Are you new to air frying? Or are you on the verge of getting yourself an air fryer? Here's everything you need to know- how it works, how to choose the right air fryer for you, the best and worst foods you can make in an air fryer, and some do's and don'ts while using an air fryer.
We've been hearing a lot of rave reviews about this latest trend - air frying! Because they say, air frying calls for quick and healthy foods. But is it worth the hype? How does it work? Is it really frying food?
I had all these questions popping off my head too. Now that I'm accustomed to this cooking giant, let me help you out.
- How Do Air Fryers Work
- How To Choose The Right Air Fryer For You
- Some Burning Questions You Might Have About an Air Fryer
- How does food taste in an air fryer? Does it taste as good as deep-fried?
- What can you cook in an air fryer?
- What can you not put in an air fryer?
- Do I need to preheat my air fryer?
- Do air fryers use oil?
- Can I use steel bowl in an air fryer?
- Can aluminium foil be used in an air fryer?
- Are air fryers worth the money?
How Do Air Fryers Work
Before we head to which air fryer is good or some easy recipes, let's first understand how an air fryer actually works.
Because think about it! Frying without oil (or in negligible quantity) is nothing short of a miracle! So, how is it really possible?
Air Fryer is a lot like the countertop convection oven. It is a compact electrical appliance with a heating element and a fan that helps the hot air to circulate around the food. Since the air fryers are more compact than convection ovens, it does an even better job because the "frying" is faster.
Moreover, the food is placed in a perforated basket (the one with small holes) which makes the hot air reach all the surfaces of the food creating a crisp crust, and thus a "fried" effect.
Therefore, air frying is NOT really frying. Air fryers use air as their medium of heat, whereas deep frying uses fat for the same.
Now that you know how it works, let's try and figure out how to choose the right air fryer for you.
How To Choose The Right Air Fryer For You
Considering there are a wide variety of options available in the market, it is normal to get confused while buying gadgets and electrical appliances. So, it is always ideal to keep in mind your requirement and budget before investing in one.
Here are the factors you can consider before buying an Air Fryer:
- Size/Capacity: Air fryers are available in different capacities, ranging from 1 litres to 16 litres. For bachelors, a 3-litre capacity is good enough. For a family of four, consider an air fryer with a capacity of 4 to 6 litres.
The basket where you place the food is limited in size. If you end up choosing a smaller air fryer, you'll have to cook your food in batches.
- Timer: Regular air fryers come with a 30-minute range timer. It is sufficient for home-cooking. However, if you are someone who tries out complicated recipes that requires a longer cook time, opt for the one with a 60-minute timer.
- Temperature: Most popular air fryers have a maximum temperature of 200 degrees Celsius (400 F). You can easily cook meat dishes like kebabs, tandoori, fried chicken, etc.
Other factors you may consider are the design(Make a note of how bulky the make is. For sure, air fryer is not as small as a toaster), controls, durability and brand value.
Best Air Fryers in India
- Philips Daily Collection HD9218 Air Fryer This little beast is one of the best air fryers in the market. Apart from the fact that it is from one of the best kitchen appliance brands, the capacity of this air fryer is 2.2L and it comes for about 13,000 INR. Expensive, but if you are a Philips loyalist, go for it.
2. Havells Prolife Digi: It has a 4L capacity and has a maximum cooking duration of 60 minutes with a temperature range of 80-200 degrees, making it quite versatile.
I was eyeing this but it is currently out of stock on Amazon India. But if you can afford to walk up to a nearby store in these difficult times, get your hands on this one.
3. Kenstar Aster Digi Oxy Fryer: With a great capacity of 3.5 L, and a cooking temperature range of 80-200 degrees, Kenstar Aster Digi Oxy Fryer is one of the few air fryers available in the Indian market that can boast of a digital interface.
I ended up buying this (not sponsored) and here are the factors that I loved the most:
- It is only 25 * 30 * 30 cm making it quite compact. It doesn't take a lot of space in the kitchen counter.
- The capacity of 3.5 L, making it quite easy to prepare food for a large family or when a family get-together is planned.
- I also love how the device shuts off automatically once the timer is off, like a convection oven. This helps in preventing the food from getting burnt or overcooked. I can even jam to my favorite tunes or listen to a podcast while the food gets cooked in this appliance.
- It comes with seven preset menus - burgers, chips, wedges, steak, fried chicken, pork chop,
- It's a breeze to work with it, also easy to clean.
- Perfect to fry, grill, bake, or roast.
Let me know if you'd like a detailed review of the Kenstar Aster Digi Oxyfryer.
