Air fryers have been the hot-ticket small appliance item for some time now. Other than the instant pot, no other small appliance has enjoyed more fanfare since the microwave stepped onto the scene. What was once regarded as the solution to soggy fries and the opportunity to have restaurant-style cheese sticks at home is now just a small convection oven in disguise. One of the main selling points of the air fryer is that it is fast! Frying food isn’t necessarily a long cooking process, but it does require attention, and the air fryer takes care of this problem. However, if you’re like most people, you’ve been home for months, and you’re probably spending more time in the kitchen. So why, at a time like this, do you need an appliance that does something you can already do just a bit easier? The short answer, you don’t! Read on to find out why.
The air fryer claims to make your life easier by cooking things faster than the traditional method does. Yes, an air fryer does heat up quickly and cook food on all sides at once using hot air. The problem is that you can’t cook a ton of food in them at once. This means that if you are making a snack for yourself, the air fryer may save you time. But how often do you make buffalo wings and fries for one?
The truth is that if you’re cooking for anyone other than yourself and maybe one other person, it is going to take you just as long to cook food in batches in the air fryer as it would to cook those same items in your convection oven. Most standard ranges have a convection setting and can handle way more food at a time than an air fryer. If you cook one large batch of food in the oven, you don’t have to worry about keeping the last batch warm while you air fry the current batch. Some food items, such as french fries, take longer in the air fryer for the same size batch.
The main advantage of the air fryer is convenience. It can be messy to fry foods in oil the traditional way, and many people fear that pot of scalding hot oil. However, most air fryer models are larger than you’d expect. This means you are giving up a ton of real estate on your counter if you decide to purchase one. Sure, you could store it somewhere else when you’re not using it, but by the time you get the appliance out and set it up, you could have had a pot of oil heating up on the stove. Also, you have to break down and clean the instant pot just as you would another vessel that you use to fry, so there is no added convenience there. In fact, several users state that an air fryer is difficult to clean. Yes, there is the safety issue, but air-fried food just doesn’t have that restaurant quality crunch that we all crave. Ultimately, it is up to you whether you want to trade that crispy goodness for a small amount of convenience.
Most food items that like to be fried come with instructions for how long to fry them. If not, you can typically tell something is done if it floats, just like pasta. With an air fryer, there is a lot of guesswork involved in the beginning. In air fryer recipe books and online, you can find tons of suggestions for what setting you should use for a particular food item. But there are so many different air fryers and air fryer manufacturers that it can be tough to find the exact instructions you need. There are also tons of different brands and varieties of fries, cheese sticks, potstickers, etc., and they will all cook differently. There aren’t any products I’ve seen that have air fryer instructions on the side. Trial and error will likely lead to burnt or dried out food and sometimes will ultimately fail.
Most air fryer models are more expensive than deep fryers. If you love fried foods, it is more cost-effective to purchase a home-use deep fryer than an air fryer.
Air fryers are also loud. Since they use a ventilator to suck in air and then circulate it around your food and back out a vent, the machine is quite noisy. Some models are quieter than others, but they all make noise.
Ultimately, an air fryer is an unnecessary small appliance. If you already have an instant pot, you can buy a lid that will turn it into an air fryer if you just can’t help yourself. If you don’t have every small appliance that has been trendy in the past five years, don’t worry. A Dutch oven and a candy thermometer will help you take care of your fried food craving, and they will do a better job with a little know-how. If all else fails, your standard oven will do a fine job too.
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