How Does an Air Fryer Work: Detailed working principle
The air fryer is a trending appliance in our kitchen, most people have at least 1 air fryer. You should know a meme ” clearly you don’t own an air fryer” said to someone who doesn’t own it. But most people have one question in their minds ‘how does an air fryer work’?. So, today, we are going into the research of the working principle of air fryers. You can learn about the nitty-gritty of the parts, mechanism, pros, cons, and do’s and don’ts of air fryers.
Here we go! First, let’s check its parts
Parts of an Air Fryer
Almost all the air fryers available in the market have three common parts:
- Air fryer base
- Air fryer basket
- Basket Base
Depending on the model, there may be additional parts in the appliance, but all the air fryers have these essential parts that perform the air frying function. The main component is the air fryer basket that holds the food you want to cook (french fries, chicken wings, fried chicken, or almost all frozen foods).
The basket has holes in the base or a metallic mesh that helps the hot air circulate evenly around the food and smooth the air frying process. Besides the basket, the basket base holds the basket and collects all the drips and residues.
The third integral part is the air fryer base that holds the basket and the basket base inside the unit.
That’s some basic information about the parts of an air fryer. Here’s some more on how all these parts work together:
How Does an Air Fryer Work, the Working Principle
So, is this some kind of sorcery that an appliance can crisp up french fries without using tons of oil? Well, No. It’s a pure scientific genius that Philips came up with. Here’s how an air fryer work:
The company utilized Rapid Air Technology in its first air fryer, which works on a principle called RUSH. It is an acronym for Radiant and Upstream Heating. The name reveals it all.
The appliance uses a closed chamber packed with two kinds of energy forces. One is the heat coming from the upward heating element, and the other is the hot air that forces the rapid heat to circulate with intense speed inside the fully enclosed chamber.
As a result, you get evenly cooked food in the basket that uses almost 80% less oil than your traditional fried foods.
So, is it only a good reputation, or are there any pitfalls in these compact cooking appliances? Let’s scrutinize a bit more:
What’s the Advantage of an Air Fryer? Pros and Cons of Air Fryers
Although most of us believe that air frying is the best way to replace deep frying with a healthier option, the appliance has some drawbacks. But before delving into the pitfalls, here are some reasons people are going head over heels for air fryers.
Air Fryers Save Your Precious Time
With an air fryer, you are saving yourself the most significant asset in the kitchen: Time. Air fryers make your life easier by cutting the cooking time and drastically lowering your cleaning time.
All you need to do is put the dishwasher-safe parts in the dishwasher once you’re done air frying.
You Don’t Need to Disturb Your Kitchen to Install Air Fryers
Besides time, air fryers use much less space than a full-sized convection oven. You only need a corner on your countertop to work with these beauties.
These Appliances are Expensive
With so much convenience comes a hefty price tag. We may argue that we always pay for good things. Still, the price range of the appliance doesn’t make it an affordable kitchen add-on for everyone.
Not Suitable for a Large Batch of Food
No matter how little oil an air fryer use or how tender and moist chicken air frying produces, an air fryer works only for small batches. You cannot cook food in an air fryer for significantly big families, so it’s not for everyone.
Before moving on to the handling of an air fryer, we will get to know the air fryer’s ancestors better (Yes, we are talking about those bulky convection ovens)
Air Fryer vs. Convection Oven
Air fryers and convection ovens use the same principle for cooking. They have a heating element and fan that circulate hot air around the food inside the cooking chamber. Both of them do not actually fry but brown the food through high heat. We have a detailed article about the differences here.
However, due to the small size of the air fryers, the heating element is close to the foods inside and gets crispier. The convection oven’s ample cooking space does not allow the heat to crisp up the foods like air fryers.
So, does imitation fried food use oil? Before answering that, let’s see the handling of the air fryers first.
How to Use the Air Fryer
It’s not a biggie if you use other kitchen appliances like microwaves. Most modern air fryers come with a digital display (or a manual temperature knob) with preset cook times for dishes like chicken, vegetables, or french fries.
