13 Significant Advantages of an Air Fryer

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My wife recently got me an air fryer. At first, I wasn’t quite sure what it was, how it worked or why I would want one.  So that got me curious about the advantages of an air fryer.

Here’s what I learned in reading and through trial and error:

The advantages of an air fryer include being able to get foods hot and crispy with little to no oil. Reducing the oil, without sacrificing much flavor cuts a lot of fat and calories. But other advantages include being able to prepare healthy foods faster than baking and incredibly easy cleanup.

But there’s a lot more to get into about air fryers than that, so let’s explore ALL the advantages and disadvantages of air fryers and also answer some of the most asked questions.

If you’re looking to buy any small kitchen appliance, don’t forget to check out my Recommended Products Page (click to see my page) which breaks down all my best picks by category.

I always hand select items that I either own, have used, or have researched well to ensure they are great items. I also give not only top of the line as well as inexpensive alternatives so my choices work for any budget.

What is an air fryer?

Air fryers were first patented about 2005 but similar devices have been on the market since the 1990s.

They were conceived as a way to replicate deep frying without all the fat and calories that come from submerging food in hot oil.

Air fryers work by blowing hot air around the food that you drizzled a bit of oil on or sprayed on. As the air blows, it circulates the oil which results in a crunchy, crispy texture on whatever you are cooking.

Deep fryers create crispy food by using something called the Maillard reaction.

The Maillard reaction, named for French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard, refers to a chemical reaction among amino acids which give food a crispy texture and darkens the color.

Air fryers are able to replicate the Maillard reaction by covering your food in a tiny layer of oil as the hot air  (often around 400°) circulates around it both heating the food and creating the Maillard reaction.

Since air fryers are able to achieve the Maillard reaction, they are able to “fry” foods such as fries, chips, meat, breaded food, and vegetables using almost no oil compared to a deep-fryer.

Often air frying uses no more than a tablespoon of oil, and many times even less.

Are there different types of air fryers?

There are 2 main types of air fryers:

  • Paddle air fryers
  • Basket air fryers

The air fryer I have is a basket air fryer. There is a large metal vessel that sits in the air fryer and then a basket with a lot of holes in it that sits inside of it.

The holes in the basket are what allow the hot air (and a tiny bit of oil) to flow through and around the food that you place in the basket.

Most recipes for basket air fryers ask you to stir the food once during the cooking process.

Paddle-type air fryers, by comparison, are a little more “set it and forget it” since they will automatically stir the food for you while it cooks.

Because the inside food hopper has the paddle that stirs, these types can also handle sauces and other liquids that don’t work in a basket air fryer.

Generally speaking, paddle air fryers are a little pricier than basket air fryers. Since it’s not that hard to pull out the basket and give a quick stir, I’m not sure I see the cost being worth a paddle air fryer.

Is an air fryer better than an oven?

Ultimately these 2 kitchen appliances are totally different.

Each has different benefits, advantages, and disadvantages. The air fryer is ultimately designed to replace a deep fryer, not an oven.

That being said, there are plenty of things you can do in an air fryer that you might otherwise do in an oven. Not using the oven means:

  • No preheating the oven (no preheating needed in the air fryer, although some recipes suggest it)
  • Not heating up the whole kitchen (useful on those hot summer days)
  • Often seeing faster cook times
  • Incredibly easy cleanup (compared to cleaning up any messes in an oven)

Unless you have a convection oven, cooking food in the oven is essentially baking it. Yes, you can definitely bread chicken and bake it and often get great results

The downsides to using an air fryer instead of an oven are mostly around how much food you can get in your air fryer versus your oven.

Thus, if you want to make air fried chicken for 20 guests, that could take a LONG time in an air fryer as you’d likely only be able to fit 3-4 pieces at a time.

Is an air fryer faster than an oven?

