Air fryers are a piece of kitchen equipment that airs to fry your foods, among a lot of other things. They barely use oils. 

Their huge popularity is unquestionable. Yet should you have wondered, “what is it”, “what can you cook in an air fryer?”, “are air-fried dishes healthy?”, or “what is the best model on the market?”, this air fryer guide works to break it down.

What is an air fryer?

Air fryers are technically an amped-up version of the countertop convection oven. (Yet they differ in some ways that we are discussing later in this guide.) Philips Electronics Company patented them and they are guaranteed to imitate the deep-frying results with hot air, a small amount of oil (optional), and all that.

As per the market research company NPD Group, this device has boosted in popularity over the past years, about forty percent of American households have owned one since July 2020. You can air fry every kind of thing, thanks to the appliance’s versatility. 

Air fryer vs Deep fryer

The main difference between these two pieces of equipment is that air fryers do not use oil. If not, there is only a small amount of oil they leverage. Without plenty of oil and grease, air frying still attains a golden appearance and crispy taste. Here are a few other significant differences:

  • An air fryer’s versatility is higher than a deep fryer’s.
  • Compared to deep fryers, air fryers need less clean-up.
  • Air fryers preheat more quickly than deep fryers.

Air fryer vs Oven

Traditional ovens run by generating heat from either electricity or gas. The heat gets gradually dispersed through this device over time. Speaking of convection ovens, you use a fan to increase that time – just about the same as the one in air fryers.

In comparison, air fryers produce heat by making the best of rapid air technology. This assists them in heating up far faster than an oven (let alone their smaller size). As they are small, the heat circulation becomes evener, making your favorite dishes taste crispy without hot spots.

Also, is air frying healthier than baking stuff in an oven? There is no need to use oil in your air fryer. Understandably, it heats up, allowing it to be adequately hot to crisp the dishes with no oil added. We are not confident that we can get that in convection ovens (to say nothing about other ovens).

But on the other hand, should you add either an insignificant amount of oil or none of it to the food you are cooking in an air fryer, this meal is indeed just as healthy as when you use an oven to bake them. The method changes but the nutrients you take into your body do not. 

Are air-fried dishes healthy?

While air-fried meals are not necessarily ‘healthy,’ they reduce calories from fat that would if not be employed for deep-frying things. That is why in comparison with traditionally fried food, air-fried ones help with weight loss. This is what many of you are aiming at today: calories saving when consuming yummy food.

Unpacking your air dryer

How to set up your new machine? Take every content out from the package. Should there initially be a plastic smell, do not get alarmed, folks! It just implies that your purchase is 100% new without being used before. Following several uses, the smell will fade. 

After you have removed everything from the inside box, we suggest washing all of the detachable pieces. See to it that you include the device’s drawer, racks, and basket. As you may know, the air fryer basket comes with small holes to allow any excess grease or oil to fall in the proper place. And it is the drawer that is in charge of gathering that excess grease, making sure that it will have no way to get in your food!

Run the machine on empty for around ten minutes. Done? Then, just try it out!

How does it work?

An air fryer’s upper section contains a fan and heating system. You put the food in a basket or the likes of it. And when you switch on the device, hot air is quick to move down and all over the food. Thanks to this quick air circulation, your dishes become crispy similar to deep-frying yet with little to no oil.

How about we check for the general way of using air fryers:

1. Put your food in the air fryer basket

Based on your model’s size, the basket may accommodate about two to ten quarts. In some cases, you may add a little oil to make the food better and more crispy.

2. Set the temperature and time

This machine’s cooking temperatures tend to be 350°F to 400°F. And the time is usually from five to 25 minutes. These factors have to do with the food you are making.

3. Allow the food to cook

In a few cases, you should turn or flip the food halfway during the cooking process. This way, it will crisp up evenly. After the meal, do not forget to clean the air fryer. 

Types of air fryers

There are two main air fryer types out there these days. One has a drawer-like basket design, enabling you to put food to cook. The other is more recent. It comes equipped with a mesh tray or something. It is up to your needs and preferences when you select either this or that. 

1. Basket type

Drawer/ Basket air fryers’ popularity is no joke. It is the original construction for air fryers after all. For these product units, the basket where you place food tends to feature a handle. This handle gets the basket into the defined position and activates the element for cooking. Likewise, it helps when you toss the food to make sure about even cooking. 

