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  • Writer's pictureCrabtree Nutrition

Should I buy an air fryer?

Air fryers are big news at the moment!

In fact they have become something of a phenomenon since their launch in 2010. If you don’t already own one, now might just be the greatest excuse you’ll ever have to splash out. As a piece of kit, they are so versatile – not just for people who want to make healthier chips – that most families I know say theirs is in use every day. That includes nutritionists! I am reasonably new to the world of air frying and I have to say that I love it!

There are many reasons to buy (which I’ll talk you through below). To give you the highlights, air fryers are compact and fit onto your work surface quite easily. Their diminutive size also means an air fryer heats up more quickly than your regular oven so you waste less energy and can eat sooner.

To be clear, an air fryer (despite its name) is not an actual fryer; more a small convection oven but you can cook many of the foods you would in a deep fat fryer* with none - or else significantly less - oil and the food comes up just as crispy.

You can also expect your machine to use a fraction of the energy and save a lot of when you use one. They heat up very quickly and the circulating air means that your food will get evenly browned.

Is an air fryer a healthier way to cook?

It depends, of course, what you are cooking. If you cook pizza, chips, chicken nuggets and other breaded or battered foods, health-wise you’re not better off than using the oven. If you were planning on frying them, then yes they would contain less oil but still wouldn’t find their way onto the healthy food menu.

Here are my top 5 reasons you should invest

1 You’ll save money using an air fryer compared a regular oven. [source: Citizens Advice Bureau] If you use the air fryer for 30 minutes a day, it will cost £1.86 a week compared to £2.06 for your oven. But don’t forget, you’ll speed up cooking times so the real cost of cooking (as an example) chicken nuggets will be less since it takes half the time [10 mins compared to 20 mins]. So your chicken nuggets will cost you 9p to cook in the air fryer compared to 20p in the oven. In fact, Instant Brands says traditional oven cooking will cost you five times as much.

2 Less mess. If you’re a fan of bacon and often grill it, you’ll know what a mess it makes on the inside window of your oven. By popping the rashers in the air fryer (no extra oil needed), the splatter from the fat is contained and is easily wiped away.

3 Cleaning your air fryer is significantly easier than the grill pan. It will only take you a few minutes, and, with the model I have invested in anyway, many of the parts are dishwasher safe.

4 Air fryers are a healthier way to cook. If you’re cooking with oil, you’ll need less of it. And, when you place things in the air fryer basket, this allows any excess fat to drain into the tray below.

5 If you are eating chips or wedges, air fryers make them so much crispier than your regular oven since they circulate the air around the food so that everything cooks more evenly. Especially sweet potato fries, which can turn out a bit limp (or else burnt) in a regular oven.

What can you cook in an air fryer?

In short, pretty much anything if you’ve the space to fit it in!

I’ve been known to cook Granola, Salmon, Steak, Crispy cauliflower, pretty much every vegetable that I can think of, crispy tofu, meatballs, baked apples, stir fries, sausage bakes, chicken breast (I haven’t tried whole chicken myself but I hear its possible!), kale chips, crispy chickpeas…

I am definitely at the experimental stage but I am having a go with almost anything that I would normally cook in a frying pan or the oven – and I have been delighted with the results – as a family we have decided there is literally no other way to cook a steak now.

Any time is a great time to buy but you’re likely to find some really fantastic deals around Black Friday (26th November and the run up to it), so, if you’ve been thinking of taking the plunge, now might be your best excuse yet. Here are my top picks:

Tefal Actify Genius XL 2 in 1

Instant Brands Vortex 6-in-1 Air Fryer

Philips Airfryer Essential XL Connected – this even connects to your Alexa

Ninja AF150AMZ Air Fryer XL

I own a Tefal Actifry Genius 2-in-1 which is really versatile and allows you to cook 2 different things at the same time – so you genuinely can cook your whole meal in there. It is slightly different to some of the other air friers on the market because it has a paddle which continuously stirs the food which helps to cook the food evenly and means that you don’t need to turn it during cooking. The downside of the paddle is that its harder to cook larger pieces of food (like a whole chicken) but there are work rounds for this.

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