As I mentioned above, the air fryer requires no preheating, so right out of the gate, you’re saving at least 10-15 minutes while you would otherwise be waiting on your oven to get hot enough.

Let’s use breaded fried chicken drumsticks as an example.

In an air fryer, at 375°, you could have your chicken ready inside of 30 minutes. In a conventional oven at about 350°, you would need to bake for 1 hour, turning the pieces halfway through.

Thus, the air fryer can save you up to 50% of the time it would take to cook the same items in an oven.

Can you bake in an air fryer?

The short answer is yes, you can bake in an air fryer.

In fact, on the web, you’ll find MANY recipes for cakes, pies, muffins, cinnamon rolls, cheesecake, and, of course, donuts!

As we’ve covered, air fryers work by circulating hot air around the food, not entirely dissimilar to a convection oven.  The air fryer my wife bought me is on the smaller side, so if I were using it to bake desserts, I’d be limited to something that could fit into small ramekins or a smaller sized pie dish.

BUT, there are some air fryers with ultra large capacity, such as the Tidylife 6.3 QT XL Air Fryer.

The Tifylife air fryer is AMAZING!

Dishwasher safe, free shipping, auto-shut-off, hundreds of outstanding reviews, and is big enough to fit a whole chicken in or a 9″ pie pan.

CLICK HERE to check current prices on Amazon.

Is the air fryer worth it?

Most air fryers are well under $100. Thus, none of them are going to break the bank.

That being said “worth it” really comes into play in terms of how often you’ll actually use it. As an example, I once had an espresso machine. I LOVE coffee, but you know how often I actually took the time to grind espresso beans and foam milk? NOT VERY OFTEN.

Thus, while the machine I had was great, it ultimately wasn’t “worth it” because I rarely, if ever, used it.

If, on the other hand, you’re really wanting to eat healthier and cut back on fried foods and you’re committed to taking the steps necessary to make that happen, the air fryer is totally “worth it”.

Just commit to reading some of the recipes that come with most, or get some online and make a point to use it at least once or twice a week until you become comfortable using it. Otherwise, like my espresso machine, it’s destined to just sit and collect dust on your counter.

Are air fryers toxic?

Most people buy an air fryer because they want to eat healthier. So it might surprise you to know that a lot of people also Google to ask if air fryers are toxic.

Ultimately the answer is no, there is no scientific evidence or studies that have shown air frying to be toxic.

The stories of toxicity originated over the concern over a toxic chemical called acrylamide which is suspected to be a carcinogen. It gets created when heating certain vegetables (such as potatoes) that contain the amino acid asparagine.

Thus, foods like french fries and potato chips, no matter how they are made, do contain trace levels of acrylamide. But they are also present is many other foods most of us eat daily:

  • Coffee
  • Cookies
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Canned black olives

Acrylamide and polyacrylamide are used to manufacture paper and plastics and are also a major component is cigarette smoke.

So while acrylamide is definitely something to be concerned about, ultimately the air fryer isn’t making things worse than any other method of heating vegetables that contain the amino acid asparagine.

Is an air fryer really healthy?

“Healthy” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Thus, some people wanting to be “healthy” eat a vegetarian or vegan diet while others go the opposite route and do something like the keto diet.

Ultimately the air fryer does save you fat and calories IF you were previously doing a lot of pan frying or deep frying.

If you weren’t previously doing a lot of frying then the air fryer may not be significantly healthier than what you may have been making before by baking, boiling, braising, or sautéing.

But if you are looking to cut calories and fat and cut back on frying then you will definitely find the air fryer is healthier.

Do you put oil in an air fryer?

The short answer is yes, but some recipes list it as optional.

But even when you do add oil, it’s often no more than a tablespoon or a quick spray from a can of spray oil.  Compared to deep frying where food is immersed in cups of oil or even sautéing or pan frying with multiple tablespoons of oil, an air fryer uses SIGNIFICANTLY less oil.

