Air frying has become one of the hottest cooking trends. But, is air frying safe? What are the drawbacks and benefits? This article shares an in-depth review of Air Fryer Pros and Cons.

white air fryer on a countertop

Basics of Air Frying

An air fryer is essentially a mini oven with a powerful fan to help circulate the hot air. This is not unlike larger convection ovens that use a fan to help promote air movement and increase the speed of baking. 

The use of a fan in air frying also has the benefit of promoting the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction in cooking when amino acids and natural sugars in foods that leads to browning.

This browning of food is what gives many cooked food their flavor, such as the crispy brown leaves of Brussels sprouts, the golden crisp of a freshly-baked air fryer cookie, or the crisp exterior of a juicy steak.

air fryer cookies done baking
Air Fryer Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pros of Air Fryer

There are some real cool aspects of air frying, let’s review what they are.

1. Quick and efficient

One of the best parts about air fryer is that it reduces at least 30-50% of the time that it takes to cook something in the oven. For instance, while sweet potato cubes might take up to 35 minutes to cook in a hot oven, it only takes 12 minutes to make Air Fryer Sweet Potato Cubes.

Most air fryer models don’t even need to be preheated which also cuts down on the overall time you need to cook your food.

2. Not too expensive

Unlike outfitting a whole kitchen, an air fryer is a simple and inexpensive way to install a mini oven in a space. Most quality air fryers are less than $100. See my list of the best air fryers under $100.

3. Great for campers or college students (or people who don’t have an oven)

While air fryers do tend to be bulky (about twice the size of a coffee maker), they are well worth their size. They fit in smaller spaces which makes them perfect for people with RVs or for college students.  

4. Doesn’t heat your kitchen

Another major benefit of air fryers is that they won’t heat up your kitchen. While they throw a little bit of heat out the back, they don’t even come close to the amount of heat that comes out of a regular kitchen oven.

This reduction in heat output is a huge feature when you want to cook or bake in the summertime, but you don’t want to make your kitchen or house too hot.

5. May not require pre-heating

I don’t know about you, but I really dislike the amount of time it takes to preheat a regular oven (up to 20 minutes or longer)! One major benefit of most air fryers is that you can skip that preheating step altogether.

If your specific air fryer does require preheating, it will likely only be for 5 minutes. This helps cut down the overall cook time and the time you have to spend waiting for your food to be ready.

6. Smaller batches

The typical air fryer basket is between 3 to 5 quarts and is ideal for 1-4 people, or you don’t want to have leftovers. There are some extra large air fryers, but most generally make enough for just a few people.

Additionally, many air fryer recipes ask that you put the food in a single layer which also limits how much food you can make at one time.

7. Easy to cook vegetables

One of my favorite benefits of air fryer is how easy it is to cook vegetables! Additionally, air fried vegetables are usually roasted and flavorful and very tasty. See my recipes for Air Fryer Acorn Squash, Air Fryer Frozen Brussel Sprouts, Air Fryer Kale Chips, or Air Fryer Frozen Green Beans.

You might also like my article on the best vegetables for picky eaters.

baby carrots cooked in air fryer basket
Air Fryer Baby Carrots

Cons of Air Fryer

That said, there are some drawbacks to air fryers. Let’s review what the cons are.

1. Air fryers are big and bulky

The air fryer is quite a bulky appliance and may not be suitable if you have limited space. Additionally, most air fryers aren’t exactly pretty, so they don’t always look great on the countertop.

That said, if you already have an Instant Pot, blender, toaster oven, and coffee maker, then an air fryer will likely just blend right in with your other countertop appliances.

2. Limited serving size

If you have a large family or you routinely cook for many people, then an air fryer may not be appropriate for you. Most air fryers are ideal for making 1-4 servings at a time.

That said, I’ve rounded up the best air fryer Thanksgiving recipes that are perfect for small gatherings!

3. Production of acrylamide

Whenever you roast or toast foods, there can be an accumulation of acrylamide that results.

While the research is still developing over the level of concern about acrylamide and human health, there was at least one study that showed that air frying produced up to 90% lower acrylamide as compared to deep frying.

4. Requires some skill

As with any new appliance, there can be a learning curve. The air fryer is no different and will require you to get adjusted to how to use it.

That said, I have personally found the air fryer to be very simple and straightforward. Remember, it is essentially a small oven, so you’ll just have to get used to the specific buttons on your device, as well as adjust to cooking foods at lower temperatures and for a shorter cook time.

5. Most air fryers have a nonstick surface

Most air fryer baskets have a nonstick surface. While this can make for easy clean-up, some people don’t like to cook using nonstick surfaces. However, nonstick cookware is on the list of the safest cookware materials and shouldn’t cause concern for most people.

air fryer buffalo cauliflower on a plate
Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower

FAQs

What is the best air fryer?

I have personally owned at least 3 different models of air fryers and they were all pretty comparable in terms of their efficiency. In other words, there are no clear winners in terms of the best air fryer overall, it is more likely a matter of personal preference and budget. See my list of the best air fryers under $100.

Can you steam foods in an air fryer?

The air fryer is best used for baking or roasting foods. If you want to steam foods, it’s better to use the stovetop (with a steamer basket), the Instant Pot (see my recipe for making Instant Pot Steamed Broccoli as an example of how to steam veggies in a pressure cooker), or the microwave.

Conclusions

There are some significant benefits and drawbacks to air frying. But, when it comes to convenience and efficiency, air frying seems to be here to stay. Evaluate both sides of the issue and decide for yourself whether it is worth the investment to add this appliance to your kitchen.

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