Air fryers: More than hot air?

Consumer Reports checks out latest kitchen trend

By Marilyn Moritz - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Air fryers are becoming more popular because they claim to cook your foods to a crackly crunch without the fat.

But are air fryers more than just hot air? Consumer Reports checked out a batch.

An air fryer works by circulating hot air around food that’s suspended in a basket. It’s essentially a countertop convection oven. Many recipes call for foods to be tossed with a bit of oil, rather than being fully immersed as when you use a traditional fryer. 

Consumer Reports tested seven appliances, and although they appear similar from the outside, they found some real differences.

One big difference is basket size. Some are so small they require you to cook in batches, which is not ideal when you’re cooking for a  family. 

The Nu-Wave 37001, which retails for $140, is the largest one tested, with a 5.8-quart capacity. It has easy-to use controls. The Nu-Wave is a little noisy — comparable to a microwave.

Consumer Reports calls the Farberware HF-919B a best buy. It costs $70 and is one of the quietest tested. The controls are fairly easy to see and use. It holds 3.2 quarts. But the nooks and crannies in the food basket make it a little tough to clean. 

The Black+Decker HF100WD has temperature settings printed so tiny that they’re difficult to read. And the small basket holds just 2 quarts, which is fine if you’re not cooking very much, but you’ll have to cook multiple batches if the kids bring their friends for nuggets.

Consumer Reports points out that since this is a little convection oven, these air fryers can also be used for cooking meats and even baking.

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