Frying Your Meals Away…Air Frying That Is
The awesome impact one kitchen gadget can have on your weekly meals.
If you've had a meal prepared in the air fryer, you know. If you’ve prepared a meal in an air fryer, you know. But if you haven’t dabbled in the world of air frying yet, get ready to be wowed. This small countertop appliance is enough to turn naysayers into believers one time-saving, delicious meal at a time.
What is an Air Fryer?
The name “air fryer” tells you exactly what is happening in this little contraption. Simply put, food placed into the holding basket or base of an air fryer is cooked by air. The use of the word “fryer” is due to what happens to the food from the temperature of the air used. Most air fryers run temperatures ranging from about 140 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This air is blown onto and around the food from a fan above the holding basket. The circulation of hot air cooks food from the outside in, leaving a crusty exterior and soft interior. Think: French fries and chicken nuggets. Hence, it’s like frying your food with hot air versus deep frying in oil.
Why Air Fry?
Other than ending up with delectably crunchy versions of your favorite foods (e.g.: grilled cheese, fried Brussels sprouts), air fryers cook quickly. This fast turnaround from start to finish is why the air fryer has become the culinary sweetheart for busy families on the move.
The compact size of an air fryer also helps reduce the amount of heat transferred to your kitchen during cooking—an added bonus during the hot days of summer.
Additionally, most foods can be cooked up with a fraction of the added fat and sauces used with traditional cooking methods like deep frying, sautéing and baking. This translates to minimal added sodium or additional calories from added fats and added sugars.
What to Air Fry?
The opportunities available to you when cooking with an air fryer are bountiful. From nourishing snacks like kale chips and a veggie-packed morning frittata to savory popcorn shrimp and sweet roasted parsnip sticks, the choice is yours.
There are plenty of air fryer-focused cook books on the market. Some will teach unique techniques like how to bake up divine desserts while others offer simple how-tos guidance for cooking up nutritious, everyday-meals. The best solution for getting the most out of your air fryer, though, is to become well acquainted with the brand you have.
Air Frying Tips
- Read the owner’s manual. Dig into the recipes provided in it, or online, from the manufacturer to become an expert in the capabilities of your particular model.
- When cooking certain foods, especially baked goods or those with a lot of coating and sauce that could be blown around from the fan, consider lining the base of the food basket with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Just know this addition may extend your cooking time slightly.
- For large portions, or multiple recipes in one meal, expect time for batch cooking and/or using a larger model.
- For concerns read on the internet about the impact air frying may have on the fats in your food during the cooking process, add in sources of antioxidant-acting ingredients like fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables.
- Every Food Group can be cooked up in an air fryer, so be sure to indulge in more than typical fried foods. Experiment with air frying hearty fruits like banana and stone fruits such as peaches as well as plant-forward protein foods like tofu, canned chickpeas and frozen edamame pods.