This type is accessible in manual and digital forms. Digital air fryers let you control the cooking temperature and tie by pushing a button. Most of the time, these product units, outfitted with digital touchpads, include presets for typical dishes, say veggies, seafood, and chicken, and indicators to inform you when the basket has achieved its scheduled temperature.

How about manual types? Usually, its price is lower. Nevertheless, they do not have many of the cutting-edge attributes digital units provide. Analog dials in these models help set the time and temperature. The dial ticks down when food is cooking and has a ding sound once your dishes come out nicely. 

2. Tray air fryers

Mesh tray air fryers see a steady rise in recognition. Unlike basket type, these fryers make food in a receptacle that is shallow or flat enough, similar to a toaster oven designed for use on your countertop. Some models feature a tray. Meanwhile, others come with multiple racks. A few units have attachments for grilling, dehydrating, and whatnot.

Similar to the basket air fryer, the tray-type gadget gives you the choices of either digital or manual with functions running in just about the same way.

What is the main difference between these two? Air fryers that include tray(s) enable you to keep an eye on the food during the cooking process. When the food is being made, the viewing window makes it easy to see inside the convection oven. In other words, the food-making process does not get interfered with when you view to be aware of your food’s status.  

The amount of food you have the choice to make concurrently is another perk to using this tray design. Units with multiple trays let you cook meats, veggies, etc., all at the same time and tend to occupy a similar area of counter space to basket air fryers.

Air fryer cost

Muck like other things, you can invest a lot in an air fryer. Yet, as far as we know, the most pricy ones are not necessarily the most fantastic. Since basic air fryers are indeed not a super-duper complex device, breaking the bank is not a must. 

Small air fryer units without extras begin at 25 dollars or thirty dollars and they tend to do the job. Should you be willing to pay additional 25 dollars or thirty dollars, you will get a more wonderful design and overall somewhat more power.

Hybrid countertop ovens that boast air fry capabilities are premium ones. Their cost can be up to 300 dollars. That said, you can purchase less advanced units at a lower price.

Air fryers: The good, the bad

1. Pros

Whipping up frozen foods becomes a breeze thanks to these machines. And they manage to do so in a pretty healthier fashion than deep-frying. Compared to over-frying, the results are more desirable. Even more, your kitchen remains cool.

2. Cons

Please bear in mind that even there is a limitation to the capacity of even the most sizable air fryers. Hence, particularly assuming you are cooking for a crowd, you will probably need to make food in batches, Some models may likewise occupy your counter space, so you likely have to clear space for them. Also, they can be expensive, based on the product unit you buy. 

Is it worth it?

With the release of many units out there today, the price of this prevalent gadget has decreased in the past few years. However, remember, going for the device may only be worth it should you regularly whip up fried foods, either homemade or frozen,

Key factors to consider before you buy air fryers

Before you shop, think about the following.

1. Prices vary

The price range of air fryers tends to be $$ to $$$. We have seen products units for as much as 400 dollars. 

2. Multiple cooking zones

You may want to consider models with different compartments. They will let you make two tasty dishes at the same time, perfect for a complete meal. While a few units come with two layers, others feature a pot and a detachable basket alike (perfect for chips).

3. Capacities vary

More often than not, air fryers are intended for fitting on your kitchen counter and not large enough to make food for a crowd, unless it is cooking in batches. After having measured some air fryers’ usable capacities (regardless of their claimed quarts), we figure out that these appliances tend to handle between two and 8.9 quarts. 

4. Advanced attributes make a difference

Because pretty many countertop gadgets are vying to take up your valuable countertop space, getting an air fryer with the ability to do more than one thing is beneficial. Of course, that is when you will use those attributes. 

Rotisserie cooking, baking, dehydrating, and other modes collaborate the capability of more than four devices into one appliance. You may also appreciate more presets for specific foods and reminders to inform you about when to check on the food. As there are units with a “keep warm” function, you can have peace of mind that your dishes remain hot and crispy, whenever you eat them. 

Further, some models come with an automatic stirring paddle that stirs your food with care to make sure that it is made evenly. In other words, you do not need to do so yourself, which saves you time.

