There are so many new kitchen appliances and tools on the market that claim to make cooking at home easier and healthier. The air fryer is one, and is quickly popping up in kitchens all over the country. Cooking in an air fryer is completely different than cooking sous vide style. Read on to learn about the history of the air fryer, how it’s different from sous vide cooking, and what you can cook in it (and what doesn’t always work)
History of the air fryer
Philips was the first company that developed the air fryer, targeted towards both commercial cooking and home cooks. They patented the design in 2005, and then partnered with KCS, a German company who was also working to develop a similar product. In 2010, the Airfryer was launched, and quickly became a success; in 2015, it was the number one brand of low-fat fryers.1
The technology is pretty neat; it’s a version of a countertop convection oven that rapidly circulates hot air around food, giving it a crispy crust. It uses a minute amount of oil, but mimics deep fat frying, giving you the option to enjoy “fried” foods without as much added fat.2 Most of the pieces are dishwasher safe, making them easy to clean.
Differences and similarities between sous vide cooking and air frying
- Both styles of cooking circulate heat around food; one uses air and the other uses water. (Looking for a new sous vide machine? Check out our updated review on the best machines on the market).
- A sous vide circulator gently and slowly heats water and cooks at a much lower temperature than an air fryer. An air fryer’s temperature cooks to nearly 400 degrees, which provides a crispy outside crust, but cooks much faster than sous vide style.
- They are both able to be used on the countertop, and don’t take up much space.
- The air fryer can’t cook large quantities of food, so it would be difficult to prepare food for a family. A sous vide circulator can be used to cook as much food as you can fit in your cooking vessel; so, if you are cooking for a large group and have the space in your giant stock pot, you can cook for a crowd!
- Sous vide cooking is usually targeted more towards fine-dining, high quality meals; think a perfectly cooked, tender steak and soft, silky sous vide potatoes. An air fryer is usually associated with snacks like chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, and French fries. However, the two could be used at the same time to make a killer dinner; steak-frites anyone?
What to cook in an air fryer (and some things to avoid!)
Air fryers were originally intended to market towards people trying to find a way to eat healthier versions of fried foods. A quick internet search for popular foods cooked in an air fryer are French fries, anything with a coating (like battered pickles, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, etc.), and chicken wings.
One thing to know is that the hot air that circulates through the machine will bring anything with it that’s not heavy or solid; so, anything with a liquid batter is out; it will make a mess and not stay on the food. If you want to prepare something with a batter (for example, beer-battered fish), it would be best to prepare it and then freeze it, so that the batter is solid.
According to some articles, the air fryer is great for baked goods like cookies. That would make sense, though, since it’s essentially a convection oven. If you don’t have a toaster oven, and don’t want to heat up your conventional oven, then maybe trying a cookie recipe in the air fryer would be the best option. Knowing that it doesn’t have the capacity for large scale cooking means that batch cooking is to be expected if trying to prepare large amounts of food.
Sous vide cooking and air frying both have their place in the kitchen. They are targeted towards different demographics, as their end results are fairly different. However, they are both great at what they were intended for; the sous vide circulator is meant for long, slow, gentle cooking, and the air fryer can make crispy, crunchy snacks, fries, and chips, with minimal grease. Who wouldn’t want to have both?
This article was written by Stephanie Searor, MS RD LDN