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How Does an Air Fryer Work?

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Air fryers have become quite popular because of its ability to crisp up the food without the need of deep frying in the oil.

Are wondering, how is it possible for an air fryer to fry foods without oil?

If so, then you can find the answer in this article. Below, we have explained clearly how it works and it produces food with significantly lower fat content.

What Is An Air Fryer?

Air fryers are the mini version of countertop convection ovens that mimic the results of traditional deep-frying with less or no oil. They do not actually fry but cook the food by blowing very hot air onto it, giving that crispy surface outside. This small yet mighty appliance has increasing popularity for its health claims. Although they are not a replacement for conventional deep frying, they are the best and healthier alternative to it. Do you want to master your traditional frying techniques? Then you should definitely try an air fryer.

How Does an Air Fryer Work?

Let us learn the working mechanism and functioning of an air fryer in detail. Being a mini version of the convection oven, an air fryer works similar to it and uses the same technology. It consists of a removable bucket with a handle, a removable perforated basket, and a high-powered fan. The heating mechanism and the hot air from the fan allow the food to cook inside the frying basket. 

This is how it works:

  • Pull the removable bucket of the air fryer.
  • The bucket has the perforated frying basket in it.
  • Place the food inside this basket with a very small amount of oil.
  • After putting the food inside, tuck the bucket inside and turn on the appliance.
  • The fan inside the fryer blows hot air on and around the food, giving a convection effect.
  • This cooks the food by giving it a brown and crunchy exterior similar to deep-fried items but with less oil.

This is the reason why air fryers in surging in popularity. A few simple steps and your crispy French fries or chicken wings are ready. A perfect fried snack that looks crunchy outside but remains tender inside. Above all, it is a healthier cooking alternative to frying.

To make the understanding easier and simpler, we narrowed down the process into three simple steps. You can follow these steps for cooking almost all foods in your air fryer. Here they are:

Step 1: Add The Items To The Frying Basket

Pull the basket out from the fryer and place your items or vegetables in it in a single layer. Add some oil or seasoning to it. 

Step 2: Set The Temperature And Time

Tuck the basket inside and set the temperature and time on the air fryer. Depending on the item that you are cooking, set the temperature to between 350F – 400F with a cooking time of 5 – 25 minutes. Quick and easy!

Step 3: Time To Flip! 

To ensure uniform cooking, sometimes, you will have to flip the food inside your air fryer basket. Make sure you do it when you are halfway through the cooking time.

Follow those three simple steps and bingo! Your favourite fried food is ready in no time! 

The upside to air fryers is that they are a perfect option for quick cooking. They can reach high temperatures in a relatively short amount of time, making them a desirable choice for fast and easy weeknight dinners. And the best part, you do not require gallons of oil to prepare them. Also, it is easier to clean, although it has its own cleaning process.

Tips For Using Your Air Fryer

Here are some tips for using your air fryer. Make sure you follow them diligently to enhance the longevity of your appliance. 

Tip 1: Preheat before cooking

Here is tip one. Always preheat the air fryer before you start cooking. It needs to reach the correct temperature before putting anything in it, just like your oven or a skillet. Allowing your appliance to warm up before cooking will give you the best results.

You do not have to worry about the time. Because it is super quick and may take one to three minutes to preheat an air fryer. Contrary to this, your deep-frying technique needs a minimum of eight minutes for the same. 

Tip 2: Do not overcrowd!

Do not multilayer the food inside the frying basket. It will not give the best results just like your conventional frying. Overcrowding and adding too much food can result in uneven cooking. Furthermore, it may also take more time than anticipated for cooking. If there is a large quantity, we recommend cooking in multiple batches to ensure uniform cooking.

Tip 3: Flip While Frying

Just like in traditional deep frying, you need to flip the food when cooking in the air fryer. You might think you are frying with air. That may be true, but you should not brush aside this point when using a fryer. Place all the items properly in a single layer in the basket before switching on the appliance, and do not forget to flip it halfway through

During the initial usage of your air fryer, you can peek at the progress during the fry to ensure you are getting the results as expected. 

Tip 4: Clean Well After Use

This is the most crucial step that you should not neglect. When you are not cleaning your appliance for a longer time, the food particles may get stuck in the corners of the air fryer.

Over time, they can accumulate and cause hindrance to the appliance functioning. 

We recommend cleaning your air fryer inside and out after every use. Make sure you allow the device to cool down first before you start with the cleaning process. Refer to the user manual and follow the cleaning instructions properly.

What Foods Can You Make In An Air Fryer?

You can cook a variety of foods in your air fryer. However, it is dependent on how creative you are at this task. You can cook meat, veggies, some baked goods, etc., in your appliance.

Below are some of the popular air fryer recipes that you can try:

  • You can try vegetables like potatoes, carrots, squash, etc., that you can roast on a baking sheet.
  • You can prepare meat dishes like chicken wings, steaks, burgers, and hot dogs.
  • An air fryer is the best option for cooking frozen foods like French fries, chicken nuggets, onion rings, etc.
  • You can also try baked items like cookies, donuts, fritters, etc.

However, one downside is you cannot use food with wet toppings or liquid batter. This is because they drip through the basket holes and may create some mess. Hence, avoid using them. There is no restriction as such to dry-seasoned items.

Air Fryer Vs. Deep Fryer

Here are the basic differences between an air fryer and a deep fryer that you should know. 

