The great memes prophesied that once I turned 30 I must choose a class. It seems we all must take up the mantle, to either rally behind the banner of weighted blanket, sous vide, humidifier, or air fryer.
Not usually one to follow such trends, I was not worried about such a choice. I expected to roam the land clanless. But here I am, writing an article about a $49 air fryer which may be the best thing I’ve ever bought. I mean, other than my much more expensive Note 20 Ultra.
I guess it’s no surprise that should I be inducted, it was to the cheapest of the “congratulations you’re definitely 30 now” groups.
It’s all Twitter’s fault, by the way. I kept hearing other inductees spruik their wares and when the chant of the air fryer rose up and I found out that I could get one for $49 from Kmart, I heard the call.
To start with, let’s just admit right off the bat that all among the church of the air fryer are huge bloody liars. Not that air fryers aren’t great, they’re amazing! However, they don’t fry a goddamned thing.
Air fryers are small convection ovens. They encircle your food with heat until it’s cooked. You can use oil if you like, but I’ve found results best without any. Being much smaller than a regular oven means cooking times are much faster and use less power. I can only assume they’re called air fryers because the results seem fried. It’s all a delicious lie.
My first test was seasoned skinless chicken thighs. I can fit about four in my air fryer at once if they’re all a bit on top of each other and they cook through fine as long as I turn them midway through. They came out crispy on the outside and juicy in the middle. It was like eating fried chicken but with less fat.
I tried some lightly battered chicken as well but the household consensus was that the others were better. It turns out coating the chicken in its period and rubbing it through pulverised grain was entirely unnecessary. Which is great! Less steps for better chicken!
Usually I’d bake chicken thighs in the oven, so the next test was something I’d usually cook in a pan.
On weekends we often make luxurious bacon and egg sandwiches. In my kitchen it’s always a bit stressful, cooking everything at once. Not only is it a juggle to make everything, but my smoke alarms use any excuse to sing me the songs of their people.
I threw the bacon in the air fryer while preparing the eggs, tomato, avocado, toasting the bread, and melting the cheese. By the time I was done the bacon had finished about a minute earlier. Thanks to the timer I didn’t need to watch it or worry and there was no smoke. Just easy to assemble sandwich materials.
A fry pan you don’t have to watch? This calls for steak!
I found some of the thickest eye fillets at the shops, brought them home, seasoned them, and threw them in the air fryer. Again, I popped in to turn them once but otherwise ignored the process before taking them out and leaving them to stand. The steaks were perfectly seared on the outside and medium rare on the inside. I’d prefer mine less so but for a first try it was bloody (or not so) good. Lazy steak!
Lazy got me thinking, so I took a trip to the shops and bought as much lazy ass freezer food as I could stomach. Pizza squares, party pies, mac and cheese balls, chicken and garlic balls, and crumbed fish filets.
Everything was faster, easier, and tastier in my air fryer. Things that are crumbed come out crispy on the outside and piping on the inside. It takes slightly longer than using a microwave but is just as easy and nothing is a floppy mess.
Even the pizza squares were perfect once the timing was down. Fluffy bready bases with perfectly melty and cooked tops. It’s easily better than dominos, not that that’s saying much.
I was already sold, but then I crossed into a dangerous place. I made smores. It took 2 minutes and my mouth will never forget them.
When I wasn’t feeling well we ordered Hungry Jacks. The chips were dogshit floppy slices of potato disappointment. So we threw them in the air fryer for a few minutes and they came out with crispy delicious potato redemption. Maybe they could even run Doom, now.
I haven’t turned my oven on since we got the air fryer. It’s a quicker, easier, better version in almost every way but it does have a few downsides.
Firstly it’s just a bit small. The $49 1.5 litre air fryer from Kmart for the most part does a good job for our 2 person household. But there have come times when I wish I could fit a bit more or have things touch less. The small footprint on my counter is fantastic but had I known I was going to use it for literally everything almost every day, I’d have gone bigger. Especially given the next model up is still fairly affordable at $69.
Lastly it’s not easy to clean. But it’s not that difficult either. The unit that holds the food pops out and there’s a sort of frying chamber with holes in the bottom inside the larger unit. This means both get filthy when cooking some foods.
They’re not dishwasher safe and require a bit of getting in there to fully clean. It’s sort of like cleaning a saucepan and a metal colander. Definitely much easier than cleaning an actual oven so it’s still a net win.
So here I stand, a proud evangelist of the clan of the air fryer. It’s a small unit that so far never smokes, doesn’t need to be watched constantly, and can cook everything better than anything else I own.
It has me a bit excited to cook my own food again because of how achievable it makes everything feel. The lazy factor is just incredibly helpful especially when I’m in poorer health but even when I’m not the minimal hassle really helps steer me away from ordering delivery.
When food is just a few button presses away on my phone, having it not be too much different on my air fryer is the best argument I can muster to convince myself to cook. I have certainly saved the $49 the air fryer cost in not ordering in.
I have seen the light, and it’s the LEDs atop my air frying unit. Praise be.