As Home Editor for T3, I cover many different areas including mattresses, watches, haircare, smart home and much more. One of my favourite topics to write about is kitchen appliances, so it might come as a surprise to you that I don’t actually own an air fryer… or want one either!
It goes without saying that the best air fryers have changed the way we cook. Models from Ninja, Tower, Philips and Instant Pot regularly fly off the shelves, and are loved by beginners, lazy cooks, home chefs and professionals alike. These compact small ovens take all the guesswork out of cooking and create delicious meals in record time while using less oil and energy than traditional methods.
Despite what the title may suggest, I consider myself an air fryer expert, having tried and tested a fair few myself. There’s no doubt in my mind why air fryers are so popular and I can already sense the uproar I’m going to receive by admitting that I don’t have one. Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the appeal of having one of these handy gadgets in your kitchen… but I’m just not one of them.
Here are seven reasons why I don’t own an air fryer and why it’ll take me a bit of convincing to become an air fryer convert.
1. What’s wrong with an oven?!
Maybe I’m just being old fashioned, but I really don’t see what’s wrong with using an oven to cook my meals. As an air fryer is described as being like a miniature version of an oven, it stands to reason that the best ovens can do whatever an air fryer can, and then some.
Air fryers work by circulating hot air inside its baskets to quickly and effectively cook your food, which is fairly similar to how fan ovens work. The main difference is air fryers are much smaller and tend to use less oil as they have drip trays that collect excess oil and moisture. If you’re trying to eat healthier or want a quick snack, it makes sense why an air fryer would be the first point of call. But since I already have an oven, I’d just rather use that, particularly for bigger meals.
2. Inconsistent cooking
As discussed in the best and worst things about my air fryer, the heat of an air fryer can be a little tricky and sometimes results in inconsistent cooking. As air fryers produce intense blasts of heat and circulate this heat rapidly, they can cook your food in record time and add that perfect crisp texture to foods like chips. But as the heat is so intense, an air fryer also has the potential to over-crisp or burn your food.
During my tests, I enjoyed the air fryer’s method of cooking and found it worked best with crispier textures and flavours. They’re also great at keeping chicken moist and tender. But I found this cooking method to be a bit hit and miss, as some meat came out burned on the edges and tough to chew one day, and succulent and perfectly cooked the next.
3. Not always the best with liquid
For consistent and delicious cooking results, it’s often best to avoid excess liquid in an air fryer. When I say liquid, this is fairly broad but as I found in 7 foods you should never cook in an air fryer, wet batter and sauces tend to have a hard time in an air fryer. The consistency of wet batter doesn’t crisp or set properly, leaving you with a soggy mess and a sticky clean-up. With sauces and stews, an air fryer will have a hard time cooking it and the air circulation will cause the liquid to splash and splatter, making a mess and burning yourself in the process. Using the best multi-cooker or a quality saucepan set is a better option in my opinion.
4. Give me a window!
Regardless of what you’re cooking, it’s always handy to be able to look in and check on its progress. With an oven, you can quickly see through the glass door but with some air fryers, you don’t get this visibility. There are some models on the market which have a preview or viewing window – take the Tower 10-in-1 Xpress Pro Combo and the Russell Hobbs Express Air Fryer Mini Oven as examples – but others don’t… which stresses me out as I’m a bit of a nervous cook!
5. Takes up space
Even if you have a lot of countertop space or are using a small device, an air fryer can take up a lot of room in your kitchen. While having your air fryer out all the time isn’t the end of the world, I only keep things out on my worktop that I use on a daily basis, like the best kettle. I feel the same way about my microwave as I keep it in a cupboard and have to heave it onto my counter whenever I want to use it, which is arguably more hassle than it’s worth. In my kitchen, an air fryer just gets in the way but this is all down to personal preference (like this entire article!).
6. Internal size
As air fryers are more compact and petite than an oven, they can’t fit as much food in as an oven can. Of course, there are models that come with multiple drawers that can cook different foods at different times and temperatures, and some which have an enormous capacity, like the Ninja Foodi FlexDrawer. That aside, the smaller models with a limited capacity just prove to me that an oven can tackle more food.
7. Takes the fun out of cooking
I love to cook and enjoy the time I spend in the kitchen. After a long day, I want nothing more than a quick meal which I don’t have to put a lot of effort into, and these are the days I wish I had an air fryer. But there’s something relaxing and therapeutic about taking my time to make a homemade meal, and I feel like chucking everything in an air fryer and waiting for 15 minutes just doesn’t have the same appeal.
And that’s why I don’t have an air fryer. I imagine my feelings will change in the future as there are so many brilliant models and brands on the market, and I’ll be honest, I’m excited to see which device will make me a convert (stay tuned for if/when that happens!).
If you can’t get enough of your air fryer, check out 5 ways an air fryer changed my life.