What can we cook in an air fryer? Is it healthier than deep-frying?
This may sound like an easy question to answer, but knowing what you can put inside your precious air fryer might be what will save it from getting ruined.
Because certain foods cannot be cooked in an air fryer.
What Is an Air Fryer
Air Fryer is a kitchen equipment that is significantly smaller than a commercial deep fryer.
It is called such because it utilizes hot air to cook or to fry food instead of using oil.
Due to this cooking process, you only need little oil or even none at all.
Does this process affect the taste and texture of the food? It does not.
In fact, for food like chicken, fries, and other similar oily foods, the result is a crispier and tastier exterior than if you would have deep-fried them in oil.
This is precisely why it is branded as a healthier alternative to deep-frying.
Are Air Fryers Healthier?
Deep Frying vs Air Frying
Let us now compare the two to see which one is better.
Of course, for those who are genuinely in love with oily and fatty food, then, by all means, go with deep frying.
For the benefit of this read, though, let us compare both of their features and results.
Unlike air frying, you do not need designated kitchen equipment for deep fry.
You can use a commercial deep fryer, but you can just also use a huge pan that can hold a lot of oil.
The cooking process is quite simple too.
You heat the oil to a certain temperature that corresponds to what you are cooking, and then once it reaches that temperature, you slowly put in what you are going to cook.
Most of the time, you do not have to flip it because the food is going to flip itself as it swims in the river of hot oil.
Moreover, the cooking time still depends on what you are frying, but the average time is seven minutes.
When it comes to air frying, all you have to do is to press a designated button based on what you are cooking, once the food is already snug inside.
Afterward, just wait for the air fryer to alert you that your food is done.
Some releases require you to add a little bit of oil, but most do not.
As for its cooking time, an air fryer is significantly faster than a deep fryer because the average cooking time is just three minutes.
With those features and processes alone, you can now decide for yourself which one is better, the deep fryer or the air fryer?
Air Fryer vs Deep Fryer - Health
In our quest to find out what can you cook in an air fryer, the "health talk" will always pop out.
We really cannot blame anyone as the main selling point of an air fryer is to be able to eat sinfully rich food without the "sinfully" part.
So, now, let us talk about the health benefits of using an air fryer.
Helps Cut Fat Content
As we have already discussed earlier, you now know that air fryer uses less oil compared to regular deep fryers.
For deep-fried food, it usually calls for three cups of oil.
With an air fryer, though, you only need a tablespoon of oil at most.
Obviously, this is a huge difference.
Using less oil does not add to the fat content of already fatty food.
At the same time, the food still has the same taste and texture, if not crispier.
Decreases the Formation of Harmful Compounds
To understand this benefit better, we should talk about Acrylamide.
This is a compound that is formed when foods that are rich in carbohydrates are exposed to cooking methods that employ high heat, just like deep frying or simple frying.
Accordingly, this compound is also a possible carcinogen.
More than that, this compound is also linked to problems with the kidney as well as ovarian and endometrial cancer.
The studies regarding this compound are mixed, but still, it is better to prevent this compound from forming.
This is why air frying is good because it lowers the risk of forming Acrylamide by 90%.
So, is air frying healthier?
The answer to that is both a yes and a no.
As we have mentioned above, the use of an air fryer is better than a deep fryer as it uses less oil and lowers the formation of Acrylamide.
However, the process of air frying can also reduce the nutrients present in the food.
Here are some examples:
- Fat-soluble vitamins: Vitamins A, D, E, and K
- Minerals: Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, and Calcium
- Water-soluble vitamins: B-complex Vitamins and Vitamin C
Additionally, having the notion that air frying is a healthier alternative can also be dangerous.
Because it can encourage you to eat fatty food often.
You will think that it is healthier because you are not deep frying it, but the fact is that you are still eating fatty foods.
As a result, you just might find yourself consistently air frying fries and nuggets, when before, you ate them less as it requires a lot of oil to cook them properly.
The Good and the Bad
We have already discussed some of the important aspects of using an air fryer, so let us give you a quick rundown of the pros and cons of using an air fryer.
- Less oil is used
- Easy to use
- Set it and leave it
- A breeze to clean
- Does not take too much space
- Can roast, grill, bake, and fry
- Makes crispier food
- Can maintain proper moisture
- Cooks fast
- Food can dry out easily
- Cannot cook large amounts at a time
- Uses a lot of electricity
- Encourages "dirty eating."
