It’s official – air fryers can save you money. But there are even cheaper ways to cook

Name: Air fryers.

Age: The Airfryer brand was introduced by Philips in 2010, while the term began to be used generically in about 2018.

I’ve been hearing a lot about them recently. Yes, in past year they have become the kitchen appliance, selling out as soon as they are restocked, flying off the shelves like … well, air-fried cakes.

You can’t really make a cake in one, can you? You can. They are small convection ovens, which circulate hot air at high speed. They’re also used to simulate deep frying; making food crisp, without having to submerge it in oil.

So the food’s healthier? Yup, less fat means fewer calories. Healthier on the pocket, too.

And that’s why they’re hot right now, what with rising living costs and energy prices? Correct!

Are they actually cheaper? Well, you’ve got to take into account the price of buying the thing – anything from about £30 up to £300. Running costs, though, factoring in time and energy used … Well, as it happens the consumer champions at Which? have just done some research.

And? To rustle up a roast chicken: 39p to cook, in 76 minutes, in a traditional electric oven. In the air fryer: 53 minutes, 18p.

Bet it wasn’t as good though. Au contraire. The testers observed that the former was a little dry, while the latter was juicy, tasty and had crispy skin.

You’ve gotta have crispy skin! Indeed. And actually, the air fryer wasn’t the cheapest way of cooking a chicken. The testers did one in an old-fashioned pressure cooker – it took just 32 minutes, and cost just 11p. No crispy skin, though.

Mmmm, slimy chook, anyone? What about chips? Thirty-three minutes, and 29p in the oven, while it took 23 minutes, 10p in the air fryer.

Are we saying that it’s not just a lot of hot air then? The hype is justified? “Our research shows the hype could be justified in some cases,” said Emily Seymour, energy editor at Which?

Only some cases? She goes on to point out that the savings will be lost if you’re cooking multiple batches. “So it’s still better to use your oven if you’re cooking large quantities.”

Someone should make one that looks like a monk and call it Fryer Tuck (with a spoonerism warning, obviously). Quick, patent it, it could be the must-have novelty gift for Christmas 23. That’s if air fryers are still a thing then.

Do say: “Has Nigella got one? I’m only getting an air fryer if she says it’s OK.”

Don’t say: “Air fryer? Ha, yes I remember. No idea where it is, probably somewhere in the loft, along with the spiralizer …”


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