4. Prestige PAF 4.0 2.2-Litre Air Fryer: Another reliable brand, this air fryer from Prestige keeps in mind the needs of Indian cooking. It comes in a 2.2L variant and is quite easy on the pocket with an Amazon discount at 5000 INR.
5. KENT Hot Air Fryer 16033: Again, from another reliable brand, Kent hot air fryer comes in a 1.4 kg variant and has all the air fryer cooking capabilities providing you with healthier foods.
Some Burning Questions You Might Have About an Air Fryer
How does food taste in an air fryer? Does it taste as good as deep-fried?
Not really. I guess, most air fryer advertisements claim otherwise. But in reality, there is a taste difference, even if it is negligible.
You may easily compare it with oven-baked food with crispy edges and juicy insides. However, if you would like that crackly deep-fried sensation in your palate, brush your food with a little fat (oil, ghee, butter) and you should be good to go.
What can you cook in an air fryer?
As mentioned above, air fryers use dry heat to cook food. So, think fried foods, roasted and baked ones. What it doesn't excel are the foods that require wet heat, meaning steaming, boiling, or braising. However, you can easily make boiled eggs in it. Let me share the recipe with you in my next post.
Air fryers are best used for:
- Cooking frozen pre-fried foods: Those classic tater tots, Venky's Chicken Kebabs, McCain Smileys, and French Fries are simply made for an air fryer.
- From-scratch recipes: like Herb Chicken, Paneer Tikkas, Spring Rolls, Samosas, Crab cakes are some examples.
- Vegetables you roast or grill: Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, french beans, root veggies like carrots, beets, turnips.
- Reheating food: This is the best function of an air fryer. It's perfect for reheating your fried foods even the ones that were deep-fried once using the conventional methods. It doesn't make the food mushy and soft like a microwave oven.
What can you not put in an air fryer?
As mentioned above, any food that requires wet heat cannot be cooked in an air fryer. Moreover, anything with wet batter like bajjis or shrimp tempura should be avoided. The wet batter goes everywhere due to the hot air circulation and it can also stick to the bottom of the appliance, resulting in burnt, chewy food.
Also avoid putting cheese and fresh greens in an air fryer. While the former ends up in a cheesy gooey mess, the latter will fly all over the place and cooks unevenly.
Do I need to preheat my air fryer?
While most brands advertise that their appliance doesn't require pre-heating, it is always best if you do otherwise. Unlike a convection oven, an air fryer requires only 3 to 4 mins of pre-heating and those few minutes are worth it for optimum cooking.
Do air fryers use oil?
There are some food that requires no oil while air frying, eg: if you are cooking chicken drumsticks with skin on. But most do.
That said, instead of completely submerging your food in oil, an air fryer requires you to use only about 1 or 2 teaspoons of oil. These are mostly for breaded recipes like fish sticks or chicken fingers where you can brush them slightly with oil before putting it into the basket.
However, do not be too generous with oil. Excess oil gets collected in the drawer under the basket and too much build up results in smoke which isn't fun.
Can I use steel bowl in an air fryer?
As long as it fits inside the basket, you can use any ovenproof, microwave-safe dish or mold made of glass, good quality ceramic, silicone, steel, and cast iron. You can also use paper molds for cupcakes and muffins.
Can aluminium foil be used in an air fryer?
Yes, but you'll have to be extremely careful with it. Follow these tips before you do:
- Only place the aluminium foil at the bottom of your basket and not on the pan where the grease and food particles fall.
- Keep the aluminium sheet small and only within a small portion of the basket and not covering the entirety of it. The air fryer needs those holes in the basket to be free and exposed for the smooth hot air flow.
- ALWAYS place food on top of the aluminium foil. If not, it could get sucked into the heating vent causing a fire!
- Avoid cooking acidic foods like tomatoes, lemon, fruit juices, and vinegar-based marinades atop an aluminium foil. The heat from the air fryer when combined with acidic foods will result in decomposing it. It will also result in a metallic taste and can leave tiny black particles on your food.
Are air fryers worth the money?
It most definitely is.
I, for one, was on the verge of buying an air fryer for a long time but always postponed the same. Recently, I moved to my parent's home, and my cousin who lives next door brought enticing air-fried foods, every other night. I love my kebabs and cutlets and if I get similar* taste without worrying about consuming too much oil and grease, then why not!
Ever since buying the appliance, we have only enjoyed cooking in it. So, if you are someone who enjoys a lot of deep-fried snacks like French fries, wedges, tikkas, nuggets, chicken wings and tenders, this is a healthier option.
Air Fryers are best for home-cooking. You cannot rely on it completely if you have a get together, because you cannot cook a lot of food in one go. You'll have to cook your fries in smaller batches.
I hope this guide was useful to make up your mind. Let me know if you'd you be getting one of these.
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