Fried food has always received a bad rap. That’s mainly as a result of the health problems that arise from a diet of oily, saturated food! However, fried foods are always going to be tempting, particularly when they taste so good. That’s why there has been a big push in the last few years to develop fryers which deliver great-tasting food, with none of the health risks.
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Air frying is a relatively new technology; however, it’s continuing to catch on fast. While traditional deep fat fryers will rely on vats of cooking oil, these fryers instead make use of hot air. Therefore, you are always looking at a tasty, healthy alternative to greasy, oily food.
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However, this is all dependent on whether or not you buy an air fryer which does what you expect it to! As always, reading verified purchase reviews are a good idea before you buy into marketing outright.
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Air Fryers: A Buyers’ Guide For 2021
Air fryers can be expensive, which is why it is always worth bearing a few things in mind while you shop around. Just because plenty of other people have ended up buying cookers which under or over-cook food, doesn’t mean you have to make the same mistake!
In this buyers’ guide, we’ll take a look at everything you need to know before you click ‘add to basket’.
What Does an Air Fryer Actually Do?
It’s always worth learning a little bit about your new technology before you make a purchase. Air fryers work by generating hot air, and only ever require a small amount of oil to start working.
The heating and cooking systems built into these fryers will vary; however, the science is more or less the same. Instead of actively using oil for cooking food throughout, many air fryers will instead mimic cooking styles depending on what you’d like to eat.
This means you get a lot of choice and a lot of flexibility from some of the best models on the market. However, on the whole, you may expect to pay more for these systems. We’ll take a little bit of a closer look at expected pricing a bit further down in our guide.
An air fryer, essentially, uses a clever heating system, based on air, to produce crispy, delicious food without the guilt.
Types of Air Fryer
While most air fryers work roughly the same way, there are two categories you can split them into. This may impact on which model you choose when it comes to the crunch.
Air fryers with bowls give you a nice viewing window on how your food is progressing. This is a nice, convenient way to keep a close eye on how close your dinner is to being cooked.
With many air fryers, however, you will simply be able to set it to a specific time and let it do the rest. You may also be able to buy bowl fryers which come with stirring apparatus.
There are plenty of air fryers available which have trays you can pull out midway through cooking. These are easy to use and convenient for you to make quick checks; however, it does mean that you have to interrupt the process.
Things to Consider
Before we answer a few of the most frequently asked questions on air fryers, let’s take time to break down a few common features and quirks you may want to look for, or even avoid.
This is likely to be an essential factor to look into. Most fryers will allow you to cook anything up to 200 degrees Centigrade. However, this can vary. What you may also want to look into is how easy it is to control and change your temperature settings.
Some fryers will even let you change your settings via an app! What’s more, you’re going to need an air fryer that hasn’t received negative feedback for burning food or leaving it frozen / barely thawing.
Much in the same vein as a microwave, an air fryer will likely come with some form of timer attached. This means you can set it going for as long as you want to fry your food for.
However, not all fryers have digital timers. Some, believe it or not, still use manual timer cranks, which are easy to use, but aren’t always the preferred technology.
As mentioned above, some fryers may arrive with a paddle attachment which you can use to ensure your food is regularly stirred and flipped during cooking.
It’s not an essential facility, and some may even argue that mixing paddles won’t always produce the results you’re looking for. They should help to make sure you get an even cook, but it’s still worth reading reviews to see if this is the case in practice.
Ease of Cleaning
This is something some buyers may overlook, but it’s massively important. Plenty of air fryers have removable parts which can be cleaned separately and easily re-attached. Some, however, may be a little more awkward. It’d be our advice to check the product specification carefully, and to – again – see what people are saying about the cleaning process.
Buying a fryer that’s always a chore to clean might put you off using it regularly! Look for fryers which have pieces that are safe to clean in a dishwasher, too.
Capacity is a big selling point. This is all going to depend on what you’d like to cook, of course, and how many people you are cooking for. There are some truly mammoth air fryers out there, but you’ll likely end up paying more for the privilege.
If it’s your first time using this type of system, it may be worth opting for a smaller model and to see how you get on.
Air fryers can do more than just deep fry. As mentioned earlier in our guide, the more sophisticated models available work hard to emulate certain cooking styles. For example, you may be able to grill or even boil certain foods.
If you have a varied taste as far as cooking styles are concerned, it’s always worth looking for a fryer which is flexible and capable with a variety of cuisine. Generally, however, this is always going to cost you more.
Frequently Asked Questions
As with anything you buy for the first (or even second) time, there are going to be plenty of questions you’ll want to ask. It’s not always possible to get all the answers from online reviews, so here’s a quick cross-section of queries you may be likely to pose.
Is Buying an Air Fryer Really Worth It?
Your experience may vary, as you’ll see from online reviews. Yes, there are some fantastic fryers out there which produce great results, but you can’t please everyone. This type of frying is much different from doing so with lard or vegetable oil.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to set expectations. If you love fried food but are worried about your health and lifestyle, it makes sense to buy a small, affordable model to begin with as a test.
How Much Should I Pay for an Air Fryer?
Affordable air fryers can start from as low as £50-£60, shipping included. This, however, will mean you get the absolute bare essentials. Feature-rich, and arguably more capable systems will likely cost you somewhere in the region of £100-£150 – but do be prepared to pay more than that for the absolute best of the best.
If it’s something you are invested in making the most out of, it’s worth looking for quality over cheapness. However, if you’re on the fence, we recommend starting low and seeing how you get on.
What Can I Cook With an Air Fryer?
Your imagination is your only limit here. To begin with, you should really think about sticking to the basics – meat, chips and vegetables – but you can also cook a wide variety of frozen foods, too. Try cooking fish, shrimp, beef, chicken and more.
If you have an air fryer with a few settings attached, you may want to do more than just fry with your system! What’s more, you will probably be able to find plenty of creative recipes online – why not have a quick search around and see what you can find?
Air fryers present a new and healthy way to cook tasty food without any of the unhealthy side effects. However, your experience with an air fryer may vary compared to the next person’s. It’s therefore worth taking a close look at some of the more common features available, and seeing which appear to have the most well-rounded reviews.
If healthy cooking is important to you, then it may be worth investing £150+ in a more advanced model. Some of the more accurate and better-reviewed fryers do retail for more than your average model, but the general rule of thumb here is, the more you pay, the better quality results you’ll get. Shop around!