I'm Michelle, and I love fried food. If I had to pick just one thing to eat for the rest of my life, it'd be french fries — zero question about it.
That said, I actually maintain a pretty moderate diet (or at least try to 🙄). So when I heard about the Airfryer — a kitchen gadget that says it can fry foods with a tablespoon of oil or less — I thought the heavens were finally rewarding me for all the kale salads and low-calorie dressing I've endured.
On its website, the Airfryer is touted as helping you "fry in a healthier way with up to 75% less fat."
There are several different Airfryers on the market, but I tested the one by Philips, which claims to be the ~original~. (It also comes with a steep $260 price tag — but you can find cheaper alternate versions on Amazon, some even under $60.)
I wanted to find out: Does air-fried food actually taste good? With so little oil, can it even get crunchy enough to compare to deep-fried foods? I decided to investigate.
The first thing I realized is that the Airfryer is not that intuitive to use — like, you can't just pop this thing out of the box and start frying things.
Secondly, the Airfryer doesn't come with a special compartment for oil. You're responsible for dressing the food in oil yourself. I went the canola oil spray can route:
Amazon commenters had mentioned that the Airfryer is supposed to be great at frying frozen foods — so the first thing I tried air-frying was frozen chicken strips.
And they actually came out pretty "fried"!
Next, I tried some frozen dumplings, which the Airfryer was also effective in "frying."
It was EXTREMELY important and central to this experiment that the Airfryer effectively fry frozen french fries, so I decided to really scrutinize the results.
Once I realized the Airfryer could replicate a deep-fried taste and texture pretty closely on things like dumplings and chicken, I had to test it on healthier foods. Because if this gadget has the power to make vegetables taste deep-fried, then THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW.
First up was frozen vegetables, which were a ~win~.
But what about raw vegetables? This is where the Airfryer started to disappoint.
Even my attempt at veggie chips — aka thinly sliced sweet potatoes — was a letdown.
For curiosity's sake, I also decided to test this out on some weirder foods, like Twinkies.
Oreos pretty much stayed the same post-Airfryer. LOL.
The Airfryer experiment ended with string cheese, mostly because this happened:
Thankfully, the mesh basket lifts off the pan, so cleanup — apart from the melted string cheese — was pretty easy.
FYI, most Airfryers also claim that you can bake, grill, and roast in the appliance too — you just need to buy accessories not included with your order. They'll run you between $20 and $50, depending.
TL;DR: For me, the Airfryer was really effective in frying frozen foods (like fries and dumplings) with way less oil. But ~healthier~ options (like veggie chips or raw broccoli) were a letdown.
To sum up? If you're thinking about getting an Airfryer, here's who I think would benefit most from it:
1) People who eat frozen food on the reg. This thing works its magic on frozen food, and it definitely delivers on its promise to fry things with less oil or fat than most other cooking methods.
2) People who have lots of room in their kitchen. I know that’s not a dealbreaker for most people, but this thing (while not that heavy) is pretty sizable, and as a minimalist clean freak, I’d much rather have the counter space than one extra gadget to clean and maintain.
3) People who won't mind the price tag. As mentioned, the version I tested was $200, but many alternatives (including older Philips models) are sold for less.
Note: Philips sent us the Airfryer to try free of charge, but we were under no obligation to positively review it.