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Are air fryers worth it? You’ve heard all about them from your mother-in-law, the cashier at the grocery store, and even your mail person. They seem to be the trendiest appliance on the block. But are people excited by the novelty of air fryers — or are they actually worth the investment (and your precious kitchen counter space)? Here’s an in-depth look at the what, why, and most importantly, “should I?”, of air fryers.

What Exactly Is An Air Fryer?

An air fryer is a small, countertop oven that’s designed to give you the results of frying without having to submerge your food in a vat of oil. The heating elements are located at the top of the unit. You place your food on a perforated tray that is elevated from the bottom. A large, powerful fan then circulates hot air around food.

If this sounds very similar to a convection oven, you’re right. Air fryers are basically tiny convection ovens. But due to their small size, the size and placement of the fan, and the concentration of the heat source, they can heat up and cook food more quickly and evenly.1

What’s The Difference Between An Air Fryer, A Deep Fryer, And A Convection Oven?

Air Fryer

  • are air fryers worth it | Gundry MDFood is baked at a high temperature with air circulated by a powerful fan.
  • Quick to preheat due to the small size of the appliance.
  • Little to no oil is required, but a generous coat of olive oil is recommended for taste, color, and the potential health benefits.
  • Food comes out uniformly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

Deep Fryer

  • Food is cooked in a vat of oil (typically a highly-refined vegetable oil with a high smoke point, like canola oil).
  • The oil bath takes about 10 minutes to heat up.
  • A large amount of oil penetrates into the food.
  • Food comes out uniformly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

Convection Oven

  • Food is baked in a traditional oven, with heat coming from the top and bottom.
  • A fan in the back of the oven circulates air. This fan is not as powerful as those in an air fryer.
  • Takes some time to preheat the entire oven.
  • Convection ovens are larger, so it is easier to spread food out (which promotes browning and crispiness), and you can cook more at once.
  • They often don’t come with perforated racks (although some do), so you won’t get the even cooking and crispness that you would from a fryer.2,3

What Are The Pros Of Air Fryers?

You Can Choose The Oil

The main selling point of air fryers is that they can produce crispy, “fried” food without the use of excess oil. Deep frying typically uses a ton of caloric, unhealthy oils, like canola oil, peanut oil, or soybean oil. (These are all on Dr. Gundry’s “No” list).

With an air fryer oven, you still can (and should) use oil. Everything you cook in an air fryer maker should be coated in some type of fat to encourage browning and prevent sticking. But you can control the amount and type of oil you use. Coating your food with a premium olive oil before you cook it will give it a superior taste, color, and a host of potential health benefits that come from olive oil.4

are air fryers worth it | Gundry MDFood Cooks Quickly

Air fryers preheat within minutes, which really cuts down on cooking time. The fan on air fryers makes them very efficient at cooking. You may find that your favorite foods cook much faster in an air fryer. Your air fryer’s manual will likely have a guide with cook times for your favorite foods.5

It May Encourage You To Eat More Vegetables

Do you love the idea of roasted vegetables, but hate the reality of heating up your entire oven and waiting far too long for them to be done? With air fryers, you can create crispy, browned veggies fast enough for a weeknight dinner or lunch. When healthy foods are easy to make, you may find yourself skipping takeout and whipping up a batch of homemade crispy Brussels sprouts instead.

They Work Well For Reheating Leftovers

If you’re into meal prep, or you like to heat up leftovers, an air fryer might become your new best friend. While microwaves can lead to notoriously soggy food and ovens can take up to 40 minutes to yield results, air fryers are perfect for reheating jobs. Try running your air fryer on 350-400 degrees for 3-4 minutes for crispy, hot leftovers.6

They’re Great For Cooking Lectin-Free Foods

If you follow a lectin-free diet (or you’re interested in starting), an air fryer can be a great tool to get you cooking. Lamb meatballs, baked chicken, toasted walnuts, roasted garlic and parsnips – these lectin-free foods can all be made in a snap with an air fryer. If you’re ready to explore some new foods, an air fryer may be what you need to get motivated to cook again.

What Are Some Cons Of Air Fryers?

