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An air fryer is a small countertop convection oven designed to simulate deep frying without submerging the food in oil. A fan circulates hot air at high speed, producing a crisp layer via browning reactions such as the Maillard reaction. Some reviews have found that regular convection ovens or convection toaster ovens produce equally good results.
Air fryers use a circulation of hot air to cook food that would otherwise be submerged in oil. The air fryer's cooking chamber radiates heat from a heating element near the food, and a fan circulates hot air. There is an air inlet on the top and an exhaust at the back that controls the temperature by releasing any excess hot air. The temperatures can go up to 230 °C (445 °F) depending on the model. Oil cannot be used inside the air fryer, as it could burn. Cooking times in the air fryer are typically reduced by 20% in comparison with traditional ovens, depending on the model, and the particular food.
Traditional frying methods induce the Maillard effect at temperatures of between 140 to 165 °C (284 to 329 °F) by completely submerging foods in hot oil, well above the boiling point of water. The air fryer works by coating the desired food in a thin layer of oil while circulating air heated up to 200 °C (392 °F) to apply heat and initiate the reaction. As a result, the appliance is able to brown foods like potato chips, chicken, fish, steak, cheeseburgers, french fries or pastries using 70% to 80% less oil than a traditional deep fryer.
Most air fryers have temperature and timer adjustments that allow more precise cooking. Food is cooked in a cooking basket that sits atop a drip tray. The basket and its contents must be periodically shaken to ensure even oil coverage. High-end models accomplish this by incorporating a food agitator that continuously shakes the food during the cooking process. However, most air fryers require the user to perform the task manually at periodic intervals. Convection ovens and air fryers are similar in the way they cook food, but air fryers are generally smaller in capacity than convection ovens and give off less heat.
The taste and consistency of foods cooked using traditional fried methods compared with air fried techniques are not identical, because the larger quantity of oil used in traditional frying penetrates the foods (or the coating batter, if it is used) and adds its own flavor. With air fryers, if food is coated only in a wet batter without an external barrier of a dry coating like breadcrumbs that are pressed firmly to ensure adhesion, the air fryer's fan can blow the batter off the food.
Some air fryers are equipped with additional accessories for specific kinds of cooking, such as pizza pans, skewer racks, grilling trays, and cake barrels.
Convection ovens have been in wide use since 1945.
In 2010, Philips introduced the Airfryer brand of convection oven, a new kitchen appliance at the Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA), a consumer electronics fair in Berlin. It was developed using the patented Rapid Air technology.
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