When the Air Fryer craze began I was the first to say, “No thanks!”
I didn’t have room for one more appliance in my kitchen and most definitely not on my counter. And I didn’t really want to learn how to use one more thing. I LOVE my slow cooker.
Then my husband won an Air Fryer at a work Christmas party. Time to change plans.
Since I didn’t get to choose my Air Fryer there are definitely things I would change about it (like the non-stick aspect) which made me go searching to see what else was out there. I also polled some friends to see what they love (and don’t love) about their Air Fryers.
So, should you get an Air Fryer? And if so, what should you look for when choosing one? Let’s find out!
How an Air Fryer Works
An Air Fryer cooks food quickly by circulating hot air around the food at high speed. So it cooks the top and bottom at the same time, with even heat. This works well for fried foods or any food that you want browned or crispy on all sides.
The food is cooked in a basket or on a tray with holes so the air can flow on the top and bottom.
In addition, there is no need for large amounts of oil as in the traditional frying method. So an Air Fryer is a great option for those that don’t want high-fat foods but still want the fried flavor.
Is an Air Fryer Worth It?
When purchasing an Air Fryer, there are several factors to consider:
- Do you have space on your countertop or in your cabinets to store an Air Fryer?
- How often do you enjoy “fried” food?
- Do you have time to learn a new method of cooking?
- How large is your family?
- What type of cookware are you comfortable using?
- How often do you heat leftovers at home?
The answers to these questions will help you decide if an Air Fryer is a good fit for your family and, if so, what brand and model to choose.
Which Air Fryer is the Easiest to Clean?
Any brand of Air Fryer with non-stick coating on the basket is going to be very simple to clean. Most Air Fryers are made with a non-stick Teflon coating.
If you choose an Air Fryer with a stainless steel or ceramic basket, you may need to soak the basket after cooking to make sure it gets completely cleaned.
Air Fryer Vs Oven
I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Can’t I just bake things in the oven? Won’t it turn out about the same?”
Yes, you can oven “bake” just about anything. Honestly, it’s what I do most of the time. But it does not turn out the same as when using an Air Fryer.
The Air Fryer does give a better crispy outside and more even cooking on all sides.
Thankfully you don’t have to choose between the two. There are larger combination models that double as a toaster oven. Some also replace other appliances such as:
- Instant Pot
- yogurt maker
- convection oven
A combination model helps save space since you can put all of your other single-use appliances away! This is the way to go for many families.
A New Twist on Batch Cooking
Have you tried batch cooking? It’s one of my favorite kitchen hacks to save time while cooking real food, but my take may be slightly different than the ones you’ve seen before.
Instead of making large batches of food and saving them for later, I batch together kitchen tasks and link one night’s dinner to the next. Think of it as getting a head start on your next meal. The net result is time savings AND fresh dinners every night.
The current trend in meal prep seems to be focused on taking several hours on a weekend day to chop and prep veggies, cook meats, and then assemble the leftovers into a multitude of containers.
This is great if it works for you, but my family gets sick of eating leftovers all the time and I get tired of keeping track of all the containers in the fridge! Plus, spending 3-4 hours in the kitchen on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon is usually the last thing I want to do.
My Real Food Head Start 7 Day Dinner Plan provides a framework for incorporating my technique each day to save time on future meals and even start stocking your freezer if you want, while still making and serving a fresh dinner. The best part is, you use the time you are already in the kitchen – no extra prep day needed!
Do Air Fryers Work for Large Families?
Air Fryers can absolutely work for large families. The trick is getting the right model and choosing your recipes wisely.
Some brands offer 8-quart or larger options that have sufficient space to cook food for six or more people.
Just be sure to have your expectations set properly. You will likely not be able to make a full meal for a large family in the Air Fryer. But you will be able to make a component of the meal, such as the meat or the veggies.
Are Air Fryers Healthy?
In the Real Food world, this is sort of a trick question.
Is fried food healthy? It depends on how it’s fried and what type of fat you use.
Is using an Air Fryer healthier? It depends on your bio-individual needs and what type of fat you use.
Either way you look at it, the important factor is the fat. Are you using healthy fats like avocado oil, coconut oil, lard, and tallow, or are you using processed vegetable oils?
There is no harm in cooking with less fat by using an Air Fryer. But you do have to use healthy fats no matter what cooking method you choose.
What Air Fryer Should I Buy?
At the end of the day, choosing an Air Fryer boils down to a few key aspects:
- What materials do you want to cook with?
- How big of an Air Fryer do you need?
- Do you want a single-function or multi-function appliance?
If you want to avoid non-stick coating, that eliminates quite a few options…and makes the decision much easier!
Air Fryer Review for Busy Moms
The top picks with safer materials, multiple functionality, and capacity to cook for a family are:
- Yedi Total Package Air Fryer Oven XL
- Ninja Foodi (there are quite a few models to choose from. Just be sure you choose a model without non-stick pans.)
- NewWave Bravo XL
- Breville B0V860BSS Smart Oven Air Fryer, Countertop Convection Oven
- Cuisinart TOA-60 Convection Toaster Oven/Air Fryer
- Kalorik MAXX
- Oster Digital Oven Air Fryer
- Best Choice Products XXXL Air Fryer (recommended to me, but I can’t find it on their website or Amazon so maybe discontinued.)
Are you considering adding an Air Fryer to your wish list? Whether you are new to Air Fryers or you are replacing your old model, this Air Fryer review will help you figure out the right one to meet your family’s needs!
Then you can make delicious, kid-friendly (and picky eater-approved!) foods like chicken nuggets, sweet potato tots, veggie fries, and Brussels sprouts with bacon. Yes, an Air Fryer can even transform vegetables into kid-pleasing treats!