Beth Lipton is a writer and certified health coach. She is a contributing editor at Clean Plates.
Step aside, Instant Pot—the It Girl of kitchen gadgets right now is the air fryer. All over our Insta feeds, we’re seeing tons of creative cooks air-fry everything from meat and fish to vegetables, potatoes, even cookies and muffins.
But what we want to know is—is it a fad, or is the air fryer obsession built to last? We checked in with some experts and home cooks and asked: Has your air fryer made you a better cook? Here’s what they had to say.
What is an air fryer?
Before we get to that, some background: These countertop devices work similarly to convection ovens in that they blow hot air around the food to cook it evenly all over. The air fryer is different in that the air circulates faster than in a convection oven. With traditional deep-frying you submerge food in hot oil to cook and crisp it all over; an air fryer essentially does the same thing with hot air, so you get that crisp exterior without the excess oil.
How has your air fryer made you a better cook?
“The air fryer has helped made me a better cook because it’s given better texture to my food. I no longer have soggy fries or leftovers, but crispy, flavorful food. Cook times are fast, cook methods are easy, and I don’t need to turn on my oven, heating up my small NYC kitchen. The air fryer has brought comfort food to my weekly at-home food menu.”
Leslie McDonald, health coach and meal-prep fanatic, @les_mcdonald
“It’s made me a better cook, for sure, because I’m not afraid to experiment. In the oven you worry about making a mess or causing an oven fire, or overheating the apartment on a hot day, so you just don’t bother. You have none of those worries with an air fryer, so I experiment more, and try more things. I’ve made lobster tails in my air fryer, steaks, burgers, amazing roasted potatoes/garlic/peppers. It’s easy to use and super easy to clean, it has fast cooking times — I’ve roasted an entire chicken in 45 minutes in it and it comes out perfectly. Honestly, any gadget that can make my food healthier and yet tastier (like, come on — steaks come out better in there than my cast iron!), and yet seems to work faster than the oven with less cleanup? I’m sold.”
Aly Walansky, food and travel writer, @alywalansky
“I think the air fryer has made me a better cook by being an extremely efficient way of cooking certain things. I’m a private chef, recipe developer and tester, and food stylist assistant, so kitchen efficiency is of utmost importance. While I have things in my oven, I’m able to also cook things in my air fryer (mostly gluten-free homemade “fried” fish and chicken/meatballs). It has also proven very successful at reheating things that benefit from a crispy crust. I also love that I can use my air fryer instead of my oven during the summer to make a quick batch of sweet potato or yucca fries.”
Nancy Sobel Butcher, private chef and recipe developer/tester
“Getting an air fryer has made me a more adventurous cook. While it’s my job to make recipes, I usually use your typical methods for cooking, the stove, oven, crockpot, and sometimes the Instant Pot. I’ve really broken out of my normal routine with trying fun and exciting recipes with my air fryer–my favorite to date are my homemade boneless buffalo wings. You can make restaurant-quality foods at home without all the oil and we have been loving it.”
Kelly Nardo, food blogger and recipe developer, @eatthegains
“Cooking without oil requires me to be innovative in the kitchen to get the crispy texture on foods that we all enjoy. After all, good samosas or empanadas or sweet potato fries need to be soft and moist on the inside, but crispy on the outside. Air fryers are a great tool to easily achieve crispiness without adding any fat.”
Darshana Thacker, chef and culinary projects manager, Forks Over Knives
“My youngest son is autistic, and recently turned 11. He has enough sensory challenges that food textures and flavors can be problematic, so it’s been a balancing act between finding food he’ll eat and staying nutritionally sound. Like many kids with autism spectrum disorder, he loves some less nutritious foods, like chicken nuggets and fries. We live in Uruguay, so we automatically have healthier fries and chicken nugget options (ingredients are fresher, more regulated, and have less preservatives) but the deep-fried food isn’t good for him. He has some motor skills issues, so operating the oven or gas stove is difficult and he can easily burn himself. With the air fryer, the basket is just the right size for a reasonable small portion of nuggets and fries, it all cooks perfectly, and he can operate it by himself without any danger. It has made him feel more independent, and I feel great about him having a meal he enjoys, is healthyish, and that he can prepare for himself. We’ve been experimenting with other foods and he’s expanding his palate thanks to the air fryer as well. The air fryer is changing our lives.”
Grace Alexander, CEO, Brilliance On Demand
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