These must-have kitchen appliances come in several types so there will always be one model that meets every individual’s needs in it. Before browsing your choices, however, you are well-advised to consider your budget, your planned uses for it, and your desired features. These factors will influence your final choice, especially when you have dozens of choices available.
Let’s first look at the way that air fryers operate, which can be either analog or digital. Analog air fryers typically have knobs and/or switches for their operations, from turning on and off the unit to adjusting the time and temperature settings. These are typically more affordable than their digital counterparts but not necessarily less efficient or designed with less features.
Digital air fryers typically have touchscreen display panels where the temperature and time settings can be adjusted; the power switch may be a button or a part of the touchscreen panel. These have more modern designs than the analog air fryers, as well as more intuitive (i.e., user-friendly) especially for people with smart devices (e.g., digital kitchen appliances and smartphones). These also come with more and better options than traditional air fryers but these come at a price.
The choice between an analog and a digital air fryer boils down to your personal preferences. Each one can be as efficient as the other with proper use, a matter that we will discuss in a succeeding section.
Air fryers are also classified according to the cooking approach with the major types being the following.
1. Paddle air fryers
These are the first type of air fryers to be introduced into the consumer market and, thus, are the most familiar to users. The typical paddle air fryer has a saucer-shaped design with a detachable bowl, lid and paddle.
Due to their deep design, these can be used for cooking foods with liquids, such as sauces; examples include curry and risotto. Since there’s a paddle included, there’s no need to turn the food at regular intervals during the cooking process. You just place the food into the cooking chamber, set the timer and temperature, and let the air fryer do the work.
Keep in mind that a paddle air fryer can be used with or without its paddle. You can use the paddle for stirring food, if necessary, or not use it when you cooking delicate food; the paddle can sometimes smash the food so its texture and consistency changes.
2. Basket air fryers
These cook food inside a basket, an easy approach that beginners appreciate. You just place the food for frying inside the basket, place both in the air fryer, and set the time and temperature before turning on the appliance.
Basket air fryers are great for foods that have been battered or coated, such as chicken wings and onion rings. These can also be used for cooking two different foods at the same time due to the divider feature. These also have basket housing for catching food and oil residues, such as grease, as well as a dishwasher-friendly basket.
Be sure to toss the food at regular intervals while it’s cooking. Otherwise, you will end up with partially cooked food.
Due to their compact size, these are popular among college students, owners of recreational vehicles, and tenants in studio apartments, among other people living in modest accommodations. Many people even use them in outdoor situations, such as in picnics and glamping.
3. Oven air fryers
These are more versatile than the basket air fryers because these can broil, grill, bake, roast, and steam, even dehydrate, food. In fact, these can be used for toasting bread, roasting coffee, and roasting chicken, sometimes cooking two types of food at a time.
But you shouldn’t pile up the food in an oven air fryer’s cooking chamber if you want even cooking results. You will find that it’s suitable for cooking in smaller portions, aside from the need for regular turning of the food while cooking.
While an oven air fryer will not heat up your kitchen like a regular oven, its glass cooking bowl can become extremely hot during the cooking process. You may also find it heavier and, thus, more cumbersome than many of the other types of air fryers.
4. Infrared halogen air fryers
These are extremely efficient air fryers because of their use of infrared rays in cooking; the rays are created by halogen lights. The food can become cooked faster in comparison with other types, aside from the fact that infrared halogen air fryers can be used for a wide variety of cooking methods. These can also handle most types of food.
Infrared halogen air fryers are equipped with a thermostat for safe and effective temperature regulation. The thermostat is part of a mechanism that turns the halogen bulb on and off, as necessary.
But these air fryers aren’t as popular as the paddle, basket and oven air fryers. These often have shorter lifespans, mainly due to the halogen bulb burning out quickly; the bulb itself can be difficult and expensive to replace so much so that it’s often better to buy a new unit.
Which of these types is the best? Well, it depends on your specific needs and wants. You will benefit from an oven air fryer if you’re looking for a multipurpose unit, while a basket air fryer may be your best choice if you’re planning on just frying food with it.