Brussels sprouts and eggplant were especially compelling because they were able to retain the most oil, either by absorbing it, as in the case of the eggplant, or by being trapped within the layers of the brussels sprout. This extra oil in turn made the vegetables fantastically crisp. (With other vegetables, the fan’s force caused the oil to slide right off.)
The air fryer also did a very good job cooking small amounts of food, like a couple of salmon fillets or skin-on, boneless chicken thighs, which look and taste as though you’d roasted them, but get there more quickly and evenly than in my regular oven. This is in part because of the hot air flow from convection, and in part because the small chamber of the machine doesn’t require much, if any, preheating.
For many households, this speediness is even more important than being able to cook favorite foods with far less fat.
“People come to air fryers thinking they’re going to do fried chicken, chicken wings and French fries all the time, but then they end up using them more for weeknight meals,” said Dean Brindle, vice president of category strategy and product development at De’Longhi NA, a home-appliance manufacturer based in Italy, which unveiled its version of the air fryer in 2015.
“There’s been an evolution in what consumers want,” he said, “there are the slow-cooker dump recipes, the sheet-pan recipes, and now those same folks are turning to air fryers for speed and convenience.”
Once they learn how to use the machines, he continued, they are experimenting with different flavors and ingredients, looking for variety that goes beyond the American comfort foods usually associated with the appliance.