Fried foods such as fries and fried chicken are delicious. But when cooked the conventional way (i.e., cooking with oil), they can be unhealthy to eat it everyday.
Have you heard of air fryers? If you haven’t, these cooking devices are all the rage these days because they offer a healthier alternative to deep frying or cooking in pans with oil. So if you love fried food, this kitchen machine may be for you.
Here, we’re listing our top picks for the best air fryer available online. We’re also giving you a short, but comprehensive introduction on air fryers.
- 1 What is an Air Fryer?
- 2 How Does an Air Fryer Work?
- 3 Pros and Cons of an Air Fryer
- 4 Air Fryer vs Deep Fryer
- 5 Difference Between Air Fried and Oven Baked Food
- 6 What is the Best Air Fryer to Buy? Best Air Fryer Brand
- 6.1 Best Air Fryer Pick #1: GoWISE USA GW22731
- 6.2 Best Air Fryer Pick #2: Avalon Bay AB-Airfryer100B
- 6.3 Best Air Fryer Pick #3: Philips XL Airfryer HD9240/94
- 6.4 Best Air Fryer Pick #4: Air Fryer by Cozyna 613-01
- 6.5 Best Air Fryer Pick #5: Secura SAF-32 Air Fryer
- 6.6 Best Air Fryer Pick #6: NuWave Brio Air Fryer 37001
What is an Air Fryer?
One of the trends in healthy cooking right now is the use of an air fryer. Essentially, an air fryer is a device that uses rapid air technology (or in simple terms, hot air circulation) to “fry” food.
Are air fryers healthy?
There are a few claims that air fryer companies make. One of them is that it reduces the amount of fat in recipes by approximately 75%. This is due to the fact that it’s basically an oil-free cooking operation.
“Oil-free” in this context doesn’t really mean 100% lack of oil. Depending on which recipe you’d like to follow, you may need to use some oil if only to prevent the food item to stick to the pan. Still, this is much better than using a conventional fryer.
How Does an Air Fryer Work?
Thanks to this video, we can understand that air fryers work through a combination of two things: heat radiation (from the upper part of the device) and convection (from the lower part of the device). These two work together to create a heat transfer rate that is much higher than that of a convection oven.
Above the cooking chamber or bin is a heating element that radiates from a close range directly penetrating into the food’s surface. Above the heater is a fan that pulls the hot air upwards and then transports it throughout all sides of the cooking chamber.
At the bottom, there is a special part that helps to evenly distribute the hot air inside the chamber. The food itself helps in making sure that sure that all contents receive the same amount of heat even when they’re piled up.
Overall, this mechanism eliminates the need to turn the food during the cooking process, which is similar with how deep fryers work, except zero or only minimal oil is used.
An air fryer has a special exhaust system or a vent that filters the steam and smoke inside the chamber before they are released in open air.
Pros and Cons of an Air Fryer
Some people who are used to cooking with an oven say that air fryers are nothing but mini versions of these cooking chambers. In the words of a reviewer, an air fryer doesn’t do anything that a normal oven can already do.
But this is not to say that air fryers don’t come with some advantages. For instance, because of their small footprint, storage shouldn’t be a problem. This goes without saying that it’s an ideal alternative to an oven if you have limited space. That said, air fryers are ideal for single to double-person households who love eating fried food.
Because air fryers are equipped with rapid air circulation technology, you can expect that food items can be cooked in less time. In addition, as one user has said, air fryers give you “less going up and down checking on your food.”
Since air fryers are smaller, they don’t heat up the house unlike full-size ovens, which can be a concern especially during hot days and the summer season.
Air Fryer vs Deep Fryer
Based on the working mechanism of air fryers as discussed above, air fryers mimic deep fryers to give you an evenly cooked food item that’s non-greasy.
One of the biggest advantages of air fryers over deep fryers is that you don’t have to worry about an off-putting smoke and smell that results from burning oil. Even if you use a tablespoon of olive oil to coat your food, it shouldn’t be a concern, especially if you have a well-ventilated kitchen.
And since air fryers are oil-free, you’ll get to save on oil purchases. Let’s not forget, air fryers are a safer alternative, and they’re ideal if you’re around kids.
Difference Between Air Fried and Oven Baked Food
What’s the final result? Here’s the short answer: There is a noticeable difference in the taste and the texture.
Right after seeing the air-fried potatoes, the reviewer was pleasantly surprised. His first impression is that “it looks great.” He shakes the air fryer’s bin and notices that the potatoes “even sound like real fries.” Also, he mentions that the back part of the potatoes is pretty crispy.
