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I love to cook, and I try to be health-conscious in my cooking as much as possible without sacrificing the taste. I recently heard about air fryers (oil-less fryers that “fry” food with circulating hot air instead of oil) and wondered “Are air fryers worth it?” I decided to give it a try. I found an air fryer on Amazon at a great deal (unfortunately the one I use is no longer available, but these two models are highly rated: GoWISE USA GW22731 1700-Watt 5.8-QT 8-in-1 Digital Air Fryer and Ninja AF101 Air Fryer with 4 Quart Capacity). I almost couldn’t believe the claims that air fryers could cook crispy, delicious food without oil, so I set off on a test over the last few weeks. Today I’m sharing how air frying compares to deep frying, along with a few easy, beginner-level air fryer recipes that I tried. If you’re wondering “should I buy an air fryer?” like I was, or looking for some delicious air fryer recipe ideas, this post is for you!
Through Pinterest and Google searching, I found this recipe booklet for a different brand of air fryer, which helped me with some of the inspiration for the food I tried. In addition to the easy air fryer recipes I tried and am sharing below, you might want to download the recipe booklet for more recipe ideas.
Air French Fries (from Frozen)
This was the simplest thing I tried with the air fryer. I tried a few different kinds of fries (shoestring and thick, wedge-style), and both cooked thoroughly and were nice and crisp based on my air fryer’s built-in timing suggestion. The thicker fries required a few extra minutes, which I expected.
Fresh-Cut French Fries in the Air Fryer
After trying the frozen fries (which basically used the air fryer instead of the oven), I was eager to see how fresh-cut French fries would compare to deep frying fries in oil. To get a nice crispness, it is recommended you toss them in a small amount of oil (I used about a teaspoon) before putting them into the fryer. I chose truffle oil for this batch of fries, and finished it off with some truffle salt and Parmesan cheese after it was done. The texture and taste were perfect in the air fryer, but with so much less guilt than deep frying!
Crispy Air Fryer Spring Rolls
On Pinterest I came across this recipe for air-fried spring rolls. It was my first test to see if an eggroll wrapper could possibly crisp-up in an air fryer like it does when deep fried. Like with the fries, I brushed these lightly with oil (I chose sesame oil – yum!) before cooking. Again, it worked like a charm. They were surprisingly crisp for not having been fried! Since I used pre-cooked chicken, I didn’t have to worry about the meat cooking through, so I was just able to cook them until desired crispness.
Air Fried Wontons
With the success of the spring rolls, I was encouraged to try my own fried beef wonton recipe in the air fryer. These start with raw meat (you can use ground beef like I do, ground pork, or ground turkey). After seasoning them per my recipe, I wrapped them in a pre-made wonton wrapper then sealed them shut with some water. Like the spring rolls, I brushed the outside with a little sesame oil, and cooked them. Not only did they crisp-up nicely, but the raw meat cooked through without a problem. The ground meat did add some additional oil to the dish (as you can see in the photo above), but it didn’t feel nearly as greasy as when I deep fry them. The air fryer has a basket that allows excess oil to drain off, so the items didn’t sit in their grease while cooking.
Air Fryer Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp
I found this recipe in this online air fryer cookbook here, but really, no recipe is needed. I simply wrapped the shrimp in the bacon, and let the air fryer do its thing. It took a few batches (since the space in the air fryer is limited), but it was totally worth it. Easy and delicious, and the basket let the bacon grease drain off the food while it cooked. The meat cooked through thoroughly without issue.
Air Fryer Fried Chicken
The real test of air frying vs. deep frying was fried chicken. I recently reviewed Todd Wilbur’s Top Secret Recipes cookbook (see my review here), which included a copycat recipe for KFC’s Original Recipe Chicken. For this test of the air fryer, I tried some drumsticks in the deep fryer (on the left in the photo above), and one in the air fryer (on the right). Unfortunately the air fryer did not work as well for the fried drumstick. As you can see in the photo above, the outside does get a nice crispness and color. However, it didn’t cook all the way through as thoroughly as with the other items I attempted.
Should I buy an air fryer?
Overall, I am really impressed with how my air fryer works, and would recommend it. It has already replaced traditional deep frying in my house for fries and some of the items I tested above. Why would I go back to less healthy frying when I can have the same taste with a fraction of the oil? Additionally, one thing I didn’t consider was the potential cost savings. If you use a deep fryer, then you know how much oil it takes to use each time (and oil is not cheap). That is a non-issue with the air fryer.
Have you ever used an air fryer? Do you have any recipes or suggestions? If so, comment below!