I love fried food. I get up some days craving fried mozzarella sticks, and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night just to prepare some french fries. Between frying or grilling spring rolls, I’d opt for frying without thinking twice. A year ago, I bought a deep fryer to make the whole process faster. Then one day, at a friend’s house, we were preparing lunch and she used an air fryer for french fries. They still tasted nice, so I had to find out for myself. Deep fryer vs air fryer, which one is better for you? Let’s see.
What’s a Deep Fryer?
We need to have a clear idea of the items we’re comparing. We’ll start with a deep fryer.
The deep-frying method has been around for ages, so it’s hard to pinpoint when it all started. Some believe that the Ancient Romans had deep frying recipes, others say that the Ancient Greeks used olive oil to deep fry.
However, we know that french fries were invented in the 18th century in Belgica! The first primitive form of deep fryers is a frying pan, and that was invented in Mesopotamia.
The idea of a deep fryer is to submerge all the food you’re frying into the pre-heated oil. Usually, it has a large stainless basket, with a handle, that’s used to lower the food in the oil. When it’s ready, you just take the basket outside and leave it on a napkin to get rid of extra oil.
As you lower the food, the surface is sealed, keeping all the moisture inside the food. The food is then cooked by the vapor from the water inside. This is why your meal is soft on the inside. So why is it crispy? The reason behind the tasty brown crisp of the deep-fried food is the Maillard reaction.
A deep fryer is more practical than a frying pan because you won’t need to regularly turn the food in order to cook all the sides equally. It all gets cooked at the same time. It usually takes from 3 to 20 minutes, depending on what you’re cooking.
What’s an Air Fryer?
The first air fryer was introduced to the world by Philips in 2010.
Instead of oil, air fryers use hot air to fry food. You usually put the food in a basket, and then put it in the air fryer. Some appliances require a dash of oil while others can function without any oil. The air fryers have a small fan that circulates hot air all around the food.
The heat produced causes the same Maillard reaction. Air-fried food usually has fewer calories, and it should have a similar taste. Food takes from 7 to 60 minutes to get ready, depending on how much you’re cooking.
What’s the Difference Between Air Fryers and Deep Fryers?
To find out what’s better, we need to highlight the differences between both fryers.
Oil consumption is the primary difference between both options. Air fryers consume a little to no oil, while deep fryers require a huge amount of oil to submerge the food.
Deep fryers are cheaper, but you’ll spend a fortune in the long run on oil. On the other hand, air fryers are a bit more expensive, but you’ll only pay for the product itself. Yes, you might pay for extra accessories, but it’s optional.
More oil means more calories, and more calories mean more health issues. It’s pretty clear that the air fryer is way better for your health.
Some might recommend adjusting the oil temperature and taking the food out of oil as soon as it’s cooked to lower the fats in deep-fried food.
However, no matter what you do, deep frying food would never be as healthy as air-fried food.
When you’re using hot oil in a deep fryer, there’s always a chance of it being spilled or splashed.
Some deep fryers won’t function with a closed lid, like Presto 05420 FryDaddy Electric Deep Fryer, so you need to be more careful. Air fryers, on the other hand, are generally safe.
They both require the same amount of care so it’s kind of a tie. However, deep fryers tend to get dirtier easily because of grease, so you may need more effort and time to keep them clean.
While air fryers can be cleaned easily, to the extent that some of them have dishwasher-safe baskets, like the Chefman TurboFry 3.6 Quart Air Fryer.
I’ve tasted both. Air-fried food is crispy, and it tastes just fine. However, I prefer deep-fried food. It’s just tastier and it has more flavor in it. The crust tends to be more crispy when we use oil.
With a deep fryer, you’ll only be able to fry food.
On the other hand, an air dryer gives you the opportunity to fry, roast, grill, and even bake with some models. It’s always nice to have an appliance that can do more than one thing.
Deep fryers cook food a lot faster compared to air fryers. The pre-heated oil gets the job done faster than the hot air. Take Hamilton Beach Cool-Touch Deep Fryer, for example, it takes from 2 to 3 minutes to heat the oil.
However, keep in mind that the capacity of your appliance plays an important role here. If the basket is big enough, you’ll be able to fry more quantities, and that results in less time.
