I’m a gadget geek, so it’s no surprise that I was fascinated by the air fryer when it first came on the scene. Especially since I’m also a busy cook; if a gadget doesn’t make my life easier, then I’ve got no time for it. (Too few hours in the day to mess with one that messes with me!)
I am all about ruthless efficiency, in other words.
Mostly, I loved the concept of frying without oil. And so began a period of intensive experimentation. (Thereby putting my doctorate in experimental psychology to the only use it has seen lately.) Fast forward to about a year ago, when I wrote my first air fryer cookbook—and then, because I will totally overdo anything good, I wrote a second one: Air Fryer Revolution.
Because let me tell you something: It’s not about frying per se, nor is it about reproducing fried textures in breaded foods. It’s about using an airfryer for what it does really, really well.
And what is that, you ask?
- It cooks fast. Air fryers take two to three minutes to preheat versus the 30 minutes most ovens take. In fact, it’s so fast, that I’ve written all my recipes without an unnecessary preheat step. I just throw everything into an air fryer and walk away. I increase the overall cook time, and that keeps me from having to fiddle with the preheat-then-cook mumbo jumbo. Note: Most of my meat recipes only take 10 minutes to cook, because I have you cut up the meat smaller.
- It does indeed lightly “crisp” the outside of the meat. Not only does cutting up the meat into smaller chunks help it to cook faster, it also increases the exposed surface area that gets crisp. And more crisp equals better, as we all know!
- It doesn’t heat up your house. A super powerful air fryer might heat up the area around it, but there’s no way it’s actually heating up your kitchen, like an oven does. If you’ve ever had to bake a cake in the middle of a Texas summer, you’ll know what I mean.
- It combines baking and grilling. You know how you sometimes bake things and then broil or grill them to crisp up the top? An air fryer will do both of those tasks simultaneously. Another example of #ruthlessefficiency at play.
- It can indeed make breaded things taste better than just baking. If a food has natural fat in it, then it will “fry” up beautifully in an air fryer. Check out my breaded chicken wings or my air-fryer chicken fried steak.
Disclaimer: Unless you have zero taste buds left, you will not confuse air-fried potatoes with deep-fried potatoes. But that won’t keep you from enjoying the air-fried ones, and in fact, enjoying them more than you might baked homemade fries with zero oil.
Don’t think of an air fryer as a way to avoid frying—think of it as a way to make delicious food, fast. Think of it as a way to get a home-cooked dinner on the table in under 30 minutes. Think of it as a way to have dinner practically cook itself with very little babysitting. And then think of how much you’ll enjoy that glass of wine or that video game you could be playing instead of babysitting your stove.
No, you’re not cooking the pasta in the air fryer. But you are making the creamy mushroom sauce from start to finish in it. Winner, winner!
Lemony, garlicky shrimp cooks up extra quick in the air fryer—perfect over a bed of noodles.
Sweet, spicy, and sticky, these wings star my favorite Korean chile paste, gochujang.
Chicken wings crisp up beautifully in the air fryer, and taste even better once tossed in kecap manis and sambal.
I like to use thinly sliced beef here, but you could also go for fatty pork shoulder. In any case, meat loves this marinade, which is punchy and umami-packed, perfect for taco night.
I grew up eating this toast as an afternoon snack. (It’s an Indian thing.) And yes, the air fryer is great at toasting bread.