When I recently read online that the air fryer is the new Instant Pot (at least in terms of viral popularity), I was initially skeptical. I was also slightly confused, because I wasn’t actually sure what an air fryer even was! But at least I wasn’t alone in my confusion, because when the topic of air fryers came up at a recent OGT planning meeting, it seemed like everyone had a different idea of what they were and how they worked!
I ended up deciding that if the air fryer really was the hot new thing in kitchen appliances, I’d better check it out. I’ve also received several comments and emails from readers asking me for my opinion on air fryers, and I couldn’t just leave them hanging!
So I did some research, bought one, and gave it a few test runs. Today I’m ready to share my air fryer findings with you, and explain what it is, how to choose one, and what you can make with it. My hope is that by the end of this post, you’ll have answers to all the questions you might be asking about this intriguing new cooker.
What Is An Air Fryer?
An air fryer is essentially a small countertop convection oven. It cooks foods by pumping hot air throughout the unit, resulting in quick cook times and crispy exteriors.
I personally think the term “air fryer” is a bit misleading, because it implies that it can produce the same results as an actual fryer without the need for any oil. The hot air inside the air fryer does make food crispy, but you can’t truly replicate the same flavors or textures of frying without oil. It’s just not possible!
So even though the air fryer isn’t necessarily the healthy eating miracle device I imagined it to be, there are still a lot of reasons why you might want one. The first is that you can use an air fryer to cook all kinds of foods without needing to turn on your oven, and at this point in the summer, no one needs a hot oven heating up their house!
Another benefit of air fryers is that most have dishwasher safe components, so you don’t have to worry about hand-washing any special parts. Finally, many foods cook quite quickly in an air fryer. We cooked frozen sweet potato fries just to give it a try, and they came out deliciously crispy in about 12 minutes!
Choosing The Right Air Fryer
If you’re interested in getting an air fryer for your kitchen, the good news is that they’re actually pretty affordable! Most run right around $100, though you could easily spend up to $300 on a really fancy model. Here are a few of the air fryers that are popular on Amazon right now, just to give you an idea of what’s out there.
Best On A Budget – DASH Compact Air Fryer – 2 Qt.
In terms of price, this compact model is hard to beat at just $50. And since it’s on the smaller side, it’ll take up less room on your counter and be easier to clean. It comes in cute colors too!
Best For Extra Crunch – BLACK+DECKER Purify 2L Air Fryer
This model has two convection fans circulating hot air, so this is your best bet if you’re a fan of extra-crunchy foods.
Easiest To Use – GoWISE 5.5L Air Fryer
This model has a sleek touchscreen menu of options to choose from. It also has some really handy built-in cooking programs, including ones for fries, chicken, shrimp, and more!
Best For Families – Big Boss 15L Air Fryer
Not only is this air fryer certifiably HUGE, but I also like the look of the clear glass bowl! I think it would be fun to see my food cooking through the glass, but maybe I’m just weird like that. It also comes in 5 different colors.
Best If You Have An Instant Pot – Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid
If you already have a 6 qt. Instant Pot, the new Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid is a great option for you. It’s handy because you can pressure cook something first, then remove the pressure cooker lid and pop on the air fryer lid to get the top nice and crispy.
Best Overall – Ninja Max XL 5.5 Qt. Air Fryer
The interior of the basket and the removable tray are ceramic, which makes them nonstick, and they’re dishwasher safe too. This one also has some useful extra cooking modes like dehydrate and reheat.
What Can I Make In An Air Fryer?
Now that we’ve covered what an air fryer is and how to choose the right one, let’s talk about what you can cook in one! I put together a list of delicious recipes from around the web to share with you. For even more inspiration, a search for “air fryer recipes” on Google or Pinterest should keep you busy for a while! 😉
11 Delicious Air Fryer Recipes
Click on the title of each recipe to view the full recipe and instructions.
1. Bacon Burger
from Blue Jean Chef
from Blue Jean Chef
3. Baked Potato
from Courtney’s Sweets
from Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons
from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
from My Fussy Eater
8. French Fries
from A Pinch Of Healthy
from Glue & Glitter
from Recipe This
from Glue & Glitter
Do you have an air fryer, or are you thinking about buying one?