You need to switch on the air fryer by plugging it in. Take out the basket to grease it with a little bit of oil and either place a piece of parchment paper over it (discussion over the use of parchment paper later) or put food directly inside the basket.
Choose temperature settings and push the basket inside the unit. You can check the temperature with a food thermometer during the cooking process.
So, that’s pretty much it with the cooking. Once done with cooking, you can take out the basket and put it in the dishwasher for cleaning.
Now, here are the details about the oil-or-no-oil question:
Do You Need Oil to Cook in an Air Fryer?
While you may need significantly less oil in an air fryer than in deep frying, you still need a little bit of oil in your frozen foods, chicken, vegetables, fish, or the monster cookie you’re air frying. All these foods will hardly need a couple of teaspoons of fat, and you will get almost the same results as the fried food you’re habitual.
How to Preheat the Air Fryer, What’s the Cooking Times
Preheating the air fryer is not necessary. However, if your appliance manual suggests so, go for it. The ideal way to decide the preheating time is to check the type of food you’re cooking. Preheating the unit is suitable for thick, raw food like steaks or chicken breasts.
On the other hand, with preheating delicate foods like cookies or french fries, you don’t need to preheat the air fryer.
About the preheating time, you must know the size of your air fryer. If it’s under 3 quarts, don’t go over 2 minutes of preheating. For bigger machines, 3-5 minutes are fine. Still, going through the instruction manual is mandatory.
Now, let’s have a look at some recipes for beginner air fryer users (that may or may not use preheating:
Air Fryer Recipes for Beginners, Air Fryer Cookbook
Here is a list of recipes that you can use if you’re new to air frying:
- Juicy air fryer chicken breast
- Air fryer falafel
- 4-ingredient air fryer Nutella brownies
- Air fryer potato chips
- Sweet and spicy roasted carrots
These are a few easy-peasy air fryer recipes that you must try, but get to know first what you shouldn’t be cooking in your air fryer to make informed choices:
What Should You Not Cook in an Air Fryer?
Air fryers do not deep fry. These machines are designed to cook quickly and dry out the moisture with hot air. Therefore, they are not suitable for all kinds of cooking. For example, you cannot put lightweight food items like bread or leafy greens inside the basket because they will keep blowing in the basket.
Moreover, battered foods like deep-fried chicken or deep-fried tempura won’t work in the air fryer because they will mess up the basket with their wet batter.
Foods that take much cooking space, like pot pies or whole roasts, don’t work well in an air fryer because they don’t get evenly cooked due to the heating element.
So, is all the food that we air fry, apart from these foods, healthy or well-cooked? We’ll answer that after looking at the cleaning of the air fryers:
How to Clean the Air Fryer
Here are some easy steps for cleaning an air fryer if you don’t want to use the dishwasher for the removable parts too:
- Unplug and let the air fryer completely cool down after cooking.
- Take out the basket and soak it in a solution made with water and dishwashing liquid.
- Once the residues soften, lightly scrub the basket with a soft kitchen sponge and rinse it.
- Clean the inside of the air fryer with a damp cloth with a bit of dishwashing soap to remove the oil residues.
- Similarly, clean the heating element by flipping the air fryer.
- After the wet cloth, use a dry cloth to dry the air fryer’s parts.
Now, let’s move on to the question of all the foods being healthy that we air fry.
Is Air Fryer Food Healthy?
Generally, air-fried food is healthier than conventionally deep-fried food. The reasons are less oil usage and preventing the harmful effects of deep-frying. However, according to WebMD, not everything inside an air fryer remains healthy.
For example, air-fried fish releases cholesterol oxidization products (COPs) which can cause coronary heart disease and even cancer, so air-fried fish is not a good idea.
Still, if you want to cook fish in an air fryer, use fresh parsley or chives with the fish because these herbs have antioxidants that can counter the COPs.
How Much Is an Air Fryer?
There’s a lot of variety in air fryers. You can find an air fryer for as low as $30 or pay the hefty $300 amount for some high-end brands. However, the average price range of the home appliance is $60-$150.
