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The Stunning Truth About Air Fryers

Our Test Kitchen Manager learns what everybody already knows from watching all those infomercials: how to use an air fryer. Still, he learns it can be fun to be late to the party.

by John Kirkpatrick


Photo: Getty Images

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Yeah, so, the shelter in place life is bananas, n.u.t.s, bananas! When it was apparent I’d work from home, I went into the office to grab what I would need for the long term. I was looting my own office, and as Test Kitchen manager, “my office” includes the kitchens.

My wife was curious about an air fryer because she runs an in-home daycare; this became the opportunity to test drive an air fryer without having to buy one. Along with everything else I needed to WFH I grabbed the test kitchen air fryer on the way out the door.

Bringing the air fryer would surprise my honey but it’s no surprise if there is no there, there; so, I stopped at the store and bought all those “cheater” frozen pre-breaded thangs. Popcorn shrimp, onion rings, “real” (Please I hope they’re real…) fish fillets, shoestring fries, and finally the ultimate guilty pleasure — tots — OMG! Tots! The whole extravaganza was to indulge in un-deep-fried deep-fried foods and not feel guilty for it.

As a kid my mom bought a second-hand pot and fry basket combination out of some sentimentality. It was rarely used and then it was just for fries. Fast forwards about a million years, when we lived down South my wife bought a small capacity deep fryer for her daycare lunches. But when I used it, I invariably overloaded it, leaving me with oil-soaked, burnt oil tasting, not crispy, food. Home deep frying was off my agenda, from then on, it’s been pan-fried or nothing.

Now enter this weird moment in all our lives and I have this air fryer at home. And I’ve used it beyond what I thought I would. When I cook all those ‘fried” things I feel great that I’m not getting all that oil. Equally, I don’t like it just because I’m not getting all that oil. The air fryer for the most part makes breaded things crisp but more like moon rocks, crusty-hard, brittle, and desperately in need of a sauce, all of it, they all needed sauce.

Here is the truth that slowly dawned on me; between treats I discovered cooking real food in the air-fryer — broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, even asparagus. This is where this appliance shone brilliantly, at least IMHO. It’s isn’t so much a fryer but is a mini-convection oven, it roasted fresh vegetables, mmwah, so good and it’s easy to clean!

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