What is more? Air fryers either feature a mechanical or digital timer. Digital timers tend to be simpler to check immediately upon looking. A few boast touchscreen controls or LCDs. Meanwhile, some are detachable, allowing you to check no matter where you are.

5. Ease of use

Consider whether the controls are easy to understand and use? You likely desire everyone in your home to use the air fryer with ease. Some people check the product manual while everyone else wishes to walk up and give it a try. Your air fryer likewise had better be straightforward to remove and clean.

6. Free recipes

Some product units have a free app filled with cooking recipe ideas. from desserts, healthy snacks to fulfilled roast dinners. Some have recipe books right in the box.

7. Dishwasher-safe parts

Do you not like washing up after cooking? A lot of air fryers have dishwasher-safe pieces, making cleaning a breeze. Before you purchase, check the product description.

8. Warranties differ

Some models have the shortest warranty of about sixty days, which might not be a confidence booster. Some units’ warranty is a year or two and a few cover as long as three years. 

What is the best air fryer on the market?

If you are ready to give one of these prevalent appliances a shot, the following are the top-rated air fryers out there these days that you can purchase. All of them will get you whipping up yummy ‘fried’ dishes very soon.

1. Dash Compact Air Fryer Oven Cooker – by Dash

DASH Compact Air Fryer Oven Cooker with Temperature Control, Non-stick Fry Basket, Recipe Guide +...
  • HEALTHIER FRIED FOOD: Dash Compact Air Fryer uses AirCrisp technology (instead of oil) to help reduce added fat by 70-80%, without sacrificing the flavor of your fried food (No more residual smell hours after you’ve eaten)
  • QUICK plus EASY: Short on time. Simply load the 2 qt capacity fryer basket, set the temp, and set the timer. Your food comes out crispy, guaranteed, EVERY TIME. And in less time than it takes to pre-heat your oven, making it more energy efficient
  • SAFER: The auto-shut off function prevents overcooking, and the cool touch housing and handle makes it easy to use.
  • VERSATILE: This is the PERFECT appliance for picky eaters, large families, or those who have busy schedules. Appetizers to desserts, 1 dozen chicken wings, 1lb French fries, even baked goods, and all within minutes of setting the timer - it couldn’t be easier.
  • COMPACT plus LIGHTWEIGHT: Half the weight of a standard fryer, the Dash Air Fryer is your MUST-HAVE for that first apartment, smaller kitchen, college dorm life, or camper/rv traveling. Plus, its sleek design and trendy color options will accent any kitchen space.
  • Capacity: 2 quarts
  • Features: Cool-touch handle and housing, automatic shut-off function
  • Extra functions: not available

Some air fryers are pretty sizable and occupy quite a plenty of counter space. Nevertheless, should you be in the market for a smaller device, this two-quart Dash unit is a reasonably-priced selection that will hold little to no room. 

It is basic, dedicated to providing air frying with a limited number of additional attributes. You can set the cooking temperature by using the dial on the top of the gadget. There is likewise a front dial that you use to set the time. Once it ends, the timer will shut off automatically, removing the possibility of overcooking.

2. Cuisinart TOA-60BKS Convection Toaster Oven Airfryer – by Cuisinart 

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Cuisinart TOA-60BKS Convection AirFryer Toaster Oven, Premium 1800-Watt Oven with 7-in-1 Functions...
  • ENDLESS FUNCTIONS: This premium 1800 watt full-size toaster oven can air fry, is equipped with a convection bake setting, convection broil, warming feature, and toasting feature – all in one appliance
  • CAPACITY: Large enough to toast 6-slices of bread, air fry 3-pounds of chicken wings, bake a 12-inch pizza or roast a 4-pound chicken
  • SUPERIOR OPERATION: Equipped with an adjustable timer thermostat, 60-minute timer/auto-shutoff and a toast shade selector-timer to ensure your meals are cooked to your perfection
  • INCLUDES: This unit comes with the essentials – an oven light, oven rack, baking pan, air fryer rack/basket and has a nonstick easy-clean interior to make mess cleanup simple
  • LIMITED 3-YEAR WARRANTY: Refer to user manual for troubleshooting steps and questions surrounding warranty policies – this product is BPA free
  • Capacity: About 18 quarts (0.6 cubic foot interior)
  • Features: Toast shade selector-timer, automatic shut-off one-hour timer
  • Extra functions: Warming, toasting, convection broiling, convection baking, baking

While many air fryers belong to the basket type, this Cuisinart model knows how to be different and stand out. This device is indeed a toaster oven not of a reduced size outfitted with air frying functionalities, too. It boasts seven functions for cooking, say toasting, warming, convection broiling, and convection baking.

