Hack your cooking in 2020 with an air fryer. These 6 are on sale today

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/12/31/hack-your-cooking-in-2020-with.html

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Stick a fan in your extant toaster oven, for similar effect and lower price.

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Is it bad that even though I actually want one of these, the fact that it has been on the advertising feed means I will no longer consider any of these brands?
There is too many dodgy items featured that anything on the feed is now suspect to me.

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And of course “air frying” is a made-up marketing thing, you can’t fry with air. You can cook with hot air, but that’s not frying.

The rest of the text is equally truthful.

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Air fryers are handy — they’re essentially just a purpose-built convection oven. They do indeed ‘fry’ (or act like a fryer) with a tiny amount of oil vs. deep frying.

A decent air fryer can be had for about $60-$90.

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similar in that you’ll get something like a convection oven.

These things are basically over charged convection ovens. Over sized heating element and much faster fans moving much more air. I have an air fryer and a toaster/convection oven. And have used a lot of dedicated convection ovens (mostly counter top but a few food service grade ones). The air fryer significantly out convects them.

The big problem with the damn things is the format. Because they try to mimic a counter top fryer they’ve got a tiny capacity for a rather large foot print. It’s problem cooking for more than 2 or 3 people in the damn thing because you end up doing batches. I’ve heard very good things about the newer toaster oven with “air fry” settings/features and I’d probably be looking that way if I were looking for new appliances.

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Unless you’re already a subscriber, you may be able to google up ‘freely available’ Consumer Report ratings for air fryers. They’re there. I checked! :slightly_smiling_face:

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Air Fryers are overpriced hard to clean convection ovens. You can get a very good toast oven with a convection setting for less than any of these.

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I use my air fryer to cook thick-cut bacon. 5 rashers, 380° for 10 minutes. I also cook frozen french fries with it. Most frozen junk food like chicken tenders or toquitos do great in it. The benefit is that I don’t need to preheat it. I could live without my air fryer, but I’m glad I have one.

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Hack your cooking

eye roll

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As noted above, air dryers are less expensive than these “deals”. And if you had one that was hard to clean, you had a weirdly poor air fryer. Most have simple mesh baskets, often nonstick. Being extremely easy to clean is a selling point.

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I have a toaster oven that convection bakes and air fries. It is a wonderful thing. It was also $70 at Walmart, and is a lot easier to clean than any of these appear to be.

I presumed air frying was a useless, stupid gimmick. To my chagrin, it is a useful, tasty gimmick that prepares food in a good way while being at least somewhat healthier.

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Unless I can fry Chicken or Catfish covered in batter, it isn’t a fryer.

Nothing wrong with a convection toaster oven, but it isn’t a fucking fryer.

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My wife bought one of those expensive Instant Pots after seeing so many people rave about them online in pretty much the same manner as this article.

We were very disappointed. It seemed like it was only good for stew/soup because the heating coils were only on the bottom and if your food didn’t have good convective properties it would burn on the bottom and not cook on the top at all. My wife doesn’t like stew that much so we ended up selling it. The gasket between the lid and body was also a royal bitch to clean, with the thing picking up smells like a champion bloodhound.

That’s why I’m dubious about all of this air fryer hype. I’ve used convection ovens before. I know that the overhyped rhetoric around them generally amounts to “cut 5 minutes off of the cooking time.”

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We were gifted an Instant Pot and for the most part it has lived up to my expectations. But I have a stove top pressure cooker and a crock pot as well. I already knew what a pressure cooker can do (and what the internet hype machine says it can but does a piss poor job of), but it is nice that this one has timer controls built in. Lately it has found a lot of use making oatmeal. Sure there is a difference between slow cooked and pressure cooked, but there is always instant so there is that.

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You can. I mean, you can put batter-covered stuff into it and it uses a little bit of oil that aerates with the convection action to give you results very similar to deep-frying. That’s how it works. It does frying-type-stuff with hot air and a small amount of oil. Thus the name.

It basically performs the functions of a pressure cooker in a nicely controlled safe way. It won’t revolutionize your kitchen but it does a great job of making rice, reconstituting dried beans, hardboiled eggs, congee, oats, and stews in a set-it-and-forget-it way, which totally justifies its shelf space for me.

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An instant pot is just an electric pressure cooker, and honestly one of the highest rated ones. The marketing and buzz on them is what causes disappointment as the pitch is all about convenience preset and cooking shit that’s not pressure cooker appropriate (like pasta, why the fuck would you pressure cook pasta?).

If you get away from the one weird trick and easy weeknight roast chicken, and the slow cooker stuff. And stick to pressure cooker stuff they’re actually pretty useful. Slow, wet applications. Pot roast or short ribs in an hour after work. Stock that doesn’t take all day (and actually comes out clearer).

Traditional wet batters don’t work as they won’t set fast enough. They end up sloughing off during the cook or attach to the basket instead of the food. You can bread stuff, and there ways to make a dryer batter.

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Well once you gave the Instant Pot, might as well use it.

Just yesterday I saw a “Mac & Cheese” recipe that used the pressure cooker function. I figure it takes more time to come to pressure, and down, rather than to boil the pasta the regular way.

I’ve had a Lagostina pressure cooker since 1985, used mostly to cook beans, and rice. I did try things years ago, and ended up with mush. For most things you don’t need much cooking time, and in a pressure cooker it’s done almost before you start.

I did get an Instant Pot last year, I kept vascillating but finally my sisters decided, giving me one. I haven’t used it much, but at least I have pressure cooker experience. It came as a surprise that many rice and beans recipes use canned beans, because beabs are one great use of the pressure cooker, but combining with rice you’dhave to do the beans, then the rice, which conflicts with the Instant Pot promotion of fast and simple.

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Wasn’t the store selling an air fryer adapter for the Instant Pot some months ago? Something like that.

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