using healthier methods of cooking such as using an air fryer.
Do Foods Made in an Air Fryer Taste the Same?
Notably, while air fryers attempt to replicate the sensation of eating fried foods without the saturated fats, the food produced isn’t exactly the same as you’d expect from a deep fryer or oven. Fat has a specific flavor profile, which often adds something extra to a dish.
When you fry food, the batter or produce absorbs the oil used to cook it. While the taste of oil on its own is very subtle, it does have a profound impact on the flavor of other foods. Adding fats to foods is a good way to bring out various flavors people enjoy, such as savory profiles and umami.
Some people add extra spices to their air fryer recipes, since they won’t have as much flavor from fat when they cook with an air fryer.
Frying also gives foods a rich and darker color which is pleasing to the eye. While you still get a satisfying crunch with air frying, the mouth feel and experience isn’t exactly the same as oil frying. The moisture content can sometimes be lower with certain air fried foods too, but most air fried foods can still be moist and tender.
Why is Using An Air Fryer Healthier?
Though the flavor and texture of air fried foods is quite different to deep-fried meals, the result is often much healthier. Air fryers work by circulating hot air around a food to produce a crispy exterior. This also leads to a chemical reaction called the “Maillard” reaction, which alters the flavor and color of the foods you eat.
Deep-fried foods are much higher in fat than foods prepared using other methods, because they soak up a significant amount of saturated fat. A chicken breast fried with a deep fryer will contain more fat than a standard roasted chicken breast.
This additional fat can have a significant impact on your health. Some studies even suggest increased intake of fat in the form of oils leads to a higher chance of heart disease and inflammation.
Deep fried foods also contain a lot of calories which can contribute to weight gain. What’s more, deep-frying foods can create dangerous compounds, such as acrylamide, which forms in high-carb foods during high heat cooking methods. According to cancer researchers, this substance could be a potential human carcinogen.
What Can You Cook or Create in an Air Fryer?
Air fryers can cook virtually anything you would typically fry in oil, including:
- Vegetable sides such as spiced curry cauliflower, crispy broccoli or sweet potatoes.
- Onion rings and French fries
- Chicken and other types of meat
- Fish or prawns
- Kale chips or apple chips
Certain air fryer models also come with toast and baking settings, which make them more akin to traditional ovens. You can use these settings to roast poultry or bake brownies. When choosing foods to cook in an air fryer, it’s important to note that it’s not just the cooking method that matters.
Many air fryer recipes can be found online, and some of them are extremely healthy. Choosing low-calorie foods and embracing more vegetarian recipes will also ensure you can leverage the biggest benefits the air fryer has to offer. Some of the tastiest spiced crispy cauliflower, for example, can be made with very minimal oil or fat in an air fryer.