The best results from using your air fryer come by tossing your food with a little drizzle of oil or a quick spray, mixing thoroughly, and then placing in the air fryer to cook.

DON’T add oil to the air fryer, but to the food itself before you put it in the fryer.

What foods can you cook in an air fryer?

The air fryer is INCREDIBLY versatile and you can literally do everything from French fries to cheesecake and a LOT of stuff in between.

My family especially loves cauliflower and broccoli in the air fryer.

That might sound crazy considering my older 2 girls are in the tween years, but yes; they actually LOVE when my wife or I throw cauliflower or broccoli in the air fryer.

We just break into small chunks, toss with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and maybe a hint of spice, and then fry in the air fryer for about 15 minutes about 350° and they come out tender but crispy with a nice bite.

But that’s just scratching the surface of what you can cook with an air fryer. They also work great for:

  • Ravioli
  • Cookies
  • Lava cakes
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chicken tenders
  • Hard-boiled eggs

And, of course, french fries (both fresh and frozen) work GREAT in an air fryer.

No matter whether you’re using an air fryer or another cooking method on your fries, the oil you use DOES matter. So why not take a moment and review my post on the Best Oil for Frying Frozen French Fries (click to read my article).

What is the best air fryer on the market?

“Best” is a pretty subjective term.

Some are larger than others and some have fancy features others are lacking (like auto-shut-off). Most are dishwasher safe for the removable parts and most have a decent capacity ranging from 3 to 6 quarts.

But if we go off reviews, looking only at ones with 4.5 stars or better and eliminating any with fewer than 100 reviews or with more than 5% of the reviews being 1 star, one air fryer stands above the rest.

The OMORC Air Fryer XL, 5.8QT features:

  • 500+ reviews
  • An incredible star rating with only 2% negative reviews
  • An Amazon’s Choice product
  • Recipe book included
  • 7 cooking presets: fries, rib, shrimp, cake, chicken, steak, and fish
  • Dishwasher safe
  • BPA free

CLICK HERE to check current prices on Amazon.

But if you want to, check out all the Best Selling Air Fryers on Amazon (click to see their list) and see if one isn’t exactly what you’re looking for.

So let’s review those . . .

13 Significant Advantages of an Air Fryer

1. Cuts cooking time in half from oven cooking time

In a test, using an air fryer, at 375°, you could have chicken drumsticks ready inside of 30 minutes. In a conventional oven at about 350°, you would need to bake for 1 hour, turning the pieces halfway through.

Thus, the air fryer can save you up to 50% of the time it would take to cook the same items in an oven. That’s not even counting the time needed to preheat your oven.

2. Fries food with as little as 1 tablespoon of oil

Most fried recipes for an air fryer call for 1 tablespoon of oil or just a few sprays of spray oil.

By comparison in a deep fryer, your food would be immersed in many cups of oil or even pan-fried you would still use up to a cup of oil.

3. You can cook many items with no oil

The air fryer is a pro at baking and desserts and MANY recipes call for no added oil whatsoever.

4. Cooking regularly with an air fryer can save on buying cooking oil

If you were used to using a deep fryer or even pan frying and sautéing, you will be using significantly less oil than before saving you money at the grocery store.

You also won’t have to worry about disposing of large quantities of oil which can clog your plumbing.

5. Significantly reduces both calories and fat in your foods (compared to frying or sautéing

Air fryers use up to 90% less oil compared to a deep fryer. Thus, you will save you a significant amount of calories and fat when you air fry.

As an example, a small order of fries from your favorite fast food restaurant probably has anywhere from 250-400 calories and 2-4 grams of saturated fat.  If your typical diet is about 2,000 calories a day, an order of fries makes up an incredible 20% of your daily calorie intake.

Air frying, by comparison, cuts the calories by 50% or more (depending on which fast food restaurant’s nutritional data you’re using). Air frying those fries also gets your saturated fat down to about 1 gram.