The toaster oven and air fryer combo are super quiet. Also, its temperature range is wide, from 80°F to 450°F. What is more? The unit works to hold three pounds of food concurrently, including a twelve-inch pizza. It features an air fryer basket, baking pan, and oven rack. 

But that is not all. You may be into the polished stainless steel exterior. It will appear appealing as part of the decoration in your kitchen.

How to preheat your air fryer

Many readers have asked us, “Before cooking, should I preheat my air fryer?” The best answer is, it depends. 

Some air fryer product manuals ask the user to preheat their machine before they put ingredients inside it. Preheating tends to allow food to be made more properly, much like the way you preheat your oven before putting food inside. What if you do not preheat the gadget? In some cases, cooking might take some minutes longer. And/ or dishes likely do not brown.

That said, we do not always preheat our air fryer. This is when we make foods whose edges get browned fast yet centers take longer to be tender, for example, broccoli. We begin cooking in a cold device to prevent the edges from getting burnt and allow the centers to cook. 

Not to mention the fact that air fryers usually heat up quickly. That is why preheating is not that significant

How to reheat in the machine

Using this device is a fantastic way of reheating dishes and crisping them again. It often takes only a couple of minutes to reheat them in the gadget. When reheating, we suggest using a temperature around thirty degrees lower than the normal air frying temperature.

1. How to use air fryers to reheat your pizza

Air fry about three to five minutes at 320° F. Else, do so until the food becomes heated. See to it that you put your pizza in one layer in the device. This way, slices will not be overlapping. Remember, thinner crust pizza takes less time to heat through than thick ones. 

2. How to reheat fries

Air fry around three to five minutes at 350° F. Alternatively, do so until the food gets crispy and hot. Following two minutes of the time, shake the basket. One tip to get the crispiest fries is just air frying one layer of fries concurrently.

What can you cook in an air fryer?

On the one hand, a lot of air fryer recipes are dishes that are usually deep-fried. But on the other hand, you can likewise use this machine to cook different things. For instance:

  • Desserts – say cookie cakes and lava cakes
  • Seafood, for instance, scallops and calamari 
  • Chicken such as a whole chicken and bone-in chicken breast
  • Reheated dishes, for example, chicken wings, steak, and pizza
  • Frozen foods such as frozen hamburgers and waffle fries
  • Frozen and raw veggies, including okra, spaghetti squash, and carrots 

Cooking time of air fryers

It can be hard to decide how long to air fry your food, particularly when there are a lot of delicious things you can cook in this appliance. So, we have collected everybody’s preferred air-fryer dishes and realized the amount of time they tend to take in your gadget.

FoodCooking temperatureTime
Pasta (Tortellini, Ravioli)350°F8 minutes
Brussels Sprouts350°F15-18 minutes
Potato Fries400°F10-20 minutes
Potato Chips360°F15-17 minutes
Pickles400°F14-20 minutes
Zucchini400°F12 minutes
Cauliflower400°F10-12 minutes
Salmon400°F5-7 minutes
Shrimp375°F8 minutes
Chicken Wings375°F10-12 minutes
Chicken Tenders400°F14-16 minutes
Chicken Thighs400°F25 minutes
Chicken Breast375°F22-23 minutes
Pork Chops375°F12-15 minutes
Steak400°F7-14 minutes
Meatballs400°F7-10 minutes
Burgers350°F8-10 minutes
Bacon400°F5-10 minutes
Cooking time of air fryers table

As you may know, the temperatures of air-fryers can vary somehow. Thus, we list out a time range on just about all of these recipes. When you make meat and seafood, we suggest checking with a meat thermometer. Doing so is not a must but only for being on the safe side. You will no longer need the thermometer when having a better idea of your device’s temperatures down pat.

Tips and tricks for making food in an air fryer

We have been using this appliance for a long time and we have figured out something along the way. Check below for a couple of our tips for making air-fryer recipes. 

