This Is What an Air Fryer Really Does to Your Food

It's nothing like deep frying.

Philips Avance Collection XXL Digital Twin TurboStar Airfryer Black/Silver - HD9650/96via amazon.com

Imagine a world where crispy fries, chicken, and onion rings are healthier without sacrificing taste. It sounds a little too good to be true, but it is possible thanks to the air fryer.

The machine relies on a small amount of oil and circulating hot air to help cook and crisp up your favorite foods. Traditional deep frying, on the other hand, requires entirely submerging the food into at least three or so cups of oil. More oil means more fat than with baking, roasting, or grilling. Meanwhile, most air fryers use only about a tablespoon of oil, or so. If this tool impresses you, don’t miss these 32 kitchen gadgets you won’t believe are a thing.

The lack of oil doesn’t mean air-fried foods lack in texture or taste. One study comparing deep-fried French fries to those that are air-fried shows that the final fries were similar in color, texture, and moisture—but with different fat content. Since there’s less fat, there are also fewer calories, too. So cooking with an air fryer instead of deep frying could indirectly promote weight loss. Most people reduce their calorie intake by 70 to 80 percent, on average, when using air fryers, according to Cleveland Clinic.

Some studies also show that cooking with an air fryer reduces the formation of harmful compounds like the carcinogen acrylamide. It’s found in high-carb foods that are cooked using high-heat methods like frying. In comparison to traditional deep-frying, research shows air frying can reduce acrylamide by 90 percent. At the same time, be careful not to burn your food with an air fryer as charred foods might be carcinogenic, too. These are the best air fryers on the market. 

With those benefits in mind, remember that air frying is still technically frying food and it shouldn’t replace all other non-frying cooking methods. One potential issue is overeating air-fried foods or replacing other healthy cooking methods like baking, steaming, or grilling veggies, chicken, and more with this version of frying. Doing so could have a negative impact on your calorie intake and the quality of your diet. Make sure you’re not using your oven, air fryer, or these 36 other kitchen devices wrong.

The bottom line is that air frying is a great way to indulge in fried food without tons of extra oil and fat from deep frying. Here’s one fryer to get you started. Remember, it’s not something that should replace all other healthy cooking methods. If you’re looking for more ways to cut down on cooking time, check out these 25 brilliant kitchen shortcuts you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is an associate editor at The Healthy and a former assistant staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her work has appeared online at the Food Network and Well + Good and in print at Westchester Magazine, and more. When she's not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting heavy things at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts, and liking one too many astrology memes.