- Can still reduce nutrients
What Can You Cook in an Air Fryer
Finally, we arrive at the tasty part of this article.
Let us now discuss different kinds of food options that were made to be cooked perfectly in an air fryer.
A lot of people claim that an air fryer is not a substitute for an oven.
However, it can still cook the same frozen food that you bake and then broil in the oven.
Some examples are fish sticks, nuggets, frozen french fries, frozen chicken wings, and tenders, etc.
We are emphasizing French fries as we are sure that you will enjoy cooking these in your air fryer.
For some models, you might need to add a bit of oil, but to most types, you do not need any at all.
At the same time, you also do not need to defrost. All you have to do is to chuck in the frozen food.
Just keep in mind to toss the food about in the middle of the cooking process or you can also just give them a shake in the frying basket.
We are talking about chicken, pork, and beef.
These can be with or without batter. Moreover, you have options to fry, bake, or roast them.
It usually takes 30 minutes at 360 F to cook a whole chicken.
As for pork, when you go the roasting route, you will not be disappointed as you will have a crispy and perfectly brown exterior but an incredibly moist interior.
Also, if you roast pork, the cooking process can enhance the flavors.
For beef, meat patties are great to go in an air fryer. Steaks can also be cooked perfectly in it.
However, you always have to check them for your preferred doneness.
Do keep in mind, though, it is not recommended to add marinades or glazes while it is air frying as these can get sticky inside the fryer. You just have to add them later on.
Fish can also be cooked too, but it is not that recommended as fish can be very delicate and might break apart during the frying process.
So if you are going to use an air fryer to cook fish, better stick with salmon, or fish that has a thick cut.
The great thing about air fryer is that;
If you are going to cook vegetables as a side dish to your meats, you can chuck them in midway the cooking process of the meat to add some flavors to your vegetables.
However, if you are just purely cooking vegetables, instead of the fry mode, you can switch to grill mode.
Almost all vegetables are great in an air fryer.
However, try not to cook "juicy" vegetables for too long in an air fryer as it might erupt in the fryer; which will then make things sticky and messy.
So keep an eye on your tomatoes (yes, we know it is a fruit).
At the same time, it is better to slice them vertically for them to cook evenly.
As for seasoning, you can add dry the ones. Wet sauces are not that recommended though.
Cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cucumbers, carrots, potatoes, and mushrooms are perfect to be grilled in an air fryer.
Most air fryer designs have non-stick baking dishes.
Therefore, you can bake cakes or small muffins there.
Just make sure that what you are baking does not need any additional processes that might cut the cooking time.
If this is the case, you might find that your cakes might not rise, get overcooked, or even undercooked.
The reason behind this is that opening the air fryer disrupts the consistent heat that baked goods need to cook evenly and properly.
On the part of savory baked dishes, you can cook mac and cheese, lasagna, enchiladas, quiches, and the likes.
For more delicate desserts, though, a custard will be perfect in an air fryer as the tops should always be firm while the inside is creamy.
Almost all types of nuts can be cooked in an air fryer.
You can roast peanuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews, chestnuts, and more.
At the same time, you do not have to add oil because the oil from the nuts is already enough.
They usually take five to eight minutes to cook thoroughly.
For more flavor, you can switch to roasting mode, so you can smell how the flavor of the peanuts slowly develops. Also, a little smokiness pairs well with a nutty flavor.
Food with Wet Batter
This is the category that air fryers are popular for.
If you have a great air fryer, it is almost guaranteed that any food with batter on it will end up having a crispy texture.
There is just something special with an air fryer that perfectly makes the exterior fry properly, but still, maintains the moistness of the meat.
This will also work well with vegetables that are coated with wet batter. The inside will still be firm but with moistures kept in it.
As for the wet batter, it does not matter.
The base might just be flour and eggs, but it will still turn out fine.
Breadcrumbs? Why not? For this process, though, you would need to add just a bit of oil.
And, that’s it! These are the foods you can cook with an air fryer.
Now that you have more significant insights into what using an air fryer truly means, aren’t you just itching to own one?
Just remember to use this article as a guide for your future culinary delights!