If there are two certainties in life, it’s that deep fried food tastes amazing and that it can be terrible for your health if you eat it on a regular basis.
This is a conundrum that has frustrated many a chef and it might have driven us crazy if it wasn’t for the arrival of the air fryer on the culinary scene.
Now, there’s an easy way to make fried food without indulging in a huge number of calories.
So, we’ve put together our Kitchen Authority Guide to Air Fryers and frying in general to help you choose the right option for your family.
The History Of Frying
Deep fat frying (or deep frying) involves submerging food in entirely in boiling hot oil. Most homes will have a “deep fryer” for this purpose as you can’t deep fry food in a regular frying pan.
It’s worth noting that though the practice of deep frying has been used for thousands of years but many of the foods that we deep fry today, only took off in the 19th century.
The Romans and Greeks would have deep fried in Oliver Oil in the classical era and the first record of deep frying has a type of chicken being fried. The practice then moved to the Middle East before returning to Europe in the 13th and 14th century. Potatoes would have been fried in Europe for the first time in the 17th century.
Fish and chips, the world’s most famous deep-fried dish, was first prepared in London in 1860. The technique caught on in the United States in the 19th and 20th century. Doughnuts only arrived in the mid-19th century and it’s thought that nobody had deep fried a turkey until the early 20th century!
The Birth Of The Air Fryer
The electric air fryer is not really a fryer at all. In fact, it uses a form of convection cookery (which is the type of heat current found in most standard kitchen ovens) to simulate the processes that food undergoes when it is deep fried.
It use a mechanical fan to move hot air over the food at a very rapid pace, this creates a crispy outer layer on the food (which for sweet foods will tend to be brown and caramel in appearance and taste, for meats it creates a “Schiff base” which offers other flavour potential).
This process can eliminate or drastically reduce the amount of oil that is used in the frying process.
One thing we can say for certain is that the air fryer is a relatively new invention. It was patented by Turbochef Technologies in 2005 and was expected to be used in commercial catering. The company, however, had one big problem – no cash flow.
In 2009, they reached out to Philips who agreed to pay for a license to use the technology and they adapted it for consumer use. The rest, as they say, is history and now you can find a wide-range of air fryers made by a wide-variety of companies.
The Health Advantages Of Air Frying
Medical News Today says that air frying is good for your health. They say that there are a ton of health benefits to using one including:
- Air frying promotes weight loss – no surprises, if you don’t use as much oil in cooking, you find that you’re consuming fewer calories in your food. This can, in turn, promote weight loss.
- Air frying is safer than deep frying – no pans full of boiling hot oil, means a much lower chance of pouring that oil over yourself. When you air fry you can’t spill, splash or otherwise immerse body parts in hot oil when there is no oil.
- Air frying reduces your overall risks of disease – high fat diets are generally associated with a wide range of health conditions from diabetes to arthritis. When you cut down on the fat you consume, you are reducing the chances of illness.
- Air frying may lower your risks of contracting cancer – frying in oil can lead to the formation of acrylamide (and similar chemicals) which may cause cancer. If you air fry, this won’t happen.
They do, however, also note that air frying is not a magical pill for your health and that you should ensure your overall diet is well-balanced and within nutritional guidelines to get the most benefit from this cooking method.
How To Choose An Air Fryer
Because the air fryer is new technology, most of us haven’t been given tips from our parents on how to pick the best air fryer for our use.
The good news is that it’s not too hard to choose the best air fryer for your family as long as you spend a little time considering your needs before you go out and order one from Amazon.
These are the factors that we think you’ll want to bear in mind:
The Capacity Of An Air Fryer
This ought to be self-explanatory but the capacity of an air fryer matters. The more food you can fit inside, the better if you have a large family but if you’re living on your own or as a couple – you probably don’t need to be able to put a couple of turkeys in an air fryer side-by-side and you’d appreciate something a little smaller.
