A standard oven is something we all had or have in our homes. Do you know that big box under the stovetop? Yep, that’s an oven. It uses gas or electricity, heats up to temperatures over 400°F (200°C), and you are using it for baking a cake or making pulled pork.
But can you recall the last time you used it?
In my case, I have been avoiding using my standard oven for a long time. The main reason is that it is big, messy, uses a lot of electricity and can be fiddly in making food for 2-3 people.
The thing that recently really blown my mind was the air fryer oven. Best defined as a small brother to a standard oven. It is relatively cheap to buy, cooks food exceptionally quickly, and uses so little fat. You can make fries faster than you used to use in a humongous oven. The result is that you spend much less money on cooking.
The last thing I thought you have to sacrifice before using an air fryer is food taste. Not true! The process of cooking using this oven is just like the normal one but uses much less fat.
In short, I can say that:
- With an air fryer, your food cooks faster than in a regular oven
- Air fryers use significantly less fat, so there is no need for oil or butter
- The main disadvantage of an air fryer is the learning curve it takes to master the cooking process
If you are interested in all the details of the air fryers, let’s dive in deeper a take a closer look at how to use them.
How does an air fryer oven work?
An air fryer oven is a small appliance that cooks food by circulating hot air around the food. There are three types of air fryers: convection, infrared and forced-air.
If you are thinking about the air fryer efficiency check my article about it with price comparisons here.
Convection air fryer oven
The most common type of Air Fryer is a convection oven. It uses an electric heating element to heat up fresh, moist warm circulating air (convection). You set the temperature, and it adjusts to it.
The temperature will remain constant as long as the food in the oven is not blocking the circulating air. The only disadvantage of this air fryer is that you will have to wait a little longer time for food to cook than in a forced-air fryer.
When food is ready, it will be crispier on the outside and softer on the inside than in an infrared oven.
Infrared air fryer oven
This air fryer is similar to a convection oven, but it uses infrared light to heat food. The advantage of an infrared air fryer compared to a convection air fryer oven is that you can cook food more quickly. The layer of fat will remain on the surface of the food. This process is known as “frying.”
However, there are reports that infrared air frying releases chemicals like acrylamide into your food. When air-fried, a small amount of acrylamide cannot be removed.
An infrared air fryer is healthier than a standard oven. But you can cook your food at low temperatures (below 350°F or 175°C), which will reduce the amount of acrylamide in food. Keep that in mind when you are cooking with an infrared air fryer.
High-speed forced-air air fryer oven
This type of air fryer works similarly to a convection oven. Still, it uses high-speed fans to circulate the hot air instead of the electric heating element. This oven will cook your food much faster than a convection air fryer (around 30% faster than a convection air fryer). Therefore the layers of fats and oils used in cooking will not be removed.
Which type of air fryer is better for you?
If you want crispy fries, no or little oil usage, and fast cooking time, then go for a high-speed forced-air air fryer oven. If you’re going to cook your food at lower temperatures (below 350°F or 175°C) and you are an expert in cooking vegetables, fish, chicken, and meats, then go for a convection air fryer.
How to use an air fryer oven?
Turn the knob to set the temperature. The air fryer takes some time to reach the set temperature, but it will stay at that temperature when it gets there. If you have tried using a standard oven, you know what I mean.
Modern air fryer ovens have a digital display that allows you to easily set temperature and time with just a few button presses. Once the desired temperature is reached, you can start cooking your food. Set the cooking time and press the start button.
Food will cook very quickly because there is a constant small amount of hot air circulating all sides of your food. It will take only a couple of minutes for your food to cook thoroughly. It takes much less time than in a standard oven which has more space for heat to circulate your food and due to its size it takes longer to cook anything.
It is almost impossible to get the temperature just right. It is a bit of trial and error. The problem is that the thickness of ingredients will be different every time. I have had my fun times in testing the perfect timing on steaks or dried meat.
For example, it is recommended to air dry meat for about 4 hours on 158°F (70°C). If you are drying thin slices of beef or chicken for 2 hours on 158°F (70°C), you will achieve a perfect balance between dried meat and a piece that has some slight moister and is easier to chew.
Also, you can cook food in an air fryer without preheating the oven. It is called indirect cooking, and it works well!
But pay special attention to meat as it cooks quickly at higher temperatures. If you leave it for a long time without checking, then your food will dry up, and if you leave it in there for too long, it will be burnt. But if you check on food from time to time, you will cook it to perfection.
After you have cooked your food, please turn off the air fryer oven and let it cool down for a couple of minutes. Then take out the food from the air fryer and remove any excess grease collected in the bottom tray.
That’s it! You don’t even have to wash your dishes!
