If ever a product was set to change the way we live, surely the air fryer has to be in with a shout. Surging in popularity over the last few years, this humble kitchen appliance has gone from a healthy chip maker, to an all-in-one, oven-killing must have.
Recently, I was given a Ninja Foodi DualZone Air Fryer as a moving present. I was sceptical at first. Air fryers seem to have a cult-like following, but would it actually be useful?
Well, I've spent the last few weeks using one to find out. Spoiler alert – yes, it is. Quite honestly, it's the best kitchen gadget I've ever had, and here are my top five reasons why.
1. No need to pre-heat
I dread to think how much of my life I've already squandered waiting for a traditional oven to pre-heat. That ten or fifteen minutes can make the whole cooking time drag on, which in the past has definitely put me off using it favour of making more convenient meals.
So imagine my admiration for a cooking device that you can use straight away. No more pre-heating – result.
It might not seem like a big deal, but I'm already noticing the time savings. Combine that with the quicker cooking times overall, and the whole experience is much speedier, saving valuable minutes for important stuff, like binging an extra episode...
2. Synced cooking time
The Foodi DualZone – as it says on the tin – features two separate compartments for cooking. These can be set to different temperatures and cooking times, making it really easy to perfectly make multiple parts of a dish in one go.
But the crowning achievement here is the synced finish time. Set up both sides and hit the 'Sync' button, and the air fryer will make sure both finish at the same second. No more faffing with multiple timers to make sure everything is just right, or having something over- or under-done because the other part was ready.
3. Easy cleaning
If, like me, you hate cleaning your oven with the kind of passion and vitriol usually reserved for an arch nemesis, you're going to love having an air fryer. The DualZone, in particular, is really effortless.
Each section consists of a bowl-like outer casing and a Crisper Tray – basically just a grated platform which holds your food off the bottom. There's a distinct lack of nooks and crannies, meaning there's nowhere for cooking residues to hide.
If, also like me, you tend to binge-watch a few too many episodes of your favourite show after dinner, just pop some water and washing up liquid in there to pre-soak. Once you get around to the washing up, everything will lift right off and you'll be done in no time.
4. Great for portion control
I tend to struggle with making too much food in a traditional oven – there's just something hard-wired into my brain which sees a cooking tray and has to make sure every square millimetre is being used.
That's much easier to control in an air fryer. For starters, the cooking sections are smaller, so even if you do fill the tray, you won't use as much food in the process. The smaller space makes it easier to heat, too, so you wont waste as much energy if you do opt to cook a smaller meal.
5. Maybe the best chicken ever?
I'm a massive fan of chicken, so that was always going to be a big test here. And I'm pleased to tell you – this makes the best home cooked chicken I've ever tasted.
The fact that one cooking process can simultaneously make the skin so crispy and the meat so moist and tender continues to baffle my non-foodie brain. But it works really well.
Friends of mine with the same model have even cooked a full chicken on the 'Roast' setting. I haven't braved that yet, but if it's as good as this, it may well be next on my list.