Taste-wise, the air-fried potatoes “have a great texture,” the outside is crispy and flaky, but the middle part is still very firm. As for the oven-baked potatoes, there’s a “little bit of crispiness on the outside,” but not as crispy as the air-fried potatoes. The reviewer concludes that the outside part of the oven-baked pototaes is not as crispy as the air-fried ones.
His final say? The potatoes prepared by the air fryer are restaurant-style that “you would be proud to put in front of your guests.”
There are plenty of other food items to fry and prepare using an air fryer. In another video, participants were asked to evaluate 3 different types of food fried using an air dryer. Here’s their assessment.
– fries: the resulting food appeared to be a little limp, which can’t be compared with restaurant-style fries, but as one of the participants said, “it’s got that crisp to it.” In comparison, another participant said the resulting air-fried fries are similar to those that are “stuck in the oven.”
– chicken tenderloin: they look juicy and tender; they feel more evenly crispy compared to the ones cooked in an oven
– cookies in batter: air frying made the cookie soggy
Here are some takeaways:
- An air fryer doesn’t compare with an actual fryer with all the oil, but it does get the job done quickly.
- There’s no question that its mechanism works. But the question is to what quality of cooking are you expecting from this machine.
- There seems to be a proper way of using an air fryer. If you can’t figure out how, you might end up with a subpar air-fried food such as a soggy cookie in batter, or limp French fries.
What is the Best Air Fryer to Buy? Best Air Fryer Brand
Here’s a list of our top picks for the top-rated and best air fryer brands available online.
Best Air Fryer Pick #1: GoWISE USA GW22731
The GoWISE GW22731 is one of the air fryers with a bigger food chamber. While the competition has a frying chamber with 3-quart capacity, this GoWISE air fryer boasts 5.8 quarts. Advertised as an 8-in-1 device, this air fryer has 8 cooking pre-sets for your favorite food items such as fries, pork, chicken, and even cake.
What’s unique about this device? It comes with a Start/Stop button that you can use to change your time-temperature settings in the middle of the cooking process. There’s also an alarm function that reminds you to shake your food in 5, 10, and 15-minute increments.
Best Air Fryer Pick #2: Avalon Bay AB-Airfryer100B
If you’re bored with the usual black exterior, know that the AB-Airfryer100B comes with two other colors – red and white. Weighing 14 pounds, this air fryer features a 3.7-quart frying chamber, controls that let you adjust the temperature from 180 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, a 30-minute timer, and non-slip feet. Read our full Avalon Bay AB-Airfryer100B review.
Best Air Fryer Pick #3: Philips XL Airfryer HD9240/94
One of the most beautiful digital air fryers on the market today, the Philips XL Airfryer HD9240/94 has one unique feature that you’re definitely interested in. It comes with a smart preset button that memorizes your settings so that the next time you cook, you won’t have to touch buttons again. It has a touchscreen interface, a 60-minute timer, and a temperature control that lets you adjust it up to 390 degrees. Let’s not forget, it has Gordon Ramsay’s approval.
Also read: Philips HD9240/94 Avance XL Review
Best Air Fryer Pick #4: Air Fryer by Cozyna 613-01
Equipped with Stormic Air Flow Technology, the Cozyna 613-01 air fryer weighs 11 pounds and stands 13 inches. While its features are basically the same as the competition, it deserves a spot on this list because of the high rating and positive feedback given by consumers. You can cook a variety of food items using this device. To help you, it comes with 2 exclusive cookbooks with more than 50 recipes to choose from. Read our full Air Fryer by Cozyna 613-01 review.
Best Air Fryer Pick #5: Secura SAF-32 Air Fryer
Not many brands give you accessories for free. With the Secura SAF-32 Air Fryer, not only will you get recipes, but you’ll also have a toaster rack and skewers for free. The frying basket has a 3.2-liter capacity, the whole unit weighs 12.5 pounds, and you can adjust the temperature between 180 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Read our Secura SAF-32 air fryer review.
Best Air Fryer Pick #6: NuWave Brio Air Fryer 37001
One of the common questions of potential buyers is whether or not an air fryer can re-heat foods. With the NuWave Brio Air Fryer 37001, you certainly can. All you have to do is to press the “Reheat” button. Just like other air fryers on this list, the NuWave comes with pre-sets for your favorite food items. You can also adjust the temperature and the timer to your preference. Read our review of the NuWave 37001 here.