Forget the Instant Pot, or other pressure cookers that promise to do it all; the real multi-tasker in any kitchen is the air fryer.
In my kitchen, I try to limit appliances and tools to just the necessities. If I can get it done with a knife or a pot or pan that I already own, then that’s perfect for me. That being said, there are just some things that an appliance can do better, faster, and healthier. For me, that’s the air fryer; it’s the one appliance that deserves its counter space more than any other. However, air fryers don’t actually fry foods; they’re actually small convection ovens. Rather than deep-frying, an air fryer uses convection cooking to circulate hot air around your food, which is why you get crispy, evenly-cooked food without the need for oil. It fries, bakes, and it reheats. It does everything. And I’m not the only one at Input who loves their air fryer.
Love at first fry — I received my first and only air fryer in 2015 when I was still in college. It quickly became a go-to when making dinner. Instead of having to use a large amount of oil to make french fries or other fried foods, I could simply throw it in the air fryer basket for 10 minutes or so and it would be done. Sure, it took a bit longer, made a lot of noise, and required some guesswork in regards to temperature and timing, but my air fryer made frying foods much easier. Not to mention, healthier.
In those early days, I figured out that the best way to make pizza rolls and hot pockets was to nuke them in the microwave first and then throw them in the air fryer to crisp them up. Rather than a semi-frozen hot pocket with a molten core, the air fryer could cook it perfectly while also making the crust crispy. The air fryer also supplanted the microwave as the appliance for cooking leftovers. It just made leftover food much more palatable, with a mouthfeel similar to when it was first cooked.
Also, it kept me from buying other appliances like a toaster, which I refused to buy for a long time. But when I did need to toast a hamburger bun or a telera for making tortas, the air fryer was a regular old johnny-on-the-spot. A lot of times, too, I used the air fryer instead of the oven to make sides like roasted potatoes.
Time to upgrade — But that air fryer is no longer with me. I decided to give it up when I moved earlier this year. Ever since then, I’ve realized how much I miss it. It’s not that an air fryer made me a better cook; it made me a less-stressed out cook. The good thing, however, is that the holidays are here, and that means one thing: sales! If you’ve never had the pleasure of using an air fryer, now is the best time to get one, especially with Black Friday in two days and Cyber Monday around the corner.
It made me a less-stressed out cook.
I’ve been eyeballing the newer toaster oven-style such as this one from Cuisinart, which was recommended by Wirecutter, or this one from Ninja, though basket air fryers, like this one, are more affordable and take up less space. Either style will help you make delicious, perfectly cooked food with a crispy texture. While a dedicated rice cooker or a standing mixer can also help a lot in a kitchen, none of them carry the kitchen on its shoulders (i.e., handles) like an air fryer. If I can find the right model at the right price this shopping season, my kitchen will feel complete again. Trust me, you will too, if you don’t already own an air fryer.
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