Walk through this theoretical with me quickly (I promise, I will answer the question “Are Air Fryers Healthy?”).
It is late at night, and you can’t seem to fall asleep, so you flip on the television only to find there isn’t a thing to watch. Then you hear the famous last words “act now—limited time offer,” and suddenly you are sucked in and the latest victim of the hottest infomercial “bargain”: The Air Fryer.
For 4 easy payments of just $39.99 you can own a contraption that will take up valuable real estate on your kitchen counter, promising to replace your deep fryer, rotisserie oven, dehydrator, oven, toaster oven, pizza grill, and microwave.
But that’s not all.
Usually with your order you can get free shipping, which for me is huge—I am an Amazon Prime shopper, so I almost expect free shipping these days. Along with this, you can select one of several free gifts—usually a knife set or a copper pan. (The copper chef pan is money, by the way.)
But wait…there’s more.
Anything you can do in the oven—broil, bake, fry, grill, or more—you can do in an air fryer. Air fryers are multi-functional and more energy efficient. Air fryers don’t immerse your food in oil, which means the food is “healthier,” the clean-up is easier, and because you’re not working with a vat of hot oil, the process is much safer. You can even get your kids involved—bonus!
So how does it work?
According to the infomercial: The secret is the stainless steel “Air Flow Racks” and 1700 watts of 360° “Air Flow Technology.” Your food cooks on both the top and the bottom for that great crispy-fried taste and texture—without all the fat and calories!
Wait, what does that even mean?
Basically, an air fryer is a tiny oven that circulates super-hot air, usually up to 400 degrees. The shape of the air fryer and the fact that the air is contained and constantly moving means your food gets cooked evenly, so there is no chance of one side being more cooked than the other or in burning your food.
Some of the things I would consider to be in the win column are:
- You don’t have to preheat an air fryer—you literally just turn it on and go.
- You can cook several different foods at once.
- You can put frozen foods directly in the air fryer without thawing them.
- You can dehydrate fruits and vegetables for healthy chips (mom tested, kid approved).
- You can cook bacon perfectly in an air fryer. This was a HUGE selling point for me.
- The cleanup is literally a breeze. The racks can go right in the dishwasher, and the inside of the air fryer can be wiped with a paper towel or damp cloth.
So far, I have cooked the following and would recommend:
- Beef jerky
- Rotisserie chicken
- Chicken wings
- Potato chips
- Kale chips
- Apple rings
- Frozen chicken tenders
- Frozen fish sticks
- Frozen mozzarella sticks
I am really looking forward to making a cake this weekend, as I haven’t tested a dessert yet, and I will come back and fill you in on how it goes. If it is anything like the infomercial claims, I may need to loosen my belt.
But, are air fryers healthy?
Are air fryers healthy? As usual, that depends on what you are cooking in them. They are certainly healthier than deep frying because by omitting the oil alone, you are saving on boatloads of calories (mostly from fat). To put things in perspective, one tablespoon of oil contains roughly 120 calories and 10 grams of fat, and I am relatively certain one uses quite a bit more when frying foods.
In general, most folks are using air fryers to eat the same foods they would typically consume fried—I mean, I am a prime example (e.g., mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, fish sticks). I would say I am 50/50 on cooking healthier options as opposed to unhealthy options, but I tend to think of them as healthier because I am using the air fryer. This would probably be one of the main negative points—if you assume your foods are healthier, you risk consuming more than a serving size. I mean a French fry is a French fry, am I right?
Bottom line—air fryers are a great alternative to traditional cooking methods and are able to perform many functions, but when it comes down to the question “Are air fryers healthy?, they’re not much healthier than non-frying methods of cooking.