Welcome to How To Cook That, I’m Ann Reardon And in this episode we’re going to be testing ‘Are Airfryers a Waste of Money?’ So full disclosure, right at the beginning… I was actually sent an Airfryer for free by TaoTronics so for me I’m more testing Am I actually going to use this thing rather than should I buy one.
Because I’ve already got one. But what I want to do is put it through a full gamut of testing And I’m going to compare it to a deep fryer and also a convection fan-forced oven so we can see if it’s worth getting an airfryer and using one or not.
Now what I’m going to do in this testing first up is I’m going to use 500g of store bought frozen chips (fries) and the reason I’m doing that is it’s easy to get lots of them to run lots of testing to compare each model and see how it goes.
So first of all, for each appliance of course it needs pre-heating The airfryer says that it needs only 3 minutes to preheat it up to 300F. Once that’s done, add the chips straight out of the freezer and tip them in.
There’s plenty of room in there, it’s quite a big basket. And then turn that on to 400F for 20 minutes. Now apparently you’re supposed to shake them half way through cooking time so they cook evenly so I’ll do that.
And then let them cook the rest of the time. As well as looking at how long it takes to cook the chips in each of these appliances I also want to know how much power it’s using. so for that I’ve got an energy meter that I’m going to use for each of them so I can see exactly what’s going through.
It’s not as simple as just multiplying the wattage of the device with the time you have it on for when it comes to this sort of appliance because in the case of all 3 of them, I’ll show you the airfryer for example while it’s heating up it draws a lot of power to get up to the right temperature and then when it’s at that temperature the heating element will switch off and the amount of power needed will slow down and when it gets to cold again it will turn the heating element back on it just cycles through and the oven does the same thing the deep fryer does the same thing with it’s heating element just to keep it at the exact same temperature.
So what we’ll do is use the meter to measure exactly how much power is needed. After 20 minutes in the airfryer, these chips look golden and yummy and pretty good. Now let’s compare that, let’s deep fry some chips And for that we’re going to need oil.
And I mean a lot of oil! Put the lid on and wait for that to heat up Now my deep fryer took 12 minutes to heat the oil up to the right temperature and now we can add those chips in I’m using the exact amount of chips as we did for the airfryer and they are all coming straight from the freezer so they’re the same temperature and after only 5 minutes the chips are golden and crunchy and that is why fast food restaurants use deep fryers because it’s fast.
So it’s ideal when you’re trying to get food out to customers quickly but not ideal when it comes to your health. Obviously these have a lot more oil in them. The deep-fried chips have 4 tablespoons more fat in them compared to the ones cooked in the airfryer.
You’d need to go for a 30 minute run or a 2 hour walk to burn off just the energy that was in that extra amount of fat that was in the chips. I don’t really have time for a 2 hour walk so I’d rather eat the airfried ones myself.
Now if we take the drawer out of an airfryer and tip it upside down you can see it has a heating element and a fan to circulate the air. If I show you inside my convection oven, you can see it has a heating element and a fan to circulate the air.
So an airfryer is of course not a fryer, it doesn’t fry the food in fat, it is basically a mini convection oven. So is there any point having an airfyer? Well let’s bake the chips in the oven and see how that goes.
After preheating the oven which took just under 10 minutes, I put the chips in at the exact same temperature for the exact same time they took to cook in the airfryer and after 20 minutes they don’t look done.
So I gave them an extra 5 minutes. And here’s the air fried, the deep fried and the oven-baked… and as you can see, they still don’t look crispy, I just gave up on them because they were taking so long.
So why did the oven take so much longer to cook the chips than the airfryer did? Well, at first I thought maybe it’s just because the element is closer to the chips in the airfryer so it’s like being on a higher shelf in the oven maybe it’ll brown quicker, let’s try that.
I moved the baking shelf up to the same distance away from the heating element as it was in the airfryer. Preheated it and then gave them 20 minutes in the oven and they were still not brown and crispy like they were in the airfryer.
They actually needed an additional 10 minutes to get them up to the same browness and crispness. So why is that? Well I am assuming it’s because it’s a smaller area and the sides are closer to the chip and the heat is reflecting off the sides as well because the sides get hot whereas in the oven the sides are out there, they’re not going to be as close to the chips to brown them.
That’s my theory, if you’ve got a different theory let me know, I’d love to hear it. But definitely the air fryer is much faster at baking the chips than the oven. So let’s look then at the electricity usage for each of these devices and see how it compares.
