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How does an air fryer work?

Here's a quick guide to help you understand the ins and outs of air fryers. If you want to understand more about air fryers, this article can help.
Updated on January 7, 2024 7:48 AM
Home & Kitchen

You probably saw air fryers popping around, in a friend's house or your aunt's kitchen, maybe on TV or trending on social media with easy recipes, or so it looks. 

But how does an air fryer work? It's a kitchen gadget for home cooks and beginners alike to revolutionize how you cook with less oil while still getting that crunchy yummy food cooked to a crisp. 

Air fryers become increasingly popular as it's a simple way to introduce healthy food to your family by just moderating the amount of oil you use. All while still cooking your family's favorite dishes and having them done in no time.

Our experts got together this guide to give you the basics and beyond so let's dive in and explore how you can take part in this healthy revaluation. Whether you're a home cooker or a beginner in the kitchen, this guide is for you. 

What can you cook in an air fryer?

Cooking in an air fryer is a great alternative to frying traditional deep-fried foods. The air fryer uses a convection oven to simulate the same effect of deep frying and significantly cuts down on the oil or fat that is usually needed.

This means air fryer recipes are healthier than traditional fried dishes - on top of being less time-consuming. Air fryers can cook a variety of foods besides just the staples like crispy french fries, and you can use an air fryer to cook burgers, chicken wings, fish filets, shrimp, lamb chops, and even desserts like cakes. 

If you are looking for a faster way to cook your favorite snacks or experimenting with new culinary cuisine, an air fry is a versatile kitchen tool to get that done with a crunch. 

Are air fryers more healthy? 

Air fryers offer an alternative to deep frying food with less oil. If you are wondering if air fryers are healthier than the standard deep fryer, then the answer is likely yes and no. 

Air frying uses less oil compared to deep fryers, and it cooks food faster than deep frying due to circulating hot air around the food. 

However,  some would argue deep frying still has advantages such as preserving flavor and texture in the food. In comparison, air-fried food does not come out as crisp as deep-fried food can. But not all will agree with that, it really comes down to your personal taste, how crispy you like your food, and the sound of crunch when biting into fried food.

You have to consider that foods like french fries are not that healthy and recommended but the air fryers work similarly to instant cookers so you can make fried food in a healthy version and still get that crisp we all love.

How is it different to cooking food in a convection oven?

Air fryers work by circulating hot air around the food to produce quick and delicious air-fried meals. 

The conventional convection oven combines warm air with steam to create an even cooking environment while an air fryer relies on intense, rapid air circulation to cook food with little oil. That means a healthier end product because it has fewer calories ( if you use less oil, you will consume fewer calories).

For example, air frying can produce crisp yet juicy fried chicken without deep-frying in unhealthy fats and oils. This makes air fryers an excellent alternative if you're looking for a healthier way to prepare your favorite foods.

Does an air fryer improve tastes? 

You probably wonder, as did our experts, if air fryers can truly improve the taste of food, the answer is a resounding yes.

Because air-fried foods are cooked rapidly at a high temperature, the process can impart a crispier texture, deeper flavor, and an excellent crust, that crunch sound we all love so much.

Additionally, air fryer recipes often incorporate herbs, spices, and other seasonings to enhance flavor - these ingredients might not be as practical for traditional frying methods. 

Another benefit is cooking with an air fryer gets the food ready quickly. 
Air-fried foods typically cook faster than those fried in oil, allowing you to spend more time enjoying meals with friends and family instead of prepping them and slaving over a hot stove. 

Can I skip the oil when I use my air fryer?

Air fryers offer healthy fried food with significantly less oil and fat. While this is certainly beneficial health-wise, it's still often tempting to ask the question: can I skip the oil entirely? 

The answer is a bit complicated. If you're just crisping up vegetables or pre-made frozen foods like fries or nuggets, then you won't necessarily need to use oil or other types of fat. 

 However, when it comes to raw food, spraying or brushing on a light coating of oil can help get your food crispy and evenly cooked. It will also add flavor. The good news is with the air fryer you don't have to go overboard with the oil. 


Can I use my air fryer for non-frying needs?

Many think of air fryers as a healthier alternative to traditional deep-frying, but air fryers are actually incredibly versatile kitchen appliances. While air fryers fry varieties of foods with little to no oil, they can also do much more than just that.

