Air fryers are not actually “frying” your food at all when you use this small kitchen appliance. It is a technology that is closer to a self-contained convection oven. Most units provide you with multiple heating elements and fans that circulate hot air around your food. That creates a result where the drying effect of the heat will create a crisp outside with browning while you get the soft, moist results on the inside. It is a method that creates similar, but not identical, results to a deep fat fryer.
Most air fryers come with timer and temperature adjustments that give you precise control over the cooking. Your ingredients go into a cooking basket that sits on top of a drip tray. High-end models use a food agitator that helps to create a more even cooking surface, allowing the fat and oil to come out while providing a final result that is somewhat consistent with the deep fat frying process.
You can also select models that come with various features to give you more options in the kitchen, including cake barrels and pizza pans. If you’ve been thinking about the purchase of an air fryer, then these are the pros and cons you will want to consider.
List of the Pros of an Air Fryer
1. You’ll cook healthier meals that still taste fantastic.
An air fryer doesn’t need any oil to produce results that give your crisp, browned foods like French fries. As long as you follow the instructions from the manufacturer, you’ll get consistent results every time. Even if some oil is necessary to produce the high-quality final result, all you need to do is spray a little bit of healthy oil, like olive or canola, onto the items before proceeding to the cooking cycle.
You’ll find that you can make fresh or frozen onion rings, chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, and even sweet potato fries in a flash. Any of the excess oil just drains away. According to the Cleveland Clinic, some people can reduce their calorie intake by up to 80% just by using their air fryers.
2. Your cooking becomes more efficient with an air fryer.
When you use an air fryer at home, then it only takes a couple of minutes for most models to go through their entire preheating cycle. Most of the hot air stays inside of the appliance, which means you waste less energy during the cooking process. Since there is less temperature loss throughout the entire process, you will receive faster, more even cooking that promotes more crispness in the foods. Even frozen items cook quickly because of the intense effect that the circulating air creates inside of the device.
Because the hot air stays trapped inside of the appliance, you won’t heat up your house like you would when using a traditional oven. There is less electricity needed to cook your food, the cycles are shorter, and it takes less effort to get dinner finished.
3. Air fryers are surprisingly versatile as an appliance.
You can use an air fryer to make a diverse variety of foods. They will roast foods, steam them, or bake items if you want. There are roasting and broiling features included in many models. If you like a quick stir fry without a heavy amount of oil, then this small kitchen appliance is the perfect investment. Some models even come with rotisseries. That means you can grill a sandwich, make hot dogs, or even bake a whole chicken if your unit is large enough to handle the product. It does a whole lot more than replicate the deep fat frying process.
4. Air fryers will not take up a lot of space in your kitchen.
Most air fryers that are available today are about the size of a standard 12-cup coffee maker. You will find smaller models that are exceptionally compact so that they can work in a dorm room, kitchenette, or even an RV. Most of these small kitchen appliances can replace an oven for you if your situation lacks one while still being more useful than a traditional steamer or a toaster oven. You’ll discover that making a quick snack or an entire dinner with this technology is simple and easy, giving your kitchen a remarkable level of diversity.
5. Anyone can use an air fryer.
Most of the air fryers that are on the market today are designed to be very easy to use. All you need to do is set the cooking temperature, the time, and the food in the basket or container. You’ll want to shake your food a couple of times while it cooks to ensure that everything receives even temperatures. That’s especially important for items like nuggets or wings. Most kids can even learn to use this small kitchen appliance safely so that they can make snacks for themselves after school or help with cooking a meal.
6. It works wonders on vegetables.
When you look at the various lists that make up the pros and cons of air fryers online today, you’ll find that many people look at meats or fried items, like French fries, as the primary use of this device. If you have picky vegetable eaters at home, then you’ll want to consider using this small kitchen appliance to make your veggies. They will crisp up nicely – and your home won’t smell like the deep fat fryer for hours afterward. You won’t have the oil and grease to clean up from your cabinets either.
List of the Cons of an Air Fryer
1. The quality of your air fryer is dependent on what you’re willing to pay.
Most air fryers that you’ll find at stores like Walmart or Target are made from inexpensive metal components and plastic. Some of them may not handle a few months of consistent use. The fans, controls, or heating elements tend to wear out, rendering the product useless. Those pans or baskets tend to wear out most often, and you’ll discover that the print on your control panels or dials wears off pretty quickly.
