Do Air Fryers Really Live Up to the Healthy Hype?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Most of us never met a fried food we didn’t like. Whether it’s chicken, donuts, potatoes or something more inventive (fried cookie dough, anyone?), there's just something about that crispy, greasy deliciousness that epitomizes comfort on a plate. Unfortunately, all of that tantalizing taste comes with a fat and calorie trade-off, meaning it doesn't have much of a place in most weight loss and nutrition plans.
Enter the air fryer. This latest trend in healthy kitchen gadgets is taking the internet by storm, promising to fry food with up to 75 percent less fat than conventional fryers. Registered dietitian and nutrition consultant Dana White describes air fryers as a "turbo version" of countertop convection ovens. The machine uses the power of hot, circulating air—with little to no oil—to make crispy food in a short amount of time.
Do air fryers live up to the hype—or are they simply full of hot air?

What's So Great About Air Fryers?

The biggest and most obvious, selling point of air fryers is that they can make all of the standard fried favorites with little or no added oil, which results in a lower fat content than traditional frying methods.
Although White says an air fryer can help to cut unwanted fat and calories from your diet, the device shouldn't be regarded as a license to eat chicken wings day in and day out. As an added bonus, air fryers can often prepare meals faster than regular ovens.
Another benefit is that air fryers are compact and easily portable, plugging into any electrical outlet. White points out that they're ideal for camping, vacations, apartments, dorms or anywhere you need to cook in a small or sans-kitchen space.

What Can You Cook in an Air Fryer?

Almost any foods you enjoy in their fried state can be prepared in an air fryer—but there’s no need to stop at French fries and chicken fingers. As White points out, the machine can also cook non-fried, non-breaded foods, such as baked goods, egg dishes and veggies.
"As long as you know the proper cooking temperature and how to place the food in the fryer basket, you can cook just about anything in an air fryer," she said in an interview with The Food Network.
In fact, White is such a big advocate of the air fryer's versatility that she created an entire cookbook around it. Her “Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook” includes more than 100 recipes for healthier versions of traditionally high-calorie recipes, all of which are 500 calories or less per serving.

6 Tips for Using an Air Fryer

  1. Practice patience. Like most any appliance, there's a bit of a learning curve when using an air fryer as a beginner—but not a terribly steep one. "I had been known to occasionally overcook things when I first started using mine, but with a little practice, air fryers are very easy to use," White says.
  2. Always preheat. Use the built-in temperature dial to preheat the machine in seconds. This will help to ensure quick, even and precise cooking.
  3. Add oil to the breading. Moistening the breaded coating with a small amount of oil will help them stick evenly to the surface of the food for consistent crispiness.
  4. Be open to batches. White points out that the fryer basket in most standard models is a little on the small side, so if you're cooking for a crowd, you might need to prep in batches. "It’s tempting to crowd the air fryer basket with food, but it’s better to let the air circulate and hit the food on all sides for the best texture," she says.
  5. Keep it clean. Wipe out the inside of the machine between uses to prevent any residue build-up, which can potentially cause some smokiness.
  6. Invest in a pan. To expand your cooking options, White recommends getting a pan that fits inside the fryer basket.

Choosing the Right Air Fryer

One quick Amazon search will reveal an abundance of machines, with a range of bells, whistles and price points. Are all air fryers created equal, or should you splurge for a pricier model?
"There are many models out there, but I really love the Phillips Original Airfryer," says White. "It's a higher price point compared to some other brands, but well worth it."

Easy Air Fryer Recipes

Raspberry Yogurt Cake: The subtle sweetness of antioxidant-rich raspberries mixes beautifully with the tang of vanilla yogurt in this breakfast cake.

Image courtesy of Dana White Nutrition
Cauliflower and Cheddar Potato Skins: Pile on the cauliflower, sprinkle with a sensible amount of flavorful cheese and get the skin nice and crispy skin in the air fryer for a healthy alternative to this popular pub food.

Image courtesy of Dana White Nutrition

Sweet Potato and Jalapeno Potato Hash: Made with nutrient-rich sweet potatoes and some heat from fresh jalapeno pepper, this is sure to become a go-to snack or side dish.

Image courtesy of Dana White Nutrition
BBQ Wontons: Skip the high-calorie takeout version and prepare these healthier bite-sized snacks with chicken and veggies instead.

Image courtesy of Dana White Nutrition
Zeppole with Cannoli Dip: White recommends cooking the zeppole just before dessert, then serving with espresso and fresh fruit.
Image courtesy of Dana White Nutrition
Have you tried air frying, or would you like to?

