Air fryers have been gaining popularity in the current cost of living crisis due to their ability to cook healthy, delicious food while using less energy than a regular oven. If you haven’t used an air fryer before then you might be wondering how air fryers work and whether you should consider purchasing one for yourself.
How Does An Air Fryer Work?
An air fryer uses hot air to cook food. The hot air circulates around the food, giving the food a crispy outer layer (unlike using a microwave oven) while using little oil.
What Can You Cook In An Air Fryer?
Air fryers can be used for all kinds of foods including chicken wings, chips and vegetables like sweet potatoes and broccoli. In fact, anything you can cook in a standard oven, space permitting.
The cooking time is usually less than using a traditional oven, so you won’t have to wait very long before you can enjoy your meal, and you will be able to save money on your energy bill.
Which Air Fryer Best Suits Your Needs?
There are so many types of air fryers out there that it can be difficult to know which one would be best for you.
There are four popular types of air fryers on the market today, these are:
- Air fryers with a paddle
- Rotisserie air fryers
These air fryers are all very different from each other and come with various advantages and disadvantages.
Basket-style air fryers
Basket-style air fryers are one of the most popular types of air fryers, and they are what most people think of when they picture an air fryer.
These are usually tall, slim air fryers that come with heating elements and fans.
The basket slides out of the air fryer and is where you place your ingredients to cook. The bottom of the basket has holes in it to allow airflow and your oil to drain away.
You can get models of the basket-style air fryers that come with dual baskets, so that you can cook separate parts of your meal at the same time, using different settings. For example, cooking fish in one basket and your chips in the other basket.
The advantages of basket-style air fryers are plenty. They are easy to use by just placing your ingredients, oil and any seasoning into one basket to cook. They are also easy to clean and most air fryer baskets are dishwasher safe.
The disadvantages of basket-style air fryers include having to regularly stop the cooking to shake the basket or baskets of food to ensure even cooking. Sometimes this will reset the cooking timer, meaning that you need to know how much longer to cook your food.
Air fryers with a paddle
If you want a ‘set it and forget it’ air fryer then the air fryers with a paddle might be for you.
These models have an interior paddle that keeps the food moving using a stirring motion.
This not only means that you don’t need to shake the food that is cooking, but you can also create meals that have liquid ingredients since the liquids don’t drain away like when using basket-style air fryers. You can therefore cook sauces, casseroles and even rice dishes in an air fryer with a paddle.
Many models are also easy to clean because they have removable pots that can usually be placed into the dishwasher.
Oven-style air fryers
Oven-style air fryers are becoming more popular because of the amazing added features they can come with.
These look like a regular oven but on a much smaller scale, and allow you to cook your food on a number of trays inside the main compartment.
Like an oven, they rely on convection or fan technology to cook the food. This means that your food is often nice and crispy when cooked.
Another fantastic advantage of using an oven-style air fryer is that you can cook a variety of food at the same time on different trays – however, you cannot change the temperature for one tray like you can with a dual cooking basket-style air fryer.
They often come with extra features such as a rotisserie function, and the trays are easy to clean once used.
Rotisserie air fryers
Rotisserie air fryers are made especially for cooking evenly browned and moist chickens – much like you will find in a supermarket.
A rotisserie chicken tastes so different to a roasted chicken and goes well with a variety of meals whether you want a hot meal or a cold meal.
You can also cook other items in rotisserie air fryers, such as chips.
The downside to a rotisserie air fryer is that they aren’t as versatile as the other options out there, and an oven-style air fryer with a rotisserie function might prove better for your circumstances.
How To Use And Maintain Your Air Fryer
Air Fryer Settings
Different fryers have different settings but they will generally have a temperature controller and timer. Many also have function controls such as air fry, roast, bake, broil, reheat and dehydrate to suit your requirements.
Do you put oil in an air fryer?
The short answer is that yes, you do put oil in an air fryer, depending on what you are cooking.
You won’t need to use as much oil as you do with traditional frying, which means that the food you cook is healthier and it is cheaper to make as you aren’t using as much oil in your cooking.
With the price of oil increasing this is a great benefit to using an air fryer.
How much oil do you put into an air fryer?
The amount of oil that you need to use in your air fryer will depend on what you are cooking, but typically if you need to use oil it would be a few sprays to one tablespoon of oil.
Where do you put the oil in an air fryer?
Again, this will depend on what you are cooking, however, the oil is applied to the food you are cooking and not to the air fryer itself.
What kind of oil can I use in an air fryer?
You don’t need to use any special oils when cooking with your air fryer – you can use vegetable oil, olive oil, rapeseed oil, coconut oil and many more.
You can also use spray oils and low-calorie cooking sprays too.
Can you use butter in an air fryer?
If you want to use butter in an air fryer dish instead of oil then you can do this.
What foods do you need to add oil to in an air fryer?
If you would use oil or butter to cook a dish traditionally then you will need to use oil when using the air fryer.
For example, all roasted vegetables cooked in the air fryer should use some oil or butter when cooking them.
When cooking meat in your air fryer you may or may not need to use oil – the easy way to decide whether to add oil is to add oil if you would add oil when cooking it in the oven. If you wouldn’t add oil when cooking it in the oven then you don’t need to add oil when using the air fryer.
How often should you clean the basket?
It is important to clean the basket after every use, or else any food residue left in the basket will start to mould. After washing, it is a good idea to air dry the basket and allow some time for it to dry completely before using it again.
If you are worried about damaging your air fryer basket, don’t mix the silicone with metal utensils or harsh cleaning products when cleaning your air fryer.
Clean the exterior of your air fryer with a damp cloth or sponge
When cleaning the exterior of your air fryer with a damp cloth or sponge, and then rinse it with water.
If you find that you have grease on the outside of your air fryer then you can try cleaning your air fryer with a degreaser or washing up liquid.
How to dispose of grease when cleaning your air fryer
Whilst air fryers use very little oil, you might find that oil and grease still remain after cooking.
Don’t be tempted to pour the grease down your kitchen sink; instead, you can line your kitchen plug hole with tin foil and pour the grease into it, leave it to set and then put it into your rubbish.
Some people prefer to use an old jar to collect grease, and then dispose of it once it’s full.
Pouring grease straight down your sink can lead to costly blockages and is bad for the environment.
You could also use paper towels to soak up excess oil after cooking.
How to remove odours from your air fryer
Some cooking smells, like fish, linger for ages in the air fryer, even with your best intentions.
If you need to get rid of odours when cleaning your air fryer then you don’t need to rush out and buy a special cleaner – you most likely already have the ingredients in your kitchen.
Take 2 parts water to one part vinegar and one part lemon juice and place them into a small dish. Then set your air fryer to 200C for 3-5 minutes. Once your air fryer is cool simply wipe it down with a damp cloth. If the odour is still there you can repeat the process.
Choose your air fryer storage carefully
These appliances should not be stored in a location exposed to high temperatures, such as near the oven or hob, because excess heat can damage the exterior of the fryer.
We don’t believe air fryers are a short-term fad and are something you should seriously consider purchasing. They are efficient and can produce delicious food in a healthier way than most traditional methods. Which one you choose is down to your personal circumstances, preferences and budget.