These days it’s expected that our appliances are able to do more than one thing.
This is evident if you’ve read some of our reviews of pressure cookers. Not only are they pressure cookers, most can slow cook, cook rice, make yogurt, and do many other things.
If these pressure cookers can do this, should you expect the same from other small kitchen appliances?
This article will be answering that question in relation to air fryers. Specifically I’ll be looking at what you can cook with an air fryer.
First I’ll briefly go over how air fryers work. Then I’ll go over some of the items and cooking methods you can use with an air fryer.
How do air fryers work?
Air fryers work by circulating hot air through the cooking compartment. There’s a fan on the top that blow through a heating element down towards the food.
The food is in a tray or cooking basket similar to what you see in a deep fryer. Once the air hits the bottom of the air fryer, it is circulated back up through and around the food.
The air fryer gives the food a crispy brown exterior, similar to what you would get from deep frying. Its able to achieve this because of the high temperature or the air, which is about 392 degrees Fahrenheit.
The air fryer’s claim to fame is that it uses little or no oil at all to fry foods.
Frying with an air fryer
Because air fryers make foods similar to deep fryers, pretty much anything you would normally deep fry can be cooked in an air fryer.
All the favorites like french-fries, potato chips, chickens wings, can be easily prepared in an air fryer.
For most foods the only prep you would need to do is drying the food items, adding your choice of seasoning, and lightly tossing them in oil, or coating with cooking spray.
With an air fryer you can even cook foods with coat of breading. Using flour, an egg wash and breadcrumbs you can have an even better crispy outer skin to your foods.
The one area in frying where an air fryer falls short is when using a batter to coat foods. Excess liquid may drip and smoke if used in an air fryer.
Also because the air fryer is circulating the air at high speeds, the air can blow off the batter as well.
The issue of the high air speeds can affect a normal breading as well. So if you are using breadcrumbs you should press them firmly into the surface of whatever food you are cooking.
What else can an air fryer do?
An air fryer is similar to a convection of oven, so almost anything you can cook in an oven, can also be made in an air fryer.
The key to preparing foods, other than your typical fried foods, in an air fryer is usually the accessories.
One accessory that you will usually find for larger capacity air fryers is a rotisserie rack. This will allow you to roast foods like you would in small convection ovens.
Some air fryers are even large enough to roast a whole chicken. An added bonus is that because you don’t use much fat, the juices that run off the meat and collect in the bottom tray can later be used to may stocks or gravy.
Another accessory available for many air fryers is a grill pan. This can be used to easily prepare fish, vegetable or other meat. You can even make a grilled cheese sandwich.
Grill racks are also available. These are another great way to prepare vegetables. You can also purchase skewers and make shish kebabs.
One of the most surprising accessories available are baking dishes. Yes, you can bake in an air fryer. You can make cakes, bread, muffins or even casseroles like lasagna.
Even if your air fryer doesn’t have a baking pan available. Any oven proof baking dish that fits can be used as long as there is still space around it for the air to circulate. You should also place it on top of a grill rack. Placing it directly on the bottom of the pan will also hinder air circulation.
If you have a small dish that is save for an air fryer, you can even use your air fryer to make soup.
Is there anything you can’t do with an air fryer?
Air fryers have very few limitations. Like I mentioned earlier foods coated with a batter are not best for cooking in an air fryer.
In general, anything with excess liquid or that is wet should be dried before being cooked in an air fryer.
Other than that you can find an air fryer recipe for nearly anything. You can even cook frozen foods in an air fryer.
Things to remember when cooking with an air fryer
- Avoid using batters to coat food. If you are using bread crumbs, firmly press them into the surface of the food.
- Accessories can greatly expand your cooking possibilities with an air fryer.
- Drying off foods before cooking them in the air fryer will reduce smoke.
- Although you do not need oil, adding a small amount will help the outer layers crisp up and prevent the inside of the food from drying out.
The bottom line is that air fryers are pretty versatile. Almost everything you can cook in a deep fryer you can make in an air fryer.
On top of preparing fried foods, you have so many more options. Along with fried foods, you can also cook most items you would normally cook in a convection oven.
Also many air fryers come with accessories or you can find accessories sold separately to further expand your cooking options. If you want an appliance that can save you time and effort and give you the option of cooking a variety of foods, then an air fryer is the way to go.
To find out the differences between air fryers and convection ovens click here.