I am not an appliance person. I prefer my knife and a cutting board to dragging out a food processor (although I do own a small one, and it’s handy for dips and whipping up certain things). But as I enter the empty nest life, I find myself cooking for one or two more often, so I thought – having an appliance that I’ll use several times a week that will also speed up the cooking process (and eliminate lighting the larger oven), sounded like a good idea.
We love toast. My children and I often enjoy toast for breakfast, and the kids would often make toast for a snack. We occasionally make garlic toast to go with our meals (brush with olive oil or butter, sprinkle with herbs and garlic powder, toast), or a veggie topped bruschetta. So we’ve always had a well-used toaster oven on our counter. The last model we had however, was thumbs down for toasting. We stuck with it, but were never happy with it’s toasting results, and I decided it was time to replace it.
Enter: My new air fryer.
How Does an Air Fryer Work?
There are different types of air fryers. The one I purchaed is an air-fryer-convention-toaster-oven. You can also purchase an air fryer appliance that looks sort of like a pressure cooker and only air fries. How does it work you ask? Similar to a convection oven, the air fryer uses a heating element and a fan to move air around very quickly in a circular fashion. Set at high heat (400-450 degrees), it does a better job reaching all of the surfaces of the food. This creates the crispness and and crisp outer crust.
As far as the toast goes, my appliance toasts a slice of bread perfectly. It has light, medium, and dark settings. The slice of rustic Italian bread that is pictured here was toasted on Light. Perfectly even. Bread with higher moisture content (such as an English muffin or bagel) does well on medium. As with any toaster, you will have to watch it the first few times to find the perfect setting for different types of bread.
The first thing I tried when I opened the box (after cleaning all trays), was a potato. I sliced a sweet potato into shoestring fries, and air-fried. Always read directions closely! The time for “French Fries from fresh cut”, was 20 minutes – but – this was for a pound of fries or about 3 large potatoes. One potato burnt to black at that setting (didn’t get that photo). I then tried one white potato, and set the air fryer for 10 minutes. It was okay, but not quite crisp enough. I may need to coat with more oil. I’ll continue to experiment with potatoes, because I love good French fries.
This is where the air fryer shined so far. My college son is taking a non-traditional route to education and career, and is living with me while working full time and taking college classes part time. He has a pretty busy schedule so I’m happy to cook dinner for him occasionally. I decided to fry up some wings so he could grab them in the short window between work and class on his busiest weekdays. They turned out great! I simply seasoned the wings, sprayed them with vegetable oil spray (mostly to keep them from sticking to basket), and placed them in the fryer basket tray. They were done in 10 minutes and delicious!
It’s also nice to eat together as a family as often as you can. But you are tired after work, and there’s often a short window of time, right? I convection baked chicken thighs along with sweet potatoes, and they finished up in 25 minutes.
I steamed some broccoli, and dinner was done in less than 30 minutes.
Quick, Healthy Meals
So far, so good. Often the biggest challenge of healthy eating is having the time and energy. Having the time and energy to shop, prep the food, get things cooked, and clean up, sometimes prohibits cooking dinner on busy nights. But if you keep it simple, and plan a few go-to meals (like simple baked chicken or fish, or a small grilled loin chop to go along with a simple salad or veggie and a baked potato), you can create a healthier diet for yourself and your family.
Trying out an air-fryer may work for you. Rather than heat the larger oven in your kitchen, you can use the smaller appliance for quicker cooking, and easier clean up.
Pros and Cons
Air fryers are a little pricey. But in my opinion, the Pros outweigh the Cons for purchasing one:
- Can “air fry” commonly fried foods (better than oven-baking)Larger than toaster oven (16L x16W x14H)
- Makes evenly toasted toast
- Cleans easily
- Includes toasting rack, baking pan, and fry basket
- Has a convection bake setting, shortening cooking time
- Evenly cooks
- Easy to use controls
- Don’t have to heat the larger oven
- Great option for empty-nesters, college students, cooking for 1-2
- Gets hot (because you are using 400 degree setting often for frying or convection bake – just be sure to have enough room around it)
- Toast doesn’t slide out of toast rack – need to pull out rack with potholder or use a toast tong
Also to note – when you read the directions, you’ll think the thing is going to burn your house down. It does get hot, and I pull mine out from under the cabinet when air-frying, but it’s not that much hotter than a toaster oven. Like any electric appliance, you should unplug it, and not leave it unattended when in use.
Let me know if you have any questions or if you try one out!
Do you have an air-fryer? Leave your tips in the Comment line.
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