Updated: Jun 15
Ah yes… the almighty Air Fryer seems all the rage nowadays in home kitchens. Notice how I say home kitchens… you won't find an air fryer in a professional kitchen. Relatively cheap and has some pretty clever advertising with it. But is it worth it? Should you buy one?
First things first, if you are unfamiliar with what an air fryer is, it's essentially a little "oven" of sorts that sits on your counter and circulates hot air around your food. Sound like another kitchen appliance you have in your kitchen? We will get there, don't worry. I've seen everything from an entire pie to chicken wings being cooked in one for marketing ploys.
**Cant you tell I'm a huge fan of an air fryer?
The number one thing these air fryers aim to do, other than give you another appliance to use that takes up space, is to cut down on fat. When you fry food, you typically fry it in some oil, which is unhealthy. And if you've ever worked in a kitchen that gets pretty chilly at night, the nice layer of solidified fat atop the oil is always reassuring that the fried food is healthy. But anyway, it says it'll cut down on fat, and I can't argue with this point. You will cut down on fat and eat a healthier (less fatty diet), but you will taste a difference in the food.
You see, the thing is, with air fryers, they aren't frying food. If I were to get technical, you'd have to cook the food in some sort of oil—and an air "fryer" cooks food through convection- the air circulation. Where marketing comes in is the word fryer. It's no secret that people like fried food; people also know how unhealthy it is for you. And so, put two and two together, and you have a healthy version of fried food. The results are marginally similar enough that people will deem it fried food. I have to hand it to the marketing people- it is clever. But as a chef, I see right through it.
I am getting straight to the point, though. Is it worth it? I give it a resounding no. Please, please, please DO NOT buy one of these. It is a waste of money and a trend with fancy marketing. If you have a convection or conventional oven, there are more useful and impressive gadgets to buy. Don't just take my word for though, countless other food blogs touch on this topic, and they are not pro-air fryers.
We alluded to the main point here a few times; a convection oven. What does a convection oven do you say? Circulates hot air around food through a fan. What does an air fryer do? Circulates hot air around the food. The difference? Mainly the size. One fits in your cabinets; the other sits on your countertop.
So, the main point here is. You have a large convection oven in your house; there isn't a need to buy another mini version of it with the fancy "air fryer" title. They are harder to clean, noisier, and you typically can't see your food cook. So next time your friend asks or tells you you should get an air fryer, tell them I have one… it's called a convection oven.
**The difference between a convection oven and a conventional oven is that a convection oven uses a fan to circulate more of the hot air around the food.
Let's say your house doesn't have a convection oven, and you don't want to spend money on one. I have two alternatives for you, a beautiful $11,000 La Cornue oven. I highly recommend you look at their website just to check it out; I get the chills every time or a Sous Vide.
Sous Vide (read more about it here) is French for "under vacuum" and cooks your meat in a vacuum-sealed bag immersed in a water bath. It takes a little time but is safe, cooks perfectly, locks in every juice, and makes whatever you cook incredibly flavorful. Why this over an air fryer? Did you want an air fryer to eat healthier? Well, there are no oils needed in this type of cooking. It's time we turn toward truly tasting our foods and not just turn to what's quick and trendy.
You can't rush good food; good food is worth waiting for.
"The Flying Chef"