 You can roast, bake and even grill almost anything the same way you would in your regular oven. Roast chicken, create delicious homemade pizzas, caramelize vegetables and even prepare casseroles and other dishes -the possibilities are numerous, all with the convenience of an air fryer. 

Plus, some newer models are equipped with additional functions such as dehydrating or reheating capabilities. With an endless array of ways to use your air fryer, you'll find it's versatile and simple to use. Once you start cooking with it, it will become your kitchen's best little helper. 

Pro Tips 

Our experts got a few pro health and safety tips you should consider for air fryers:

User manual - yes, most people throw it after buying a new product but manufacturers give us the manual for safety reasons. Our experts recommend you at least browse through the instructions on how to operate it for the first time, how much space to leave to ensure the vent works properly, how to clean it, and more. 

How much oil to use - If you're frying frozen food like fries then you can probably leave the oil out, but for other dishes and recipes, a little oil will give you that extra crispy or another level of flavor for vegetables or carnivore options. You can use a little amount of oil and get that crisp without the extra calories. 

Aerosol oil spray - although it has become very popular to use to reduce the amount of oil while cooking when using the air fryer it can damage the non stick basket of the air fryer and release toxic fumes. Our experts recommend avoiding using the aerosol oil spray when using the air fryer. 

Not just for frying - get the most out of your air fryer and try out other cuisine techniques such as cooking burgers, shrimp, vegetable side dishes or main courses, desserts, and more. 

Best seller: 
Ninja AF101 Air Fryer that Crisps, Roasts, Reheats, & Dehydrates, for Quick, Easy Meals, 4 Quart Capacity, & High Gloss Finish, Black/Grey

helpful content air fryer best seller

4.8 out of 5 stars
41,637 ratings

According to our experts, this is the best air fryer that gives you great value for money without compromising the quality of the air fryer. You still get all the benefits of an air fryer, you can fry, cook, roast, and dehydrate.

Users find it easy to operate, love how quickly the food is made to a crisp and how simple it is to clean whether you're using a dishwasher or cleaning it yourself. 

This is a great addition to your kitchen, and you and your family will get a lot out of it and reduce your calories count, that's a bonus. 

COSORI Pro Air Fryer Oven Combo, Max Xl Large Cooker with 100 Recipes, One-Touch Screen with 11 Presets and Shake Reminder, Nonstick and Dishwasher-Safe Detachable Square Basket, (Black, 5.8 QT)
helpful content premium air fryer

4.7 out of 5 stars
68,564 ratings

According to our experts and users, this premium air fryer is loved and well-accepted. This model is considered to be a next-generation model meaning it cools 20% faster and is more comfortable to use.

The NTC sensor gives precise information and adjusts temperatures when needed so your food is cooked evenly, ensuring you get perfect results every single time. 

You can choose from 13 cooking functions and also modify the temperature and time for those family's favorite recipes. 

Users share they’re cooking with it every day. The simple use and easy cleaning are major advantages. The large capacity of the baskets that can feed up to 5 people in one go is another great advantage. It is also very versatile and can cook from meat to vegetables to deserts and for all of that it is worth its high cost. 


Budget friendly:
Ultrean Air Fryer, 4.2 Quart (4 Liter) Electric Hot Airfryer Oven Oilless Cooker with LCD Digital Screen and Nonstick Frying Pot, UL Certified, 1-Year Warranty, 1500W

helpful content air fry budget friendly

4.7 out of 5 stars
35,977 ratings

Don't be fooled by its compact size and low cost, this air fryer still gives you all the benefits of air fryers to enjoy a selection of favorite foods with less oil or fat. 

It also has overheating protection so you can use it safely. The air fryer is simple to use and easy to clean, and users claim they can't stop using it. 


If you're still here, you know the air fryer is a versatile cooking appliance to help you make a variety of foods quickly and easily. 

The air fryer is a great way to cook healthier without sacrificing taste or texture, then an air fryer is definitely worth the investment. With so many delicious recipes available online, you’ll be able to cook tasty meals in no time and with minimum effort. So get your kitchen little helper today and amaze everyone with your cooking skills. 


Watch What Your Kitchen Needs -Air Fryer!

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