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Culinary Magic: How To Use An Air Fryer For Health-Conscious Cooking

By GreenPan Australia

Wondering How To Use An Air Fryer for health-conscious cooking? Everything you need to know about using an Air Fryer is in GreenPan’s comprehensive guide

Culinary Magic: How To Use An Air Fryer For Health-Conscious Cooking

Imagine savouring the crunch of your favourite fried foods without the excess grease and calories. Welcome to the world of air frying!

This healthy cooking technique has transformed our kitchens into healthy food havens, allowing us to enjoy the foods we love with all the nutrients and just a fraction of the fat.

While GreenPan’s non-stick ceramic air fryers are incredibly popular for their simple design and ease of use, there are still a few tips, tricks, and secrets for getting the most out of your high-quality air fryer.

Below, we’ve covered the benefits of air frying, how air fryers compare to conventional ovens, and how to use your air fryer for health-conscious cooking. Whether you’re a veteran chef or a kitchen newbie, this comprehensive guide should help you master the art of air frying, giving you crunchy perfection every time. You’ve heard all the hype; now it’s time to find out what it’s all about!

How Does an Air Fryer Work?

To make the most of your air fryer, it’s helpful to understand the basics of how the cooking technique works. Air fryers circulate hot air around your food at high speed, producing a crispy layer via a process known as “the Maillard effect”.¹ This is the same browning and crisping process that makes fried food so delicious. However, air fryers achieve this culinary feat using a fraction of the oil.

In fact, it’s probably fair to say that the term “air fryer” is a misnomer. That’s because the cooking mechanism of everyone’s favourite kitchen gadget is much closer to that of a convection oven than to a fryer.

The main difference between the two is that while convection ovens force hot air through the back of the oven, air fryers do so from the top, ensuring a more even heat distribution. Secondly, the smaller size and significantly greater force with which air circulates ensure that air fryers cook food much faster than their bulkier, conventional cousins.

What Can You Cook In An Air Fryer?

The beauty of air frying lies in its versatility. Die-hard air fryer devotees will endlessly regale you with fascinating anecdotes of the immense variety of foods they have cooked in their kitchen babies. While it is true that there are very few things that you can’t cook in an air fryer, there are some foods that truly allow an air fryer to shine brightly. Here are some of the ideal candidates:

Frozen Foods: Foods like french fries, chicken nuggets, and mozzarella sticks are perfect for air frying. They come out crispy and delicious—just like their deep-fried counterparts but without the excess oil.

Vegetables: Air frying can turn your favourite vegetables into a crispy, tasty treat. Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and zucchini are just a few examples. They come out crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

Meats: From chicken to pork chops, air frying locks in the juices and gives your favourite cut a crispy outer layer. If you love fish, you’ll also be delighted with how it turns out in the air fryer. This method ensures a lovely seared exterior, leaving in the flesh inside soft and flaky.

Baked Goods: Believe it or not, you can bake in an air fryer! Muffins, doughnuts, and even some cakes can bake beautifully. Small bread items such as rolls can also come out surprisingly fluffy and delicious. Just be careful with anything with a wet batter, as these items tend to become overly crisp on the outside and undercooked on the inside. Additionally, keep in mind that space inside your air dryer is limited, so larger baked goods or anything that rises a lot may be better off being cooked in the regular oven.

What Can’t You Cook In An Air Fryer?

At this point, you may be asking yourself in amazement, “Oh, air fryer, is there anything you can’t do…?” Well, even our hardworking helper is not perfect. There are a few things that don’t quite work in the air fryer.

  • Foods coated in wet batter: The batter will make a mess at the bottom of your fryer and won’t come out with the same consistency as battered foods cooked in oil.
  • Saucy foods, stews and casseroles: The sauces tend to splatter and make an awful mess. You’ll have much better luck cooking these dishes in a slow cooker.
  • Rice and Pasta. Stick with the stovetop; otherwise, your Nonna might get grumpy. However, if you’re using cooked pasta or rice in a dish that needs secondary baking, the air fryer will work perfectly.
  • Popcorn: Everyone’s favourite movie snack requires very high temperatures to achieve an even pop, and many air fryers don’t quite make the grade. In any case, your kids will have more fun watching corn pop through a glass lid on the stovetop, so stick with the traditional method for this one.
  • Toast: Umm… if you need to cook toast in an air fryer, you probably have bigger problems than the fact that your toast will be a bit limp and not very brown.
  • Broccoli: The exception that proves the rule when it comes to vegetables. It doesn’t retain moisture particularly well, so it can become dried out and bitter.

Benefits of Air Frying

Air frying offers numerous benefits, helping you live a healthier life and freeing you from the mess and time demands of conventional cooking. Of course, you’ll still want to use your eco-friendly cookware and bakeware to prepare meals the old-fashioned way. However, your air fryer will be your best friend on days when you just want to relax and get your meals on the table fast and with minimum fuss.

