Your Air Fryer Could Be the Secret to Eating Healthier

This low- to no-oil cooking method makes healthful meals a breeze.

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March 04, 2020
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Food Network Kitchen’s Air Fryer Zucchini Chips, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

Air fryers are all the rage, and I am often asked how to best use this countertop appliance for healthy day-to-day cooking. Having tested hundreds of air fryer creations for my book Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook, I hope I can offer some healthy cooking guidance in this super trendy appliance. Here's what you need to know.

First of All, What Is An Air Fryer?

If you are a fan of fried foods and trying to cut back on calories and fat, the air fryer can help. Air fryers are basically powerful, mini convection ovens. They cook foods evenly and much faster than conventional ovens. While an air fryer can't do everything in your kitchen, it can certainly be a game-changer. One of the biggest appeals of air fryers is making crispy favorites like French fries and chicken wings without drowning them in oil. Yes, you can make most traditionally fried foods with a few teaspoons of oil, so you'll get more of the food flavor and less grease.

7 Best Air Fryers, Tested by Food Network Kitchen

We air fried chicken, cake and fries to find our favorites.

These machines are all about the air chamber and the basket allows air to circulate around the food. The biggest question when it comes to purchasing an air fryer is often which size to get and how much to spend. They can range in price from $40 to more than $300. “XL” and “XXL” models have larger capacities and can be pricier, but there are some basic, very affordable brands with larger baskets standard, so do some research. Our favorite model is this one by Instant Brands, which is on the larger side.

How to Cook Healthier Using Your Air Fryer

Air fryers can help you cook healthier, but if you only reheat frozen chicken nuggets in this appliance you won’t be making much healthy headway. Use your air fryer to make fish, lean meats, lots of veggies, and even better-for-you baked goods. The beauty of the air fryer is you can use little or no oil — a light coating or spray is all you need to get a crispy result. It’s not hard to find lightened-up versions of your fried favorites using the air fryer instead of a deep fryer. These recipes usually feature whole food ingredients, simply seasoned and (thanks to the air fryer) quick cooking.

Unexpected Uses for Your Air Fryer

There are so many more air fryer possibilities beyond wings and fries.

Experiment by making stuffed peppers, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and potato skins in your air fryer. A quick batch of tortilla chips (corn or flour) along with salsa and guac make a fun game day or after school snack. You can also prepare seafood and (wait for it) hard “boiled” eggs.

You can also bake muffins, cakes and quick breads in the air fryer using mini loaf pans and silicone baking cups.

Dana's Top 5 Must Try Recipes

Think outside the box and give these air fryer recipes a try.

Food Network Kitchen’s Air Fryer Stuffed Mushrooms, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: KATE MATHIS

KATE MATHIS

Food Network Kitchen’s Air Fryer Swedish Meatballs, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: KATE MATHIS

KATE MATHIS

Food Network Kitchen’s Air Fryer Banana Bread, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: KATE MATHIS

KATE MATHIS

Food Network Kitchen’s Air fryer Air Fryer Teriyaki Salmon Fillets with Broccoli, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: KATE MATHIS

KATE MATHIS

FNK_AirFryerZucchiniChips_H

FNK_AirFryerZucchiniChips_H

Food Network Kitchen’s Air Fryer Zucchini Chips, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

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