Is it Time to Get in on the Air Fryer Craze?
If you are like me, the first time you brought home your shiny new air fryer you couldn't stop putting things in it. Potatoes, wings, fries, and even veggies are just a few of the foods I tried in the first week of owning one of these things. If you have an air fryer, you know what I mean.
Honestly, I was suspicious. Was it really just a glorified way of baking food? Frying is synonymous with oil, and Isn't oil a requirement for making fried food so tasty? Hey, if this air fryer can make fries from the frozen aisle of the grocery store even remotely as good as my favorites from McDonald's (Tii:MCD), I'd be more than pleased.
Get in on a good sale and you could land a real nice machine for $50. At that price, it seemed to me there was little risk to jump on the bandwagon and see what the craze is really all about.
The air fryer phenomenon has created a whole new category of kitchen countertop appliance. That said, don't expect your new air fryer to occupy a little corner of your kitchen. Remember the bread machine craze? These air fryers are at least as big as one of those and just about as attractive, which isn't saying much. They aren't exactly quiet either. But everyone from Royal Phillips (Tii:PHG), and KitchenAid, a Whirlpool (Tii:WHR) division, to off-brand imports are getting in on the action.
What makes them unique? Maybe not much. An air fryer is pretty much an enclosed bucket with hot air circulating. A lot like a convection oven I'd say. The rapidly circulating air maintains a very consistent temperature and shortens cooking time. That hot air infiltrates the food item creating the potential for a crispier exterior.
You know what? It works. From broccoli to chicken nuggets to potato wedges, my air fryer creates a crispier variety. One day I experimented with fresh kale. To my surprise, the dried kale was perfectly crisped. No oil needed.
I love breakfast sausage. If you're like me though, mornings are a rush and finding time to fix a nice breakfast is a challenge. That meant I'd throw a couple of frozen sausages in the microwave. Not anymore. Two breakfast sausage links thrown in the air fryer at 370 degrees for eight minutes creates a hot, slightly crispy exterior, a major step up from the floppy microwave variety.
So, here's the deal: Air fryers are big, not all that quiet, and take up a chunk of valuable counter real estate. Nope, the air fryer won't entirely replace the wok. But for me, even being halfway there is worth it. The category is growing and there is no shortage of publicly traded companies manufacturing this new craze of kitchen appliance.