Some of our favourite air fryer benefits include:

  • Healthier Meals: Air fryers use far less fat than traditional frying methods and can reduce acrylamide and cut calories by up to 80%.² Significantly reducing the fat and calories in your meals can help support weight management and overall health.
  • Quick and Convenient: Air fryers cook food faster than conventional ovens, so you can enjoy your favourite meals in less time.
  • Versatility: You can roast, grill, bake, and fry a variety of foods in your air fryer. This versatility allows you to explore a wide range of recipes and cuisines, from crispy chips and chicken wings to muffins and brownies.
  • Easy Clean-Up: GreenPan’s air fryers are coated with non-stick ceramic, making cleaning a breeze – Ideal for those days when you just can’t handle another chore.
  • Safer to Use: Unlike deep frying, air frying doesn’t involve large amounts of hot, splattering oil, making it a safer option, especially if you have kids in the kitchen.
  • Taste and Texture: Air frying gives food that crispy texture we all adore. It feels like you’ve found a real-world cheat code that allows you to enjoy the taste and texture of fried food without guilt or health issues.

Air Fryer vs Conventional Oven: A Different Experience

Some of us simply love being in the kitchen. Others dread the daily chore of churning out meals for a hungry family. Even those who love cooking will have days when time or energy are at a premium, and a quick and easy meal would be a blessing.

Not only does your cooking method greatly influence the taste and texture of your food, it also impacts your overall experience in the kitchen. In other words, if you want to enjoy the cooking experience and nurture healthy lifelong habits, it’s vital to choose the right cooking style for every meal and mood. With this in mind, let’s explore the differences between air fryers and ovens, shedding light on when each method is best.

Conventional Ovens

Ovens, particularly convection ovens, offer a more traditional cooking feel. They’re ideal when you’re keen to immerse yourself in the culinary process. Baking a loaf of bread on a lazy Sunday, roasting a chicken for a family dinner, or preparing a gourmet meal for a special occasion are moments when using an oven can be a joy. Ovens can handle larger quantities of food and offer greater versatility and a range of gastronomic options.

Air Fryers

Quick and compact, Air Fryers are perfect when you want something easy, mess-free, low-effort, but still healthy. Whether you’re rushing to whip up a speedy dinner after a long day or looking for a healthier alternative to deep-fried snacks, air fryers are your go-to option. They’re fast, convenient, and easy to clean, making them popular for modern, fast-paced lifestyles.

How to Use an Air Fryer

Air frying is famous for its convenience and simplicity. You can boost the value you get from your air fryer by following these steps:

    1. Preparation: Before you start cooking, gather all your ingredients and prepare them according to your recipe. Cutting your food into evenly sized pieces will ensure that every bite cooks evenly. If your recipe calls for it, lightly coat your food with oil. An oil spray is perfect for this job, or toss the food in a bowl with a light drizzle of oil to evenly coat.
    2. Preheat the Air Fryer: Did you know you should pre-heat your air fryer just like your oven? It only takes a few minutes for your air fryer to fire up and be ready to deliver perfectly even cooking. Many home chefs overlook this step, but it can make a big difference in the quality and texture of your food.
    3. Set the Appropriate Temperature and Time: Each food requires a specific cooking temperature and time. Refer to your air fryer’s manual or recipe for the recommended settings. As you gain more experience with your air fryer, you’ll gain a better feel for the perfect cooking times and temperatures for each ingredient or dish. Every air fryer is different, but to give you an idea, here is a handy guide for temperatures and times recommended for our superb Bistro range of air fryers:

  1. Place the Food in the Basket: Arrange the food in your air fryer’s basket in a single layer. Avoid overcrowding the basket, as this can prevent hot air from circulating freely and result in uneven cooking.
  2. Cook Your Food: Start the air fryer, then let it do its thing. If you want to perfect your meal, set a timer for halfway through the total cooking time so you can shake the basket or turn the food. Doing this will ensure all sides receive adequate exposure to the hot air, resulting in evenly cooked food.
  3. Check Your Food: Towards the end of the cooking time, keep a closer eye on your food. Use a food thermometer to check if it is cooked thoroughly. Remember, cooking times can vary depending on what you’re preparing and the make and model of your air fryer.
  4. Serve: Once cooked to your liking, remove your food from the air fryer. Be careful, as the basket will be hot. Serve it while it’s still warm, and enjoy!

Getting the Most Out of Your Air Fryer

Air frying is a game-changer in the culinary world, offering a healthier way to enjoy your favourite foods. Armed with your trusty cooking dynamo, you can create an endless array of delicious dishes that are also good for your health.

GreenPan’s exceptional Bistro XL Air Fryer and the versatile Bistro Dual Zone Air Fryer offer unparalleled performance and ease of use. Like all GreenPan products, our air fryers have our signature PFAS-free, non-stick ceramic coating to make cooking and cleaning a breeze. Packed with amazing features, including a snazzy touch-screen LED display that allows you to switch between an impressive range of handy pre-set functions easily, say hello to your new best friend in the kitchen!

Remember, the key to mastering the art of air frying is practice. So, start experimenting with different recipes and enjoy the magic of air frying!

Note: Always refer to your air fryer’s user manual for best results.

End Notes

1. International Journal of Food Science: Food Processing and Maillard Reaction Products: Effect on Human Health and Nutrition https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4745522

2. WebMD: Do Air Fryers Have Health Benefits? https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/air-fryers