Who doesn't love fried food? It's a staple in both home and commercial kitchens around the world. It's hard to deny that fried food tastes so good, you can't help but want to come back for more.
With such a demand, it's no wonder that companies sought to make frying at home as easy as possible. While you still rock the cast iron pan, frying appliances like deep fryers have made the process easy and efficient. You no longer have to go to a restaurant to get your fried food fix; just make it at home.
But before you go and impulse buy a deep fryer, hear us out. There is another option that you might not know about but absolutely should: air fryers.
Air fryers are a fairly new alternative to the beloved deep fryer, and it has a few differences when comparing the two back to back. They both will fry your food, but they will do so in different ways with different results.
These differences are important and can make or break your experience with either of them. So in this article, we'll be going over the key aspects of both air fryers and deep fryers. We'll also go over the pros and cons of each and, in the end, find out which is better for your needs.
Let's get started!
Key Aspects of Deep Fryers
First, let's start with the appliance that everyone knows: the deep fryer.
Deep fryers are vats that contain a large amount of hot fat (usually oil). Food is submerged in the oil and quickly fried on all sides, resulting in that crispy texture that we all know and love.
This is referred to as a "hot cooking method" and typically cooks the food within mere minutes. Once the food is finished frying, it can be removed with tongs or pulled out along with the frying container.
Pretty simple and pretty delicious.
Pros of Deep Frying
The pros of deep frying are numerous.
First, the speed at which you can deep fry food is pretty amazing. Depending on the food that you want to fry as well as how much of it you fry at once, you can expect it to finish frying with 2 - 8 minutes. You can even fry foods while they are frozen; you don't have to wait for food to defrost!
Compared to other cooking methods, that's remarkably speedy. Keep in mind, however, that you will have to wait for the oil to warm up before any deep frying can happen.
Second, the taste is amazing. Seriously, this is a point all on its own. Deep fried foods are incredibly tasty, have their own unique texture/flavor, and are a welcome addition to any dish you want to cook up.
Great for personal use, familial use, or for a group social event.
Third, deep fryers are extremely versatile in what they can fry. You can fry potatoes, meats, veggies, and even ice cream if you really want to.
The sky is the limit!
Fourth, deep fryers will allow you to save any leftover oil that was used for frying. You don't have to throw it away and can reuse it many times after the first. You can even use the oil for other recipes in order to give other food that fried aroma and taste.
Fifth, it doesn't cost much to deep fry. Automatic deep fryers like the ones found here range from $30 to $100, making it a budget-friendly investment.
Cons of Deep Frying
Despite all of the benefits, deep frying has its fair share of issues that you should be aware of.
First, deep fried food is pretty unhealthy.
According to a study conducted in 2015, chronic diseases in adults have a link with fried food consumption; the more fried food consumed, the higher the chance that an adult can get something like diabetes or heart disease. Other studies have pointed to this conclusion as well.
This can be mitigated through the use of healthier oils, but fried food in general has a reputation for being an unhealthy splurge in calories and saturated fats.
Second, the process of deep frying is pretty messy. Traditional deep fryers are known for splashing oil around and getting it everywhere.
And since it's oil, it's difficult to clean without using grease-cutting soap.
If you don't intend to keep the grease, then you have to put it into a sealed container and then toss it. Pouring down the drain will only clog your pipes and disposing of it in the trash will cause the aroma of fried food to stick around for days on end.
Third, deep frying can be fairly dangerous. The nature of hot oil makes it fairly risking to cook with, as it can burn your skin with ease.
Worse still is that since it is oil, it sticks to your skin while burning you.
Automatic deep fryers like the most of ones found here can eliminate this problem since the operation is completely internal. You won't have to worry about playing chicken with the fryer as long as you stick to these kinds of deep fryers.
Fourth, deep fryers tend to require a LOT of oil. This is to be expected; you can't deep fry something without submerging it in hot oil, so you definitely need a lot of it.
Deep fryers tend to be a drain on cooking oil reserves, so you could find yourself buying a lot more oil to compensate. This is especially so if you don't actually keep the leftover oil, though you'll have to replace that oil sooner rather than later even if you do plan to reuse it.
Fresh oil will deliver better results than used oil. Don't be surprised if you find yourself going through bottles of oil at a time.
