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Avleen M.
Avleen M.Nov 13, 2020

Air Fryers Buying Guide

Looking for a healthier way to enjoy delicious, home-cooked food? An air fryer is a great way to decrease fat intake, while still indulge in our favourite foods. Read on for more information on the benefits of air fryers as well as important features to look out for, so you can make investing in a new, smoking hot air fryer worth it for you.

Air Fryers

How does an air fryer work?

Air fryers work by circulating heated air around food placed in a basket in order to cook it. Contrary to their name, air fryers don’t really fry food, but rather heat it evenly using a high-powered fan to circulate hot air. In this vein, they work similarly to convection, or fan-forced ovens

This includes the time it takes to cook food; while deep fryers cook food fast, an air fryer and oven have similar, slower cooking times.

What can you cook in an air fryer?

As a rule of thumb you can cook foods that are traditionally prepared using either a deep fryer or oven. These include the classic favourite: French fries, along with onion rings and nuggets. You can also grill foods like meat, bake sweet treats like cake, roast hard vegetables like brussel sprouts, and experiment with making crunch-worthy kale and sweet potato crisps.

Whether you’re a sweet or savoury person, there are plenty of great, free air fryer recipes online. Bear in mind that on some models, roasting and grilling may require separate air fryer accessories.

Should I buy an air fryer or deep fryer?

This depends on your food and diet preferences. If your focus is on food, taste, texture, and getting your recipes right, then skip the air fryer and buy a deep fryer. While it uses a lot of oil and is unhealthy, you won't get the exact taste and texture from an air fryer, and you risk drying out some foods.

If healthy eating is your goal, then an air fryer is a more healthy option. An air fryer requires you to put a small amount of oil on most foods, e.g. hot chips. Studies have found an fryer uses up to 80% less oil than traditional frying methods, and you’ll be cutting down on the fat and calories ingested through deep frying.

That being said, when you cook air fryer chips of the hot, crunchy and amazing variety, it’s still not exactly the most healthy cuisine, but the cooking method is cleaner.

Features to look for in an air fryer

Basket Size

Air Fryer

Air fryers cook food placed inside an included basket, accessed either using a pull-out drawer or top lid. The basket’s size determines the quantity of food your air fryer can cook. Capacity will usually range from about 1.5-7.3 litres.

Sometimes air fryer baskets store less food than the amount claimed on the box or in product specifications. Check the box for working or çooking capacity,if povided. If you’re cooking for your family or a larger household, visit a store to physically check the size of the air fryer you want, along with how easy it is to insert and remove the basket.

Also consider the size of the air fryer as a whole appliance. Depending on your storage space, a more compact model might be a smarter choice. If you have benchtop space perhaps select a neutral black or white colour to go with most kitchen design schemes.

Controls

Basic models of air fryers are typically operating using two dials, letting you manually set and adjust the temperature and time. These models are unlikely to have extra features like reminder alarms for turning food, so make sure you purchase a model with a timer you can set and forget for at least 30 minutes or longer.

More advanced models feature digital displays and buttons. Some monitor the cooking temperature, while others still have handy pre-programmed food settings for cooking your favourite foods.

Ease of Cleaning

While using less oil than deep or even shallow frying, an air fryer still creates grease during the cooking process.

The food basket is often designed with holes to let the hot air pass through, and they can become clogged with dirty food if not cleaned. Make sure you give your air fryer a quick clean after every use, and do some research into how easy it will be to clean a prospective new air fryer will be.

Many air fryers have removable dishwasher safe parts. If your model has a non-stick surface and you’d rather not risk it in the dishwasher, check that it will be easy enough to hand wash.

Manufacturer’s cleaning tips for your chosen model can also be helpful.

Noise and smoke levels

All air fryers will make some amount of noise, due to the movement of the fan during the cooking process. Some models are quiet, and others are almost silent. Generally your air fryer shouldn’t produce more noise than an air conditioner.

Your air fryer will also release some smoke during the cooking process, just like pan-frying would. Before buying, think about ventilation in your kitchen and the potential positioning of your air fryer to minimise smoke. Fattier foods cooked in an air fryer create more smoke than others.

Price

Air fryers vary in price from about $40-$600, depending on the make, model and any included extra features and accessories. Scroll down below to see reviews for cheap air fryers $200 and under.

Extra features and accessories

Not all air fryer models will have these extra features, and generally the more that are included, the higher the price point.

Cooking Features

  • Stirrer: A self-stirring air fryer uses a paddle to slowly stir food while it’s cooking, but it’s only suited to some food types, such as baked vegetables. Choose a model with an extra bowl minus the stirrer for versatility.
  • Rotating basket: TMore versatile than a self-stirring model, you can also bake, grill and roast food with accessories. Rotating baskets need less oil than other models, making them even healthier.
  • Adjustable thermostat: Most models have end timers, but some also have alerts to remind you to turn or shake your food.

Safety Features

  • Lid-lock: Secures the lid shut while the appliance is cooking, preventing hot ingredients from splashing.
  • Outer basket control: Lets you lower food into the oil while the lid remains closed.
  • Non-slip base: Prevents accidents if the air fryer is knocked during the cooking process.
  • Automatic shut-off: Turns off your air fryer to prevent it from overheating.

If buying in-store, our tip is to check product availability online, as some stores only carry one or two brands. Philips dominates the air fryer market, with most stores selling their models. Kmart air fryers are a cheap and popular alternative, with high ratings, too.

That sums up the information you need to know make a better buying decision on your new air fryer. Once you’re up to the stage of comparing different models and brands, check out our air fryer reviews to browse ratings and reviews, helping you find the best air fryer in Australia for you.