Air Fryer Buying Guide
If you’re thinking about buying an air fryer, you’re thinking like a boss. Air fryers are not just a great way to cook with less fat, they’re a great way to cook hot meals in the summertime without adding a lot of heat to the kitchen the way your oven does. Their versatility makes them the perfect kitchen companion. You can fry up chicken while sautéing shrimp on your stove. You can crisp up vegetables while your pasta is boiling or you can make the donuts and omelets at the same time.
What Exactly is an Air Fryer and How Does it Work?
The aptly named air fryer basically works like a compact convection oven. It uses heating elements and fans to generate hot air that rapidly flows all around your food. If you think about a conventional electric oven that runs energy through coils until the entire container is heated, the air fryer works in a similar fashion, but since fans circulate the air, everything cooks more quickly, just like you heat up more quickly in a spin class than in a sauna.
The “fryer” in the name comes from the fact that many foods crisp up similarly to deep-fried foods.
What To Look For When Buying an Air Fryer
Air fryers at their core are pretty conventional as far as kitchen appliances go. You’ll see a lot here isn’t all that different from what you would look for when choosing any other cooking buddy.
Size and Capacity
Air fryers, like most counter top appliances, come in a couple of size factors and the size of the fryer is usually indicative of how much food it will hold at one time. This is size is usually measured in liters (like soft drink bottles) or quarts, but it can also be measured in pounds of food, which is weird because the density of the food should only be considered when cooking the food.
They usually come in capacity sizes from 1.75 liters up to about 5.5 liters.
The smaller ones are ideal for singles, apartment dwellers, college students, RV glampers, and those moving into their first home away from home. In other words, if you don’t have to cook for a lot of people, don’t plan on cooking full entree’s or don’t have a lot of counter space, it’s a great size.
The larger capacity air fryers can cook a full-on meal – protein and vegetables all at once.
Depending on their size, air fryers can use as many watts as a conventional oven. When used in smaller settings like an RV, be sure and pick an air fryer with lower wattage.
Elite Platinum EAF-801 Air Fryer
- The Elite Platinum EAF-801 uses a maximum of 1000 watts of power on a standard 120V to 60Hz power source.
- It has a 2.3 Quart (2.17 liters) Capacity.
- Presets go from 140° to 400° Fahrenheit with adjustable rates from 180° to 392° F.
While there are a few air fryers with only presets, most come with a range of temperatures that can be incrementally set. Look for fryers that run between 170° and 400° Fahrenheit.
There are some people who have had success dehydrating food in a regular air fryer as you would in a conventional oven since you can actually dehydrate many foods with a temperature setting as high as 200° F. Since many of these machines go down to 170° F, it’s probably possible to accomplish this in a limited fashion.
These can be a manual dial, soft button with an LCD screen or touch screen. It’s mostly a matter of personal preference.
Many air fryers come with presets. These take the thinking out of cooking which is great for students and those just getting started in the air frying world.
Look for a basket with a non-stick coating that’s PTFE Free, especially if you have pets that are susceptible to it, such as small animals or birds.
Auto Shut Off
A nice feature, especially when you’ve got several things going on in the kitchen at once. A lot of people complain that if you don’t have one, you have to keep an eye on it. I don’t know why anyone would want to go and play street hockey while they’ve got something in the oven, but there you go.
Look for a basket that you can put in the top rack of your dishwasher.
Whirling fans can be loud. If you don’t think your cat or your neighbors can stand the noise, you may want to consider a different model.
Your air fryer should come with at least a one year warranty although some offer money back guarantees for the first 60 days. It’s your call.
Addressing Your Biggest Concerns About Air Fryers
There’s always questions when purchasing a new appliance. Here, we address some of your concerns.
Do I Really Need an Air Fryer?
If you already have a convection oven, probably not. The air fryer cooks food a little faster but there is more and more cross-over occurring between air fryers and convection ovens with the introduction of multi-purpose cookers.
Some reasons to get an air fryer are if you’re looking to find a way to keep your home cooler in the Summer by avoiding using your standard oven, if you need something for your dorm or apartment (there was no way I was putting a massive convection oven on my limited counter space) or you just keep running out of room in the oven or on the stove to cook everything at the same time.
It Can Only Be Used to Fry Foods?
Someone made a comment on Facebook that they thought the air fryer was going to wind up on a shelf, next to their neglected Fry Daddy. The air fryer isn’t just a one-trick pony. Since it works on the same principles as a convection oven, there are only a few things you really can’t cook in an air fryer that you can make in a regular oven.
If Food Touches the Top of the Unit, Will it Burn?
That’s been my experience. The easiest way to eliminate this problem is to not overfill the air fryer. In fact, filling it a little over half way is probably your best bet for getting food to cook evenly and evenly cooked food is more important than saving ten minutes.
Electromagnetic Fields Are Going to Doom Us!
That’s probably true, but you won’t get any EMF waves from your air fryer. They use radiant heat like convection ovens and toasters. You’ll get your daily dose of EMF from you Wi-Fi connection and if your microwave leaks.