Key Aspects of Air Fryers
Air fryers are also designed to fry your food. But the cooking mechanism is quite different compared to the method that deep fryers use.
Like a traditional deep fryer, food is held in a basket inside the container. But unlike deep frying where the food would be submerged in oil, air fryers will spray a small amount of oil to coat and form a layer on the food.
The frying is done by then quickly circulating super hot air (up to 200 degrees Celsius) inside the interior container.
The result? Crispy, tasty fried food.
Pros of Air Frying
The mechanism behind air frying offers several unique advantages to producing fried food that cannot be replicated with a deep fryer.
First, air fryers offer a largely automated cooking process. Once you put the food in the basket and select the appropriate settings, you can walk away while the cooking is taken care of.
No stress, no worries.
Second, fried food made from air fryers is much healthier than deep fried food.
That's because air fryers don't require your food to be dunked in oil, meaning that the unhealthy aspects of oil aren't absorbed into the food. Air fryers spray far less oil than what is used to submerge food in deep fryers.
Fewer unhealthy fats mean better health, which means you can enjoy fried food more often without having to worry about risking your health.
Third, air fryers require only a little to no oil. That's right, you can fry without using any oil at all. This saves money since you don't have to buy oil often.
Fourth, it can't be overstated how safe air fryers are. Since the entire frying process takes place inside a sealed container, you don't have to worry about hot oil splashing around and burning you.
Any oil that you want to use is placed into an oil dispenser which the appliance uses to spray from (think of spraying water out of a squirt bottle).
Fifth, air fryers are super easy to clean up. The hardest part of cleaning a deep fryer is the large amount of oil that you have to deal with, but air fryers don't have that problem.
The inner container is usually dishwasher-friendly and is made of non-stick materials that make food just fall off.
Cons of Air Frying
Air fryers do come with some of their negatives as well.
The #1 thing that people mention when cooking with an air fryer is that the texture and taste of the food are different from deep frying. This difference is especially noticeable when you choose to use no oil at all.
The difference isn't big, but you can tell that air frying produces a unique style of fried food. Regardless, it's still fried food. But if you are expecting that rich, deep fried taste, then you'll probably be disappointed.
Something else that you have to keep in mind is that air fryers are pretty new on the kitchen block. You will probably struggle to find a lot recipes that call for air frying, and you'll have to do a lot of problem solving yourself.
Finally, air fryers are typically more expensive than deep fryers.
The ones found on this list range from $50 - $150, and you can expect to pay even more for the high-end models. The nice thing is that air fryers are built to last, so you will get your money's worth if you plan on using it often.
Air Fryer vs. Deep Fryer - Which is Better?
So, which is better?
If you value health and want to enjoy fried food at a fraction of the calories, then you can't go wrong with an air fryer. The taste and texture might be a bit different than what you are used to, but the benefits outweigh this small difference.
If you want a fryer that's easy to clean, simple to use, and safe, then we still say that the air fryer comes out on top. You really will save so much time on cleaning when you don't have to deal with the mess that comes from hot oil splashing about.
If you are all about the taste and are looking for a fryer that can lock-in the rich flavor, then you'll want a deep fryer. The aroma and taste of deep fried food is unique to that method of frying, so we get it if that's what gets you most excited.
If you looking for something budget friendly, you can go with either option. Air fryers tend to cap at higher prices, but the lower priced models are within the same ball park as with lower-mid priced deep fryers. But deep fryers are just slightly less expensive, which can make all the difference depending on your budget.
We prefer air fryers to deep fryers for health reasons, but we very much enjoy the taste that comes with deep fried food.
Both air fryers and deep fryers are great at frying up food. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, so choosing one over the other will ultimately be up to preference.
If you are all about deep fryers, then consider checking out our list of the top 4 best deep fryers of 2020. They are truly some of the best deep fryers on the market and have been thoroughly vetted by yours truly.
If you think air fryers are the way to go, then you'll want to take a look at our list of the top 10 best air fryers of 2020. This list takes a wide variety of air fryers into account and selects the best of them out of each of our categories, making sure that you get a comprehensive understanding of what the best options are for your needs.
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Until next time, have a wonderful day~