A few months ago my air fryer arrived at my doorstep. Only after months of contemplating whether I need one or not, I decided to give it a go. I’m a whole food plant-based foodie, I don’t cook with oil, and my oven is working great. So do I really need one?
Do I have the space for it in a kitchen that seems to only get smaller and smaller the longer I’m a food blogger? Yet, somehow there is no way around the air fryer these days.
Does it add value? A cooking appliance can add value when making cooking easier, less complicated, more delicious, faster, or all of the above. A lot of ”trendy” cooking appliances, such as the Instant Pot, promise to add value in any way. So I absolutely understand why these appliances are so popular right now.
As I mentioned before, I didn’t see the urgent need to get myself an air fryer at first. I thought that for a whole food plant-based foodie, who already doesn’t cook with oil, it would not add any extra value.
What Is An Air Fryer?
An air fryer is a countertop kitchen appliance that cooks food by circulating hot air (and sometimes oil) around it.
Some would describe an air fryer as a downsized version of an oven, but I don’t think that is totally the case. The air fryer works with a fan that circulates hot air around the food at high speed. As such, the food will be cooked keeping the temperature consistent throughout the cooking area resulting in food with that irresistible crispy brown layer similar to fried food.
Most models will be available anywhere from 1 liter to 4 liter or up capacity, and prices can also range a lot. I tested the Philips Airfryer XXL with a capacity to prepare up to 6 portions.
Which air fryer is best?
Once you are ready to give it a go, the next question is: which air fryer will be worth the investment? In my quest for the best air fryer, Philips kept popping up. They have a few different models in different price ranges, but the Philips air fryer XXL seemed to be the best option. Spoiler alert: it is the best option.
Philips promotes the enjoyment of great tasting fried food with a focus on a fake fried flavor, an aversion to oils, and an emphasis on convenience. Even if you cook with oils, with a Philips air fryer XXL you can enjoy delicious food with up to 90% less fat. So basically, you can enjoy the crispy flavor of fried foods, without or with less fat. Sounds promising, right?
How does the Philips Air Fryer XXL work?
Philips has a Twin TurboStar technology that provides the airflow needed to cook food faster and more evenly. The result is a crunchy outside, tender inside and up to 90% less fat (if you use oil to cook).
The Philips Airfryer XXL uses hot air to fry food with little or no added oil. By combining a 1725W powerful heater and motor, the hot air swirls fast, like a tornado. Whatever you are cooking in the basket, everything will be evenly heated. Because of the constant circulating heat, the food is cooked through and excess fat from the food is extracted and captured at the bottom.
My first thoughts
It’s big yes, but that was to be expected. I surprised myself that I managed to create (again) some counter space in my kitchen though.
In the past I used oil in my vegan recipes, but never that much and that was a long time ago. And fried food? I never enjoyed that. Nevertheless, I was curious about the taste of fried food and especially what the difference in crisp is that my oven can’t do.
Besides the size, I also noticed the noise. I think it’s safe to say, that the air fryer makes a bit more noise than a regular oven. Not a problem for me, and I don’t think an air fryer can be completely silent without the fan doing a good job.
The first thing I tried to make (I mean fry) were of course potatoes.
The potatoes came out looking great, but not fully fried on the inside after 15 minutes in the air fryer. A few seemed to be fully fried though and the taste was amazing! Ok, more testing was in order.
Once I got the hang of it…
I realized that the air fryer is indeed faster than the oven, but still needs some time to cook my potatoes well, but I got the hang of it. I learned that I need to use the manual M setting. I actually don’t use any of the other options, manual is just fine. For almost all of my food I set it to 185 Celsius degrees for 25-30 minutes, and forget it until the bell rings. That will create ah-maaaa-zing delicious tasting fried potatoes. The inside is soft, yet not dry and the outside is so crispy and brown…. It’s so good, I could cry.
Many other experiments followed and all were so delicious. Such as marinated tofu, garlic, cauliflower, and potatoes.
The first photo are potatoes from the air fryer. On manual at 185 Celsius degrees for 30 minutes. Such an amazing crispy outside!
The inside of these air fried potatoes are pure heaven!
The third photo is with potatoes from the oven. They were in the oven for the same amount of time, at the same temperature, but they were still too raw to eat and I couldn’t cut them open.
Why can’t an oven do the same?
Since I thought that an oven was able to do whatever an air fryer does, I thought it would only be fair to show you the difference. Unfortunately, I can’t let you taste the difference, but I hope the above pictures speak for themselves.
I used the same type of organic potatoes, which I washed and then placed (while still wet) in the air fryer and oven. I made sure the potatoes had more or less the same size. Both for 30 minutes at 185 Celsius degrees. Although I did have to give the potatoes in the oven an extra 10 minutes, because they were still raw after 30 mintes. Those extra 10 minutes didn’t make a huge difference though as you can tell.