What can I cook in an air fryer?
The air fryer is not limited to fried foods only. You can use it for cooking vegetables and even seafood like fish, chicken or beef. Here are some of the things I have cooked in my air fryer oven:
Apart from mentioned dried meat, I am making steaks, seafood, and veggies. Sometimes I even dry some fruit to keep some variety in my life.
Does an air fryer require oil?
However, the process of cooking with an air fryer is just like when you’re using a standard oven, but you use less fat. The main difference is that the food cooks faster. As we have seen in a previous section, an air fryer is a small oven. It heats up to temperatures around 400°F (200°C) at a faster rate than a standard oven.
Cooking with an air fryer is easy. You will need some practice in the beginning since the timing and positioning of trays are essential. But once you get used to it, you will find this cooking method much simpler and quicker than using a standard oven.
The main advantage of using an air fryer is that it uses significantly less fat or oil, as seen in a previous section. Therefore, there is no need to use much oil or butter when cooking with an air fryer.
Pros and Cons of an Air Fryer
As with any home cooking tech, there are pros and cons to using an air fryer. Let’s take a look at each one.
The pros are that you can cook food faster than you can with a regular oven. Less time = less oil use. Less oil use = less money spent on cooking, especially buying more expensive oils and butter from the market. You can cook fries and corn on the cob, meat strips, pork chops, chicken thighs, and all sorts of other foods with an air fryer.
The cons are that it takes some time to master the process of cooking with an air fryer. It’s not as easy as using a regular oven, but you will notice how much time and oil you are saving with this smaller cooker once you get used to it.
Another thing is the racks. This is the same issue as the standard ovens have. You will have juices and fat dripping from the racks to the opened air fryer oven door when you pull them out.
I have resolved this by putting a kitchen towel on the opened air fryer door so the juices and fat drain down, and I don’t have to spend extra time cleaning the air fryer oven.
The fourth thing is that the fan can get somewhat loud when you’re air frying your food. But this is not saying that it’s the loudest around. Also, you will get used to the sound pretty fast as it is constantly the same. It sounds like a huge fan 😀
All in all, an air fryer is an excellent alternative for anyone who wants to spend less money on cooking and still have tasty food at home.
What are the main differences between an air fryer oven and a standard oven?
The air fryer is different from the oven in the following ways:
- The air fryer isn’t limited to fried food. It can be used for various foods, from meat, chicken, and fish to vegetables and fruit.
- Cooking in an air fryer takes less time than a regular oven has taken, which means less oil use and less money spent buying cooking oils or butter from the market.
- The learning curve with an air fryer takes some time because timing is essential when cooking in an air fryer. Still, once you get used to it, it’s much faster than using a standard oven with its many walls that block heat from reaching your food at all sides.
- The air fryer can be used for indirect cooking, which means that you don’t need to preheat the oven every time you want to cook.
How much does an air fryer cost?
You can get a decent quality air fryer for $150 or even less. I had bought my air fryer for $129, and it’s been working just fine for the past three years. I like them big, so I got 16 quarts (about 15kg) in its size, and I can fit a whole chicken.
In my point of view, the air fryers are worth your money. If you are interested in why check my article about the worthiness of air fryers here.
It might sound like overkill, but I think it is better to have a sizeable air fryer oven than a smaller one.
A friend of mine has a tiny air fryer oven which is fine for him, as he is living by himself, but any party is a real problem. Into a small air fryer, you cannot put as much food at one time.
How to Clean an Air Fryer
To clean your air fryer, all you need is some water and vinegar. To make the inside of your fryer sparkle, try this trick:
Pour a quart of water and a half cup of white vinegar into the bottom tray and heat it for about 5 minutes on 400°F (200°C). Let it cool down to room temperature before opening the oven door, then pour out the mixture into the sink.
Clean with soap and water as needed.
The main thing you don’t want to do when cleaning an air fryer is put it in the dishwasher – unless it’s dishwasher safe! Now, this goes only for the whole unit.
Usually, the racks are dishwasher safe, so you don’t have to be worried.
An important note here:
If you are not messy like me and you will care for your air fryer oven, you can clean it with a few swipes of a paper towel.
“An air fryer is a great option for anyone who wants to stay on budget and still have delicious food at home. It has its pros and cons, but the pros outweigh the cons, so it’s worth trying out!”
An air fryer can be used for different foods from meat, chicken, or fish to vegetables and fruit. Cooking with an air fryer takes less time, meaning less oil use and less money spent buying cooking oils or butter from your local market.
Have I been able to answer your question? Is there something else that you are interested in?
If you have any questions or want to add anything, please let me know in the comments below.
Until next time I wish you happy air frying.