Let’s take some common meals so that we can see the difference. One serving of deep-fried chicken breasts has 247 calories, compared to 163 calories of the same quantity when air-fried.
One serving of french fries has 471 calories when deep-fried, and 176 when air-fried.
Is Food Tastier in a Deep Fryer?
The short answer to that is “Yes”, for so many reasons. As a start, I have to tell you that air fryers don’t really “fry” food. It just cooks the food, while giving it a similar crisp. It’s closer to cooking your food in an oven.
Oil is better than air when it comes to conducting heat. As a result, the oil creates a golden crispy crust so quickly, while keeping the inside soft and juicy, hence the beloved deep-frying taste. Air fried food tends to lose the inside tenderness.
Another reason is the taste of oil itself. Oil has fats, and fats are tasty.
Air fryers might be more versatile as a cooking appliance, but in terms of “real frying taste”, deep fryers win.
Can You Deep Fry in an Air Fryer?
You can’t just add the same amount of oil in your air fryer to deep fry your food. Air fryers are not a replacement for deep fryers, and they’re just a way to cook healthier food, that’s somewhat close to the food you get from a deep fryer.
Air fryers are designed to cook in different ways, depending on the model you have.
Here’s some food that you can prepare in an air fryer:
- Frozen food
- Chicken breasts
- Roasted pumpkin seeds
- Hard-boiled eggs
- French Fries
- Brussel sprouts
Some air fryers will come with their recipe books so that you can have a detailed idea of what to do, like Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 Pressure, Slow Cooker, and Air Fryer, and GoWISE USA 8-in-1 Digital Air Fryer.
What Are the Disadvantages of an Air Fryer?
Air fryers have tons of advantages, from consuming less oil to cooking different types of food and being safe. However, like any other appliance, it has some drawbacks.
We mentioned earlier that it’s a healthy option, but at some point, it can have a negative effect on your health.
The first downside is that air fryers can be more tempting to prepare more fried meals.
You’ll be thinking “It’s a healthy alternative and I can use it as frequently as I want”, right? Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case.
Overusing your air fryer can have adverse effects on your health. This is because you start to over-consume fried foods rather than sauteed, roasted, and steamed alternatives. Not exactly the balanced diet you’re looking for.
While air fryers reduce the percentage of acrylamide, it still exists. That’s a drawback since it’s linked to cancer. Keep in mind that air fryers have only been on the market since 2010, so there’ll be more studies on their downsides.
There are some other minor downsides, like how air fryers usually have a small capacity, which makes it a good option only for families of 4.
However, some air fryers, like the Philips Premium Airfryer XXL with Fat Removal Technology, have a bigger capacity.
Also, the fact that it takes a while to get your food ready, as well as the high initial cost.
What Are the Disadvantages of Deep Fryer?
It’s unhealthy. We all know that, but why?
Deep frying requires large amounts of oil, which means more calories and fats. Studies have shown that consuming fried food is related to heart attacks, diabetes, and some types of cancer.
In the long run, deep-fried food can negatively affect health.
Another negative aspect is obesity. Eating deep-fried food and losing weight just don’t go together. That’s because of the excessive amount of calories in it. The calories aren’t only found in the oil, but also in the batter you might use, or the bread crumbs. Everything adds.
Oil waste is also something to consider. If the used oil isn’t recycled properly, it’ll just harm the environment. Deep fryers aren’t always eco-friendly.
Last but not least, deep-frying isn’t completely safe. If the hot oil causes a fire for any reason and you try to extinguish it with water, it gets worse. The safe option here is to use some sort of dry powder.
However, thanks to the lids in some deep fryers, like the T-fal Odorless Stainless Steel lean Deep Fryer and the Cuisinart CDF-100 Compact Deep Fryer, this can be avoided. You can keep the lid closed while frying for more safety.
Making the right decision depends on your priorities. If you fry food often and health isn’t your main concern, then go for a deep fryer.
I’d recommend opting for air fryers, though. They’re better for your health, they’re not hard to clean, and most importantly, they’re versatile.
I like the fact that you can buy one appliance, and get to use it for frying, baking, and grilling. I think it’s worth the money.
If you opt for an air fryer and you miss the thick tasty crust of deep-frying, you can always use a pan for an occasional indulgence.