The Top 10 Best Air Fryers of 2016

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Air Fryers: Questions & Answers

What are the advantages of air fryers over traditional fryers?

Air fryers use hot air to cook the food, so oil is not necessary. If you really want to, you can pour in a spoonful of oil, but most foods become crispy enough. The advantage of this oil-free (or “oil-less”) cooking is you save on a lot of calories. Oils and food fried in oil are notoriously fatty. For your health, it is recommended you eat greasy fried foods on rare occasions. Air fryers produce much healthier versions of your fried favorites, which also mean you can use the air fryer a lot more often than you would a traditional fryer. Another advantage is that without the oil residue, the fryer is easier to clean.

What can I make with an air fryer?

There are a lot of foods you can make with an air fryer, including all kinds of snacks and main dishes. Since most of these appliances are capable of baking, roasting, and even grilling in addition to frying, you can prepare vegetables, hamburgers, and steak in addition to the usual French fries, fish, shrimp, and chicken tenders. Many come with recipe books, so you can more unique goodies like soufflés, turnovers, even flan.

What kind of heating method is used?

Air fryers all use the same heating method: rapid air circulation. This process involves the fryer’s heating element (often made from metal like stainless steel) generating the heat. An exhaust fan – sometimes two fans – provides the airflow so the hot air circulates through the chamber where the food is located. This results in consistent, thorough heating that penetrates food, often even frozen food, depending on the air fryer’s power. The more expensive fryers often use halogen heating, which is known to be more energy-efficient and faster.

How much power should my air fryer have?

The power range on air fryers seems to be fairly consistent. The lowest wattage is about 1200 watts, while the higher range ends at 1500 watts. The wattage affects how fast a fryer will prepare foods, but since most fryers have similar adjustable temperature ranges, it doesn’t seem to make a huge difference whether you have a 1200-watt or 1500-watt fryer.

Do air fryers have adjustable temperature?

Nearly all air fryers allow you to control the temperature you want the fryer to generate. Having this power is crucial for preparing a variety of food types, since certain foods require lower temps while others need high heat. A dish like roast chicken or steamed fish needs a temperature lower than 300-degrees, while chicken wings or meatballs can cook closer to 400-degrees. Depending on the type, the adjustable temperature is controlled digitally, or using a turn-dial.

Can I control how long my food cooks?

Whether it’s controlled via touchscreen buttons or a dial, most fryers have timers. The most common timers will go up to 30 minutes, which is sufficient, since most foods you would fry will only take 20-25 minutes. More expensive air fryers have timers that can go as long as 60 minutes, which is good if you want to roast meats and veggies.

Do air fryers have any preset cooking programs?

Many air fryers (usually the more advanced ones) include preset cooking programs. This makes it easy to cook popular foods like chicken wings, fries, and so on. Instead of messing with temperature and time, or looking at a recipe, you can cook the food item by just selecting the program. They are usually represented by small pictures. Some common cooking presets include Wings, Fries (or Chips), Cake, Fish, Steak, and Meat. On the more advanced air fryers, you can even find settings like Defrost or Speedy.

How much food can I make in air fryer?

There are air fryers available in just about every size. Capacity is typically measured in quarts, liters, or cups, which is rather odd since people don’t really think about those measurements in terms of how much food they consume at a meal. In pounds, the average person eats about 4 pounds. Thinking of how many cups you eat is relatively easy, though. Some air fryers use pounds, but it is less common. The smaller air fryers can hold 4-5 pounds, which is enough for a single-serving of chicken or steak, or small side dish for a family. 2-liter fryers hold almost 8.5 cups. A good medium size are the 3.2-quart fryers, which equals about 13 cups. The really big fryers – the ones intended for parties – can hold 40-60 cups.

How to clean an air fryer?

Most air fryers are very easy to clean, and many are dishwasher-safe. The pan and frying basket can be removed from the main body the fryer and put in the dishwasher. Since there won’t be any or much oil residue, hand washing is also pretty painless. If the pan has a nonstick surface, do not use an abrasive sponge, since that will rub the nonstick off.

What safety features should I look for?

Even without the hot oil, air fryers still generate high temperatures, and should be used carefully. The most common and effective safety feature is the auto shut-off that comes with the timer. When the timer’s time cycle is up, the fryer will automatically shut off, which prevents dangerous overheating and burned food. Cool-touch housing and handles are also crucial, since it is very easy to accidentally touch the fryer as you’re moving around the kitchen.

How much storage and counter space do I need?

Even the small air fryers can take up a good chunk of space and weigh 12-13 pounds. These are pretty hefty appliances, so if you have a small kitchen, you will want to designate a spot on the counter and/or a cupboard space for the fryer, like you would a microwave or toaster. The really big fryers can weigh as much as 18 pounds and would dominate a counter. Unless you really need a big fryer or have a lot of storage space, a smaller fryer would fit with most people’s lifestyles.

How much does an air fryer cost?

Air fryers are more specialized than, say, toasters or microwaves, so they tend to cost more right off the bat. The more affordable ones ($100-$200) have more basic features and lack “extras” like preset cooking programs, digital control panels, or a large cooking space. The larger you get, the more expensive the air fryers tend to get, though there are always exceptions. Brand plays a big role, too, with technologically-impressive brands like Philips ranging from $300-$400.

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