Since it first launched in 2010, the air fryer has been taking the at-home cooking world by storm. And when millions of people started spending their days at home snacking on mozza sticks in tie-dye sweatsuits, the trendy appliance only gained more traction as the number one tool for quick, easy and delicious meals. As part of this trend, air fryer pros and cons are being widely discussed.
So, what’s behind the world’s obsession with these unassuming machines resembling a space-age coffee maker and ranging in price from $70 to $250? Besides big-name celebrity endorsements from lifestyle gurus such as Oprah Winfrey, Emeril and Gordon Ramsay, it could have something to do with the fact that air fryers can make hundreds of tasty recipes from French fries to tofu at a fraction of the calories.
That’s right — in general, food cooked in air fryers rather than oil can slash calories by 70 to 80 per cent as well as reducing fat. The result? Your favourite fried foods, sans guilt.
Despite what its name suggests, however, this machine doesn’t actually fry anything. It works by placing food like potatoes, zucchini or chicken under a fan and a heating mechanism that gets hot enough to give your dish a crispy, crunchy texture without the use of oils, which can be calorie-dense and high in fat. Cooking food this way is similar to baking it in the sense that it’s still technically a convection oven, but the device is smaller and more compact, so the food cooks faster and gets crispier than it would in an oven. These amazing fryers can also be compared to the beloved instant pot, an electric pressure cooker that works by sealing food inside a small space filled with hot steam.
The pros and cons of owning an air fryer
Now for the million-dollar (well, more like $200) question — are air fryers worth the hype? Here are a few pros and cons to consider before adding one to your lockdown wish list:
1. Air fryers are best for two people
PRO: Air fryers are relatively small and compact, which could be beneficial if you live in a small space and generally only cook for yourself.
CON: On the other hand, if you’re usually cooking for more than two people, you’ll want to keep in mind air fryers can typically only cook two servings of food at a time, which could become a drag if you’re feeding a family of five or having a (socially distant) gathering.
2. Different versions are available
PRO: There are plenty of different versions of air fryers on the market to suit your needs, style and price range. If you’re looking for one with a little extra pizazz, go for the Dash Air Fryer in aqua or teal. Or, if you’re looking for an appliance that does double duty, splurge for this air fryer-toaster oven combo, which allows you to easily cook for the whole family.
CON: Depending on the current state of your kitchen cupboard, you may not want to add more clutter to your space if you’re not going to use your air fryer on a regular basis. While they are small and compact, air fryers are still about the size of a coffee machine, which can take up a lot of real estate if you’re already low on space.
3. Air fryer pros & cons – you can’t put everything into this appliance
PRO: You really can cook up a bevy of mouth-watering recipes that aren’t too complicated with an air fryer, and what better time to kick off your career as a home chef than now? Check out these drool-worthy mini Nutella donut holes, General Tso’s Chicken, or onion rings to get started.
CON: Despite its reputation for being the most omnipotent kitchen appliance around, there are a few limitations to the air fryer. For example, you’ll want to avoid placing cheese by itself in the basket to avoid creating a sticky, gooey mess. You also can’t cook anything with a wet batter because it, too, will turn into a soggy mess.
4. Air fryers have many health benefits
PRO: As we’ve already covered, air fryers are a healthier alternative to using a deep fryer or heading to your nearest drive-thru for your fix, for that matter. But the appliance comes with more health benefits than just cutting down on calories. For example, when potatoes are fried in oil, it makes a chemical called acrylamide, which has been linked to cancer. Using an air fryer instead can reduce the amount of the chemical by up to 90 per cent.
CON: While air fryers definitely crisp-ify your food quicker than the conventional oven, they can be slower than a regular deep fryer because the oil heats up more quickly than air. So, if you’re in a rush and you don’t mind a little extra oil, a deep fryer may be right for you.
Still on the fence about purchasing an air fryer? Be sure to shop around and read reviews to see what other home cooks think about this little kitchen appliance with a big reputation.