So including pre-heating time, the airfryer took 23 minutes to cook the chips and used 0.45kwh of electricity. The deep fryer took a $20 bottle of oil and 15 minutes including pre-heating and 0.1 kWh of power so it was very efficient in energy use but inefficient in that you had to pay for the oil and then of course we’re eating that oil, so not the best healthiest option.
The oven took 40 minutes including preheating time and used a whopping 1.22kwhrs of power. So if you pay the electricity bill at your house you probably just sat up and paid attention to that that is a big difference.
So how much difference does that actually make over a year? So if you were to use the airfryer once a day to heat something up, say you’ve got teenagers in the house like I do who like to make themselves a pie or a sausage roll of hot chips like we just saw for lunch and they’re baking for one person, forget about if you’re baking dinner as well I’m just saying just once a day for that short time, over a year that makes a difference of 281kwh which depending where you live, with Australia’s rates is between $77 and $115 worth of power, so it’s going to pay for itself in just one year.
So because it is a smaller oven essentially the smaller it is the less power you need to heat that area up so you’re going to save electricity. So if you’re making something that you can do in the airfryer instead of the oven it’s a good idea to do it in the airfryer.
So that brings me to the next question… what can you and can’t you do in an airfryer? What if you don’t even have an oven, what if you’re in a college dorm Or you’re somewhere where you’re renting and your oven doesn’t work? Can you bake in an airfryer? So let’s test out a few different recipes and see what works.
I’m going to start with something simple let’s start with a packet brownie mix. Now you could either bake it in a baking tin a 7-inch tin fits inside here. Or I’m going to try lining the base with baking paper, it’s not actually the base it’s the basket bit which actually comes out to make it easy for washing.
And then tip the mixture in and spread it out.The packet says to bake it at 320F for 45 minutes I’m going to have to keep an eye on it in case the brownie cooks faster like the chips did as well. Now after 20 minutes let’s have a sneak peek, that’s looking nice but not done so I’ll put it back in.
Now at 30 minutes it’s looking done on top but if I insert a knife and pull it out we can see that it’s still not cooked on the inside. So normally in the oven I’d say to just put some foil gently resting on top and that’s going to protect the top from over-browning.
But you can’t do that in an airfryer because the foil can get sucked up into the element. So instead I’m just going to use a tin and tip it upside down and put it on top so the air can still get around but it’s going to protect the top from over-cooking.
Time’s up and I can smell brownie. Here it is, looks pretty good. Here’s the brownie that’s been cooked in the oven and you can see the inside looks yummy and gooey and lovely. And here is the one that is cooked in the airfryer.
.. obviously the outside shape of it is not as perfect because it was not in a tin but the inside looks just like gooey, yummy brownie. I think they both taste very much the same. So yes you can bake brownies in an airfryer.
What about a quick dessert if I get some puff pastry and some tinned apple and fold that over and just seal it in with a little bit of water and press it down with a fork. and then pop 2 of those into the airfryer.
And look at that. Yum! That smells good too. They’d be really nice served with a little bit of ice cream, so you can do some desserts in an airfryer. Now I really want to push the limits and try macarons.
.. Macarons are very finicky, they liked to be baked in the middle of the oven, not the top, so that could be an issue. And they also like a very consistent, very even temperature throughout the whole oven otherwise it just doesn’t work so well, so I’m not expecting these to work at all but I like to push the limits so let’s give it a go.
Macarons also have to be banged on the bench, the tray has to be dropped a few times to stop them cracking so I’m going to pipe some onto a little piece of baking paper that’s the size of the base of the airfryer and then drop the actual tray onto the bench a few times to get rid of air bubbles.
And now getting it from there into the bottom of the airfryer is going to be rather tricky… I’m just going to try picking it up and then dropping it in. Yes, it worked! I’m not sure that would work every time but it worked that time.
Okay let’s bake them in the airfryer and see how they go. Now because macarons are very finicky on temperature you’re supposed to open the oven while they’re cooking or the inside can drop and you end up with hollow macarons so there’s no window for me to look inside so I’m just going to wait the full time which is not ideal in an airfryer because it does tend to cook a bit faster, I don’t know, we’ll see how they go.
.. and let’s look inside… Nope. They’re overdone, so it’s cooking macarons faster as well. They don’t look too bad though so I’m going to try another batch and with these ones I’m going to put them in for less time and open it up and see how we go.
They actually look better than I thought they would… They don’t have much of a foot but they’re not too bad. Here are the ones baked in the oven… and here are the airfryer ones, so they’re not quite as pretty and perfect as the oven baked ones but if you were in a dormroom craving some macarons these are going to hit the spot.
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