  • As opposed to are fryers, the deep fryers require more oil for completely submerging the food. A tablespoon of oil or even no would do for an air fryer.
  • In the deep fryer, the oil penetrates the food, making the surface extra crispier and thicker. 
  • Since air fryers use little or no oil, some foods will be dryer than when cooking them in a deep fryer. 
  • Deep fryers are only for frying foods, and you cannot try other recipes in it. In contrast to them, air fryers can help in preparing various cooking types like grilling and baking desserts.
  • Air fryers are easy to clean because they use little or no oil. On the other hand, a deep fryer can be difficult to clean because of the large amount of oil it uses. Moreover, disposing of the oil can be a hassle, too.

If you love deep-fried foods and are not concerned with the health aspect then you can opt for a deep fryer.

If you want to have fried foods with less fat and are healthy, go for an air fryer. You may have to compromise a little bit with the flavour, though.

Are There Any Problems With An Air Fryer?

Although air fryers are durable and can withstand long, you may encounter some problems with them over time like any other appliance. However, these problems are smaller, and you can fix them easily. Let us take a look at some common issues:

A Lingering Odour

You may experience a lingering odour on your air fryer. This is primarily due to the leftover food or residues in the appliance that produces this pungent smell. Hence, it is essential to clean the device after each use. If the smell prevails even after cleaning, make sure you use warm soapy water to clean the fryer thoroughly. You can also use a slice of lemon to rub it over the basket or pan to remove the odour.

Bubbles Coming Out

Do not get anxious if you notice bubbles coming out on the non-stick surface of the basket or the pan. This may be because the coating might have got scratched by a utensil. Do not worry, as this non-stick coating is not harmful as you assume, and it does not even pose any health risk to you. We suggest you contact customer service immediately if you observe any bubbles in the lining. If needed, you can also ask for a warranty replacement of the device.

The Pan Does Not Fit Into The Fryer

You might encounter few instances wherein the pan or basket does not fit into the fryer. The primary reason could be stuffing the basket with lots of food. When you put too many items into it, the basket may not sit perfectly in the fryer. Remove the extra food from it, and you can always cook in multiple batches. Now, try checking whether the basket gets attached to the fryer or not. If not, remove it again and then insert it back to its position. Ensure that you hear that click sound when you are placing the basket. That is an indication that the basket is set in its place and properly fixed.

Discharge of White Smoke 

Have you ever noticed smoke coming out of your fryer when operating? It means excess grease got collected and deposited in the drip pan of the appliance. In such a case, the grease breaks down with heat, which gets discharged as white smoke. If you want to avoid anything, as such, we recommend cleaning the fryer after each use, especially after cooking greasy items like the sausage. Although the smoke does not damage the appliance, we suggest avoiding it. To clean the device, simply unplug it and allow the fryer to cool down.

The Food Does Not Cook Properly 

Is your food not cooking properly? Are you facing this problem frequently? If yes, then there might be an issue with the percolation. Sometimes, the food in the top layer absorbs all the heat from the coil and does not allow it to percolate to the lower layers. Hence, always cook the food in small batches and keep shaking the food halfway through cooking. This guarantees proper circulation and even distribution of food throughout the basket. 

FAQs

1. Is it ok, if I don’t use any oil?

You should always toss your food with at least a little amount of oil. Manufacturers also give the same suggestion. However, there are a few food items that require no oil while air frying. For example- chicken drumsticks with skin on. But most do.

2. Can I Use the Air Fryer for Non-Frying requirements?

If you do not have any other cooking appliance, you can use your air fryer for roasting or baking. Just remember to not expect the same results as you get in a traditional oven.

3. Is Preheating required?

Most of the air fryers brands advertise that their gadget doesn’t require pre-heating, but is always advisable to preheat it before cooking. An air fryer will take just 2-3 minutes to preheat and which is worth for ideal cooking.

4. Can Steel bowl be used in an Air Fryer?

As long as it fits inside the basket, you can use any microwave-safe dish, ovenproof material or mold made of glass, good quality ceramic, steel, silicone, and cast iron as long as it fits inside the basket. Paper molds for cupcakes and muffins are also allowed to be used.

5. What should I not put in an air fryer?

As mentioned above, you can’t cook foods dipped in liquid batter. Also, the food that requires wet heat cannot be cooked in an air fryer. The liquid can splash everywhere due to the circulation of hot air and it can also stick to the bottom of the air fryer, leading to burnt, chewy food.

6. Are Air fryers worth buying?

You can cut a lot of calories as the air fryers use significantly less oil than traditional frying. This is the major reason that you can opt for air fryers. Any day, air-frying is a healthier option than regular frying. However, if you have planned to serve the food for a big crowd (during get togethers), the size of the air fryer may spoil your plans. This is because you cannot cook a lot of food in one go. You will have to cook food in smaller batches.

7. Can I use Aluminium Foil in an Air Fryer?

Yes, aluminium foil can be used in an air fryer but you will have to be extra careful with it. These tips can be your saviour:
Avoid placing the foil on the pan, rather use the aluminium foil at the bottom of the basket.
Remember to not cook acidic foods like lemon, tomatoes and vinegar based items on top of the aluminium foil. It may result in metallic taste and can also leave its residues.
Keep the small portion of the aluminium sheet on the basket. Do not cover it entirely
Never place the food below the aluminium foil. Keep it at the top or else, it can get absorbed in the heating vent leading to a fire!

Conclusion

Here are the final words. A fryer delivers crispy fried food without deep-frying or pan-frying. For all the health freaks who do not want to compromise their favourite food, an air fryer can be the best solution. Being an alternative to deep-frying, you can enjoy the crunchy feast with a little oil. Now that you know how to use an air fryer, get started with the recipes and expect the crispy and tasty results that you would get from traditional deep frying.

Write to us in the comments section below if you find this article helpful. Let us know your thoughts and share your air fryer recipes with us. We will cumulate all the recipes from the different readers and have them in our new article. Leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you. 

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