scones with powdered sugar

By Cherry Saunders

french fries in fryerEven though it is pretty clear that fried food is unhealthy in large quantities, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the occasional crispy treat if you indulge responsibly. You don’t even have to leave home to enjoy delicious fried food, either. Home fryers allow you to cook it right on your kitchen countertop.

Now you can choose between a traditional oil fryer or one of the new air fryers.

 What is an Air Fryer?

An air fryer operates, as its name suggests, by using extremely hot air to cook your food. Temperatures in a domestic air fryer are typically over 300 degrees Fahrenheit and most models move high volumes of air over your food to speed up the cooking process. Instead of submerging foods completely in hot oil, air fryers use a light misting or coating of oil to impart that delicious fried crunch to your meals.

The air fryer shown here is by Farberware.air fryer french fries

Advantages of Air Frying vs. Oil Frying

So, why are people buying domestic air fryers? These new appliances offer some significant advantages over traditional oil frying.

  • Dietary considerations. Air dryers use less oil than deep fryers so you consume less fat and fewer calories.
  • Ease of use. They are also easier to set up, use and clean up.
  • Safety considerations. Because they use so much less oil (and keep it completely contained), the risk of painful oil burns is minimal.

Cooking in an Air Dryer

Both oil and air fryers cook faster than in an oven.  Food does takes longer to cook in an air fryer than an oil fryer if you don’t include the time it takes to heat the oil an oil fryer.

Drawbacks to Air Frying

Food Quality.  Despite recent progress, air fryers do not produce the  moist, hearty crunch of deep frying. Some thick, moist batters that work well in oil fryers do not work well in air dryers.

Cost. Although there is a significant overlap in the price ranges of typical air and oil fryers, the air-based technology usually costs more. Typical prices range from $100 to $200 for air fryers, while reliable oil fryers are often available for less than $100.

Capacity. Few domestic air fryers are built with large-volume cooking in mind. Most models have maximum capacities less than two pounds and struggle to fry your food effectively if you load them to capacity.

It’s a matter of priorities. If making healthier fried food is important to you, air fryers are definitely worth your attention. If you intend to cook for large groups, you will probably be better served by the higher capacities of oil fryers. If cost is an issue, oil fryers are the way to go.

Whether you decide to stick with the tried-and-true technology of an oil fryer or take a leap into the future with an advanced air fryer, you shouldn’t have any difficulty cooking up some tasty treats in your kitchen. Just remember to use your fryer in moderation, no matter what kind of technology it’s based on!

Cherry Saunders is a freelance writer, who loves to cook in her spare time. Check out her site, where she reviews kitchen fryers and appliances.

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