Air fryers are touted as a healthier way to enjoy fried foods. But exactly how does an air fryer work? And does it actually produce healthier fried foods? We researched these questions to give you the details to these questions. Interestingly air fryers are not actually fryers. They are countertop convection ovens. We also found that the Philips TurboStar Air Fryer was universally found to be the best air fryer currently on the market. To learn more continue reading.
How does an air fryer work?
As mentioned, air fryers are really just small countertop convection ovens. Convection ovens use electric heating elements to heat air and a fan circulates the air through the cooking chamber to cook the food inside more evenly. The rather small cooking chamber allows the air fryer to cook in a way closer to frying than a traditional convection oven.
Is food cooked in an air fryer healthy?
Compared to deep frying, absolutely. The air fryer does away with the need to use the large quantities of oil necessary in traditional frying. This doesn’t mean that your food will be healthy but it will definitely be healthier than if it were deep fried in unhealthy oil. Whether or not your air fryer cooked food is healthy will depend on what’s cooked in it.
Do I have to put oil in an air fryer?
No. Adding oil isn’t necessary but it isn’t prohibited either. You wouldn’t be able to do more than basically lightly coat the food with oil since there isn’t a chamber designed to hold large quantities of oil within the air fryer. If you wanted to add a little oil to French fries for instance, you could put your fries in a bowl with a little oil and toss it until the fries are well coated. You could then put your fries in the air fryer for cooking. This will give you a little bit of the flavor from the oil without necessarily soaking the fries in it.
How long does an air fryer take to heat up?
It’s not necessary to preheat an air fryer since it heats up very quickly. The typical time it takes an air fryer to get up to the specified temperature is usually only 3 minutes or so.
How is an air fryer different from a convection oven?
Air fryers circulate hot air at higher typical temperatures in smaller confined spaces with faster air flow. This allows them to cook foods much more quickly and simulate frying as opposed to baking.
Can you use aluminum foil in an air fryer?
You can but it’s not suggested. Air fryers work by circulating air around and through gaps between the food in the cooking chamber. Using aluminum foil in the cooking chamber will block air flow and reduce cooking efficiency.
Best Air Fryer:
Philips TurboStar Air Fryer
Of all the air fryers we looked at, the Phillips TurboStar Air Fryer was noted as the most effective and best air fryer by reviewers and consumers alike.
Airflow is key to a good air fryer and the TurboStar design from Philips does an incredible job of circulating air more evenly than the competition. The base of the Philips air fryer has a twisted star shape that rotates the airflow and works amazingly well at ensuring food cooks more consistently throughout the cooking chamber.
Unfortunately things aren’t all puppy dogs and rainbows with the TurboStar air fryer. The big fly in the ointment is the price tag. You’ll pay around double the price for the Philips than you will many of the other competing air fryers. Also it’s quite noisy compared to others available. The convection fan spins extremely fast and so noise is a difficult problem to tackle in an air fryer. Last, the cooking basket wasn’t the easiest to clean. Not a significant hurdle in this case but one worth mentioning if this air fryer is going to be seeing heavy duty in your kitchen.
If you want the best air frying experience we recommend the Philips TurboStar Air Fryer as the best air fryer for most people despite the higher price. In general, air fryers are not expensive appliances and spending a bit more is worth it in this instance.
BLACK+DECKER Purify 2-Liter Air Fryer
The Black+Decker Purify Air Fryer is a great budget alternative to the Philips TurboStar. It performs very well for approximately have the cost. The main reason this air fryer isn’t our first pick is the cooking chamber size is significantly smaller than that of the Philips. You’ll give up 1/3 of the cooking volume as compared to the Philips TurboStar for a significant discount. This could be a fair trade off if you’re not going to be preparing food for more than one or two people. More than that and you’ll likely be forced to make a couple batches.
On the plus side, this air fryer is very quiet – one of the quietest air fryers on the market. The fans in air fryers are spinning and very high speeds and noise is an issue for some of the competitors.
The Black+Decker was also very easy to clean. This is an important bonus for a countertop appliance if it’s going to be used frequently.
How Air Fryers Work
Air fryers aren’t magical but they are novel countertop appliances. As a small and powerful convection oven they can earn a convenient and versatile spot in most kitchens.
Air frying does live up to the hype in most ways. The food is healthier than traditional frying which is great. The fryers are relatively inexpensive and convenient for cooking a wide array of foods. They make a great small oven for a dorm or single person. They’re also great for cooking small batches of foods without having to go to the trouble of firing up the large oven.
If you’re looking at a way to cook some of your favorite foods healthier, an air fryer can be a great way to achieve that goal. The Philips TurboStar Air Fryer is our pick for most people but the Black+Decker Purify Air Fryer comes in close if you can deal with the smaller cooking volume. Good luck!