A plunging pound, soaring energy bills and food inflation – with shoppers now paying 10.6 per cent more than they were a year ago – have all conspired to make millions of families fear for the winter ahead.
As the cost-of-living crisis takes hold, sales of air fryers, which use less energy than both a conventional oven and a microwave oven, have soared as families try and trim the fat in the kitchen.
The compact kitchen appliance, which retails at anywhere between around £40 and £400 – for models which include additional features such as steamers and mini-grills – works by baking food place into its basket at a high temperature – usually 200 degrees – with a high-powered fan circulating the heat.
In recent years air fryers are gaining popularity. This is largely due to health-conscious chefs who desire all the crunch and crispiness of deep-fat fryers without having to use any oil.
The cost-conscious are buying air fryers now, as they fear that rising energy costs will continue to grow since February, which was the end of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine.
These are also very time-efficient – A chicken breast can be cooked in about 15 minutes, whereas a traditional oven might take between 20 and 25 minutes.
What is the time it takes to make a quick steak? It takes just two minutes to cook each side. A baked sweet potato will take 20 minutes.
FEMAIL put a Tefal EasyFry 3-in-1 air fryer, which retails with AO.com at £180 – and comes with a grill and steamer – through its paces, ditching the oven for a week to see how recipes including a roast dinner with rhubarb crumble, jacket potatoes and falafel tasted in comparison to conventional cooking.
DISH: RHUBARB AND FULL ROAST CRUMBLE
Air fryers have enough space for medium-sized chickens. The skin was still moist after cooking at 200°F for 60 minutes.
Roast potatoes, vegetables, and herbs were added with only 30 minutes of cooking remaining. The food looked good when it rang to tell us that the cooking was complete.
It was easy: The rhubarb crumb took only 15 minutes to prepare and turned out perfectly brown. This seasonal recipe proved to be a huge hit
This novice didn’t want to be intimidated by the new world of air-frying. Instead, he decided to make a Sunday roast with no gravy.
This basket can store up to 1.5kg of food and comfortably accommodated a large bird. To combat the heat and oil shortage, I added butter to my chicken and then turned it up to 200 degrees for sixty minutes. About 30 minutes into the cooking, I added onions, potatoes, courgettes, and carrots to my chicken. The courgettes and onions were a concern so I watched carefully. It was fair to say the roast turned out well by the end of the 60-minute mark.
FEMAIL’s Jo Tweedy put a Tefal EasyFry 3-in-1 air fryer, which retails with AO.com at £180 – and comes with a grill and steamer – through its paces, ditching the oven for a week
Get a Roast Dinner
8/10 This was pleasant. Although the outside of the chicken seemed a bit too bronzed for me, it tasted delicious inside. Equally delicious was the vegetable. Did we miss cauliflower cheese? But it was an acceptable price. It was served four people with leftovers for the following day. The only problem with the meal was that the kitchen smelled less delicious than it normally would with roast chicken.
9/10 This pud is a revelation in rhubarb. It was ready in 15 minutes, and it had a crunchy top from the air fryer.
FALAFEL WRAP: DISH
COOKING TIME 15 Minutes
It was a healthy and delicious Monday night meal. The recipe took only 10 minutes to prepare and included a small onion and a clove of garlic.
7/10The chickpeas dreams tasted great when served in a wrap with some salad and some chilli haras. These chickpea dreams were dry so I would probably use a bit more olive oil next time.
It was a little too crisp, but full of flavor. Falafels prepared in an air fryer were easy to make and taste good. However, they could have used a bit more harissa or yoghurt to add moisture.
DISH: SAUSAGE AND CHIPS
COOKING TIME: 15 minutes (sausages), 25 minutes (chips)
With minimal effort, the sausage, chips, and salad were ready in just 25 minutes. There was a good amount of fat produced by the sausages, but none ended up on the plates. The grease drained from the pan into the basket. The chips were fried in a small amount of oil.
One packet of sausages cooked in 15 minutes. Chips turned out great – much healthier than the average chip, but still crispy.
9/10 Sausages: These were a good substitute for sausages. They are browned on all sides and moist inside.
9/10 Chips: Most people can agree that an air fryer can cook a great dish: these were a hit and a perfect home-cooked chip. They had less fat than deep-fat fryers, but they tasted amazing.
DISH: SALMON STEEKS
COOKING TIME: Between 10 and 15 minutes
Salmon is salmon – No fishy smell because the air fryer conceals cooking smells very well.
It was a Wednesday night dinner of two salmon steaks served with brown rice and broccoli.
9/10:Perhaps the most important win was the lack of salmon-like smells in the kitchen. As I was afraid, the steaks didn’t turn dry but they were very tasty. A few days later I tried marinated salmon. It worked equally well.
DISH: MINUTE STEAKS & ROAST VEG
COOKING TIME: Steak takes 3 minutes per side, and steak takes 20 minutes for roast vegetables.
The two slices of steak were thinly cut on the hob, however we chose to fry them in the oven instead. We had marinated them with chimichurri and they held up well after turning. We also enjoyed the roast vegetables.
The steaks were cooked quickly in an air fryer, but the flavors didn’t hold up as well if the pan was used.
7/10: Quick steak Although it didn’t retain the flavors as well as a pan-fried steak, the result was still delicious.
9/10 Roast vegetables You can chop them and put them in a basket.
DISH: A Healthy Fry Up
COOKING TIME – Bacon takes 4 minutes on each side, tomatoes and mushrooms take 5 minutes, eggs take 2 minutes.
First, the rashers were in. Next, the tomatoes, mushrooms, and then the egg. It was the fastest way to fry it up, but it wasn’t perfect.
A bacon-frying machine could prove to be God’s blessing. The crispy, delicious bacon emerges from the air fryer. While the egg was slightly unsatisfying.
7/10: Although the egg did not go according to plan, it turned out just like an egg should. But many have been successful in frying eggs. Bacon was great – crisp and with minimal grease. The same goes for the tomatoes, and also the mushrooms.