6. Parts can go right in the dishwasher

Air fryer baskets pull right out of the dishwasher and can be quickly rinsed of debris and then go right in the dishwasher. Clean up can literally take under a minute.

7. Doesn’t heat up the kitchen like an oven

In the heat of the summer, even the best-insulated house can still heat up when you crank the oven up for dinnertime.

By comparison, the air fryer puts out no ambient heat at all. The unit itself is just slightly warm to the touch on the outside when it’s cooking.

8. Doesn’t smell up the kitchen like a deep fryer

Deep fryers cook your food at high heat and since they are typically open on the top and put out a lot of heat and smells, after a quick fry, your whole house often smells of fried foods.

If you fried up some fish tacos (yum), that smell could be much worse.

9. Splatter-free since the food is completely enclosed

The air fryer is not only incredibly easy to clean, but it makes virtually no mess whatsoever.

The food itself is completely contained inside the basket and so there will be no splatter, no oily residue, and no mess at all on the outside of the air fryer or on the countertop.

10. A great way to get kids to eat their veggies

As I mentioned above, my tween daughters CRAVE when my wife or I use our air fryer to make broccoli or cauliflower. We just toss the pieces with a tiny bit of oil, salt, and pepper and fry ’em up.

They come back for 3rds!

11. Super easy to use!

Honestly, our air fryer is so easy to use it used to make me think I was doing something wrong. Literally, mine just sets the time and temp and that’s it. Some of fancier ones make it even easier by having presets for specific types of food items.

There are tons of recipes online and almost every brand of air fryer comes with a recipe book too. There aren’t many devices that can have dinner ready from start to finish in about 30 minutes with almost no mess to clean, but this is one!

12. The perfect meal solution device for busy parents or college students

Air fryers are THE solution for busy parents tired and stressed after a long day trying to get a quick and healthy meal ready for the kids.

But they are also great for any busy people such as college students or seniors and of course, they are great for people who don’t like to cook since they are so simple, easy, and fool-proof.

Instant Pots are another fantastic meal solution for busy parents and people on the go. Instant Pot is just a brand name for a pressure cooker and you can literally cook chicken in under 5 minutes.

We just one of those last week, so if you’re curious about pressure cookers and Instant Pots, check out all the Advantages and Disadvantages of Pressure Cookers (click to read on my site) I wrote about recently.

13. They are versatile – from fries to cheesecake and beyond!

It would honestly be easier to compile a list of what air fryers CAN’T make.

They are a whiz at most meats and veggies. Things like ravioli get a great toothsome texture in an air fryer, but you can bake cookies, cakes, pies, cheesecake, and yes; donuts and so much more.

Honestly, if I had the room, I’d have 2 or 3 of these guys so I could have multiple courses going at the same time.

Did I answer all your questions about the benefits of air fryers?

In this post, I took a look at my favorite new small kitchen appliance my wife got me for Christmas; the air fryer.

I examined all the pros and cons, answered all the top questions people have about air fryers and listed all the top benefits of air fryers so you can decide if buying one is right for you.

I’m not sure I’d call an air fryer an essential small kitchen appliance, but it is starting to become indispensable in our house.

But if you’re just getting started setting up your kitchen, make sure and check out my post on the most important Small Kitchen Appliances (click to see my list of essentials) every home needs.

What’s your favorite recipe for air fryers?

If you’re looking to buy any small kitchen appliance, don’t forget to check out my Recommended Products Page (click to see my page) which breaks down all my best picks by category.

I always hand select items that I either own, have used, or have researched well to ensure they are great items. I also give not only top of the line as well as inexpensive alternatives so my choices work for any budget.


Love it? Share it!

Jeff Campbell

Jeff was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades and is now a recovering foodie. When he's not spending time in the kitchen, he can usually be found with his wife & 3 daughters, he can usually be found practicing martial arts, making music, or blogging on his other sites. Click to learn more about me

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