They’re Not “Set It And Forget It”

If you’re used to an Instant Pot where you add your food, turn the dial, and wait for the beep, you may have to get used to more active cooking with an air fryer. Air frying takes a little bit of work. The heat from an air fryer maker comes down from the top, so you’ll still need to flip meat and shake vegetables to ensure even cooking.

are air fryers worth it | Gundry MD

They Only Cook A Small Amount Of Food At Once

Air fryers work best if you are cooking for 2-4 people. The capacity of different air fryer models runs from 2 quarts to 6 quarts, which still isn’t very big if you’re cooking for a whole family. Also, when using an air fryer, it’s best to spread food out in only one layer (not stacked) so it can evenly brown. If you wanted to cook multiple things at once, say some chicken breasts and broccoli florets, you may have to do multiple batches.7

The Fan Can Be Loud

That big, powerful fan – the thing that makes air fryers unique? It’s loud. The level of sound varies from model to model, but if you are sensitive to noise, it may bother you. When you are shopping for an air fryer, be sure to check out the level of decibels it makes while cooking. Most companies will list that in the product information.8

May Encourage Junk Food Eating

Frozen foods, like tater tots and fish sticks, will crisp up beautifully in an air fryer, but they aren’t exactly the healthiest choices. The convenience of an air fryer is a double-edged sword. It only takes a few minutes to cook fresh broccoli. But then again, it only takes a few minutes to cook mozzarella sticks, too.

You know yourself best. If you think you’ll be tempted to use your air fryer as a glorified crisper for processed foods, you may want to hold off on getting one.

Lectin-Free Air Fryer Recipes To Try

So, you have an air fryer or you’re ready to try one of these things out? Fun! Here are some lectin-free air fryer recipes to give you some cooking inspiration.

are air fryers worth it | Gundry MDAir Fryer Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of organic Brussels sprouts
  • ½ cup Polyphenol-rich olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat your air fryer at 390 degrees for 5 minutes.
  2. Trim and quarter the Brussels sprouts, and place them in a large bowl.
  3. Pour olive oil and salt over the sprouts, mix.
  4. Add the sprouts to the air fryer basket. Cook until crispy, about 18 minutes, shaking the basket about halfway through.
  5. Transfer to a serving plate, and top with cheese and lemon zest.9

Air Fryer Brined Chicken Breasts

Ingredients

  • Pasture-raised chicken breasts
  • Polyphenol-rich olive oil
  • Blend of spices, such as paprika, garlic, onion powder, and black pepper
  • Sea salt

Directions

  1. Place the chicken in a large bowl, and sprinkle it with sea salt.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to brine the chicken.
  3. When you’re ready to cook, take out the chicken and let it come to room temperature.
  4. Preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees for 5 minutes.
  5. Pour olive oil and your spice mixture over the chicken.
  6. Cook the chicken for 10-15 minutes, flipping once halfway through.10

If You Like To Cook, You Might Love An Air Fryer

If you’re an air fryer person, you probably already know it. You’re the type of person who gets excited by a new kitchen gadget. You probably enjoy cooking, but you’re wanting a little inspiration. Or maybe your current lifestyle is making it difficult to cook as much as you’d like. Air fryers can be a fun way to spice things up in the kitchen, get excited about some new foods, and try some new recipes. If this sounds good, you just might love an air fryer.

Sources
1. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/appliances/a28436830/what-is-an-air-fryer/
2. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/appliances/a28436830/what-is-an-air-fryer/
3. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/appliances/a33403402/air-fryer-vs-convection-oven/
4. https://www.bonappetit.com/story/best-air-fryer
5. https://www.simplyrecipes.com/how_to_use_an_air_fryer_a_first_timers_guide/
6. https://www.everydayfamilycooking.com/air-fryer-mistakes/
7. https://www.nbcnews.com/select/lifestyle/i-loved-everything-i-cooked-my-new-air-fryer-what-ncna1126056
8. https://www.nbcnews.com/select/lifestyle/i-loved-everything-i-cooked-my-new-air-fryer-what-ncna1126056
9. https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/air-fryer-brussels-sprouts-5565493
10. https://www.wellplated.com/air-fryer-chicken-breast/

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