The air fryer is way faster than the oven in preparing your food. Taste wise, the air fried potatoes are also so much better. So much fuller in taste. The potatoes are soft and full of flavor on the inside. The ones from the oven are a bit more dry on the inside and lost some flavor. And most of all, the outside of the air fried potatoes are not hard, but crispy. The potatoes from the oven, were pretty hard on the outside and not so crispy. A hard outside layer is not the same as a crispy layer.
I’m not fussy here, the difference is really big.
Does the air fryer make food healthier?
Yes and no. It all depends on what you are used to. An air fryer can prepare foods with a fraction of the oil, compared to for example traditional deep fryers. So if you are using oil, then yes using way less oil is indeed healthier.
When you already don’t use oil in your diet, then the difference is not going to be so much healthier. The difference will be all in the taste and the crispy food that you can achieve with an air fryer.
Either way, I think for a lot of people that love to use their oven or regular fry their food, an air fryer can be a great addition in your kitchen. Whether it is to replace the deep frying or to achieve a better taste when you are cooking without oil.
Is it a pain to clean the air fryer?
I hardly ever clean my air fryer. Not because it is such a hassle, but because I don’t have to.
Let me try to explain that a bit better. When I use ”dry foods” that will not leak, there is simply nothing to clean. Maybe a few potato crisps and that’s it. Examples are (starchy) vegetables, such as potatoes, corn, cauliflower, parsnips, carrots, asparagus, broccoli, and chickpeas.
Sometimes I do marinate some of my food to add extra flavor and that will leak and will require me to clean the basket and the bottom of the air fryer. I think that would be a hassle. So then I use parchment paper. Just a small piece to cover the bottom. My advice? Don’t let the parchment paper stick out of the basket, because the powerful heater might cause the paper to burn. Actually, the advice is that nothing should touch the top. So don’t cram the basket.
Once a month or so I clean the air fryer, just because it feels good, but to be honest it looks pretty clean to me after all those fried potatoes. I think this is a whole different story if you do use oil though.
As a vegan, what kind of foods can I cook in an air fryer?
There is so much variety in the foods you can cook. Even as a vegan. After some online research it seems that frozen French fries are the most popular food to cook in the Philips air fryer.
But there is so much more. Here are some suggestions:
- (Marinated) tofu
- Perfectly roasted broccoli or any other vegetable
Super crispy tofu
Roasted garlic (so good!)
- Sweet- and white potatoes with the skin (experiment with the size: wedges, cubes or whole potatoes)
- Crispy beans and legumes such as chickpeas for a perfect snack
- Toasted nuts
- Blistered shishito peppers
- Little pizza bites
What is not so great about the air fryer?
- The first thing that I can think of is the size. In my kitchen there is not that much space left with all the kitchen equipment I already own. But since I use it on a daily basis, it makes the price that I have to pay in terms of space totally worth it.
- Although, the air fryer itself is a bit on the big side, the basket where you place the food, is not that big. Which makes an air fryer limited in its use. So if you would like to make very big meals or meal prep for a whole week, you would need to cook in batches. On a daily basis a small (plant-based) family should be able to use the air fryer without issues.
- Depending on the oven you have, an air fryer creates more noise than any average oven.
Do I need an air fryer?
If the downsides I just mentioned before are a dealbreaker for you, then don’t be bothered to get one.
Also, most of us have an oven, so there is no urgent need.
However, if you use oil and would like to use less oil, then an air fryer is a great addition. If you are an oil-free vegan, then an air fryer will give the bite, crisp and texture of fried food, without a single drop of oil. Simply because it heats up in minutes and blasts more direct air around the food than a regular convection oven could ever do.
Some foods are just so delicious from an air fryer, you can’t get the same taste and texture when using an oven. It’s up to you, if that’s worth your money and countertop space.
Your kitchen is complete without it, but it could be incredibly efficient. You can cook small batches of everything you like. Roasted tofu, roasted garlic, potatoes, to perfectly reheated frozen foods. All with less time than it would take to pre heat an oven.
I’m in love with the idea of ”set it and forget it”. And for me, a foodie who isn’t that patient, the air fryer is the perfect way to get crispy food, simple, oil-free and fast. My favorite foods to use in the air fryer are potatoes, tofu and garlic. The lack of cleanup is also a big bonus for me.
With almost all foods I have experimented with, an air fryer just does it better than an oven ever could.
I was super skeptical at first, but once I got the hang of it I kept using it more and more. I reach out to mine on a daily basis now, and I’m sure I’m not done experimenting with the air fryer yet.
I’d love to know if you have an air fryer and what your experiences are. Leave a comment in the section below, or reach out to me on Instagram @thegreencreator.
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