Recipes, Cooking tips and maybe some 'Home Made' secrets !
We got given an air fryer last year by a friend who had one but had never used it.
I wasn't sure if it would be much use but was happy to give it a try. It does potato chips pretty well and we have used it for roasting other vegetables. I also heard that you can make a pretty decent toasted cheese sandwich in it. I gave it a go, just make a cheese sandwich and stick it in, and was surprised how good it turned out.
I have heard that you can do other things with them. Any ideas???
How do you use one?
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I couldn't recommend one as such as we have only ever had the one we got given.
Here is a link to an Amazon web page for ours but I don't think it is made any more.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Signature-Grap ... B06XQ1LDTJ
If you've never had one before you probably don't want to splash out on anything too expensive as some of the ones I've seen are on the pricey side.
I've been giving air fryers some thought as they are said to be much more economical to use than most other types of cooking appliances, particularly with the price of energy / cost of living sky rocketing. I do have a halogen oven which is said to be very similar but it is so bulky that there is nowhere in the kitchen to put it (in the past, I've had to put it on top of the gas cooker hob) and if I was honest, I only use it to cook a chicken (the best way to roast IMO - the meat is lovely and moist and it has a lovely crispy skin) which is not very often. I have used it to cook the Christmas turkey / crown but the downside is that I like to put cooking bacon on the breast but it didn't work out so well using the halogen oven and was a bit of a faff.
I spent quite of lot of time googling and reading reviews - there really is quite a wide range from tiny 2L to very large (and very pricey). Several who bought the small size air fryers complained on several issues such as difficulty turning food over or getting it out or simply not big enough. To be honest, I was limiting how much I was going to spend so ended up buying a 4L one which had a better review (most of the complaints for this model were about the numbers wearing off the timer and temperature knobs so I'll keep an eye on that) It finally arrived last night (8.30 pm / August bank holiday Monday which I was not expecting)
Obviously I unpacked it as soon as it arrived and it is quite compact and ideal for my kitchen which is tiny. It came with a pan (well, it has slots in the base) and a rack. I can see how there might be issues getting food out and I think kitchen tongs will be required (which I don't have .... I think I might go on ebay and see what's available)
I also bought a recipe book. I wasn't going to bother at first but I had read somewhere that one of the issues with using an air fryer is getting the timings wrong. Also, I thought a recipe book might give me some ideas of what you can or cannot cook in an air fryer. The introduction was quite enlightening with recommendations (such as using kitchen tongs and getting a spritzer to spray oil on food) and explains how it works. So I'm looking forward to trying the air fryer out tonight (I've got some bacon but not quite sure what's going with it yet ...) and seeing how it goes.
im interested to hear how you get on. Ive had a small air fryer for a few years. We use it for chips & other small things that need fast, hot baking/crisping. DIL's mother was impressed with it & bought her own (bigger one) recently, which she uses instead of her oven for lots of things. She loves it & says its saving her money not having to use the oven. I have been thinking about getting a bigger one that's perhaps easier to clean - the one flaw in mine.
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I have to confess that I only used the air fryer for the first time last night - mainly because the meals for the past week didn't call for using it. Anyway, I had a pack of sausages in the freezer which I had put there because they were close to their use by date as I still had a fridge full of other stuff to use up first. So that meant I'd need to cook them all once defrosted (yes, I know I could have divided it into portions before freezing) - some for last night's dinner and the rest for other meals later. So what did I think?
For a start, all 8 sausages fit into the pan that comes with it so the size (4L) is probably alright for my own use but I think if I had a family, I think a bigger one would be better. I had no problems turning the sausages over using a fork but think a pair of kitchen tongs would be better. And the air fryer must be well insulated as it didn't get hot and could be moved after cooking (especially if work space is limited)
Some of the reviews generally for most air fryers is that they are noisy. I didn't find this to be the case - yes, it has a fan but no noisier than a microwave oven.
I do remember reading that it is better to set the timer to 5 minutes the first time when using to avoid burning food. This worked well with the sausages because I could just set the timer and get on with other food preparation and when it pinged, I could check on them and turn them over and reset the timer for another 5 minutes. The only downside is that if the food is cooked, there is no way to cancel the timer and you have to leave it to run down (my halogen oven is the same but you can turn the electrics off so it doesn't keep the heater on) To be fair, I didn't check if this was the same for the air fryer as I removed the sausages after it had already done the last ping.
As for any downsides - normally I'd cook sausages using the griller so I was able to compare the cooking. First, I don't think it was any quicker (I did 3x 5 minutes with the air fryer whereas sausages on the griller take less than 10 minutes) so economically, is not the cheapest way to cook sausages (other foods may be cheaper and I suppose it also depends on comparing the wattage as well) Secondly, the hot plates on the griller give the sausages more flavour (sort of chargrilled) whereas the air fryer didn't. I found there were hot spots - sausages at the back cooked quicker than those at the front, and any in direct contact with the sides of the metal pan. In this case it wasn't a problem because I just moved the sausages around when I was ready to turn them over, but it might be a nuisance if you had larger food items which wasn't so easy to move.
