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What is an air fryer anyway? Air fryers are countertop kitchen appliances whose purpose it is to make food crispy, similar to deep fried foods. But the main benefit of air fryers is that they achieve a crispy texture without using all the oil required of deep frying.
Table Of Contents
- How does An Air Fryer Work?
- Are Air Fryers The Same As A Convection Ovens?
- Is An Air Fryer The Same As An Oven?
- Is An Air Fryer Better Than An Oven?
- Why An Air Fryer Could Be Better Than Your Oven
- Why Your Oven Could Be Better Than An Air Fryer
- Do You Need An Air Fryer If You Have A Conventional Oven?
- Where To Buy An Air Fryer
- What Kinds Of Air Fryers Are There?
- What Type Of Air Fryer Should You Get?
– Paddle Air Fryers
– Basket Air Fryers
– Convection Oven Air Fryers
– Microwave Air Fryers
– Oilless Turkey Fryers
HOW DOES AN AIR FRYER WORK?
Simply put, air fryers work by quickly pushing hot air around the food they are cooking. This results in a crispy texture that is similar to deep fried food.
Is it exactly the same texture as deep fried food? Yes and no.
Air fried food does indeed get crispy like deep fried food. However, it will be missing the fat content which adds to the texture of the crispiness of deep fried food. The crispiness is there, however, without the fat content, the texture is slightly different. Not bad, just different. Lighter. But definitely still crispy. Some people feel it tastes much better without all that deep fat saturation.
And while deep fryers might cook faster than air fryers, air fryers actually still cook in half the time of a regular oven with only a fraction of the fat content (if you use any at all). So even junk food gets a healthy upgrade!
And lastly, air fryers are much safer than deep fryers because you aren’t working with large amounts of very hot oil. In fact, some air fryers are so safe even a child can use them!
ARE AIR FRYERS THE SAME AS A CONVECTION OVENS?
Yes and no. They both function the same way by blowing hot hair. But the food compartment on air fryers is smaller and moves air around your food more quickly and evenly to give you a crispy texture on your finished food. Air fryers also do a better job of getting hot air underneath your food than a convection oven does. Air fryers cook faster than a convection oven. So while the basics of hot, circulating air are the same in each, air fryers will cook faster, more evenly and will get you a crispy texture that a convection oven rarely can.
IS AN AIR FRYER THE SAME AS AN OVEN?
No. They are not the same. An oven creates heat from either gas or electricity and simply warms up the inside of the oven to a particular temperature. An air fryer creates heat but also has a fan to forcefully push that hot air around your food. They cook differently and it would be very difficult to get the same crispy texture, particularly without the excess fat, in an oven.
IS AN AIR FRYER BETTER THAN AN OVEN?
We are always cautious about answering this question with a blanket statement of yes or not. The real answer is, it depends. It depends on how you cook and what you cook. It will also depend on what type of air fryer you have and how many people you regularly cook for.
Our air fryer has almost completely replaced our oven. But that doesn’t mean it will do the same for you. If you purchase a paddle or basket air fryer that has no functions beyond simply air frying (nothing wrong with that!), then you won’t want to give up your oven any time soon because they will both have their place and function in your daily cooking. However, if like us, you purchased a countertop convection oven air fryer, then yes. Barring cooking something large like a big Thanksgiving turkey, your air fryer can absolutely replace your oven like it has for us.
You may be thinking, “but that didn’t answer the question“.
The term “better” is often in the eye of the beholder. But here are some reasons you might like an air fryer better than your oven… or the other way around. Just some things to consider if you are trying to make a decision.
WHY AN AIR FRYER COULD BE BETTER THAN YOUR OVEN
- It doesn’t take so long to heat up
- It doesn’t use gas (which is expensive in some areas!)
- Air fryers are easier to clean than an oven
- It’s super easy to make small batches of things that you normally wouldn’t want to heat an oven up for
- An air fryer typically cooks in half the time of an oven
WHY YOUR OVEN COULD BE BETTER THAN AN AIR FRYER
- Typically, you cook large foods like big chickens or turkeys (or bake in bigger quantities) on a regular basis that wouldn’t fit in an air fryer
- You already have an oven and don’t have the money or counter space for another appliance
- You have a very large family that makes cooking in smaller batches inefficient
DO YOU NEED AN AIR FRYER IF YOU HAVE A CONVENTIONAL OVEN?
