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To help you pick out the best option for this must-have kitchen appliance, an air fryer buying guide is just what you need. Chances are if you like to cook or browse food accounts on social media, you have heard a lot of buzz about the latest hot cooking appliance – the air fryer. You may be thinking what is this? Should I get one? Do they make delicious food? We seek to answer those questions and more here in your essential air fryer buying guide and information rundown. Read on to get the 411 on air fryers, the latest cooking craze.
What is an air fryer?
Air fryers allow you to “deep fry” your food with only hot air and little or no oil, essentially creating a similar result to that of frying, but with a much healthier method and final product. In the past few years, the United States has experienced a major rise in the popularity of these appliances. As of July 2020, the market research firm NPD Group reported that nearly 40% of households in the US had one.
The gadget works in the same way as a convection oven, though its process is not considered baking. (However, you can air-fry some baked goods like cookies in the appliance.) In the top of the air fryer sits a heating mechanism and fan, and the food you’re cooking is placed in a fryer-style basket below. When you turn on the appliance, the hot air rushes down into the basket and cooks the food crisp, similar to deep frying but with no oil necessary. The air fryer is essentially a cook’s air convection fryer that uses 400-degree air to prepare your food.
Why are they popular right now?
They have been on the market for a little more than a decade after debuting in 2010, but the success and popularity of air fryers really began to climb five years ago. In 2016, celebrity chefs Emeril Lagasse and Gordon Ramsey both endorsed air fryers. Then Oprah declared the air fryer one of her “Favorite Things” for the year. After that, sales took off tremendously with nearly 10 million sold from spring 2017 to spring 2019. Demand has continued to increase since then.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 saw many more people cooking at home and eating in, so it’s no surprise that the air fryer excitement has only continued in the past year. With an average price of less than US$100, these are also an affordable kitchen addition for many families or individuals who want a personal air fryer.
What can you make with them?
When it comes to deciding what to cook in your air fryer, the possibilities are nearly endless. Essentially any food that you would typically fry or bake can now be made in the air fryer – with less oil than you would have used otherwise. Popular dishes to make in the air fryer include chicken wings, french fries, Tater Tots, chips, egg rolls and even some cookies and cakes. However, there are some exceptions that won’t work well in the device like raw vegetables, fresh cheese or battered foods. Currently, there’s no shortage of air fryer recipes available like these great collections from Cooking Light and Delish.com.
Where can you get them?
With their rising popularity has also come widespread availability. Nowadays you can buy an air fryer online or in most retail stores. Here are some popular options ranging in price from US$29.99 to US$99.99:
- Bella Pro Series from Best Buy $29.99
- PowerXL Vortex from Kohl’s $49.99
- Dash Express Tasti-Crisp from Bed Bath & Beyond $49.99
- Gourmia Digital from Target $59.99
- Ninja AF100 from Walmart $86.29
- Cuisinart AFR-25M from Macy’s $99.99
Most of these deals you can take advantage of online. But, as the majority of these retailers have brick-and-mortar stores, if you prefer to buy in person you would have no shortage of options.
How do you clean them?
One thing new owners of air fryers become concerned with quickly is how to clean this appliance, which (unlike a traditional frying or baking dish) you can’t just put it in the dishwasher or wash it in the sink. Apparently, this challenge can be easily faced if you’re sure to be a proactive owner.
It’s important to clean the pullout drawer of crumbs after each use, and if you use the basket it can be removed and washed separately with warm soapy water. Beyond these parts, you should use a damp cloth to wipe clean the inside of the air fryer between uses. With a little proactive maintenance, it seems you can keep the product fairly clean as you go with no major cause for alarm.
Are they worth investing in?
So are they worth it? According to the nearly 52 million homes that use air fryers these days, yes, they are a great addition to your kitchen repertoire. Of course, they probably aren’t a great choice if you don’t like to cook or have at least some interest in cooking. If you’re also a big meal prep person or cook often for large groups, then they probably aren’t the most practical device either since they can only prepare limited quantities of food at a time. At the end of the day, there’s a reason so many people love them, but only you know if the air fryer is the next must-have addition to your home.
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