Love fried food but don’t want all the unhealthy negatives that come with it? Then an air fryer might be the right choice for you!

This is the general marketing slogan that many air fryer sellers use to get people to buy their products. Whether it be from Phillips, Black and Decker or smaller brand, many are touting the health benefits of the air fryer as a way for getting people to part way with their cash.

But is it true? Are air fryers a healthy alternative to deep fried food or is it all marketing hype? Let’s take a look.

It’s a good idea firstly to understand how air fryers work. Simply put, they are like a convection oven but super charged. A heating element is located near the top of the unit that superheats air. This is then pushed down by a fan and circulates around the food. The food itself is placed inside a basket with perforated holes to allow for circulation. In essence, the air fries the food without actually having to put the food in oil.

Well, that’s not 100% true. Most air fryer recipes do recommend some amount of oil – typically 1 – 2 tablespoons that you can brush your food with to promote that oh so lovely crispy texture that we’ve all grown to love.

And that’s where the secret lies.

By using significantly less oil, an air fryer can cut down calories (and fat content) by something up to 80% when compared to deep oil frying.

Air frying also has other benefits. 

See, in the process of frying food, various compounds are created. One of them being acrylamide, which is linked to causing cancer. Although the research isn’t exactly 100%, there have been studies on the formation of acrylamide when air frying food instead of deep frying. One study found that air frying reduced the formation of acrylamide by up to 90% (on fried potatoes) compared to deep-frying. 

Of course, other compounds are created during high-heat cooking that may be associated with a higher risk of cancer, and unfortunately, air fryers don’t stop the formation of these compounds but they may reduce the amount that is created. 

Having said that, we wouldn’t bet on you choosing to buy air fryers simply based on this fact. While they do have several benefits over deep oil frying, they still come with the disadvantages that are innate to high-heat cooking.

But does air fried food taste as good?

This is pretty subjective and can depend on a persons individual tasting palate. The bottom line is that air fried food does taste different from traditional fried food. Whilst you can get a similar crunch from foods in an air fryer, the texture and feel can be different. It leads some people to exclaim ‘it’s just not the same’. 

Still, if you like fried foods and are wanting to still enjoy them but in a healthier fashion, then an air fryer is a great item to invest in.

Apart from the health benefits (but remember, too much fried food is never good!), an air fryer complements an active lifestyle.

One of the reasons for this is it cooks food at a lightning fast pace. There’s no real warm up time. Once the appliance is switched on, it’s ready to go.

Cooking a chicken drumstick? You’re looking at an average time of 20 mins compared to something like 40 mins in an oven. What about fries? Around 10 mins or so will be sufficient. 

Another good reason is versatility. From reading this article, you’re probably thinking ‘frying’ is the only thing you can do with an air fryer. Though that’s far from the truth. It is possible to also bake, roast and even grill, though be sure to closely follow any recipe. Here are some tips:

  • Cook at a lower temperature to prevent burning. It’s for this reason many air fryer recipes require a lower temperature than their oven counterparts.
  • Parchment paper or foil is handy to use to make removing food items a lot easier. Especially baked items that are more delicate.
  • For better results across the board, never pack the basket with too much food. Less is better as it gives enough room for the superheated air to flow and therefore provide an even cooking experience.

There’s pretty much a recipe for everything when it comes to air frying. You’re best bet is to try it out and see if you like the results.

Whether your fitness goals are to gain muscle, lose weight or simply stay fit and healthy, an air fryer can help you achieve that result. If you do decide to get an air fryer, be sure to check out Julia Sauvon’s roundup of the best air fryer reviews from Your Best Picks.