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I love to cook, and I try to be health-conscious in my cooking as much as possible without sacrificing the taste. I recently heard about air fryers (oil-less fryers that "fry" food with circulating hot air instead of oil), and decided to give it a try. I found this Rosewill Oil-Less Air Fryer on Amazon at a great deal (in fact, it's still on sale). I almost couldn't believe the claims that air fryers could cook crispy, delicious food without oil, so I set off on a test over the last few weeks.
The air fryer itself has a few timing suggestions built-in for different types of meats and items, but in doing some research I learned that those setting shouldn't limit you. You can choose the cooking temperature and time, and can cook many different types of things in an oven like this.
Through Pinterest and Google searching, I found these recipes for a different brand of air fryer, which helped me with some of the inspiration for the food I tried.
This was the simplest thing I tried with the air fryer. I tried a few different kinds of fries (shoestring and thick, wedge-style), and both cooked thoroughly and were nice and crisp based on the built-in timing suggestion. The thicker fries required a few extra minutes, which I expected.
Fresh-Cut French Fries
After trying the frozen fries (which basically used the air fryer instead of the oven), I was eager to see how fresh-cut French fries would compare. To get a nice crispness, it is recommended you toss them in a small amount of oil (I used about a teaspoon) before putting them into the fryer. I chose truffle oil for this batch of fries, and finished it off with some truffle salt and parmesan cheese after it was done. The texture and taste were perfect, but with so much less guilt!
On Pinterest I came across this recipe for air-fried spring rolls. It was my first test to see if an eggroll wrapper could possibly crisp-up like a deep fryer. Like with the fries, I brushed these lightly with oil (I chose sesame oil - yum!) before cooking. Again, it worked like a charm. They were surprisingly crisp for not having been fried! Since I used pre-cooked chicken, I didn't have to worry about the meat cooking through, so I was just able to cook them until desired crispness.
With the success of the spring rolls, I was encouraged to try my own fried wonton recipe in the air fryer. These start with raw meat (you can use ground beef, ground pork, or ground turkey) seasoned with minced onion, garlic powder, and pepper. I wrapped them in a pre-made wonton wrapper then sealed them shut with some water. Like the spring rolls, I brushed the outside with a little sesame oil, and cooked them. Not only did they crisp-up nicely, but the raw meat cooked through without a problem. The ground meat did add some additional oil to the dish (as you can see in the photo above), but it didn't feel nearly as greasy as when I deep fry them. The air fryer has a basket that allows excess oil to drain off, so the items didn't sit in their grease while cooking.
The real test of my air fryer was fried chicken. I recently reviewed Todd Wilbur's Top Secret Recipes cookbook (see my review here), which included a recipe for KFC's Original Recipe Chicken. For this test of the air fryer, I tried some drumsticks in the deep fryer (on the left in the photo above), and one in the air fryer (on the right). Unfortunately the air fryer did not work as well for the fried drumstick. As you can see in the photo above, the outside does get a nice crispness and color. However, it didn't cook all the way through as thoroughly as with the other items I attempted.
Overall, I am really impressed about how my Rosewill fryer works and would recommend it. It has already replaced traditional, deep frying in my house for fries and some of the items I tested above. Why would I go back to unhealthy frying when I can have the same taste with a fraction of the oil? Additionally, one thing I didn't consider was the potential cost savings. If you use a deep fryer, then you know how much oil it takes to use each time (and oil is not cheap). That is a non-issue with the air fryer.
Have you ever used an air fryer? Do you have any recipes or suggestions? If so, comment below!