  • Air fryers make food faster. Should you cook a dish usually made in a conventional oven, see to it that you reduce the cooking temperature and time!
  • Make your food in a single layer unless stacking is stated to be fine for the dish. 
  • This machine can be noisy. Assuming you find your air fryer is loud, do not worry!
  • Ditch your microwave and depend on the air fryer to reheat leftovers for a crispier and more delicious result.
  • It is okay to use a little oil to achieve your desired deep-fried taste. Using Evo Oil Sprayer is our preferred method. Keep in mind not to place the spray on the air fryer. That is because it can damage it.
  • Avoid filling the device more than halfway full. Otherwise, your food will become unevenly cooked. You may wind up with half raw and half-burnt dishes.
  • You should not dump out the frying basket into a bowl. Instead, take food out from the air fryer with silicone tongs. Doing so helps stay away from any excess oil possible burning you or making your dishes soggy. 
  • Be cautious that the outside of some models is hot (particularly the back). Take care not to touch it.

How to clean your air fryer

Many air fryer pieces are safe for use in your standard dishwasher. That is why it is rather simple to clean the device. Following each use, take out and wash the pan, tray, and basket like you often do with any other dish and stuff. Talking about cleaning the outside of the gadget, we realize a soapy wipe-down is enough to get the job done.

Please note that while some models come with dishwasher-safe parts, others need cleaning by hand. So ensure you look at your product manual before using your dishwasher to tackle any attachments.

Further, assuming the device has smelled odd or should your cooking project be somewhat messier than normal, do not hesitate to deep-clean it. Deep-cleaning is likewise advisable to execute monthly.

Refer to the following guide if you have deep-cleaned the air fryer for the first time. 

First things first, prepare these necessary tools: 

  • A toothbrush 
  • A non-abrasive sponge scrubber
  • Dawn Powerwash Spray Starter Kit

Next, move out and fill the drawer and frying basket with Dawn dish soap and hot water. Follow up with getting rid of sticky oil and grease carefully with the sponge scrubber.

After that, use Dawn spray for spraying. Leave it alone for about ten to fifteen minutes. Then, scrub the air fryer and remove the stubborn grease with the toothbrush. After rinsing the device, let it dry. 

Please remember to test a smart part of the machine before using the Dawn spray. Because different air fryer units are constructed differently, significantly, you have an idea of the reaction of your model to the spray.

Also, keep in mind that appropriate maintenance will increase your appliance’s durability. A dirty one can lead to unfavorable tasting recipes and bring malfunctioning issues. In the worst-case scenario, it likely causes a kitchen fire.

Some of the most frequently asked questions

1. Can I use oil in an air fryer? 

Some people think that air fryers do not use any oil, but it is a misconception. Though air frying is not the same as deep-frying, you can use a little bit of oil in your device. It is A-OK to use a dripless basting brush to toss the food you are making in a bit of oil. Else, you have the choice to mist it using an oil sprayer

Perhaps most significantly, do not use aerosol cooking sprays in this gadget! These sprays have soy lecithin that is almost practicable to remove from your machine and likely damage its non-stick surface.

2. Are air fryers safe?

Yea, they are. To ensure you are using them properly and safely, just follow several rules:

  • See to it that you unplug the machine following each use.
  • Maintain a safe distance between the air fryer and the wall (around six to twelve inches). Should there be a power outlet on the wall close to where you are making it, separate the air fryer from it in twelve inches because the device’s back can become super hot!
  • Do not put this appliance on a stove, whether it is off or not.
  • Place the air fryer on a surface with heat resistance. Based on your kitchen countertops’ material, you may want to purchase a roller tray or something to ensure the safety of the counters. 
  • Use silicone tongs or a trusted over mitt to move out the dishes from the air fryer and prevent burning the forearms and hand.  

All in all

Whether you are a beginner to the world of air fryers or a veteran, it does not hurt to learn key things about them. The general rule of thumb is, similar to any other kitchen gadget, should you fail to realize how to use the air fryer, what you can cook in it, and whatnot, you cannot benefit from it as much as possible. 

Now that you have read through the air fryer guide with everything you should know, let’s kick-start your cooking project! Happy air frying!

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