What Is an Air Fryer and How Does It Work?

What Is an Air Fryer and How Does It Work?

The air fryer is a popular kitchen appliance. It works by swirling hot air around the food. The hot air reaches all the surfaces of the food, making it crisp. Even though the food cooked in air fryers looks and tastes like deep-fried foods, no oil gets used. 

How Do Air Fryers Work?

The fact is air fryers don’t fry any food. After you place the food in the perforated basket, the appliance cooks the food by blowing hot air around it. The air gets swirled quickly in a circular fashion.

A convection effect gets produced due to the force of the air. It helps cook and brown the exteriors of the food. When the air temperature reaches more than 160C, foods such as frozen chicken, tater tots, and french fries will turn brown.

As the food sits in the basket, it increases contact with the hot moving air. The lack of space between the basket and the walls of the chamber intensifies the heat. It ensures quick, crispy cooking.

One big convenience that air fryers provide is that you will be able to reheat food quickly. When you reheat crispy foods, they will continue to remain crisp. Most often, food heated in a microwave oven tends to turn soggy.

How Do You Use Air Fryers?

Here is how you can use an air fryer.

Step 1:

Place the food in the basket. Depending on the basket size, you can choose the amount of food to place in it. If you want to increase further the crispiness of food, you can choose to add a teaspoon of oil to the food.

Step 2:

Set cooking time and temperature. The cooking time ranges from 5 – 25 minutes. The temperature often ranges from 325° to 400°F. The cooking time and temperature setting will depend on the type of food you are cooking.

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Step 3:

Turn or flip the food halfway through the cooking time. It will help the food become crisp.

Step 4:

After you have completed cooking, you must clean the air fryer. Regular cleaning and maintenance will help maintain the appliance.

What Can You Cook?

Most of the popular air fryer recipes you can cook in the appliance are traditionally deep-fried. Air fryers cook fast, and you can use them for cooking all sorts of food items, including chicken, veggies, steak, salmon, and pork chops.

  • Vegetables – Before air frying vegetables, it would be best if you tossed them in oil. Sprinkle a bit of salt before air frying vegetables, and it will pack a lot of flavors. The vegetables will come out crispy within no time at all.
  • Lean Meat Cuts – Meat or food with no or little fat need oil to crisp up. Brush a bit of oil before seasoning pork chops or chicken breasts. Cooking experts recommend canola or vegetable oil as it withstands the high heat of the fryer.

What Are the Standard Functions?

There are several factors and features you need to consider before buying an air fryer.

  • Size – The countertop air fryer models are big enough to cook food for two. If you want to cook for more, you will need a larger model or cook food in more than one batch.

Some models combine an air fryer with a toaster oven. You will save space if you replace the toaster oven.

  • Controls – Most air fryer models can help set temperatures of up to 360 – 400 degrees. Some models have only one temperature setting. Most people love to have a reheat button for leftover food.
  • Ease of Use – The controls should be simple to understand and use. You should be able to detach the basket with ease for cleaning.
  • Capacity – The amount and type of food that can get cooked in an air fryer is another critical factor to consider. Most fryers can cook 1.8 – 2.5 pounds of food. If you want to cook more food, you should opt for a bigger size of fryer.
  • Loading Style – Some fryer models have front-loaded drawers for loading and unloading food. A flip-top lid is also available in some models. The front-load draw is the preferred choice of most customers due to the convenience it offers.
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What Are the Foods You Cannot Cook?

It would be best to remember that you would not be able to cook any food dipped in liquid batter (fried chicken or onion rings). The batter will start falling through the holes of the basket. It will be a big mess.

You cannot cook foods such as beignets and doughnuts in air fryers. You will have to limit your cooking to dry seasoned and breaded items only.

There are also limitations of part sizes. If you want excellent browned food, you should avoid stuffing the air fryer basket. Only when there is adequate space between food items do they cook well. You will only have to cook small batches of food at a time.

It is not a problem if there are only two people you need to cook. If you are inviting people home for a party, you will have to plan and keep in mind the amount of time it will take to cook food for everyone.

Benefits of Air Fryers

When used properly, air fryers provide many benefits.

Safe than Deep Frying

You use a lot of oil when you deep fry food. Too much oil in food is unhealthy. Oils also pose a safety risk when cooking. If you accidentally spill or touch hot oil, it can cause severe injuries.

Even though air fryers get hot, you will be able to cook safely if you follow all the instructions specified by the manufacturer.

Reduce the Formation of Toxic Acrylamide

When you cook food in oil, it leads to the formation of acrylamide. The toxic acrylamide forms when you use high heat cooking methods. When you with an air fryer, it will reduce the formation of this toxic compound in food.

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No Big Cleaning Required After Cooking

As air fryers cook by circulating hot air, you will need little cleanup after cooking. Traditional cooking methods leave a lot of mess. You will have to spend considerable time completing the cleaning process.

Fast Cooking Time

Air fryers are efficient when it comes to cooking food. Depending on the food you choose to cook, you will complete it within 30 minutes.

Are Air Fryers Healthier than Regular Frying?

Air-fried food is healthy than food cooked in oil. It has a lot less fat and cut calories by 70 – 80%. The unique cooking method also cuts down on other harmful effects of traditional oil frying.

When potatoes and other similar starchy food get cooked in oil, acrylamide gets produced. It is a chemical that can cause cancer. Air fryers help reduce the formation of acrylamide by over 90%.

Air frying of fish and chicken raised the levels of a substance known as cholesterol oxidation products (COP). The substance forms when cholesterol in fish and meat break down during cooking. COP can cause heart and other diseases.  

Conclusion

Using an air fryer will help reduce the amounts of calories, fat, and other harmful compounds from your food. You can use this fantastic kitchen appliance for baking and roasting too. Try out different recipes. It’s fun.

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