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BEEJAY49 9/14/2020
I love mine!
KEITATP 9/11/2020
I love my air fryer!!! Report
AKA_TROUBLE 8/27/2020
I love my air fryer, but next time will get one that has multiple racks. Report
RACHAEL2020 8/3/2020
Chicken in the air fryer. Report
We love our Airfryer!! Report
XREPHA 7/15/2020
We love fresh salmon in the air fryer. 8 minutes to deliciousness! Yum! Report
USMAWIFE 7/5/2020
Thank you
GEORGE815 6/5/2020
Thanks Report
NENEBFIT 4/11/2020
I have one but have only used it for sweet potato fries so far. It was very easy to use. Report
LOSER05 3/30/2020
I LOVE my air fryer! It’s especially great for me as a single person! I don’t have to cook a batch and save for later. I can cook the small amount that I need for one meal. One day I mistakenly overcooked frozen vegetables! They were great like dehydrated peas, carrots, and corn! It cooks so fast! Report
MILPAM3 2/16/2020
I bought an air fryer when our kitchen remodel started, knowing it would be a very long time until I had an oven/stove again. DH doesn't like too many things on the counter, so I forget I have it and forget to use it. It uses so much less energy than heating a large stove. Report
FITWITHIN 2/16/2020
Love my Air Fryer's. I have 3 of them in the house. One was a recent gift. Report
Thanks for the info! Report
CECELW 2/15/2020
we have an air fryer. I've just never used it Report
APONI_KB 2/15/2020
I recommend looking at the cooking space size. We got one and it was too small to be worth the bother. Report
NANASUEH 2/15/2020
thanks Report
LJBOWSER1 2/15/2020
We love our air fryer. We have cooked just about everything in it. In fact we pack it in our camper so we don’t have to stick to grilling. Report
LEANJEAN6 2/15/2020
I want an air Fryer Report
PAMBROWN62 2/15/2020
I absolutely love my Air Fryer. It makes the best roasted veggies and is great for making low cal chicken finger and other meats as well. Report
BOOKNUT52 11/22/2019
We have one and love it. Some things do dry out but most things come out well. We didn't have any success with french fries, too dry even when we spray them with pam. But the things that work WONDERFUL and indeed way less oil. Less work and less messy too. Report
I've thought about this for a while as I love my kitchen gadgets, but I've bought stuff that I've used a few times and never used again and for this price point I need to know that I'll use it often for it to be worth it. Thanks for the information.

Edited to add: I did buy one and it lives up to the hype and I use it A LOT. Report
I think the word "fryer" may be putting people off. As the article says, these appliances also bake and roast, and in some, you can cook and dehydrate. We bought a Big Boss air fryer, primarily because DH wants to dehydrate veggies and fruits this summer. I use it often in place of my oven, for about everything. We don't eat commercially packaged/prepared foods very often, so their nutritional "values" aren't a concern for us. I've been homemaking our "fast food" for several years. The air fryer is handy, and for us, saves a little energy as we don't have to heat the regular oven nearly so often. The Big Boss air fryer does take up some space, maybe as much as a toaster oven. Give it a look online if you're interested. We got it on a flash sale at Wayfair for 49.99. Report
I’d rather oven roast Report
I have wondered about these. Report
the word air seems to be just a nice way of convincing people they wont use any oil at all, and that the foods cooked in these devices will be less fat and calories. if you buy a bag of mozzerella cheese sticks and cook them in this device, they will have every bit as much fat and calories as they would have if cooked in the oven. the oil adds a little but not that much. unless you are deep frying. dont be fooled, you will have less cooking time, less clean up time and maybe even less oil use but not that much difference in nutritional value of the foods you are actually consuming. Report
I agree the blog seems more like a commercial than informational.
I bought one on a pay plan thru a home shopping channel, it arrived, and is still in the box in my jeep, i plan to return it today.
i know many people say how wonderful they are and cut down on cooking time, etc, but other websites i have read reviews on give more diverse reviews, i will try to stay away from any kind of frying if at all possible, and the money will go back into my account, no harm no foul.... Report
Thanks for the information. Report
Interesting. Will have to check it out. Report
wasn't sure about air fryers but think i'll check one out Report
Thanks for the information. Report
Love my Actifry air fryer, chicken wings are delicious as are French fries and veggies. Would still like to have an air fryer with a basket though, it would be good to cook many more things. Report
Interesting. Thank you Report
My friend just bought one so I will wait and see how she makes out with it. I have just started to use my convection oven so I'll see how this works for me. :0) Report
Interesting! I'd heard of air fryers but assumed that there was more hype to them and that they weren't really all that healthy. I might have to get one at some point in time. Meanwhile, I love my InstantPot and will continue to use it for making many of my meals. Report
I love my air fryer and use it several times a week. I mostly fry veggies -- brussel sprouts, corn, cauliflower, potatoes, broccoli. Report
Up in the "air" not sure if I should try one or not? Report
thanks Report
sorry double entry Report
I'd like to try one before I invest. Maybe I will get one from the second hand store and learn with it then get an expensive one if we like it. Thank you for the info. Report
No more room in my tiny kitchen for gadgets, although it sounds great! Report
Thank you but I don’t think that I will try it. Report
Great information! Report
Great information Report
I was thinking about one and an Instant Pot too but I just don't have room to keep all these gadgets. Report
I've used my mother's nuwave and I love it I haven't tried to bake in it yet much faster way to cook if you work and still want healthy quick meal Report
It just might be the next big thing. Report
Thanks Report