Enter the air fryer. And, really, when we’re talking about these countertop convection ovens, the terms “fry” and “fryer” often end up in quotes. That’s because they aren’t conventional fryers, and though the food becomes crispy, it’s not actually fried.
Air fryers first hit the U.S. market in about 2013 and have moved beyond late-night television programming to become buzz-worthy kitchen gadgets. They’re able to give your favourite foods a crispy outer shell without dousing them in oil.
Here’s everything you need to know about air fryers, including how they work their calorie-reducing magic.
Deep fryers rely on oil to give food that signature crunchy exterior while still maintaining that soft inside. The air fryer, though, uses very hot air to achieve the same outcome, almost operating like a mini oven. A heating element at the top of the air fryer forces hot air down and around the food as it’s suspended in a basket. The air leaves the food with that crispy taste.
Simply put, air-fried foods are healthier because it doesn’t use all that oil. Caitlin Bart, told Mic that air-fried French fries had 75 percent less fat compared to homemade French fries. Kathleen Zelman, meanwhile, a registered dietitian of Food & Nutrition said that, “When you use small amounts of healthy unsaturated oils and the technology of an air fryer, fried foods can be back on the menu.”
Lots of people get the air fryer for no-oil cooking. But a little oil can make a big difference. “Consider using just a quick spritz or two of oil mist (canola and olive are excellent) on hand-cut potatoes or tortillas for a chimichanga,” she says. “You’ll get the colour and crunch you crave.”
Pro tip: Don’t overcrowd the basket. “It’s tempting to put a lot of food in the basket but the reality is more space allows that rapid air flow to work it’s ‘frying’ magic,”.
Air fryers are great at roasting veggies. But they can also whip up desserts like cakes, cookies and pies. “If you can bake it in the oven, you can make it in the air fryer. But you’ll do so at 30 degrees lower temperature and in half the time.”