It’s the Internet’s new favorite kitchen appliance.
What if you could fry a whole chicken in less than a tablespoon of oil? That’s the elevator pitch for the air fryer, a countertop convection oven that promises crisp fried food with way less fat and mess. Instead of submerging foods in hot oil, you toss them in a thin coating of it, then put them in a sealed compartment that circulates blistering hot air all around. The air heats the oil, the oil cooks the food, and you get a fried feast without the hassle or cleanup.
Except for one problem: The air fryer isn’t a fryer any more than a standard convection oven is, and in head-to-head comparisons against real fryers and standard ovens, most testers rate the air fryer’s performance as pretty mediocre, yielding mushy or dehydrated coatings rather than fabulously crunchy crusts. As TASTE contributor Terrence Doyle puts it in his article, An Easy-Bake Oven for Adults. “If you want to eat a healthier version of French fries, try tossing some thin wedges of potato in olive oil and salt and roasting them.” But all hope is not lost if you buy into Ben Mims new book, Air Fry Every Day. He suggests using it for toasting various grains for salads.