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12 Uses of an Airfryer: What to Cook and Other Functions

what are the different uses of air fryer

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The air fryer has taken kitchens around the world by storm and for good reason. This countertop kitchen appliance has changed how traditional baked goods, meats, snacks, and whole meals are prepared and cooked.

The things to make in an air fryer include fried chicken, dehydrated fruits, pastries, and hard-boiled eggs. Compared to traditional kitchen appliances, air fryers save time cooking food.  An air fryer can pre-heat in less than 5 minutes while a traditional oven takes 10-15 minutes. This means that air fryers are more energy-efficient than deep fryers, stoves, and ovens.

While you can simply utilise the air frying option, what you can cook in an air fryer is varied. Many air fryers have additional settings to make your appliance more versatile such as:

  • Roast
  • Dehydrator
  • Broiler
  • Bake
  • Toast

These functions increase air fryer uses and add to the list of what to cook in an air fryer. Below is a list of 12 uses of an air fryer and how to cook different foods: 

Fried Potatoes

Home-made or frozen french fries are popular food choices to toss into your air fryer along with diced potatoes or wedges. While an air fryer won’t yield the exact results as a deep fryer because air-fried food has been found to have different sensory and texture quality, it does a good job at making sure that potatoes are crispy on the outside but tender on the inside.

The air circulation that takes place in the air fryer at such a high temperature of 400°F (200°C) will cook the potatoes quicker compared to if the food were to bake in a traditional oven and with much less oil than deep frying. By using an air fryer, you can cut down on the harmful effects associated with traditional oil frying. When potatoes or other starches are fried, acrylamide, a chemical linked to cancer, there has been a study that showed that air frying lowered 90% of acrylamide compared to fried potatoes. 

Baked Pastries

Air fryers are great for baking small batches of pastries like cookies, cakes, cupcakes, doughnuts, and some bread because the cooking process inside an air fryer chamber is similar to a convection oven. 

Baking with an air fryer is easy and saves time compared to an oven but there are a few adjustments to make regarding pastry recipes. First, you have to bake in small batches and avoid overcrowding pastries in the air fryer. This will ensure that the desserts will bake evenly and at the same time in the pan or basket.

Convert original recipes to suit the air fryer. This means taking the original temperature that the recipe calls for (for oven use) and reducing it by 25°F (14°C). You will also need to reduce the original baking time by ⅕ (20%). Since air fryers are smaller and the hot air circulates faster because of the holes in the pan or basket, your pastries will cook faster because the contact between them and hot air is maximized. 

Check on your pastries every 5-15 minutes is recommended to make sure your food items do not overcook. Similar to baking with an over, rotate the pastries inside the air fryer to cook them evenly and check on your food in case they are done sooner than expected. 

Chicken

Though the air fryer won’t mimic the extreme crunch of deep-fried chicken or the char of grilled chicken breast, air frying achieves similar results with 80% less oil. Lightly spritzing chicken with oil and then air frying it will keep the chicken meat juicy and will reduce the total cooking time. 

Crispy Ravioli

This simple snack or appetizer cooks nicely in the air fryer in a matter of minutes! Spray or brush the ravioli with oil, coat the ravioli in egg, then dip the coated ravioli in breadcrumbs and place them into the air fryer one by one. Make sure to flip them at the halfway point.

Dehydrated Fruits

Dehydrated fruits are a healthy and easy snack to make if you have an air fryer that has a dehydrating fruit setting. Simply peel or slice your fruit of choice thinly, use the dehydrate setting, set the air fryer at 130°F (54°C), and dehydrate the fruits for 4 hours. Also, you can dehydrate meat for some beef jerky. 

Egg Rolls

An air fryer has the ability to cook egg rolls without the extra fat and without being too dry which is what happens when they are cooked in the oven. The air fryer makes cooking easy because you only have to flip the egg rolls halfway through and there’s less of an oily mess too.

Hard-Boiled Eggs

Air frying eggs is an easy alternative to hard-boiling them with no mess. Not only are air-fried eggs easier to peel than hard boiled eggs, but they are cooked more evenly because of the high heat circulation.

Popcorn 

You can control how much oil and salt to consume when making popcorn in your air fryer. When popcorn is air fried, it only takes around 7 minutes to cook and you have a lower chance of overcooking the kernels compared to making popcorn in a pot.

Roasted nuts and seeds

Roasting almonds and pumpkin seeds in your air fryer will roast these protein-packed snacks evenly. You’ll be able to reduce the chances of burnt nuts and seeds which happens when roasting in a pan. You can also save electricity by using a smaller appliance like an air fryer instead of a standard large kitchen oven. 

Zoodles

As a low-carb alternative, zucchini noodles have gained traction for those on a keto diet. When zoodles are pan-fried, they tend to become soggy because of the vegetable’s high water content. This is why an air fryer is able to cook zoodles better than a frying pan! Since the excess water finds its way through the holes in the pan or basket, the zoodles will be al dente.

Keep Food Warm

The “Keep Warm” setting is available on certain air fryers which can be activated after you’ve air-fried food or while you’re cooking or preparing other dishes. 

Reheat Leftovers

Using an air fryer to reheat food does not compromise the texture or quality of food. Conventional ovens and microwaves tend to make food soggy or alter taste and texture but air fryers preserve flavor and make food crispier.

practical uses of air fryers

What are the common mistakes for the usage of an air fryer?

