air fryer
I Tried Cooking With An Air Fryer, and Here's What Surprised Me

I love the idea of easy and healthy cooking. So when the opportunity came up to try an air fryer, something purported to fry something without oil and make the cleanup process a breeze, I jumped at the opportunity. So how did the air fryer do? Here’s what I thought.

Air fryer basics

air fryer
A shot of the model of air fryer I used.

So how do these things work? Unlike traditional frying, which submerges food into oil, an air fryer circulates hot air around food. That leads to less oil and less mess too. For my purposes, I tried a Secura 4-liter hot air fryer to fry chicken nuggets and french fries — classics my kids beg for (and I’m sure yours do too).

The cooking process

I loved this part! It couldn’t have been more simple. All I needed to do was open the tray at the bottom, dump the nuggets in and shut the door. After that, I just set the temperature and time. Having suggested cooking temperatures and times labeled on the front really took out the guesswork of cooking. For the nuggets, I set the fryer for 15 minutes at 290 F. For the fries, I set it for 20-25 minutes for 290 F. Once the timer went off, I simply took the bottom tray out of the fryer, uncoupled the cooking basket from the tray — which admittedly was a bit tricky — and poured out whatever I cooked into a plate.

The results

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The finished products: Air-fried chicken nuggets and French fries

Cooking and cleanup with this thing was a breeze! Greatly appreciated if you’re a mom who has lots of other things on their plate (besides chicken nuggets). The nuggets were surprisingly good for not being fried, and so were the fries. For small finger foods like these, an air fryer like this is a godsend. However, I couldn’t put my finger on a terrible plastic smell that came from the unit while I was cooking. It didn’t affect the food at all, but anything that emits that bad of a smell while being used is something to consider before buying. The knobs aren’t the easiest to read, so messing up on timing and temperature might be a problem down the road.

The verdict

An air fryer isn’t meant to replace a traditional fryer or an oven. The size of this, or any air fryer for that matter, will be underwhelming for anyone who wants to make a meal for a family of four. I won’t be able to cook a full dinner or anything beyond chicken wings in this machine. Instead, I’ll be using this air fryer for finger foods (e.g., fries, fish sticks, or similar appetizers). The timer and temperature knobs are spring-loaded, which means they’re a bit clunky for someone like me who is looking for precise movements. That being said, I loved the minimal setup and cleanup this fryer gave me. Just pour your food into the tray, replace the tray, turn the knobs to the appropriate time and temperature, and go watch some TV. Simple as that!

An air fryer also won’t deliver the same quality of product compared to a traditional fryer, but it will do it without any messy or fattening oil. For what it’s worth, this is a great product that will cook finger foods quickly and simply. It’s a great machine for people on the go looking to feed a small party.

In all, I’m not going to mothball my traditional fryer anytime soon. But the easy cooking and cleaning times make this air fryer perfect for a busy lifestyle. The next time I’m in a pinch and I need to feed my family, you better believe the air fryer is coming out. Mozzarella sticks, anyone?

Do you use an air fryer? What do you cook in it? Leave a comment below!