It was several years ago that I wrote about the Instant Pot (More Cooking?) that my wife had given me for Christmas. I had never heard of them so when I unwrapped the box that Christmas morning, I had to ask my wife what it was. In that post, I described a couple of dishes that I had first tried cooking in it and since then I have discovered a number of recipes that have become regulars around our house. One aspect that I did not even touch on with the use of the Instant Pot is that it does not heat up your kitchen like the use of a hot oven does, particularly in the warm summer months. Well, this summer, my wife introduced me to another modern cooking convenience—the air fryer.
While air fryers have been available for sale since 2010, my only exposure to them had been when my son bought one. I only occasionally saw him use it to cook frozen French fries for his kids and since we fry no foods ourselves, I figured we really did not need one. But thanks to Betty at Chambersontheroad.com, I was introduced to several other uses an air fryer could play.
It was my daughter’s visit this past summer in the middle of a nation-wide heat wave that prompted my wife to purchase this one for us. Knowing that our daughter’s dinner meals for our two grandsons included a number of oven-heated items, my wife figured we should avoid heating up our kitchen so much especially during the heat of the day. Thus, she did some online research before purchasing this unit.
After I took it out of the box, I had to decide where we would use it and where we would keep it. Because our Instant Pot cooker is only used a couple of times a month, it resides in the top of our pantry when not being used. I knew at least while our daughter and her family were in town, that we would likely use the air fryer every day and so I moved a basket of infrequently used spices and placed it right next to our cook top.
This one came with two separate heating trays that could be programed to different cook settings, different cook temperatures, and different cook times.
I also learned very quickly it was easy to clean afterwards with simply hand washing this rack and pan separately.
We did in fact use it basically every day during their visit. But, after they left, I happily discovered that it worked very well for many of the foods that we typically had cooked in the oven. And the nice feature of having two separate trays allowed me to cook two different foods at the same time. There is even a smart mode that allows foods that require different cooking times to be ready at the same time.
I know that Brussels Sprouts can be a very polarizing vegetable—I used to think they were baby cabbages and I hated cabbage—but ever since our daughter cooked them for us one Thanksgiving before she got married, they have become a staple in our diet often having them twice a week. Cooking them in the air fryer is faster than the oven and the outer leaves that typically fall off when they are quartered cook up to crispy veggie chips while the interiors remain moist and juicy.
Broccoli is another vegetable we have successfully cooked in the air fryer, another weekly regular in our diet.
And butter nut squash cooks up very nicely as well.
Chicken tenders and French fries are a staple of our in-town granddaughter’s dinners at our house…
…and many frozen foods now include air fryer directions on their packaging. These cook up as if they had been deep fried, but without the mess or grease.
One morning, I was thinking of what other frozen food I could try and one of my all-time favorite southern vegetables came to mind—fried breaded okra. That day, I had to stop by the grocery store to buy some and give it a try. While the breading didn’t toast up as much as I thought it should, they still were delicious, and I am sure much healthier than deep fried.
All of this cooking that I have tried so far has been using the air fryer setting. I have found that the reheating setting is vastly superior to the microwave oven in reheating cold take-out or leftovers. I still have the roasting and dehydrating settings to try one day.
It is really my wife I have to thank for purchasing this for us and introducing me to its many functionalities. It has definitely found a permanent location on our countertop, and we have used it almost every day we have cooked in our house. After having it for only a few months now, I look forward to what other delectable foods I can cook in it.
If you already have one, you are probably more advanced in its uses than I am. If you haven’t tried one yet, you might want to give it a consideration. Because based on my experience, I know you will love it.