What if you heard of a way to eat your favorite fried foods that made them taste just as delicious—with half of the calories and fat? You’d be totally game, right? Well, this isn’t just the stuff of legend. It’s (apparently) possible with an air fryer.
The gadget, which “fries” food with a small amount of oil and hot air to dehydrate and cook to get a crispy, has boomed in popularity in the last year. Google searches for the air fryer spiked this year in mid-November, coinciding with the Black Friday shopping rush. You can find literally hundreds of models on Amazon from a range of different companies. It even found a spot on Pinterest’s annual Pinterest 100 list capturing the trends to watch for 2018—with saves on Pinterest for “air fryer” up by almost 2000 percent. Woah. But is the hype really warranted?
Air-frying is definitely healthier than a regular fryer, says Natalie Rizzo, R.D. By slashing the oil amount, you’re able to save a ton of calories and fat. The exact amount is hard to pinpoint, because cooking preparations can vary by machine and by person, but: “A tablespoon of oil is about 120 calories and 10 grams of fat, and you’re using a lot less,” Rizzo says of air frying. And of course, traditional frying uses far more than just a tablespoon of oil. Most normal deep fryers use at least a quart of oil, says Rizzo.
With your air fryer, Rizzo says you can replicate pretty much any traditionally fried food your heart desires. “You can use to it to create a crispy coating on anything you would normally fry, like french fries, chicken fingers or even veggies.” It can also be used to make a great nut or oat topping to add some crunch to roasted foods, she says. All you do is brush oil on the foods you’re about to fry, and heat the device to the temperature degree you need. “It depends on what you are cooking, but usually the 300-400 degree F range is typical,” she says.
Still, though, it isn’t healthier than other non-frying cooking methods. (You are eating fried food, here.) “It makes chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks a little better for you, but they are still breaded, making them less healthy than eating grilled chicken or good old fashioned cheese,” she says. You also might run the risk of overindulging on foods that aren’t super nutritious (like fries) just because they’re made in a slightly healthier way than normal.
Your best bet is to use the air fryer on occasion as a treat, but not daily. “I think it’s good to not go overboard on the air frying and limit it to once a week. Otherwise, you may become accustomed to the taste of fried foods and opt for unhealthier foods more often,” she says.
via Are Air-Fryers Healthy?