Let me start out by saying that I have a pretty good idea why you’re here (aside from asking the question “Do Air Fryers Really Work?”). You love fries. Your family loves fries, fried chicken..and boneless wings! But, there’s a problem. All that fried food is adding a massive amount of calories and fat to your diet. Air Fryers are said to be able to cook the food you love with less fat, but do Air Fryers work?
As a former professional cook, I can honestly tell you that I love fried food as much as anybody. When the rumors came out of an appliance that can cook my favorite fried foods with little to no oil, I had to learn more. Sure, skepticism has it’s place, but we’re talking about healthier french fries here! I had to know…do Air Fryers work?
Well, it’s 2018, and I’ve been cooking with Air Fryers for almost 4 years now. I can absolutely and emphatically tell you that Air Fryers do work. Of course, I don’t expect you to just take my word for it. Let’s take a look at how people actually feel about their Air Fryers.
Air Fryers have been around long enough now that we have a lot of information about how people feel about them. The response is overwhelmingly positive, with many 0f the top selling Air Fryers on Amazon averaging at least 4.4 stars out 5.
Let’s take for instance the Philips Viva Air Fryer, which has been on the shelves for 3 years, and has collected over 1,060 reviews. The majority of people really like how fast they can cook smaller meals, frozen foods, and reheat leftovers. Even Chef Ramsey endorses this Air Fryer, and you can find videos of him cooking all sorts of food in it.
Of course, no product is sure to please everyone. Some complaints concerning Air Fryers is that they offer a relatively small capacity, and that the cooking times can be a bit longer than that of a deep fryer. However, customers seem to be very happy with their Air Fryers overall.
We have a great list of the Best Air Fryers for 2018 where you can stack up some high quality Air Fryers and see which one might suit you and your families needs best!
Making the Case for an Air Fryer
You know it, I know it…we all know it. Deep fried food is loaded with extra calories and fat. Aside from the obvious nutritional info, it’s hard to know exactly what your local fast food chain is putting in their food.
Actually, it’s not that hard to know, maybe we just don’t want to know. McDonald’s publicly posts all of that info.
There are no less than 19 separate ingredients in McDonald’s french fries. Couple that with the fact that a medium serving of fries contains 340 calories and 16 grams of fat… well, you’ve got to think twice about eating fast food on the reg. I mean, anyone would, right? Would you still give your kid that box of fries if the carton looked like this?
The fact still remains…we love fries…we still eat fries. Often, we wish that there was a healthier way to eat the deep fried foods we crave.
All of the sudden, a faint ray of light shines through. We are introduced to a new kitchen appliance that promises to help you cook your favorite fried foods with 80% less oil than deep fried food. Your ears perk up at the thought of eating fries more often and not feeling the least bit of guilt for it. But do air fryers work?
Absolutely they work, but it isn’t as easy as chucking some fresh cut fries or a piece of chicken in there. Before we get into what we can and can’t cook in an Air Fryer, how about some proof that Air Fryers actually do work. Here’s my Air Frying friend Boog to show you exactly how you can make some amazing fried chicken in an Air Fryer!
Why I Bought an Air Fryer
I cooked professionally for four years at a mom and pop diner. I spent plenty of time in front of the grill, the flat top, and my favorite…the deep fryer.
When it came to cooking onion rings, fries, and chicken wings, I was the Wolfgang Puck of deep fryers! But when it came time to change the oil, that tub of boiling fat became a free-for-all for the kitchen staff.
This was our chance to throw in anything our little hearts desired. Snickers bars, twinkies, oreos…Reeses peanut butter cups were particularly amazing.
Needless to say, I porked out a little bit while working at that diner. At 5′ 10″ and 215pds, I had what the doctors call a little bit of a weight problem.
Long story short, I found a different job that didn’t subject me to the constant temptations that a deep fryer provided. It didn’t take long for my body to return to a healthy weight. But I still got those fried food cravings…and it made me kind of sad.
You can trust me when I tell you that no one understands your deep fried cravings better than myself!
Perhaps like yourself, my first look at an Air Fryer came from an infomercial. I distinctly remember an overly-excited blonde man with a soul patch telling me that I could cook all of my favorite foods while only using 80% of the oil. This resulted in less fat and fewer calories.
I was skeptical at first…but the promise of healthier fried foods compelled me to do hours of research on whether this Air Fryer contraption really works. What I found was mostly conflicting information. I still believe that most readily available information regarding Air Fryers is incomplete.
Many reviews and articles are done by people who just unpacked their first Air Fryer. They have no idea what to do with it other than to jam the basket full of unseasoned fries, hit a preset button and let the chips fall where they may.
With some residual skepticism, I ordered my first Air Fryer from Amazon. A package arrived at my doorstep two days later (three cheers for prime!)
The following information has come from over three years of up’s and down’s (mostly up’s) with my Air Fryer.
