What is an Air Fryer?
An air fryer is a cooking appliance that uses air to ‘deep fry’ your food instead of oil. It makes dishes healthier, less fattening, and cooks them in record time.
How the Air Fryer Works
Air fryers give you crispy “fried” foods by circulating air at a rapid rate and heating it up to around 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Process is Similar to a Deep Fryer
If you have ever used a deep fryer, you know the basics of an air fryer. It is a similar size and has a basket for the food. There is a timer and thermometer as well, so you know the air circulating has reached the desired temperature to fry your foods.
Benefits of Using an Air Fryer
The Air Fryer Makes Healthier Food
You get crispy, fried-like foods with using little to no oil. It uses about 80% less oil to make deep fried vegetables and fried chicken. Stop wasting your money and sabotaging your health at fast food restaurants. Make some of your favorite foods right at home in your air fryer!
Your Food Cooks Fast
Instead of baking or roasting vegetables, you can get a crispy edge and roasted vegetable taste in as little as 10-15 minutes in the air fryer. With an air fryer, you can spend less time in the kitchen and avoid overheating the house in hot summer months.
Fried Food Without the Calories
You get crispy, fried foods without using oil. Most air fryer recipes don’t require any oil and others only use a fraction of the oil used with fried foods. Oils are high in calories and some become rancid when used at high temperatures.
You Eat Less Processed Foods
Restaurant and fast foods are highly processed, full of toxic ingredients and void of nutrition. With an air fryer, you can make some of your favorite restaurant foods at home using whole food ingredients. This will save you money and keep you healthy.
It Doesn’t Require a Lot of Space
When your kitchen is cluttered and crowded, it is hard to find the motivation to cook. An air fryer takes up little space on the counter or in a cabinet. So, even with a small kitchen, you can use an air fryer for fast, healthier meals.
It Doesn’t Stink Up Your House
Deep fryers leave a lingering rancid smell in the house for days. Air fryers do not.
Your Kids Can Use It
Because it is safe and easy to use, your kids can be empowered to use it. They can help with dinner prep or they can make themselves a quick snack in it. My 13-year-old daughter likes to snack on roasted potatoes. After being shown how to safely use it, she can now use it anytime her cravings strike.
For Best Results
Get the Prep Work Right
Be patient and thorough with your prep work. If you don’t do the ‘breading’ right or you fail to preheat the air cooker, your food might not come out right. Make sure you have plenty of space between the air fryer and the wall so the vent can function properly.
You also want to make sure you are coating your food correctly. Start with the flour, then egg, then bread or bread substitute. Also, make sure the air fryer is preheating until the timer goes off before adding the food.
Know How to Load Food Into the Air Fryer
Just like a deep fryer, the air fryer comes with a basket to hold the food. You want to make sure there is enough space in the basket, so that each food item can be cooked thoroughly. Try not to overcrowd it, or your foods might not be as crispy as you want. Foods need to be flipped halfway through cooking. Also, shake the basket when you flip the food to distribute seasonings. The air fryer comes with an instruction manual that tells you which foods need to be shaken and how often.
Clean the Air Fryer After Each Use
After each use, clean the air fryer and the basket thoroughly. This will keep it sanitary and prolong its lifespan. Wash it in warm, soapy water after it has cooled completely.
Recipes and Inspiration
Mozzarella sticks are far from healthy. But if they are a favorite in your house, at least you can make them healthier at home in your air fryer. Cut mozzarella cheese sticks in half, dip them in egg, then roll them in grated parmesan (or bread crumbs). Cook them in the air fryer. Air fryer manuals come with cooking times and temperatures for specific foods. Refer to your manual for specific cooking times and temperatures.
Crispy Fried Broccoli
The healthiest way to eat broccoli is lightly steamed, but that isn’t usually a crowd pleaser, especially with young kids. Don’t give up on broccoli just yet! Try “frying” it in an air fryer. Wash broccoli, cut into small florets, season with your favorite seasonings, roll in flour (you can use any kind of flour like whole wheat, gluten-free, almond, coconut, etc.), and cook in the air fryer. Air fryer manuals come with cooking times and temperatures for specific foods. Refer to your manual for specific cooking times and temperatures.
You can make your stuffed peppers in the air fryer in a fraction of the time needed to bake them. Follow your favorite recipe and then cook them in the air fryer instead of the oven. If your recipe does not call for boiling the peppers first, you will need to add this step. To help with the cooking process in the air fryer, cut and seed the peppers, then boil in water for a few minutes to soften them up. Fill with your favorite stuffing ingredients and cook in the air fryer. A basic stuffed pepper is filled with a mixture of ground beef, rice, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and tomato sauce.
Save money and reduce the number of additives and preservatives by making banana chips at home in your air fryer. Make sure to use firm, barely ripe bananas (avoid ripe, mushy bananas). Slice into thin slices, coat with seasoning (salt, cinnamon, coconut sugar, etc.) and a little bit of oil (olive, avocado, coconut). Pop them in the air fryer and you’ll have a healthy dried fruit in minutes.
‘Fried’ Green Beans
Just like with the broccoli, fresh lightly steamed veggies are the most healthy. But variety is the spice of life and getting kids to eat vegetables can be an uphill battle. Choose your battles and let them eat healthy fried veggies sometimes. Start with seasoning the green beans, dip in flour, then egg, and lastly bread crumbs (or whatever breading your choose). You can also use grated or parmesan cheese for the coating to avoid using grains. Cook them up in your air fryer and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
There are so many things you can do with an air fryer, these are just some easy recipes to help inspire you and get you started.
For more concrete recipes, check out these recipes from Cooking Light.
A Health Coach’s Opinion of the Air Fryer
I like using the air fryer for more variety and creativity in my meals. I do not own or use a deep fryer so there are some things I can make now that I wouldn’t have before, like chicken wings, onion rings, and french fries. I also like being able to cook with less oil. My favorite way to use it is for roasting potatoes (regular and sweet) and vegetables.
What concerns me about the air fryer is the materials used in the manufacturing process. I typically only use cast iron or stainless steel when cooking to avoid chemical and toxic contaminants in our food. I have concerns that toxic chemicals could be released from the basket during high heat cooking times. I have not personally done any research on this as of yet, but this is my personal opinion based on extensive research of toxic chemicals.
So, what do you think? Could your family benefit from using an air fryer?