Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fry foods without oil?

The Philips Air-Fryer.
I first heard about the Philips Air-Fryer when a local business posted a Facebook contest. The contest was very simple. Write a comment about the Air-Fryer and you could get a chance to win the Fryer.

Of course, I never win anything. But that did not stop me from posting a random comment. Also, as a marketing gimmick, it worked. My first thought was: "What the heck is an Air-Fryer?". Philips claims that you can cook tasty fries with 80% less fat than a conventional fryer.

80% less fat? That's very impressive. My heath antennae immediately went into overdrive. My kids regularly eat fried food so cutting the fat percentage by 80% would make me feel a little bit less guilty. Reviews suggested that this is the real deal. Even though the price is a bit on the steep side (KD 75/- or around $260), I thought the health benefits will make the device pay for itself so I went and bought it the very next day.

So what exactly is an Air-Fryer? And more importantly, how can it prepare fried food without oil?. Well, to start off, the device is not actually a fryer in the traditional sense. You don't fry food. It could be more accurately described as a baking oven on steroids.

Simplistic and space-age design.

The device itself is very simple. It has just 2 dials. One dial for temperature and another for time. The accompanying book has lots of useful information and recipes for different types of food. You put food inside the container, set the temperature and the timer, and you are done.

The internal technology behind the device is equally simple. A heating coil generates heat at the required temperature (much like an electric oven), and a big fan pushes that heat all over the food creating a kind of frying environment.

In summary: The Air-fryer is an electric oven with a fan.

Does it work? Indeed it does. I took a batch of McCain frozen fries for this review. You should note that frozen fries are already precooked and contain some amount of oil. To cook these in the Air-Fryer, you don't need to add any extra oil. Just put them in the convenient storage box, and slide the box inside the fryer. Frozen fries cook in exactly 12 minutes.

A batch of frozen McCain fries.
After 12 minutes, the timer goes off and your fries are ready for eating.

The fries come out nice and crispy.
The fries look (and taste) just like fries that come out of a deep oil fryer. The only difference here is that zero amount of oil was used to cook the above batch.

Since the Air-Fryer is technically an electric oven, you can cook anything that you would otherwise cook in an oven. So far, we've cooked chicken nuggets, fresh chicken wings, chicken drumsticks, and even puff pastries. The included recipe book has recipe for even cakes. Yes, you can bake cakes in the Air-Fryer.

If you are concerned about you or your family's intake of fried foods, this device will go a long distance in reducing the health risk associated with excessive fat intake.

And here's a funny thing. That random comment I posted on Facebook? Imagine my surprise when I saw that I was the winner!. I now have 2 Air-Fryers in the house. Party time!!.


  1. Sounded interesting, until I felt it was a hot air oven in small size. Not worthy of prime kitchen counter real estate. I use my oven to bake fries with just a tsp or two of olive oil which I guess is a lot less than the pre fried ready made chips. Not one but two .. arent you lucky :)

  2. @Anonymous..Yup. If you can bake your own fries, you are just fine and don't need this.

    This is for those people who want small batches of food cooked quickly (think 15 minutes or less) with no time wasted for pre-heating. It works perfectly for us to make some snacks for the kids lunch box.

  3. Did you say it works for chicken nuggests? er.. what about hotdogs i.e. the local sadia variety? i could look into this if it helps in getting healthier snacks for my kids..

  4. @Anonymous. Yes. It works very well for chicken nuggets. Our kids like chicken nuggets in their lunch box, so this gets it done in 10 minutes in the morning (when time is scarce).
    Hot dogs will be equally easy.

  5. oh well, i might as well get one then. thanks.
    there is a rather large advert of this product in today's Arab Times..

  6. Hi can you fry it if you do your own Nuggets and not frozen ones?