Honestly, the first time I used my Air Fryer, the results were less awesome than I was hoping for. I was very excited to use my shiny new appliance. I quickly unpacked it, glanced at the manual, and plugged it in.
Time to cook! I hand cut a couple of potato’s and threw them in the basket. No oil, no seasoning…just boring ole potato’s. What do you suppose was the result of that? Bland tasting hot fries, that’s what! It was a demoralizing first date with the Air Fryer.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, if your recipe sounds bland, your results WILL BE BLAND. Yet, many popular blog posts are written by people who did the exact same thing I did and felt slighted by the Air fryer.
Although I was a little disappointed, I felt determined to achieve better results. After all, this Air Fryer wasn’t given to me by some company looking for a review. I spent $160 bucks on this thing! I had to at least try to make some use of it before writing it off.
An Air Fryer Epiphany
The years of cooking experience emerged from the shadows. I cut up some more fries. This time I spun them in a teaspoon of safflower oil, freshly cracked pepper, finely grated sea salt, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese.
I cranked my Air Fryer up all the way and after 3 or 4 minutes of preheating, I threw in my fries. The oiled up fries hit the pan with a hiss. Within 4 minutes of cooking in the Air Fryer, I knew I was onto something good. The smell of fresh pepper and garlic assured me of this.
After 8 minutes, I pulled out the basket and gave it a shake to make sure my fries were cooking evenly. The fries were sizzling now and turning a wonderful shade of golden brown. The aromas were already dancing on my palate.
12 minutes had now passed, and my fries were finished. My Air Fryer had delivered perfectly cooked, delicious French fries. Better yet, my homemade fries only contained 6 all natural ingredients, and produced only 95 calories with 6 grams of fat.
And so began a long and fruitful relationship between my Air Fryer and I.
What kind of Food Can I Cook With an Air Fryer?
Aside from french fries, I have made more wings in my Air Fryer than anything else. My parents love them, my nephews love them, and I love them. It makes me feel good that I can cook them just as well as any restaurant while being much healthier for myself and my beloveds.
Air Fryers do a wonderful job of cooking dry-battered foods. This batter is achieved by dipping your food in an egg mixture, and then covering the food in a mixture of flour and spices.
Some of the foods you might like to try with dry batter are fish, chicken tenders, shrimp, chicken fried steaks, and boneless wings. I can personally tell you that they all turn out wonderful in the Air Fryer.
The oil necessary for the fried effect is applied with common cooking oil spray. Using this method, you can make restaurant style boneless wings, and fried chicken that even the colonel would be proud of!
I doubt you will find a better way of cooking snacks, either! The Air Fryer will make quick work of snacks like fish sticks and pizza rolls. They cook faster than a conventional oven, and with far better results than a microwave.
Of course, they can’t all be winners…
To be perfectly honest with you, there are things that Air Fryers just do not do well. For instance, using wet-batter is right out! This includes beer batter and Tempura Batter.
The batter only works in a deep fryer because the entire surface of the food is quickly exposed to boiling oil and seals the batter quickly.
The Air Fryer can’t produce the instant boiling effect well enough to seal the batter, and the result is a messy clump of batter that I guarantee you will not be pleased with. You’ll also make a mess in your Air Fryer basket.
The good news is that you can buy pre-fried foods like onion rings, fish fillets, and chicken tenders that will cook up beautifully in the Air Fryer with just a spray of oil.
The Verdict – Do Air Fryers Work?
After using and abusing my Air Fryer for over two years, I can honestly tell you that, YES, Air Fryers really do work. You just have to realize that you will need to use a little oil to achieve the results you want when cooking foods that are typically deep fried.
However, you won’t need to use any oil at all for foods like burgers, grilled chicken or steak.
It is true that Air Fried food does not taste exactly like deep fried food. Some people actually prefer the taste of Air Fried food because you’re not tasting all of that oil. After all, we’re using only circulated hot air to cook, while the term deep fried literally means “to cook with boiling oil fat”.
So, we’re slipping on our adulting pants and making a healthy compromise. The Air Fryer will definitely help you make healthier meals for you and your family that taste great!
More Resources at The Air Fryer Guide
We’ve only scratched the surface of what an Air Fryer brings to the table. The Air Fryer guide has everything you need to help you along your journey!
There are many in depth articles in the Introduction To Air Fryers section where you can get answers to popular questions regarding Air Fryers.
If you have heard enough and can’t wait to get your paws on an Air Fryer, I’d love to help you choose one that will fit your specific needs. Check out the Top Air Fryers for 2018 or read in depth reviews on popular Air Fryers. We’ll take a look at some of the features you want, and some you may not need.
I hope you have enjoyed this article. If you have a question or comment, please feel free to leave a comment. I guarantee you will receive a response! (or I’ll come over and mow your lawn for a week) Cheers!