Not sure what an electric air fryer is or what you can cook in it? Get the best air fryer recipes for beginners - along with tips for buying and basic guidelines for using. This post contains affiliate links.
The past two years have been dominated by the Instant Pot and pressure cooking phenomenon but another new cooking gadget has been on the rise lately. Enter: the era of the electric air fryer. Maybe you received one for Christmas last week and are now wondering, "What the heck can I cook with this thing?" Or maybe you didn't get one but you're wondering what it even is and why you need one?
What is an electric air fryer?
An air fryer is a kitchen appliance that cooks by circulating hot air around the food using the convection mechanism. A mechanical fan circulates the hot air around the food at high speed, cooking the food and producing a crispy layer via a chemical reaction (the Maillard effect), without completely submerging the food in oil.
Air fryers have a removable basket like a deep fryer but instead of submerging the food into hot oil, the items in the basket are baked by the heat from air flowing around them. (Think convection oven but in miniature form.) With this design, you're able to fry foods like potato chips, chicken, fish, french fries, or pastries using significantly less oil than a traditional deep-fryer.
What can you cook in an air fryer?
All the things. Breaded foods are by far the most successful things to cook in an air fryer. It also excels at reheating foods that have already been baked or fried. While it won't be as quick as nuking them in the microwave, it is an easy way to re-crisp leftover french fries or foods where the breading has gone soft in the refrigerator.
Basic Guidelines for Using an Electric Air Fryer
- Always keep the appliance on a level, heat-resistant countertop.
- Though many manuals may state that you can accommodate more, you will get the best results when there's only a single layer of food in the basket. Over-crowding the basket will prevent foods from crisping and browning evenly and take more time overall.
- Flip foods over halfway through the cooking time. Just as you would if you were cooking on a grill or in a skillet, you need to turn foods over so that they brown evenly.
- Food that has been battered, like tempura shrimp or my Homemade Fried Chicken, won't do well in an air fryer as liquid drips through the basket and into the bottom of the fryer, making a mess.
What to Look For When Buying an Air Fryer
- Size: Do you want to be able to store it in a cabinet or leave it on the counter? This is the brand I have: Gourmia 2.2 Quart Capacity. It preheats quickly and doesn't take up too much space.
- Capacity: Do you want to prepare larger amounts of food or just reheat snacks? This BLACK+DECKER 2 Liter is perfect for 2-4 servings.
- Settings: Does it preheat instantly? Does it have manual temperature settings? This larger GoWISE 5.8 Quarts features 8 preset cooking options.
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