I recently made some big changes in my kitchen. The goal was to have better tasting food, faster, and with just the right equipment so I am storing fewer items. More space, better cooking, less time were the three mottos.
This article will cover the first acquisition, a hot air fryer. A hot air fryer makes food taste crispy, like it was fried, only it uses hot convection air instead of grease.
I shopped on Amazon to find an air fryer that had good reviews yet was small and reasonably priced. I always enjoy oven fried potatoes and sweet potatoes and think they are a very nice accompaniment to veggie burgers and many other dishes. Usually you have to bake the oven fries at a high temperature for 40 or more minutes. This makes the kitchen excessively hot and ties up the oven for a long time. I figured the air fryer would be a nice addition to speed up this process.
As I began to use my fryer, I discovered a few nice and surprising features.
The first surprise was that you can make all kinds of entrees and side dishes in the hot air fryer, like kale chips, fries, crispy Brussels sprouts, fried fish, or chicken, and many other items. The fryer handles vegetables very well. And it can make a whole dinner if you are willing to add items and take them out while cooking. There was no issue with stopping and starting its process. My first whole dinner consisted of fried chicken and oven roasted potatoes. The potatoes were done before the chicken, so I just took them out a little sooner.
The next surprise was how quickly the air fryer cooked the sweet potato fries and how it did so much better than the oven! You can see by my photo above that the sweet potato fries were puffy, crispy, and nearly identical to their grease-fried counterparts plus they contained zero grease. Cleanup was a breeze.
All I did was cut them up, throw them in the pot, and press the “chips” button. In 10 minutes, they were cooked perfectly and very crisp. This usually takes 45-60 minutes in a very hot oven.
The hot air fryer does a great job on many different kinds of vegetables. Small red potatoes came out very crispy on the outside while being soft and steamy on the inside.
Since the fryer cooks protein items very quickly (like oven fried chicken fingers) it is a good idea to allow your items to sit for a few minutes so that the protein will relax and not be tough. There is almost no steam left in cooked items so there was not anything wrong with allowing things to sit after it shut itself off.
I always enjoy a specialized appliance that can perform a specific cooking function without an abundance of attention. The fact that my fryer takes up a small footprint on the counter and has a timed system for cooking items is very good. The non-stick pan that comes with it is also very easy to clean. I give it a thumbs up for healthy cooking because you use a lot less fat and get a crispy outcome.
By Judy Doherty, BS, PC II
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.