“Need” is once again in the eye of the beholder. It will again depend on how and what you cook on a daily basis.
If you are considering purchasing an air fryer, here are some reasons you might “need” one.
- Hot snack foods are something you make often, but you would prefer them to have less fat.
- You enjoy the crispy texture of deep fried foods
- You need smaller meals cooked quickly
- Cooking faster meals is something that would help you (about half the time of a conventional oven)
- You want to lower your gas bill but need to use your gas oven often
- The largest thing you usually cook is a 4 or 5 pound chicken
- You want to cook fast, frequent meals for fewer than 6 people
- Baking in smaller portions is fine with you
WHERE TO BUY AN AIR FRYER
Air fryers are found in many places these days. Pretty much any store that carries small kitchen appliances will have them. So more important than choosing a store, is choosing the type and brand you want so you can find a store that carries the particular air fryer you want.
We highly recommend shopping on Amazon simply because you have more access to multiple types and brands of air fryers. Far more than most regular stores will carry. But if you prefer to shop in person, these are some mainstream stores we know that carry air fryers.
WHAT KINDS OF AIR FRYERS ARE THERE?
- Paddle air fryers
- Basket air fryers
- Convection oven (toaster oven) style
- Air fryer microwaves
- Oilless turkey fryers
WHAT TYPE OF AIR FRYER SHOULD YOU GET?
The type of fryer you need will depend completely on how and what you usually cook. Let’s take a look at the different types and what their benefits are in your kitchen to help you decide.
PADDLE AIR FRYERS
These air fryers remove the need to shake your food during cooking (like with basket air fryers) or needing to flip/turn your food (like in a convection oven style air fryer). They have a paddle that fits inside the food basket that pushes the food around during cooking.
- PROS – You can walk away until your food is done cooking.
- CONS – If you have more delicate food, it may fall apart.
BASKET AIR FRYERS
These are the egg shaped air fryers that have the pull out drawer. They are what most people think of when they think of air fryers. When recipes tell you to “shake the basket”, it’s referring to having these types of fryers. You literally pull out the drawer, shake the contents to rotate it and return the basket to the air fryer to continue cooking your food.
- PROS – Easy to use, easy to clean.
- CONS – Most of these can only air fry. They have no other functions and they do take up some counter space.
CONVECTION OVEN AIR FRYERS
These are the types of air fryers that look like a larger toaster oven. Most are multi-function and will replace several small appliances and your oven, in your kitchen. You can find our review of our favorite convection oven air fryer here.
- PROS – More components to clean.
- CONS – You can do so much more with these, making them much more worth the counter space they take up.
AIR FRYER MICROWAVES
If you are in the market for a new microwave, you might as well check out this new microwave hybrid. It combines the function of a microwave with the functions of an air fryer. Some would say it’s the best of both worlds. You cook fast with a microwave and end up with a crispy outside to boot. It’s a win-win if you love having a microwave.
- PROS – If you need to replace your microwave, you might as well add an air fry function! These duel function appliances are a great way to upgrade your microwave. Cook your food with the speed and efficiency of a microwave and give it a crispy texture that regular microwaves just can’t offer.
- CONS – The jury is out on these. Some people say they work great, others say it’s a gimmick to sell more microwaves. We will test one soon and report back with our results.
OILLESS TURKEY FRYERS
Oilless turkey fryers are considered air fryers. They are appliances that are specifically made for cooking only turkeys without deep frying them.
- PROS – A deliciously wonderful way to cook a turkey without having to deep fry it in tons of oil
- CONS – Cooking turkeys is it’s only real function. So if you don’t cook a lot of turkeys, this will take up space in your kitchen or garage for sure.
Regardless of what type of air fryer you choose, make sure you consider your needs carefully before making your purchase. The right air fryer can carry you through years of delicious meals. If you need help in making the decision, check out our Air Fryer Guide For Beginners. It will help you make your decision about the best type of air fryer for you.