Is an Air Fryer Worth It?
Despite being a trending kitchen appliance, an air fryer is not a necessity. You can perform almost the same type of cooking as conventional cooking, but it will not save you time. The decision to invest in an air fryer should depend on your family’s size and lifestyle.
Even the most giant air fryers won’t work if you have a big family because they too have limited cooking capacity. Moreover, you may not need instant cooking if you’re a stay-at-home, so a conventional oven is enough.
Best 3 Air Fryer Reviews
Here are three air fryers that you must check out before making your final buying decision. We have put a lot of effort into picking the best for you, so it’s a must to click on the links.
Ultrean Air Fryer, 4.2 Quart
Ultrean air fryer works on the rapid air technology we discussed earlier and is a machine with a good capacity.
However, the Ultrean range of air fryers has some other giant machines like Ultrean 12.5 quart toaster oven air fryer.
So, while some people may complain about the capacity of the basket of 4.2 quarts, Ultrean has something for everyone in its range.
On the functionality part, 4.2 quart is convenient to use with a heat-proof handle, a non-stick dishwasher-safe basket, and an LED display with an automatic timer of 0-30 minutes.
One of the problems with the appliance is the air fryer tray that will mess up when you take it out after cooking.
Another thing is the users’ displeasure over the use of Teflon in the basket.
If you can handle these two pitfalls, Ultrean 4.2 quart is genuinely the best appliance that helps you cook food for up to four people within half the conventional cooking time.
COSORI Air Fryer Oven Combo 5.8QT Max Xl Large Cooker
If you want to exceed the amount of food you can cook in Ultrean 4.2 quart, pick the Colors 5.8 quart.
The square basket of the air fryer allows more food to go in, and the thirteen preset functions make the handling of the appliance a breeze.
While you may not have the luxury of dual baskets with this model like Cosori dual blaze 6.8 quarts, you’ll have a decent machine by spending $80 less, so that’s definitely a deal if you have 3-5 family health-conscious family members.
The controls are accessible with a single-touch LED display that has 11 preset cooks and a cookbook with hundred air fryer recipes that you can use.
However, many users complain of the unit going blank after a few uses, so beware of your return window if you encounter any such mishap.
Instant Vortex Plus 10 Quart Air Fryer
Big families should welcome their new rotisserie chef in the form of Instant Vortex plus.
The air fryer has a whopping 10-quart capacity, almost double the air fryers we have reviewed.
The competition doesn’t end here. This machine is cheaper than Cosori and Ultrean and has seven functions that you can run to air fry, broil, or bake, etc.
However, it’s challenging to find the correct baking setting (the racks can have varying results for different foods).
Other than that, most customers complain of a plastic burning smell when the unit is cooking.
Can you put parchment paper in an air fryer?
You can use parchment paper in an air fryer, but make sure not to cover the entire base of the basket, or else your food will remain undercooked. Besides that, do not use parchment paper while preheating your air fryer because the air will blow the parchment paper in the basket.
Is a convection oven the same as an air fryer?
Convection ovens use the same principle as an air fryer. There’s heat, and a fan blows high-temperature air inside the oven. However, the difference between the two appliances is their sizes and cooking results.
The convection ovens are huge, while the air fryers are suitable for countertops, and the air fryer crisp food more than the convection ovens due to their small size and better reach of the hot air in the cooking chamber.
Do chefs use an air fryer?
In commercial kitchens, there’s no use of air fryers because commercial kitchens are pretty well-equipped. In contrast, home chefs face the problem of storage space, so they go for compact appliances like air fryers.
Air fryers are a great way for home chefs to control their calories and cut their cooking times. These mini convection ovens work on the same principle as their bigger versions, but they are better in storage space and crisping food. For these qualities, if you want to own an air fryer, click on one of the above product links.
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Thanks for reading!
My love for food was influenced by my brother, a chef at a 2-star Michelin restaurant, and we often exchange food knowledge together. It’s been 12 years since I first stepped into the kitchen, and with my vast experience and expertise, I will share many ideas on how to make dishes more delicious!