Fry Time: A Guide To The Air Fryer

Who doesn’t love fried food? Its crispy exterior married with a juicy interior. What a joyful texture when you chomp through the crunch of a chicken tender only to find a lovely, moist piece of flesh below. Dare I mention the glories of the French fry? But anyone who has fried at home knows it can be somewhat of a process. Deep frying in a pot requires time to heat up what is a copious amount of oil. Once heated, it needs to be held at the proper temperature for perfect cooking. When the food is placed in the oil, it is hard to avoid splattering across your kitchen, leaving a days-long cleaning process. Of course, there is also the matter of disposing of the oil. Sure, you could purchase one of those at home deep fryers, but they are clunky, hard to clean, and rarely work well.

What if there was a way to avoid the mess of deep frying at home? What if you could skip all that oil and make crunchy fried food that wasn’t necessarily unhealthy? My friends, it is time to meet the air fryer.

The air fryer first hit the market only a few years ago and has since made a big splash. You may be wondering, how does one fry with air? Well, the truth is, it is not technically frying. Traditional frying uses hot oil to displace the water in the foods, allowing it to quickly evaporate. That is what makes for the crispy exterior. Air cannot do this. Instead, the air fryer rapidly circulates hot air, like a convection oven. When the hot air hits the food quickly and from all sides, it creates a similar effect, deep frying.

When shopping for an air fryer, similar rules apply to shopping for any appliance. As they come in all sizes and prices, stick to what you have the space for and what you can afford. But as always, you get what you pay for. Many air fryers have multiple functions and many multicookers have an air fryer function. While we love a multi-tasker, remember that often the more features something has, the less each feature works well. Always look for manufactures you know and trust and read online reviews and rankings.

Now that you have your air fryer ready to go, what can you make. Well just about anything you would normally deep fry, pan fry, or oven roast. Chicken? Sure! Potatoes! Why not? The possibilities are endless. Eggplant Parm, egg rolls, buffalo wings, all great options. All the sides you can dream of, from fried plantains to fried okra. What about dessert? How about air frying your favorite cookie or candy bar.

A few overall tips when air frying. Like deep frying or oven roasting, we do not want to overcrowd the fryer. Each piece of food needs enough space for the air to hit it on all sides, making it golden, brown, and delicious. That also means arranging food in a single layer. While air frying doesn’t technically require oil, we recommend coating non-battered foods in a little oil to help with browning. You can convert nearly any oven or deep fryer recipe over to the air fryer. If converting an oven recipe, reduce the original cooking temperature by 25 degrees (F) and cooking time by about 20 percent, since convection cooking is more efficient. For fryer recipes, air fry at 390 degrees (f). It should take a similar time to deep frying. Remember to always shake the fryer basket or flip your food halfway through to ensure even browning.

Photo credit: Photo 171232690 / Air Fryer © Leung Cho Pan | Dreamstime.com