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Air fryers: more than hot air?

Bench space, in an average kitchen, is precious. Especially once you add in staples such as your toaster, chopping block, utensils, and kettle. Which is one reason why new kitchen gadgets really need to be worth it.

Increasingly, Australian households think air fryers are.

Philips Domestic Appliances data shows Philips sold close to two million units between 2019-2021 (a “20% increase”, according to Philips). 

But should you make room for an air fryer in your kitchen?

The air fryer debate

Although air fryers are trending in a big way, there is debate about their value.

Critics say that an air fryer occupies considerable bench space; they highlight that you can’t cook a range of items simultaneously in an air fryer; some also say an air fryer is little more than a fan-forced oven. 

On the other hand, proponents of air fryers – the Facebook group Share Kmart Air Fryer Recipes Australia has almost half a million members – highlight that householders can quickly warm up their air fryers for faster food. You can roast items such as potatoes, broccoli, pumpkin, or nuts, and achieve a much better-quality outcome than you can in a microwave. The process is quicker and less intensive than what’s involved to get the same items roasted in an oven too. 

How air fryers work

Air fryers are built with a heating mechanism and fan that quickly circulates through the food you place in the air fryer basket. 

As with any kitchen appliance range, there’s variance in how sophisticated air fryers are.

As is often reported, air fryers don’t actually fry food. Frying is a cooking method that involves cooking foods in fat or oil. 

You can expect to use an air fryer to roast, bake, or even grill your favourite recipes.

Keep in mind that, commonly, an air fryer features a range of preset buttons that you can press to cook particular foods. Many air fryer users also bake, roast, and grill their favourite foods manually.

What makes an air fryer great? 

To assess how your air fryer is likely to work, take the following features into consideration: 

Overall size: The size of the air fryer and the size of your kitchen will influence how large your air fryer should be. If you plan to user your air fryer very frequently, you might keep it out on your bench permanently. Keep this in mind when deciding what’s an appropriate air fryer size.

Interior cooking compartment: Pay close attention to the size of your air fryer’s interior. If it’s too small, it limits what types of food you can cook.

Electronic features: There are a range of electronic features that you might want your air fryer to have. These include indicator lights to see if the power/heat is on, pre-programmed settings, automatic shut-off features, timers, and a notification bell when your food is cooked.

Viewing window: Many air fryers don’t have a viewing window. But if you value that element of sight when you cook, look for an air fryer that has that sight.

User-friendly air fryers

Air fryers are promoted as a convenient cooking alternative. In reality however, some are more convenient than others.

For the best user experience, it’s a good idea to do your research to determine how easy your air fryer is to assemble, store, operate, and clean. 

Be aware that some perform much better than others on all of these fronts. 

The best-performing air fryers will incur a greater cost overall, unsurprisingly. 

Therefore, ask yourself: what are my must-haves? What am I prepared to pay to ensure I have the air fryer experience I have in mind?