What Is The Capacity?
How many people are you cooking for and what kinds of foods do you plan to prepare? These are vital things to consider when deciding which air fryer to purchase.
A single person looking to make a few hot chips as a side dish every now and then has very different requirements to a home gourmet who’d like to knock out stuffed chicken breasts or vegetable samosas.
Similarly, a family of five teenagers and adults will need an air fryer with a far bigger cooking capacity than a young couple, even if they are cooking the same things.
Check the size of the cooking chamber carefully – whether it is a static bucket in a pull-drawer model or a rotating basket in a convection oven.Think carefully about whether it is big enough.
I was surprised when I first peered inside a few air fryers at how little room there actually was for frying food. These appliances may look quite bulky and spacious on the outside, but much of that bulk is made up of electronic parts and various forms of insulation.
After all, is an air fryer really making your life easier if you have to cook two lots of food in it as it’s too small to do it all in one go!
How Easy Is It To Clean?
Oh, the dreaded cleaning!
Generally, there is good news. The makers of most modern air fryers have clearly given some thought to this most annoying of tasks and designed machines with parts that are easy to clean.
The removable pieces usually fit into a sink and are often suitable for a dishwasher. However, some manufacturers are still twitchy about their non-stick mesh baskets being run through a heavy duty cycle – so check before you buy.
Furthermore, contemporary tastes mean that smooth, sleek lines are in. This is especially true with drawer and paddle style air fryers. The sleek styling means that there are no sharp edges to collect dirt and that surfaces are easy to wipe down.
If you’d like more detailed information on how to clean an air fryer, you can read more here.
How Much Bench Space Do You Have?
Actually, the first thing to consider is how often you are likely to use your new air frying gadget?
If you think you’ll only need it to make a few chips once a week or so, you may want to stow it away under a shelf somewhere for much of the time.
In this case, consider how compact it is and whether it will slot easily into your shelf space. And how much does it weigh? Moving heavy appliances around on a regular basis is both irritating and can lead to back issues. Trust me, I’ve been there.
If you plan to air fry regularly, then it probably makes sense to have the fryer out on your benchtop all the time.
So where will you put it and how much space do you have? Air fryers can be quite large, so you need to consider where they will sit in your kitchen and how much room they may take up from your existing work surface.
In addition, many air fryers are top-opening and this may be a problem if you wish to pop them under a shelf or wall-mounted cupboard.
Which Kind Of Controls?
Here you have two options: digital or dial.
Digital involves a touch display channel with spot-on temperature readings and an accurate timer. Often there are pre-programmed settings, featuring pictograms representing various popular kinds of food. This means that to air fry chicken legs, you simply have to press the chicken leg icon and the machine will do all the hard work of calculating the cooking times and temperature for you. They are easy to wipe clean.
In my experience dial controls tend to be less reliable when it comes to hitting the desired temperature and also with timings. However, there is generally a very satisfying and clear ping when the frying is finished which in itself can be rewarding. However, these dials can be dirt magnets.
If you’d like to learn about the science of air frying, you can read more here.