While the air fryer is a multi-functional appliance, there are certain foods that do not cook well in it. When thinking about how to use an air fryer, the following foods should never be cooked in an air fryer:

  • Fresh, leafy greens: these vegetables can cook unevenly or burn.
  • Food covered in batter: the wet batter will drip through the pan or basket and be too heavy to crisp properly.
  • Entire roasts: while large proteins can fit in the air fryer, they will cook unevenly so opt for smaller pieces.
  • Cheeses: similar to the wet batter, the cheese will ooze and melt into a mess.
  • Raw rice, pasta, and other grains: not only will raw grains cook unevenly, but they’ll also just dry out and end up stale. 
  • Broccoli: this vegetable needs quite an amount of oil to get crispy which is why it’s best to saute or roast it. If you put broccoli in the air fryer without oil, it’ll turn to dust. 
  • Hamburgers: you won’t be able to achieve the right burger temperature in an air fryer because internally, the pattie will be medium rare but be soggy on the outside. 
  • Toast: air fryers cook food quickly and will simply burn your bread.
  • Dry rubs and loose seasoning: not only can seasoning end up at the bottom of the air fryer instead of on your food, but it can also be blown around by the hot air and end up in the nooks and crannies of your appliance.
  • Bacon: while bacon may seem ideal, it’s an incredibly messy food to put in the air fryer because of the amount of oil it needs and the likelihood of bacon fat being blown around. 

There are mistakes that cooks make which can compromise the food or the air fryer itself. The most common air frying mistakes include:

  • It is common practice to skip the pre-heating step but just like when you use an oven, pre-heating your air fryer will ensure that the food placed inside will start to cook immediately and not end up soggy.
  • There are different models on the market that come in different sizes, have various functions, and styles but people usually buy the wrong air fryer for their needs.
  • It is also a common misconception that you do not need any oil to air fry food but you should always use about a tablespoon to coat food before putting it in the air fryer. 
  • If you find your air fryer smoking, it could be because of the coconut or canola oil that you’re using. Opt for an oil with a higher smoke point.
  • Trying to stuff food in the basket, or overcrowding, is also common practice but when you do this, the food will not cook evenly.
  • People also expect the food to turn out perfectly every time without checking on it. Unlike an oven, you can open it up when the timer goes off, flip your food, and finish cooking it. 
  • You should also clean your air fryer as you would other kitchen appliances. More recent models have removable parts which make this easy so don’t leave bits and pieces laying around. Not only will they burn and lead to smoking, but it can also lead to food contamination. 

Air fryers are easy to use and convenient so avoiding certain food items and mistakes will prolong the life of this kitchen appliance. After cleaning the air fryer, maintenance includes storing the air fryer away 30 minutes after cooking to ensure that it is cooled down completely. Make sure that it is unplugged and that the cords are safely tucked away before the next use.

Keep this in mind the next time you use the air fryer and experiment with the food listed above!

air fryer usage

What is the history of usage of an air fryer?

Air fryers were introduced to the market 11 years ago. The rapid air technology that air fryers utilize has been used since the 1940s. The air fryer is a modern take on the same science behind convection ovens which use a fan at the back of the oven that circulates heated air around food to cook it. Air fryers can be traced back to 1945, where Willian L. Maxson invented the Whirlwind Oven which was used in homes and airplanes. This version of the air fryer was not advanced enough to heat up to 400°F (200°C) like today’s versions and was made out of aluminum and steel.

So what is an air fryer today? Utilizing the Maxon Whirlwind Oven’s basic structure of a fan to circulate hot air, Philips introduced the familiar egg-shaped air fryer at the Internationale Funkausstelung (IFA) in 2010. Today’s air fryers come in a variety of sizes and are usually made out of plastic with metal pans or baskets inside.

Does the use cases of an air fryer change based on type?

The use cases of an air fryer change depending on the air fryer type. While all air fryers fall under the countertop convection oven category, there are typically 4 types of air fryers to choose from air fryer ovens, basket-type, cylindrical basket, and paddle-type air fryers. 

Cylindrical basket air fryers, basket-type, and paddle-type air fryers usually have a drawer that has removable pans, baskets, or paddles which is where you place or remove your food. On the other hand, an air fryer oven’s interior looks are similar to a toaster oven with racks. Being able to hold baking and crisper trays is why air fryer ovens have bake, broil, and toast functions, unlike the three other types of air fryers. 

Which air fryer is best for cooking chicken?

The best air fryer for cooking chicken is the Cosori Air Fryer. This air fryer features a square basket which offers more space to cook bigger batches of chicken compared to its competitors who typically have round pans or baskets. This air fryer makes cooking fried chicken, chicken wings, chicken tenders, chicken breast easy with different settings for your recipes.

Does a convection oven have more use cases than an air fryer?

No, a convection oven does not have more use cases than an air fryer. An air fryer and convection oven have similar use cases; the only difference is that a convection oven is bigger than an air fryer and allows you to cook more food at the same time. The answer to the air fryer vs. convection oven debate boils down to personal preference. If you have limited kitchen countertop or storage space but still want to be able to roast, bake, grill, and fry food then an air fryer may be better suited to your needs. 

What are the other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to the air fryer?

Other kitchen appliances with different case use similar to air fryers include:

  • Toaster oven: This smaller version of a kitchen oven has the ability to reheat, bake, toast, and broil food.
  • Multicooker: This appliance is known to replace slow and pressure cookers because it can be used to boil, bake, fry, roast, steam, and grill food. You can set a cooking program to cook, reheat, or keep certain food warm.
  • Microwave: This electric box-like oven heats food with the use of electromagnetic waves which warms the food up quickly for consumption.

While these kitchen appliances are to the air fryer, these kitchen tools have unique use cases. You can dive into the 5 uses of these 3 appliances here. 

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