Why Most Experts Hate Air Fryers — But Real Cooks Love Them

updated Jan 9, 2020
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Credit: Olive & Mango

If you’ve been in the market for an air fryer, or already have one in your possession, you may have heard a few conflicting opinions about the small appliance.

Some say it’s too good to be true, that you can’t effectively “fry” something with a few tablespoons of oil and hot circulating air. Some say yeah, it works but it takes up too much countertop space for what it’s worth. Some swear by it for a few things like frozen french fries and nuggets. Some are total converts who say it’s the best thing to happen to their kitchen since sliced bread.

So with all of these mixed messages, who are we supposed to believe? The vehement haters? The space-savers? The casual I-tried-it-once-ers? The die-hard devotees? Let’s take a deeper dive, shall we?

What the Experts Say About Air Fryers

Our resident gadget expert, Sharon Franke, spent 30 years testing kitchen products at the Good Housekeeping Institute, and has strong opinions about air fryers. In short, she says you don’t need one. “Breaded chicken tenders, zucchini fries, or onion rings can easily be made in an appliance you already own: the oven or even the toaster oven,” she writes.

The pros at WIRED agree. According to their appliance expert, Samantha Cooper, “[air fryers] are loud … don’t do anything significantly better than an oven … and they also require bumping your toaster and coffeemaker onto a storage shelf.”

So do the tech junkies at Wirecutter who say that “after more than 35 hours researching and testing air fryers, we don’t recommend them for most people … we think they’re far too expensive for what they give you.”

The experts’ points in a nutshell: Most kitchens have ovens and there’s no reason to spend money on a bulky appliance that essentially does the same thing.

What Home Cooks Say About Air Fryers

Here’s when we valiantly ride in on a metaphorical white stallion to defend the air fryer’s honor and agree to disagree.

Contributor Danielle Blundell unabashedly declared that “I’m in love with an appliance, and I’m ready to go public as being pro-air fryer.” For cooks who aren’t exactly on the patient side, it’s the perfect way to get crispy food when you’re feeling lazy — a ringing endorsement.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Our own Deputy Food Director, Grace Elkus, says that this air fryer donut recipe is the recipe that will convince you to shell out the cash. “With a can of biscuit dough and just the teensiest spray of oil, you can be enjoying warm, flaky donuts in just 10 minutes — no hot oil splatters or deep-fry thermometers in sight.”

When we asked one of our favorite food bloggers, Catherine McCord of Weelicious, the one appliance she couldn’t live without, she said that she’s obsessed with her Philips Airfryer XXL: “The air fryer is seriously the easiest thing in the world to use — no joke. I don’t think I’ve ever made a chicken as good as the whole roasted one in the air fryer.”

We’re all on the same page. When Associate Food Editor Meghan Splawn finally got around to trying the air fryer, she was pleasantly surprised with the results. She says little cubes of sweet potato are lovely in the air fryer, and air-fried roasted garlic really blew her mind. According to Meghan, crispy chickpeas become the most delicious happy hour snack, and crispy-skinned whole chickens are a big win. She also put it to the test for small snacks like shishito peppers, chicken wings, and toasted nuts. “Bonus points for not having to run the oven all night,” she says. In short, Meghan was skeptical at first but now finds herself reaching for it regularly.

The home cooks’ points in a nutshell: These things do way more than just fries and chicken nuggets. And they do it better than an oven ever could.

While we’re usually all for trusting the experts, there’s something about the arguments made by these home cooks that really convince us.

What about you? Are you in favor of an air fryer? Discuss in the comments below!