I bet that you have either seen or heard about the air fryer by now. You know, that thing that can magically fry food without any oil? I’ve seen them advertised on daytime television (don’t judge) and across the internet for a while now and I obviously had to get one. They’re marketed as a simpler, healthier and overall better alternative to traditional cooking, which also makes them seemingly perfect for lazy students all over the world. That raises the question: how well do they actually perform with this perspective in mind? I have personally used an air fryer in my humble-sized kitchenette for many months now, and as with pretty much everything, there are both positives and negatives.
Let’s first talk about convenience, a department that air fryers happen to do very well in for many reasons. For one, their compact size allows you to easily fit one in your kitchen without having to play Tetris with your cooking appliances. Another thing that stuck out to me was actually how time-efficient they were. Not to brag or anything, but mine can rise up to a temperature of 200°C in about three minutes and cook food in almost half the time a traditional oven would. One specific downside to this raw horsepower, however, is the loud noise it makes while in use. Trying to study as you wait for your meal to cook might therefore not be the best combo.
What it lacks in noiselessness is perhaps compensated by its broad versatility. I’ve made everything from crispy chicken wings to baked apple pie. We’re talking eggs, fish, roasted veggies, pizza and much more. Heck, you can even use it for reheating your food. Besides that, I recommend watching this video and this video for even more fun and experimental ideas which pushes the air fryer to its absolute limit.
So, what about the actual quality of the food? The answer really depends on what you’re making. For instance, while you can indeed cook a steak, it will not have that lovely brown and tasty crust you get from pan-frying it. Most foods, however, like chicken, seafood, minced meat and pies will definitely crisp up beautifully. Pretty much everything you put in the basket is cooked evenly and remains juicy, and yes, it does taste really good. One thing I have to mention is that white smoke occasionally appears while cooking fatty foods; there are luckily a few solutions to this. A good precautionary tip is to have your kitchen ventilator on and a window open just to be on the safe side.
Considering that most students hate to do their dishes, it is worth noting that the air fryer is very easy to clean. You still have to do it way more often than you need for an oven, but it’s not all bad. I’ve noticed that you can turn on the air fryer for a quick five-minute ‘air drying’ sesh after cleaning it (life hack much?). Once dry, you can simply put it back where it belongs and move on with your day.
I would of course be remiss if I didn’t discuss the price tag since, as we all know, the words “student” and “budget” are pretty much synonymous with each other. I’d argue that the price range for a well-functioning and reasonably sized air fryer for daily use is between €100–€200. I’m of course in no position to officially say what a ‘reasonable’ price is, as all students have different economic situations. My opinion is that you shouldn’t pay for one if you already have an oven at your disposal. If this doesn’t apply to you, I would suggest getting one. I personally knew that the air fryer would be my main cooking appliance as I only have two small ceramic hobs available. It was really a no-brainer, especially considering how it operates as a mini-oven and microwave all-in-one. The practical value definitely justified the price in my case.
As I expected, there is even more to talk about (such as the debate about its health benefits), but those are topics for another day. I would recommend the air fryer for students who already have restricted cooking options and some extra money to splurge. It’s certainly not a life-defining necessity, but still a very nifty appliance which almost fulfills its promise of making everything as easy as possible.