Everything You Need to Know About the Air Fryer

The air fryer is the latest kitchen appliance to sweep America off its feet. The air fryer promises to offer a healthy alternative to the very popular but deeply unhealthy fried food. Most people do not fry at  home – with the exception of fried turkey at Thanksgiving – but nevertheless, the air fryer still offers great versatility. By cooking its food at very high temperatures almost immediately, it saves cooks a good deal of time and makes cooking a snap. Let’s learn about the air fryer.

How Air Fryers Work

An air fryer cooks food by circulating hot air around the food through a traditional convection mechanism. The technology behind the air fryer is nothing exceptionally new. It uses the same process as a convection oven. The hot air is created by a very high-speed fan, which allows for a crispy top layer and tender, juicy interiors. The original air fryer was patented by Turbochef Technologies back in 2005, but its audience was hotel chains and other restaurants.

Phillips introduced its version of the air fryer in 2010 and marketed it to home chefs. The air fryer typically includes a round or egg-shaped fry basket that is easy to clean. Most of the fryer baskets are even dishwasher safe.

Is the Air Fryer Really Healthier?

According to Phillips, “the air fryer technology results in French fries that includes up to 80% less fat than traditionally-fried foods.” But are these kinds of claims really true? According to studies, the answer is a qualified yes.

Deep fryers use about 50 times as much oil as their air frying counterparts. The electric fryer’s main health benefit is that it cuts down on the amount of oil absorbed by the food, limiting the overall fat content. Food that is fried in oil is always unhealthy and has a lot of fat calories. A chicken breast that is fried has about 30 percent more fat than roasted chicken. An air fryer will not necessarily cook chicken healthier than baking it in an oven, but it will produce the crispy skin that people love in fried chicken.

Another benefit of an air fryer is avoiding the bad compounds which develop during the oil frying process. One of the compounds, acrylamide, may be linked to several cancers, including pancreatic, breast and ovarian cancer. The compound is created during high-heat cooking with oil. This compound does not form during the air frying process.

A study of the characteristics of French fries produced by deep fat frying and air frying found that the air fryer potatoes tasted like traditional French fries but with a substantially lower level of fat absorbed in the product. Again, this is due to the small amount of oil used in the air fryer.

However, you should not cook all of your foods in an air fryer, since air fryers still fry food. Fried foods are linked to heart conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes and some cancers. Limiting fried foods and focusing on healthy cooking methods such as roasting, steaming and sauteing are still best for daily cooking.

Foods Cooked in the Air Fryer

An air fryer is capable of frying just about anything you would find dipped in oil, including French fries, fried chicken, chicken wings, chicken legs, avocado fries and more. Here are a few of my favorite air fryer ideas.

Avocado Fries

Avocado is high in fat but it is mostly the healthy fat that your body needs. For a special treat, make avocado fries. You’ll need:

  • 1 cup of Panko breadcrumbs, any flavor
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 sliced avocados
  • Ranch or blue cheese dip for serving (optional)

Instructions

  • Whisk Panko, garlic powder and paprika together in a shallow bowl. In a different bowl, add flour. In a third shallow bowl beat the eggs.
  • Dip avocado slices one by one into the batter: first in flour, then in egg, then in Panko.
  • Fry at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

Crispy Chicken Wings

Chicken wings taste delicious and crunchy when made in the air fryer, with none of the guilt associated with oil-fried wings. This wing recipe is a great example of the low maintenance style of cooking – simply plug in and cook, with no time to preheat!

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of chicken wings
  • ½ cup of barbecue, buffalo or wing sauce (your choice)

Instructions

  • Put chicken wings in the basket and lightly spray with cooking oil
  • Cook for 24 minutes at 380 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Turn the wings halfway through.
  • When time is up, increase the temperature to 400 degrees and cook for 6 more minutes. For less crispy wings, skip this step.
  • Transfer to a bowl and add your favorite sauce.

Homemade Pop Tarts

Pop tarts taste great but they are not know for their health properties. The air fryer can help you recreate this childhood treat from a healthier perspective. You can use a pie crust, as this recipe does, or make your own crust using Fage Greek yogurt and self-rising flour. These are great with nutella, strawberry glaze, and other fillings.

Ingredients

  • Quartered strawberries, 8 ounces (around 1 ¾ cups)
  • ¼ cup of granulated sugar
  • ½ package of refrigerated pie crust (about 14.1 ounce)
  • Cooking spray
  • ½ cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 and ½ tsp lemon juice (1 lemon)
  • Candy sprinkles (optional)

Instructions

  • Stir strawberries and granulated sugar together in medium microwavable bowl. Then let the strawberries stand for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • Microwave strawberries on high until shiny – aim for around 10 minutes.
  • Let strawberries and sugar cool for about 30 minutes.
  • Roll out the pie crust and cut dough into 12 rectangles. Then spoon around 2 teaspoons into the center of each rectangle. Leave about a ½ inch border.
  • Brush edges of the filled dough with water (or egg white if you prefer). Top the dough with the remaining six rectangles, pressing each edge with a fork to seal.
  • Use cooking spray to coat both sides of the rectangles.
  • Cook in air fryer for 10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Let cool.
  • While cooling, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice in small bowl. Brush each rectangle over the pop tarts and add sprinkles.
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