It's not a new invention, but judging by my Insta feed, bloggers and foodies are acting like the air fryer just got invented; and I kind of want one now. Crispy air-baked carrot sticks are my (expensive) weakness so I thought I'd delve in a little to see if I absolutely NEED an air fryer. (Spoiler alert, I doubt anyone needs one, but they have some good perks).
If you like chips, sweet potato fries, crispy carrot sticks, those delicious bare apple snacks or healthier versions of donuts, you may find yourself wanting one, too! I took a look into a couple of different options, and I've collected 3 recipes that are great in the oven that I imagine would be phenomenal with the air fryer, too!
A) What is it? The air fryers are a little(ish) fryers that are plugged in, and involve easy prep and clean up to fry frozen foods or veggies; if you search online, the possibilities are endless. Also technically speaking they are tiny powerful ovens, but everyone calls them "fryers" so I'll use that term, too.
B) Why is it healthier? As you can tell by the name, it fried with air, like a super effective convection oven. A tiny bit of oil may be used to get more of a traditional fried look and taste, but it still uses way less oil than "regular" french fries and deep fried foods.
C) Are they worth it? As with most kitchen machinery and tools, there's a broad range of sizes and prices, but if you buy fried or air-crisped snacks on the reg, you'll save money and consume less oil. Recipes cook 3-5x's faster than in an oven, so it can save on time and energy too, though it's more time-consuming to clean than say, a baking tray in the oven. You'll save money though on all those packaged snacks, and trim your waistline if you regularly nosh on processed chips and oily snacks. If you're splurging on an air fryer though, you may want to consider a convection toaster oven, which will yield better results (1)
Crispy Carrot Sticks:
This recipe is a medley of a few I found floating around on the internet, and I wanted to try it on pre-shredded carrot chips (you know, the kind you sometimes feed to goats at petting zoos. Or maybe that's just me!) but then I just used a peeler, which was foolishness. I'll be trying the carrot chip option next.
Sliced carrot strips or thin carrot pieces work; I recommend julienning them. On this batch pictured, I was lazy and just used a regular peeler and they sort of clumped together (but were still delicious).
1 TBSP avocado or coconut oil
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
sprinkle of sea salt
Bake at 425F for 25 minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn. Or use your air fryer!
Here's a carrot chip version which works better:
My own baked Earl Grey donut recipe like this one would be fab air-dried, I suspect. In an air fryer, these would have more of a traditional donut taste and I just might be able to trick my family into thinking they are "real" donuts. Follow the recipe then prepare as directed in the air fryer.
Brussel Sprout Chips:
1 lb brussel sprouts
2.5 to 3 TBSP avocado oil
3/4 tsp sea salt
Remove the leaves of the sprouts (takes ages but worth it), place on baking tray and drizzle with oil and salt. Bake at 350F, turning every few minutes until they are your desired level or crispiness...or just air fry!