To Fry or Not to Fry: Are Air Fryers Worth All The Hype?

Sales of air fryers increased by 76% between 2019 and the end of 2021. While they've slowed a bit now, they're still the hottest kitchen countertop cooking item on the market today.

Every second American household has an air fryer in their collection today. Their popularity boomed over the past few years. If reactions on social media are anything to go by, this household appliance has a cult following at this point. Everyone loves them and can’t wait to get one for themselves.

Future Market Insights predicts that, between 2023 and 2033, the global market for air fryers – currently worth $896.5 million – will grow to a whopping $1.9 billion. What is it about air fryers that make them so popular?

But How Does an Air Fryer Even Work?

An air fryer cooks food by circulating hot air around it. This leads to the Maillard reaction, i.e., a process where all the sugar and amino acids in food react to heat, changing its taste and texture.

This results in crispy, fried food with little to no oil. Anything you can make in a deep fryer, you can also make with an air fryer. You can cook anything from meat to pastries using the appliance. The result is a low-fat, low-calorie alternative to deep-fried food that is healthy and extremely tasty.

The Many Reasons Behind The Popularity of Air Fryers

Air fryers are currently known as the epitome of healthy cooking. Of course, replacing a deep fryer doesn’t suddenly make one an icon of good health. But, thankfully, air fryers are pretty versatile.

You can make the usual burger and french fries dishes in it. But people have been using it to replace a microwave and, often, even an oven. If the thousands of recipe videos available online are to be believed, you can make anything from a simple roast dinner to simple lemon and fruit cakes using the appliance. You can even use it for baking bread, making kebabs, and even pancakes and sausages for breakfast.

No Oil Required 

The best part? You will hardly need any oil (or fat) to do it. Air fryers are also known to cut down the fat content of food by, at least according to some brands, 75%. Whether true or not, the appliance uses less than half the amount of oil that a deep fryer needs. 

They are also efficient. An air fryer is not just cost-effective, but it also cuts down on cooking time while making sure your food cooks evenly, unlike a microwave oven.

But perhaps the most significant reason behind its growing popularity is the pandemic. As more and more people started cooking at home due to safety concerns or to pass the neverending time, many started investing in specialized cooking and baking equipment to make their jobs easier and more efficient. This is around the time when social media influencers “discovered” this nifty device that they began lauding as one of the best kitchen appliances they have ever bought. Soon enough, everyone on TikTok and Instagram began investing in one, experimenting with it, and posting recipes. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Air Fryer Maintenance 

Air fryers are easy to use and clean. They are efficient. They help users move to a healthier lifestyle — which, since the pandemic, has been more in trend than ever. So, the surge in the device’s popularity is more than understandable. 

Reducing vegetable oil intake is fantastic for weight loss and overall health. It also reduces the risk of heart disease and cholesterol. They can also significantly reduce the formation of harmful compounds like acrylamide in your food. Acrylamide is known as a probable cancer-causing substance, according to The Environmental Protection Agency, so this is a big perk of switching to the device.

Weighing The Pros and Cons

But are air fryers just full of perks and no cons? There may be reason to believe otherwise.

One of the biggest problems people have complained about when using air fryers is how easy it is to burn food in there. Also, the appliance is not designed to cook larger portions of food. So, if you plan on cooking a feast for the whole family on your beloved new device, you may be disappointed.

But there may be an even bigger problem at work here. While air fryers reduce the formation of acrylamide, there is currently not enough research to show what compounds it does form. There are chances that dangerous and cancer-inducing chemicals like heterocyclic amines, aldehydes, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which often form when you cook food in high heat, are created during air frying.

That said, currently, the advantages outweigh the cons. And considering the device’s versatility and efficiency, its popularity will only continue to surge in the coming years.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Ananyaa Bhowmik is a neurodivergent and queer pop-culture journalist with the Wealth of Geeks. She has previously worked with brands like Sterling Holidays, Myntra, Bajaj, and the Loud Interactive. She is an independent scholar, cat parent, and performance poet. Her areas of research and interest focus on and around digital marketing, Canadian indigenous history, queerness in media, and pop-culture and fandom studies.