The way an air-fryer works is not strictly speaking ‘frying’, but it does taste as good as deep-fried food. Actually, it’s a small air-convection oven, but you don’t need to waste time and electricity pre-heating it to a certain temperature. You just place the food in a frying basket between the top and the bottom of the device. The heating element is located at the top of the cooking chamber and a fan circulates the air. This allows the hot air to circulate evenly around the cooking chamber, so you get faster cooking with no cool spots or undercooked sections.
By spraying or brushing oil onto your food, you increase the temperature of the outside and this is what makes your food fast and crispy. And an air fryer won’t heat up your kitchen, because it just uses enough heat to cook the food from when you tap in the temperature and time-setting. Therefore, your kitchen won’t heat up and become unbearably hot and you’ll be saving fuel costs, as well as having a quick and convenient cooking machine!
Does it cook the foods you like?
Although air fryers were once treated as a convenient way for mostly young people to cook frozen snack foods safely, that’s really just one of many uses this versatile device offers. In fact, it can make lots of delicious recipes completely from scratch! Air-fryers on the market right now can cook almost anything an oven can. And this includes favorites like bread, cakes and sweet oven puddings, to savory dishes like steak, pork and lamb chops, burgers, chicken, pasta and all-in-one dishes.
A mix of different vegetables can be cooked in less than 10 minutes with a delicious brown and crispy texture. And a big favorite, baked potatoes can also be cooked to perfection in an air fryer. So you can cook healthy vegetarian meals or traditional meals with lots of healthy veg that taste extra flavorful.
Cooking from scratch in an air-fryer
I suppose there may be a few foods that don’t cook well in an air-fryer, but I really have never heard of any! These are some of our favorites recipes that come out wonderfully well in the air-fryer!
- Garlic-roasted green beans
- Aubergine with harissa yogurt
- Simple chicken kebabs
- Crispy home-made onion rings
- Crispy garbanzos
- Coconut prawns
- Chicken Parmesan
- Brussel sprouts
Aubergines/egg-plant become even tastier when cooked with a crispy exterior. Garbanzos, quinoa, and okra/lady’s fingers – and even crispy rice grains add excellent crunchiness to make salads more substantial meals. And healthy Brussel sprouts are transformed into an easy and scrumptious snack or side dish after a few minutes in the air-fryer.
Delicious & easy baking
Lots of people are unaware of the versatility of the latest air-fryers. Did you know you can bake all sorts of muffins, cakes, puddings, bread and breakfast casseroles in an air-fryer? You just need to buy the specially designed pans for your model of air-fryer, so you get the correct size, and start baking.
There are also cupcake molds and loaf pans and cooking all of these items in an air-fryer is so much more cost effective than heating a whole, old-fashioned oven up to the correct temperature and then waiting longer for your baked goodies to cook. Air-fryers do one of our kitchen’s most important jobs, too – they quickly heat up leftover pizza or any other food and keep it crispy and tasty.
Cooking battered foods
And you certainly can cook foods that are covered in batter! If you love battered chicken, fish or onion rings, just prepare them for cooking and then pop them into the freezer for about 9 minutes. This prevents the batter from dripping when it’s in the air-fryer.
Cutting down your oil consumption
You can use whatever type of oil you choose, although many recipes do recommend a particular oil for each meal for flavor. You can brush oil on your raw ingredients, probably as little as 1 – 2 teaspoons altogether. Or mix in a little oil with bread-crumbs for home-made breaded chicken or fish – say 1 – 2 tablespoons for the whole meal.
And spraying oil is often considered the most efficient way to cover irregular shaped food pieces. But don’t be tempted to add more oil than specified in a recipe, as this will cause burning and smoke and ruin your food. So that’s a great motivation to control your calorie-laden oil consumption, isn’t it?
How to get started with your new air fryer
It’s always the best idea to use the carefully prepared recipes in the air-fryers’ free recipe book first. They will teach you all you need to know about whether food needs turning half-way through cooking, the best size to cut up different vegetables and everything you need to know to get perfect results every time. If you overload the fry-basket, your food won’t brown properly or be crisp. So for even cooking you should cook fries and foods you like to be crispy in a single layer.
You may also find that a ‘pause’ button model will make it easier for you to stop the cooking process and just give the frying basket a little shake to make sure the food is cooking evenly. Not all air-fryers have a ‘pause’ function, so check this as it means you don’t need to keep re-setting the time and temperature after each ‘shake or flip’.
Sizes of air-fryer
For one or two people a standard size will do the job well of cooking meals and heating up leftovers. And some recipes for standard air-fryers will cook enough food for 4 people. XL models will serve a group of 4 people in one cooking process. XXL models are designed to cook up delicious meals for up to 6 people. It’s true that you only need a fraction of the oil used in traditional deep-fat frying, but check in the recipe how much to add. Vegetables cook best when the oil is sprayed on as this gets the liquid into all of the irregular parts of the food. And this is necessary for the browning process.
Using the dials and setting temperatures
There are several different models of air-fryers these days, but most have a temperature that goes up to 400 degrees. Although you don’t need to pre-heat an air-fryer in the same long-winded way as an oven, you’ll get perfect results if you set the temperature for about 2 – 3 mins. before you add your food. Some models have pre-set buttons for cooking popular food items like chicken and fish, which make it very easy to use. And some models just have one fixed cooking temperature, so make sure you check which of these types will suit your cooking needs best.
Cleaning is easy
You can’t put the actual air-fryer in a dish-washer, but removable parts make it easy to hand-wash the basket and tray with hot soapy water in no time at all. And it is recommended that you wash your air-fryer after every use. Parchment paper is a great help in lining the basket of the bottom tray and you can buy specially sized and shaped pieces for each air-fryer model. Although we all get tempted to ignore a few crumbs in our ovens or toasters occasionally, it’s not a good idea with an air-fryer. If there are any bits of food left in the device, they will burn-up and create horrible-smelling smoke.
As this is a new way of cooking, start by reading the instructions when you have a quiet moment, not just before you need to produce a meal in a hurry. Clean after each use and use parchment paper to cut down cleaning to the very minimum. Experiment with cooking from scratch, baking, vegetarian dishes, all-in-one dishes and pasta – instead of ‘re-frying ‘frozen packet foods. Get the correct size and type for your all-year-round requirements. And finally, enjoy the same deep-fried flavor while you lose pounds from cutting down your over-consumption of calories in cooking oil!
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