What is an Air Fryer? Get the Fry Without the Fat

A white air fryer on a kitchen cabinet with a basket of French fries in the foreground

Looking for a kitchen revolution? The air fryer just might be the appliance you've been waiting for. Discover what an Air Fryer is and learn how this appliance can make cooking convenient, healthy, and delicious, all while simplifying your meal prep and clean-up.

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The air fryer has been the hottest kitchen appliance around for the past few years. Everyone is using them, and they are flying off the shelves every holiday for gift giving. But whether you already own one or not, you might wonder, “Is this a fad or something I really need? And should I give it some of my precious kitchen counter space?”

As a proud air fryer owner, I say it isn’t a fad. Rather, it’s an extraordinary cooking appliance, especially for busy families or anyone looking for hassle-free cooking. Keep reading and learn how an air fryer works and why it should be part of most kitchens.


In This Article

Ninja Air Fryer
Photo Credit: Amazon

What Is an Air Fryer?

An air fryer is a mini convection oven. It uses heated air circulation technology, employing a powerful fan to circulate hot air around the food. As you explore, you’ll find there’s a wide variety of air fryers based on style, size, and functionality.

Sage Advice: This is the air fryer I have in my kitchen.


Heated Circulation Technology

Simply put, heated circulation technology is a way of cooking food using extremely hot air. A heating element heats the air inside the appliance and circulates the convection heat around the food, cooking it from all angles. This ensures the food is cooked evenly and thoroughly, producing perfectly crispy results every time.

Small Size

One advantage air fryers have over a full-size convection oven is their smaller size. This means the air circulates close to the food, cooking it more quickly. Because of this, cooking is much faster than in a conventional oven.

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Cherry Empanadas in Air Fryer
Photo Credit: YayImages

Digital Temperature Control

The air fryer has a digital display that sets the desired cooking temperature. So it will automatically adjust the heat to maintain the set temperature throughout the cooking process.

This is especially handy if you’re cooking something that requires precise temperature control, like delicate pastries. It takes the guesswork out of cooking and ensures your food is always perfectly cooked.

Benefits of Air Fryers

Using an air fryer has many benefits, including low oil consumption, easy and convenient meal prep, and quick and easy cleanup.

Low Oil Consumption

One of the main reasons people love using an air fryer is because it allows for healthy frying. Traditional frying methods require a lot of oil, which can add unnecessary calories and fat to your food. On the other hand, an air fryer uses minimal oil, making it a healthier alternative.

This is especially great if you’re trying to watch your intake of unhealthy fats or follow a specific diet. You can still enjoy delicious food with a crispy texture, making following a healthy meal plan much more manageable. A great example of a delicious outcome with less oil are these air fryer baby potatoes.

A home chef pouring potatoes out of an air fryer
Photo Credit: Canva

Convenient and Easy Meal Prep

In addition, the air fryer is a hassle-free cooking solution. It’s quick and convenient, so it is an excellent choice for busy people or families looking for an easy meal prep option.

You won’t need to spend hours in the kitchen preparing meals. With an air fryer, you can have a delicious, home-cooked meal on the table in no time. Toss your ingredients in the basket, set the timer, and let it work its magic.

Better Taste

Air fryer broccoli and cauliflower are delicious game changers. As Brooke from Minimalist Mama explains, “The air fryer crisps the broccoli in just the most delicious way, so you can avoid that soggy, mushy texture that some people just can’t get over.”

It also is excellent for heating up leftovers so they taste almost as good as when they were first made. So leftovers stored in your refrigerator will get eaten, not thrown away.

Quick and Easy Cleanup

Cleanup is also simple with this countertop appliance. Most air fryer models feature a nonstick cooking surface to allow for easy removal of food and quick cleaning.

Wipe down the inside of the air fryer with a damp cloth, and you’re good to go. Many brands are also dishwasher safe.

Fried Chicken in Air Fryer
Photo Credit: Canva

Air Frying vs. Deep Frying

The air fryer offers health benefits compared to deep frying food. As mentioned earlier, conventional frying methods, like using a deep fryer, require large amounts of oil. Sure, deep-fried foods taste great, but deep-frying food in oil adds calories and fat to your food.

An air fryer, on the other hand, uses minimal oil. And switching to air-fried foods cooked with less oil can help you reduce your risk of health problems due to high fat intake. But make no mistake, you can make plenty of unhealthy things in an air fryer. You still have to make good choices — this appliance alone won’t make you healthier. Darn it!

Shrimp skewers on a platter
Photo Credit: Canva

Types of Food to Cook

Another huge benefit of air fryers is their versatility. You can cook a variety of food, including:


This includes air fryer chicken burgerschicken breast, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, and chicken wings. For an international flair, try this air fryer chicken katsu.


Easily make fish fillets, salmon patties, and shrimp skewers in your air fryer. And this delicious air fryer cod recipe is lightly seasoned with garlic, lemon, and herbs.


Instead of roasting them in the oven cook healthy vegetables like green beans and asparagus in the air fryer. Or try these air fryer candied sweet potatoes!

Battered Foods

For deliciously crispy battered foods without all the of the grease, make them in an air fryer. We enjoy making mozzarella sticks, fish sticks, tater tots, and onion rings in ours!


Instead of heating up your oven, make these sweet potato drop biscuits and other breads in your  air fryer.

Frozen Foods

When you pop a frozen pizza into an air fryer, it tastes like it’s fresh from a brick oven.


Believe it or not, you can even make fried eggs in the air fryer!  Simply crack an egg in a greased silicone bowl, let the air fryer do all the work, and have breakfast on the table in a jiffy!

And More!

In addition to these suggestions, there is so much more you can do with your air fryer. The possibilities are endless! 

Tips for Using an Air Fryer

If you are new to air frying, getting used to cooking with one might take some time. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind.

Don’t Overcrowd the Food

An air fryer works by circulating air, so you have to leave room for the air to move. Resist the temptation to pack as much food as possible into the air fryer basket. Instead arrange the food in a single layer and leave some space around each piece of food.

Use Some Oil

While the air fryer uses less fat, most food tastes better with a little bit of oil. An oil spray bottle is a great way to add flavor without ending up with greasy food.

Watch the Cooking Time

The air fryer cooks more quickly than a traditional oven, so you can overcook your food if you aren’t paying attention.

Start Simple

Begin with basic recipes with just a few ingredients. Save the more complicated recipes like Southern fried chicken or egg rolls until you have some experience.

Here are a few of my favorite beginner recipes.

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re an experienced cook or a beginner in the kitchen, consider investing in an air fryer. With its ability to produce delicious, crispy food with minimal oil and easy cleanup, it’s no wonder that air fryers have become a staple in so many modern kitchens.

Portions of this article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

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