I realise this is an old post but to answer the question, it depends on the food and cooking methods. If you are cooking ready made food (for example, sausages or battered fish), then the fat content is already in the food so doesn't make it healthier. If comparing an air fryer (or griller) for cooking sausages, then some of that fat drains off and would be healthier than say, pan fried sausages. With chips - if you make them from scratch yourself, you only need a small amount of oil (use an oil spray or a pastry brush, or use a low calorie alternative) whereas if you buy frozen oven chips to use in the air fryer, they are already coated in oils of which you have no control of how much, but probably still "healthier" than deep fat fried chips. Hope that makes sense.
I recently listened to a BBC pod cast about air fryers. The series is called 'Sliced Bread' where they look at claims that are either the best thing since sliced bread, SB or the proverbial BS.
Anyway the up shot was they thought that cooking things like crispy chicken in an air fryer was better than in the oven but baked potatoes in the oven were slightly better. They tested power consumption and the air fryer was certainly better in terms of less cost.
We don't eat meat but do use our for thing like potato chips and spicy potatoes.
It's certainly not our favourite kitchen gadget, our so-called 'one pot' gets far more use but our air fryer does come in useful.
The halogen oven is often listed as an "air fryer" and I agree that using it to cook a whole chicken takes less energy and in my opinion, better than using a conventional oven (the skin is crispy but the flesh is lovely and moist) My air fryer would be a little too small to take an average size whole chicken but would be ideal for pieces.
As for baked potatoes ... I confess that I prefer to use the microwave. The main reason is the time (and cost of electricity) it takes to bake potatoes in an oven (12-15 minutes v an hour or more), but I also find the microwaved potato is more moist than baked though when I've bought ready baked (the cafeteria where I work do baked potatoes for a couple of £s - I don't often go there but on occasion when I've accidentally left my packed lunch at home, is very convenient!), and there is no doubt taste nicer than microwaved.
Friday is traditionally when I have a fish and chip supper (well, most Fridays) - I make my own rather than go to the chippy simply because of costs (using frozen battered portion in the combi oven, chips in the deep fat fryer) so I think I will try using the air fryer tonight ... shall I do the fish or the chips in the air fryer? I have ordered an oil sprayer and a pastry brush (to put oil on the food) but doubt they'll arrive today so perhaps I'll try cooking the fish in the air fryer this time round.
I didn't fancy deep fat fried chips on Friday and instead found some potato waffles in the freezer which I decided to cook using the air fryer. I removed the pan and left the rack on the bottom. I should have perhaps reduced the temperature and timings because the potato waffles were a little too brown.
On Saturday I had some croissants - even with reduced temperature and timing, I was surprised to open the drawer to turn the croissants over and find them already bit charred. Even the underside of the croissants had baked as the metal lining of the drawer had heated up. Yesterday, I reduced the settings even more but there seems to be a very fine line between under and over cooking. I had to reset the timer and keep opening the drawer every now and again to check. One thing I learned is that the timer keeps on going even when the drawer is open so when done, I partially closed it after removing the croissants so that the heating element didn't come back on and allowed the timer to run down on its own.
I'm still learning how to use the air fryer and deciding on the economics and ease of cooking for different foods. I tried the oil spray which was much easier to use than a brush (though filling the bottle with oil is something else as the screw fitting of the bottle is quite narrow), and the tongs are very useful (and essential) in turning food over in the drawer without burning myself so I'm pleased about those.
(i) despite everyone saying that air fryers make good potato chips, I was actually a bit disappointed. They took a lot longer to cook than in an ordinary deep fat fryer so I'm not sure if I would be saving on money using this method. Secondly, if there was a large portion, not all the chips cooked evenly (mainly because it was impossible to ensure every chip was turned over halfway through cooking) so I seem to get a mix of cooked and undercooked - perhaps I just needed to cook them for longer. Thirdly, I presumed the small amount of oil I'd used meant I didn't need to use paper towel after cooking to mop up excess oil (like I would normally do after deep fat frying) but think I would use it in future. The alternate I suppose is to use the low calorie spray. As for taste, the cooked ones were indeed very nice. I suppose unlike deep fat fryers where there is a risk of fire (to be fair, I don't know if this is common with deep fat fryers but was with the old chip pan on the hob), you can walk away and leave the chips cooking in the air fryer (and is also on a timer) while getting on with something else.
(ii) I cooked some chicken thighs and was very pleased. First I started them off on their skin side down (that is the fleshiest bit) and then turned them over. I had some different spices which I then sprinkled on top (I left one plain ... Lucas the cat is partial to a bit of chicken but I should add that he didn't get the entire thigh! Nor did he get the skin ...) and set the timer going. It took about 10-12 minutes cooking for each side (smaller thighs were obviously quicker, the larger one a bit longer) - during the first timer, the metal liner of the drawer had also heated up and started to cook the underside of the pieces by the time I turned them over. After the second timer, the skin was lovely and crispy (and the spiced ones were lovely) while the meat was still moist. Definitely a success.
(iii) Something I haven't cooked in over 20 years - in my previous house, I used to have a gas cooker with an eye level grill. When I moved, the previous owners to this house had put a built in electric oven and gas hob. Yes, there was a grill function in the oven but it took so long to heat up that even back then I thought it was too expensive to use. I've always used a grill especially for cooking meat like bacon, sausages, chops and so on, so to get by I bought one of those grillers (like the George Foreman health grillers) but of course I could no longer have a quick grilled cheese on toast. Well ... not only does the air fryer toast the slices of bread (almost as quick as a toaster) but took no time at all to grill the cheese (with tasty burned bits)
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