We’ve found that, in general, you can find air fryers with capacities ranging from just over 1lb to up to 5lbs. There is a marked increase in price once you go over 3 lbs and that’s worth bearing in mind.
We’d suggest that a family of four will want at least 2.5 lbs capacity in their air fryer.
The Ease Of Use For Your Air Fryer
We’ve tested a huge number of air fryers in recent weeks and we’ve come to this conclusion – they’re all fairly easy to use and with only a couple of exceptions, you ought to be using your air fryer within minutes of unpacking it.
However, you ought to consider things like digital controls if you have problems turning dials or flicking buttons. We also think that the best air fryers come with pre-programmed temperature and time settings that, at least, cater to the things you’ll cook most often in your air fryer.
One thing we recommend that you keep an eye out for is an air fryer that ships with a recipe book. That can save you time and effort when you first come to use it and it’s a nice touch which we’ve found doesn’t have to add any additional cost to an air fryer.
We have yet to encounter an air fryer that wasn’t extremely simple to clean. We wouldn’t spend too much time worrying about this aspect of use when choosing your air fryer.
The Range Of Accessories And Functions
Air fryers can be used to do more than fry food and we think it’s very important to consider this when you buy your air fryer.
We’ve found air fryers with double racks, rotisserie functions, grill functions, baking functions, roasting functions and much more.
While these additional facilities do cost a little more – it can be very handy to buy 1 device to take care of 2 or 3 kitchen uses rather than 3 separate devices.
The Price Of Air Fryers
You can buy a cheap air fryer from $40-$50 and at the other end of the scale it’s possible to spend several hundred dollars.
We’d recommend that you think about how often you’ll use the air fryer and how heavy that use will be before setting your budget.
Best Air Fryers
If you’re looking for the best overall air fryers on the market for your family – we’ve got some great air fryers we tested to recommend for you but make sure to keep your family’s needs in mind before you order one.
The Best Combination Air Fryer: The Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven
We absolutely loved this product when we reviewed it recently. It was one of the first air fryers we tested, and we fell in love with it. Not only does it do a great job of air frying food but it’s a top-notch toaster oven too. No, it’s not the cheapest device on the market but in terms of bang for buck, it’s hard to beat. This is a Kitchen Authority favorite.
The Most Flexible Air Fryer: The GoWISE USA 8-in-1 Air Fryer XL
Whether you want to fry, bake, grill or roast, the GoWISE air fryer is going to handle it without any problems at all. When we tested this model we also loved the fact that it came with a substantial recipe book.
This is one of the best value for your money when it comes to buying an Air Fryer.
The Most Stylish Air Fryer: The Krups Fry Delight
We’ll be honest, you can buy better air fryers than the Krups Fry Delight but you probably can’t find any fryers that are as pretty as this one. If home-styling is important to you then you’re going to have to take a look at this model. We liked it very much when we put it through its paces.
The Best Family Air Fryer: The Philips Air Fryer XXL
If you’re going to cook for a family, you want a substantial air fryer. This XXL model can handle a full 3 lb of air fried food at any one go. That’s one of the biggest regular models of air fryer out there and it’s why it’s on our best air fryers list. It’s very reasonably priced for what it is and if you want to take better care of your family’s health, we strongly recommend it.
The Best Budget Air Fryer: The Dash Compact Air Fryer
It’s not perfect but for the price tag – you simply cannot fault The Dash Compact Air Fryer. It’s a little smaller than we’d like but it’s great for a couple (or you can use it twice for a bigger group) and it makes great food.
Our testers were seriously impressed with this device.
Final Thoughts on Air Fryers
Air frying is the way forward. We love the taste of deep-fried food but it’s just not good for us.
No, air frying is not a perfect substitute for deep-frying but it’s more than good enough when we think of our children’s futures.
The best air fryers are the ones that meet the needs of your home and your family.
When you choose the products that are right for you, you’re going to be very happy with your air fryer for years to come.