Or should you buy one in the sales?
Air fryers have become something of a phenomenon since their launch in 2010. If you don’t already own one, now might just be the greatest excuse you’ll ever have to splash out. As a piece of kit, they are so versatile – not just for people who want to make healthier chips – that most families I know say theirs is in use every day. That includes nutritionists!
There are many reasons to buy (which I’ll talk you through below). To give you the highlights, air fsryers are compact and fit onto your work surface quite easily. Their diminutive size also means an air fryer heats up more quickly than your regular oven so you waste less energy and can eat sooner.
To be clear, an air fryer (despite its name) is not an actual fryer; more a small convection oven but you can cook many of the foods you would in a deep fat fryer* with none - or else significantly less - oil and the food comes up just as crispy.
You can also expect your machine to use a fraction of the energy so it's also more economical to use one. They heat up very quickly and the circulating air means than your food will get evenly browned.
Is an air fryer healthier? It depends, of course, what you are cooking. If you cook pizza, chips, chicken nuggets and other breaded or battered foods, health-wise you’re not better off than using the oven. If you were planning on frying them, then yes they would contain less oil but still wouldn’t find their way onto the healthy food menu.
Here are my top 5 reasons for using an air fryer:
1 You’ll save money using an air fryer compared a regular oven. [source: Citizens Advice Bureau https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/energy/energy-supply/get-help-paying-your-bills/check-how-much-your-electrical-appliances-cost-to-use/] If you use the air fryer for 30 minutes a day, it will cost £1.86 a week compared to £2.06 for your oven. But don’t forget, you’ll speed up cooking times so the real cost of cooking (as an example) chicken nuggets will be less since it takes half the time [10 mins compared to 20 mins]. So your chicken nuggets will cost you 9p to cook in the air fryer compared to 20p in the oven. In fact, Instant Brands says traditional oven cooking will cost you five times as much.
2 Less mess. If you’re a fan of bacon and often grill it, you’ll know what a mess it makes on the inside window of your oven. By popping the rashers in the air fryer (no extra oil needed), the splatter from the fat is contained and is easily wiped away.
3 Cleaning your air fryer is significantly easier than the grill pan. It will only take you a few minutes, and some contain parts that are dishwasher safe.
4 Air fryers are a healthier way to cook. If you’re cooking with oil, you’ll need less of it. And, when you place things in the air fryer basket, this allows any excess fat to drain into the tray below.
5 If you are eating chips or wedges, air fryers make them so much crispier than your regular oven since they circulate the air around the food so that everything cooks more evenly. Especially sweet potato fries, which can turn out a bit limp (or else burnt) in a regular oven.
What can you cook in an air fryer?
In short, pretty much anything if you’ve the space to fit it in!
I’ve been known to cook:
Toasted nuts and seeds
Stuffed mushrooms/ peppers
Roast chicken [in a study at Brunel University, researchers used 80% less energy cooking a whole chicken compared to oven cooking]
Whole roasted garlic bulb
Heating up leftovers!
NOTE: you can’t cook cheesy foods (apart from coated mozzarella sticks) or anything with a wet batter.