Total Nutrition Technology
Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Is air-frying healthier than deep frying?
By Stacey Gretka
  • One of the latest gadgets on the market claims to offer you healthy fried food! It's called the Air Fryer. It's a counter top cooking device, much like a deep fryer, that is supposed to provide chefs with the crisp you love without the fat. Could it be true? Let's see...
  • Air Fryers work by having the user coat the food with "a small amount of oil" and then it blasts hot air over the surface of the food. Versus traditional frying which dunks the food in super hot oil. Either way, we know that food can absorb up to 42g of fat, depending on how much water can be displaced (the more water content a food has, the more oil it can absorb), and we know that the higher the temperature, the more water can be displaced. In theory, if you were able to keep the amount of oil you added to the air fryer no more than the fat you might add via "healthier" methods, we would initially expect no difference in calories or fat content between the air fryer and baking/roasting with olive oil drizzled over top. Making it healthier than deep frying. However, to take this a step further, we also know that by slow-cooking food at lower temperatures, less water is displaced, and therefore less oil is actually absorbed. By baking or roasting the food at a temperature lower than the air fryer, even if you used the same amount of oil (2 Tbsp) the food would not absorb it all, you could pat the excess oil off, and achieve a crisp without the extra fat. Thus making baking or roasting still the best alternative to deep frying.
  • Some other things to keep in mind:
  • 1. Oils deteriorate at different temperatures. Using a "healthy" oil like olive oil under such high heat would be dangerous to her health in other ways, as the oil would reach its smoking point and release carcinogens into the food, even if there is little to no visible smoke coming out of the fryer. This is one of the reasons drizzling olive oil over food before putting it in the oven or on the grill drives me nuts. It's safest to use an oil that can handle higher heat, such as peanut oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil.
  • 2. The results from an air fryer are (according to the reviews I've read) not much different than using the broiler setting on your oven - it's not the same as fried food, but you do get a pretty good crisp. Only with an oven you don't need to use oil, and what you do use may not get absorbed. I'm not sure what would happen if you didn't use oil in the air fryer.
  • 3. For many people, the fried food is actually more about the batter - which consists of flour, egg, spices, and either more flour, or breadcrumbs. This is going to add a substantial number of calories. Leaving the skin on meats is also popular with frying and can also add to the caloric value of the food.
  • Might be beneficial to brainstorm some alternative recipes to help target the true attraction to fried food, and combat the issue at its root, rather than trying to replicate fried food entirely.
  • But, just to help you get started, here's an excerpt from
  • "The recipe for easier French fries developed by Cook’s Illustrated calls for adding the raw potatoes to cold oil, and heating the oil over high heat for 25 minutes until the temperature of the oil reaches a little less than 280° F. The French fries cooked this way are just as golden brown on the outside, and creamy soft on the inside as the French fries cooked by the classical two-stage method. Laboratory analysis of the fat content of fries cooked by the two methods showed the fries cooked at the lower temperature, but 2.5 times longer, contained 30% less oil."

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