If you take even a quick glance around my blog you'll see that a lot of my recipes are air fryer recipes. My air fryer was something that I kinda bought on a whim but now I can't imagine NOT having it! But what's so special about it and what's the difference between and air fryer vs deep fryer? Well, let's sink our teeth into that one, shall we?!
What Is An Air Fryer Oven?
An air fryer is a counter top sized appliance that is usually a little bigger than an Instant pot. It gets nice and hot, like any other oven, but it circulates the heat inside of it. This is called "convection".
You can get an air fryer for a pretty inexpensive cost, less than $100 bucks. I got my first one at Costco about 3 years ago for $60, actually. It was a steal! I found this one on Amazon that is similar, just a newer model of my Gourmia air fryer, for only $70! (affiliate) I recently upgraded to a larger one, it's a 5qt Cosori!
How An Air Fryer Works Without Oil
The circulating air allows food to become nice and crispy without using oil. I've actually put oil in my air fryer and it kinda ended up making my food soggy, actually!
Typically, air fryers have baskets, like a deep frier does, except instead of being surrounded by hot oil on all sides the food cooked in an air fryer is surrounded by circulating heat on all sides to leave you with nice, crispy food.
Does An Air Fryer Taste Like A Deep Fryer?
Personally, I do think you get a pretty similar crisp to you food when using an air fryer vs deep fryer. However, obviously you're not using a lot of the ingredient oil, so the taste will be different... less oily, of course. This might cause your foods to taste a little "healthier".
Now, if you know me at all you know I don't label food as "healthy" or "unhealthy". But, you know what I mean here.
That being said, it's the OUTSIDE of the food that tastes different, not really the inside. Meaning, if you make, say, air fryer sweet potato fries they'll taste like a sweet potato. But if you make deep fryer sweet potato fries they'll taste like a sweet potato, too, but with an oily fried tasting outside. Make sense?
Does An Air Fryer Make Food Crispy?
Abso-freaking-lutely! Like I said, the taste is different when comparing an air fryer vs deep fryer because you're missing the oil/fried coating. However, all of the crisp is there!
I love making homemade air fryer tortilla chips and they come out SO crispy! Even when I make my air fryer muffins they have a crisp on the outside yet are pillow soft on the inside. Same with chicken nuggets, super crisp outside and juicy on the inside!
When comparing an air fryer to a typical oven, your air fryer will get food way crispier. It's smaller so the heat is more focused on the food and it has the circulating air. Some ovens do have a convection setting on them (mine does) but still, not as great of a crisp there.
Which Is Better Air Fryer Or Deep Fryer?
I'll be straight with you. An air fryer is not a deep fryer and a deep fryer is not an air fryer. Meaning, if you're looking for that State Fair deep fried goodness, an air fryer probs won't "hit the spot". But, if you're looking for more of a crunch to your food, that's what is satisfying to you VS the fried flavor, then an air fryer is a great choice for you.
One thing that makes an air fryer better for day-to-day use, in my eyes, is that it's WAY faster. Honestly? That's the main reason that I use my air fryer. The convection cooking (that circulating air, remember!) allows food to cook in about 15 minutes. Veggies, chicken, muffins, you name it. Just about 15 minutes, sometimes up to 20, 25 but I don't believe I've cooked anything longer than that!
I bought my dad a deep frier for Christmas one year because he is a big fisherman and I thought it would make some fab fish (okay, sort of bought that gift so I could benefit by eating it, too!) but... he's never used it. It's a hassle to get huge vats of oil (I hate the waste involved, too) and it takes a longer time to get it ready, like getting the oil hot, babysitting it to make sure it stays at the right temp, etc. With my air fryer, I literally just push a button and it's cooking.
Deep Fryer VS Air Fryer, Is It Healthier?
Aaaaand the question you've been waiting for! Which one is healthier?! Well, both can be part of a healthy eating style, to be honest with you. Saying one is "better" or "healthier" than the other can lead to having a poor relationship with food and actually fearing the deep fryer because you think you're being "bad" by eating those foods. Viewing food as good or bad can also lead to actually over eating those foods deemed "bad".
A deep fryer does use oil, which contributes calories and fat to your food. Now, while diet culture has us automatically think that this is bad, that's not necessarily so. Fat in our food contributes to satiety and satisfaction with a meal. It is possible for a meal to be "too lean" and not provide enough fats that our bodies do need in order to function.
The type of oil used in a deep fryer is typically canola oil, sometimes peanut oil. This is due to their high smoke points, making them great for frying food. Canola oil is said to be a health promoting fat due to it's low saturated fat content (not health promoting fats) and high monounsaturated fat content (health promoting fats).
I talk more about different types of fats and their health impact in my post on the truth about peanut butter & the oils that are in them.
However, higher consumptions (talkin' multiple times a day here!) of traditionally fried foods (deep fried) is linked to cardiovascular mortality. Meaning, it's not fabulous for your heart. There are many reasons for these findings such as lifestyle factors of those who were eating the fried food, health status, hormone use, socioeconomic status, etc. Another hypothesis for this is due to the loss of some of those unsaturated fats during the frying process, turning them into saturated ones.
Now, I don't want you to fear fat or fried food! Like I said, our bodies need fats to function and do things like provide energy to us, absorb nutrients and make hormones. Fearing fat will cause stress on your body which, actually, can do MORE damage than just eating the dang fried chicken! Long term stress can cause anxiety, depression, digestive issues, diabetes and heart disease.
I'd also just like to point out the fact that a lot of times we associated fried food with increased weight and think that THAT, the higher weight/BMI of a person, is what causes health issues. That? Is not entirely true.
We're becoming more and more aware that weight is not a predictor of health, but health promoting behaviors are. One study found that participants health status increased the more they added health promoting behaviors, such as not smoking, physical activity, reducing alcohol consumption and consuming fruits and vegetables. This increase in health happened regardless of their weight changing! They became healthier yet were still classified as "obese" on the BMI chart.
You truly CAN be healthy at any size. But not everyone is healthy at every size. Make sense? If you need more info on this you can checkout my blog post on the set point weight theory and I'd also highly recommend reading the book (or listening to on Audible!) Health At Every Size. (affiliate)
So, Should I Eat Air Fryer VS Deep Fryer Food?
Here is what I suggest: enjoy the deep fried food when you want. Viewing food as unrestricted leads to less overeating of that food. But also ask yourself how would you feel when eating a food.
Personally, I wouldn't feel super fabulous if I ate deep fried food on the daily. But, will I pass up crispy, deep fried french fries when I want them? Absolutely not! On the daily, however, the air fryer fries satisfy me AND allow my body to feel good. Win-win.
The air fryer VS deep fryer debate is your own to answer. And the answer of which one is "better" can change from day to day! One day you might realllllly be craving that fried taste or nostalgia of your face chicken tenders as a kid. In that case? Go for the deep fried! Other days, you might be looking more for a crunch and the flavor of the food itself. In those cases, go for the air fryer. This is what I call "gentle nutrition". I have an entire blog post explaining gentle nutrition and my stance on "healthy eating", so be sure to give that one a read, too!
I hope that this blog post helped you understand the difference between an air fryer vs deep fryer! Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions about them that I can answer!!!
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