Even top-end models struggle with this disadvantage, so you’ll want to invest in this technology beyond the entry-level unit to get the best possible results. Brands that have a reputation for reliability include Phillips, Secura, and Cozyna.
2. Air fryers take up space on your counter.
You will need to have some countertop space to take advantage of what an air fryer can provide. If your kitchen is small, then you might need to store this item in a cabinet. If you plan to use the unit every day for your cooking needs, then you’ll probably ignore this disadvantage. If you only use your preferred model once or twice per month, then the amount of space that it takes up might not be worth the investment.
Since some of them are fairly heavy, moving your new air fryer around can be more trouble than it’s worth. It could be another small kitchen appliance that you use a few times and then try to sell or throw away.
3. Most units are not ideal for a large family.
Most of the air fryers that are on the market today are well suited to providing meals and snacks for families of up to four people. It’s the perfect solution for a quick snack or a meal when you’re at home by yourself. If it is you and your spouse with four other children (or more), then you would probably want to invest in a true convection air frying oven instead of a countertop device. That means you’re stuck paying hundreds of dollars more to get the healthier foods that you want.
The largest units on the market today have a capacity of about six quarts. That’s enough to handle a main dish, but you’ll need to cook everything else in another appliance. Think of this option as more of a snack maker or an option if there are 2-4 people living in your home.
4. It does take some practice to get to know how to use an air fryer.
Air fryers are fairly easy to use. If you spend a little time with the owner’s manual, then you can typically figure out most of the commands in a few minutes. You will discover that your appliance has some of its own peculiar actions that you’ll need to figure out. Most recipes don’t consider this type of cooking either, so you’ll need to experiment with how long or how hot you should be cooking your recipes. There are plenty of online resources at your disposal that can help you to figure out some of these challenges, but it can take a little time for complex items you want to make.
If you get the cooking time and temperature perfect, then the outside provides a nice sear while the inside is flavorful and moist. It is very easy to overcook items in this small kitchen appliance, so the food typically dries out quickly. That means you’re left with something closer to a hockey puck.
5. There are some limitations to consider with this technology.
Air fryers might offer a significant amount of versatility to your kitchen, but their size and shape does make it a challenge, if not an impossibility, to make certain items. If you like frozen burritos or taquitos, then some models don’t have a basket that’s large enough to fit the item. Some models come with the option to make a pizza, but you might be limited to a 6-10 inch pie because of the design. Food will get stuck to the pan or basket too, which means you can have a challenging cleanup process to undertake.
6. Most foods need to be cooked in batches.
Even though many air fryers come with features like an elevated cooking rack, there is not enough space to cook for multiple people in most situations. You would need to have another appliance ready to make a side dish or enough of the main dish to serve everyone. That can make it challenging to get each person served at the same time. You might find yourself splitting one batch of fries amongst 2-3 people, and then making another one for everyone else who is hungry.
7. You need to wait for the unit to cool down so that you can store it.
Because an air fryer operates at temperatures that are equal to what your oven can produce, you cannot go into the device to clean it right away. It needs to cool down before you can take care of the unit. That means it needs to stay on your countertop before you have the option to store it as well. There are times, especially if you want something portable, where this disadvantage could be enough to make it so that this technology is not worth the investment.
8. You might miss out on the healthy fats your body needs.
Some people can start to think that they can eat fried foods every day because you’re removing the oil from the equation. If you eat a low-fat diet of air-fried foods, then you will deprive your body of the plant-based fats it needs. High-quality fat from olives and avocados are critical for your hormone balance and brain health. Since it is easier to burn foods in the air fryer as well, creating charring that could be carcinogenic, there are times when you may want to use this technology sparingly.
The pros and cons of an air fryer show that this technology is not for everyone. It works best for busy singles, college students, and small families who want snacks or a quick meal. If you live in a small space, then you can benefit from this unit. When you’re trying to support a family of six or more, then you might discover that it would require two countertop models to produce the results you want. Although that option might still be cheaper than a traditional oven, you’ll have double the cleaning and maintenance hassle to manage.
If you decide to purchase an air fryer for your home, then look for a model that uses BPA-free plastic for the best result.
Brandon Miller has a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a seasoned writer who has written over one hundred articles, which have been read by over 500,000 people. If you have any comments or concerns about this blog post, then please contact the Green Garage team here.