Things You Need To Know Before Buying A New Air Fryer

With the cost of living increasing every year, more and more people are turning towards appliances that encourage them to cook more at home and eat out less, such as air fryers. Because of its health and time-saving features, air fryers are probably one of the best gifts you can give yourself (or other people) to encourage them to cook more often.

However, similar to dating, finding the right air fryer that fits your needs in terms of capacity, basket type, and safety can take some time. Not to mention, some brands are known to cause trouble because of bad manufacturing practices.

Thankfully, due to its growing popularity, there are so many options in the market that can fit singles or families of every size, are made of increasingly safer materials, and are less likely to catch on fire. So, if you're already inducted into the air fryer cult and find yourself looking to replace an old one or upgrade, here are some things you should know.

Check if the air fryer model has been recalled

In 2023, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a recall notice for over 2 million Cosori air fryers. Citing a faulty wire connection that makes it prone to be a fire and burn hazard, the CPSC advised consumers to stop using the listed models to avoid injuries or property damage. Aside from this, the CPSC has also recalled air fryers and air fryer ovens from brands like Insignia and Newair.

With new air fryer models released every year, it can be challenging to keep track of which ones are faulty. Because of this, it's always safer to check the CPSC website for any known recalls before making a purchase. While larger retailers are typically obliged to remove recalled products from their inventory as soon as possible, online resellers or smaller retailers may not be so diligent. If this happens, you may find yourself purchasing a brand-new air fryer with already-known issues.

In addition, you should also be mindful of return policies, which are incredibly useful if you notice that your particular air fryer unit isn't working the way it should. Although some issues can be due to manufacturing issues, such as wiring, burn risks can also be managed by how well you maintain your air fryer.

Often, the small food particles or marinades that have found themselves left behind can catch fire. With this, it's best to make sure your air fryer basket and coils are cleaned in between every single use. While you're at it, you should also plug your air fryer straight into an outlet when in use (instead of an extension cord) and unplug when it's not.

Be mindful of the air fryer coating

Similar to pans, plenty of air fryer models use Teflon or non-stick coating in their inserts or baskets. Teflon or non-stick coatings prevent your food from sticking to your air fryer pieces, which also makes it easier to clean. Unfortunately, these coatings also come with a little trouble.

Referred to as "forever chemicals," Teflon and similar compounds called PFAS are man-made chemicals that can build up in the bodies of people or animals with repeated exposure (via the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, or ATSDR). Aside from cookware like air fryers, PFAS have also been found in water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics, cosmetics, and so on.

According to the American Cancer Society, "there are no proven risks to humans from using cookware coated with Teflon (or other non-stick surfaces)." However, some experts are not so convinced. On its website, ATSDR enumerates potential side effects of PFAS, such as liver and immune system damage, hormone disruption, increased risk of cancer, and developmental issues in lab animals.

Additionally, these chemicals are relatively new enough that researchers haven't had enough time to witness their long-term effects on living creatures. Among the different types of PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) have been phased out in the United States but are still being used to manufacture products in other countries.

So, unless you're willing to take the risk with your new air fryer, it may be worth the effort to simply opt for a stainless steel one instead.

Consider a higher-capacity air fryer model

For the average air fryer, Food & Wine shares standard capacity is between three to six quarts, with models having six quarts and above considered as large-capacity. Although larger families will automatically prefer the higher-capacity air fryer models, there's a lot of merit for singles to invest in larger units as well.

Because air fryers are long-term investments, it makes sense to plan for the possibility that the number of people you'll be cooking for will also increase. Whether it's a partner, children, or simply a bigger friend group, a larger-capacity air fryer can make preparing food significantly easier.

Aside from the social benefits, there are also additional food quality aspects to investing in a larger air fryer unit, such as avoiding overcrowding. Overcrowding air fryers, wherein the hot air can't properly circulate, can lead to poorly fried or bad-tasting food. Aside from this, overcrowding your air fryer can also lead to undercooking, which in some cases can lead to stomach issues.

Air fryers can actually encourage bad health habits

Designed to give us a deep-fried experience with less oil, air fryers can be a godsend for people who love to eat crunchy, oily food. However, just because they're easier to do doesn't mean you should do them more often.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a healthy diet is composed of a combination of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains. In addition, WHO shares that it's necessary for your meal's total fat (like oil) to not exceed 30% of your total energy intake per day.

In 2021, World Cancer Research shared that the healthiest cooking methods are actually steaming, stir-frying, sautéing, and baking. Using these methods, you can preserve the taste, texture, and quality of your food with the use of little to no oil. While it also mentions boiling and grilling as better options than frying, it does caution us that some nutrients could be lost in the water or due to high temperatures.

Knowing this, it's vital to understand that frying every meal isn't recommended (even if you're using an air fryer). So, if you're really looking to make better health decisions, it's still best to consider preparing healthier food options or using less oily cooking methods.