Find out if this appliance is a must-have or a trendy flash in the pan.

Growing in popularity over the last few years, air fryers are all the rage for cooks trying to cut down on added fats in their dishes. But what exactly does an air fryer do? And are they really worth the investment of cash and counterspace?

What is an Air Fryer and How Does it Work?

Similar to a convection oven, an air fryer can bake and roast dishes, but its design facilitates faster and more even cooking for extra crisp results. Made with a heat mechanism and fan built into the top, the air fryer appliance heats up quickly and has a rapid circulation of hot air that cooks food in the metal frying basket. As long as the air fryer isn't overcrowded, the dish will result in a crunchy, almost deep-fried texture due to the concentrated heat source.

Is Cooking With an Air Fryer Healthy?

The air fryer's big appeal is that it creates a very crispy texture with minimal oil, making it a healthy alternative to traditional deep frying. With an air fryer, simply tossing ingredients in a few teaspoons of oil (or skipping the oil altogether with some recipes) results in a delectably crunchy dish but with significantly less fat and calories.

What Kind of Air Fryer Should I Buy?

The type of air fryer you should buy depends on a few things. Consider how many people you usually cook for, how much counterspace you're willing to give up, and what your budget is. Those three factors will help you determine which brand and model is right for your kitchen. If you're still unsure, check out our helpful guides:

What Can You Make in an Air Fryer?

Almost any solid food that would normally be deep fried or baked can be cooked up in the air fryer. Frozen products like chicken nuggets, mozzarella sticks, and french fries perform perfectly in the appliance. Or go the homemade route and toss in whole steaks, chicken wings, and even apple fritters. As long as your ingredients aren't overcrowded or overly moist, the air fryer will do a great job of giving you a crispy crunch.

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