The air fryer is this year’s must-have kitchen appliance.
We’re always on the lookout for new gadgets to make cooking easier and more fun. It would be an understatement to say that we were pumped when we first heard the rumours about a kitchen appliance that can make our favourite greasy foods more healthy, and at speeds that make the business of actually cooking a whole lot easier.
Air fryers started popping into the mainstream a few years back, and now that they’ve had their chance to marinate in the market (food pun very much intended), it feels like an appropriate time to compare the best ones. If you thought you were overwhelmed with all of the different Instant Pot models, just wait until you see the air fryer market.
Before we dive into the different devices, let’s answer some lingering questions.
What is an air fryer and how does it work?
Simply put, it’s deep frying without oil — AKA deep frying without the unhealthy part. Some may tell you to just cut back on fried foods, but is that really the only option? Nope.
Deep fryers heat food from frozen to ready-to-eat in minutes by dunking them in a bath of super hot oil. This process jumpstarts the Maillard reaction, which is when food gets brown and crispy and delicious — and drenched in fat.
While your typical deep fryer needs enough oil to completely drown the food, an air fryer barely uses any (a tablespoon at most). Other than that, air fryers basically use the same method — a convection fan to surround the food with hot air instead of oil. The air bounces off the bottom of the air fryer and back up through the food, cooking it all over to create that crisping effect in just minutes — something that was previously only possible with deep frying. Not only are you getting that coveted taste and texture without the part that makes it unhealthy, but you’re getting it in just a fraction of the time.
Air fryers can also cook a hell of a lot more food than a deep fryer and can be used for things like grilling a steak or baking a pizza. It’s like having a combo oven and deep fryer, except it fits on your counter and doesn’t require frozen food to be thawed before cooking.
Are air fryers actually healthy?
Taking the guilt out of guilty pleasure snacks is probably the main reason you’re looking to buy an air fryer, right? We will say it’s health-ier: Manufacturers claim that air frying can reduce calorie intake by up to 80% — so yes, air frying is certainly a much better preparation alternative. However, scientists aren’t messing around with the whole “moderation is key” thing, and calories aren’t the only factor to measure health.
Having an air fryer does not mean that a diet consisting of french fries and pizza is a good path to take, and making sure you get those plant-based oils and vitamins from fruits and veggies should still be a priority.
Got a picky eater at home? Air fryers are a great way to crisp up courgettes, carrots, squash, and more to give them some added taste and crunch, teaching kids that they don’t always have to run for cover when the veggies come out.
What is the best air fryer?
As with any appliances, there are various sizes, features, and options from all of the major brands you’d expect. We’ll keep it simple and fill you in on the need-to-know details and differences, so your brain doesn’t get too, erm, fried.
These are the best air fryers in 2022.