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What is an air fryer and how does it work?

Get healthier chips, cakes, curries... just about everything!


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Air fryers are big news at the moment and everybody wants one. So what’s all the fuss about? One of the big pluses is that they’re relatively cheap to run - costing a lot less to use than a conventional oven. Another tick is that they use little or no oil - so will help with those New Year health and fitness goals. In this guide, we give you a great intro to air fryers and help you find one that’s right for you.

The evolution of frying at home

Want tech that can help you do more healthy eating? With an air fryer, you can still make favourites like chips. They’ll still have the crispy, deep-fried taste you love, but with way less guilt. That's one of the major benefits of air fryers.

Do air fryers use oil?

Yes, but way less. If you’re cooking chips, for example, you only need about 1 tablespoon of oil for 1kg of sliced potatoes.

How does an air fryer work?

Air fryers circulate superheated air around your food. The machine gives food a fine, even coating of oil. This crisps your chips to perfection while using as little oil as possible.

What can you cook in an air fryer?

You'd be amazed! From curries to tapas, there are so many things to cook in an air fryer with much less fat and oil. Meat, fish, even desserts can all be cooked in this super-healthy way. Think coated chicken wings, salmon fillets with pesto, stir-fry prawns... there are loads of tasty recipes to choose from.

Are air fryers healthy?

We're not going to claim that chips should be considered a healthy option! But because air fryers use 80% less oil to cook your food, that means a big reduction in fat intake:

  • A 300g portion of traditional deep-fried chips packs 37g of fat

  • A 300g portion of chips cooked in an air fryer contains just 9g of fat

And why stop at chips? You can air fry chopped up fruit and veg to make all kinds of healthy, nutritious snacks.

How to clean an air fryer

This is one of the great things about an air fryer vs deep fryer. Unlike traditional fryers, cleaning air fryers takes no time. Once you're done cooking, you can simply put the dishwasher-safe parts of an air fryer into the dishwasher and relax!

How to use an air fryer

Using an air fryer is super easy. Put your ingredients into the basket, add the oil (if the recipe needs it) and then just pick a programme. Perfect results without the guesswork!

Which air fryer is right for me?

Air fryers come in all shapes and sizes, but here are a few picks that might be perfect for your house.

For healthy eating…

The TEFAL ActiFry Genius XL only needs one spoon of oil to cook food to perfection. And if you want to do away with oil completely, it can also steam - brilliant from everything from veg to dumplings. Its extra-large 1.7-litre fryer cooks family meals like curries or tajines, and its touch-screen interface makes everything simple and comes with lots of different meal ideas. Try its wok mode for easy Asian meals.

There's also a Delayed Start function so it'll have food ready in time for when you get home. And it'll keep meals warm until you're ready to eat.

For roast dinner lovers...

Having people over for Sunday lunch? The Ninja Foodi Dual Zone not only has a massive 7.6 litre capacity but it even has a special Roast setting - so you can roast a chicken in one drawer and do extra crispy (but much healthier) roast potatoes in another. And if you need pudding ideas, you can even serve cake - since this air fryer bakes as well as fries!

For every occasion...

Air fryer vs oven - can an air fryer really replace conventional kitchen appliances? The Tefal EasyFry 3-in-1 is giving it a go - offering air frying, grilling and steaming all in one smart appliance. Its 7 presets include dishes like crispy fries, salmon steaks or even a whole roast chicken. And all in an air fryer that will fit on your kitchen counter.

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Best healthy air fryers