Do Air Fryers Add or Cut Calories?

Although fried food has never been considered healthy due to its negative health impacts, air fryers are marketed as a healthier alternative to traditional frying methods.

The air fryer uses very little oil to create a crispy texture, resulting in up to an 80% reduction in calories compared to deep frying.

However, it is important to note that deep frying has never been a healthy cooking method, so it would be more informative to compare the air fryer with other cooking techniques.

After conducting research, here’s what I discovered.

Do air fryers add extra calories?

Air fryers consist of heating elements and a fan, and they don’t contribute additional calories to food. Essentially, air frying involves directing hot air onto the food to produce a crispy exterior. While using oil before air frying can enhance crispiness, it is not obligatory; however, adding oil will significantly increase the calorie count of the food.

When I use an air fryer, I usually don’t include oil because the outcomes are satisfying even without it and the dry outer layer adds crispiness to the food which is healthy and flavorsome. Although the texture may not be exactly like deep-fried edibles, it offers a distinctive and palatable taste.

It’s quite remarkable that with a chemical process known as the Maillard reaction, an air fryer can create a crispy texture akin to that of deep frying minus the use of oil. This feature is remarkable in my opinion.

Do Air Fryers Cut Calories?

The type of food being cooked in the air fryer matters. For example, using an air fryer to cook vegetables instead of frying them on a stove will save calories.

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Also, how often you use the air fryer is important. If you’re constantly using it to cook high-calorie foods like fries or chicken wings, the caloric savings may not be significant.

Ultimately, while an air fryer can be a healthier alternative to deep frying, it’s important to consider all factors when determining its impact on your daily calorie intake.

  • Cooking technique: If you’re aiming to cut down on calories, deep frying is not a good option as it involves oil. On the other hand, cooking methods like air frying, pressure cooking, and slow cooking do not necessarily require oil but can still increase calorie content if the cook adds high-calorie ingredients. This implies that the number of calories is dependent on the cooking method rather than the appliance used.
  • Choice of ingredient: The type of ingredient used in an air fryer does not alter its composition, whether it is fatty or lean, so pre-packaged items such as onion rings, fries, and chicken nuggets will still have the same calorie count as indicated on their packaging; nonetheless, using an air fryer can help you lessen your calorie intake by preventing the addition of calories that would come from deep-frying in oil.
  • Frequency: The impact of air fryers on weight loss is closely tied to how often you use them; swapping out a deep fryer for an air fryer can lead to significant changes if you consume deep-fried foods frequently, but if you only indulge in these foods once or twice a month, the effect on your daily calorie intake may not be substantial.
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The most efficient approach to lose weight is by decreasing your daily calorie consumption, and the air fryer can contribute to this effort; Healthline suggests that air fryers can provide additional health advantages, such as:

  • Air Fryers Reduce Fat Content: The fat content in fried foods is high because they absorb oil during frying, with every gram of fat containing 9 calories, unlike proteins and carbohydrates which only contain 4 calories per gram; research indicates that a higher intake of fat can increase the risk of heart diseases, and deep fryer recipes require roughly 30-50 times more oil compared to air fryer recipes.
  • Reduced Amount of Acrylamide By Up To 90%: In addition to the extra calories, deep-fried cuisine is subjected to conditions that lead to the creation of harmful substances like acrylamide, which research suggests could be associated with cancer.

How Many Calories Does an Air Fryer Save In Comparison To a Deep Fryer?

Do Air Fryers Add or Cut Calories?
Do Air Fryers Add or Cut Calories?

The calorie savings of using an air fryer depend on the type of food being cooked, but generally, it can save more calories than deep-frying. To illustrate, I’ve provided a table below that compares the caloric differences between air-fried and deep-fried cooking methods using popular fried ingredients.

IngredientAF Weight/Calories/FatDF Weight/Calories/Fat
French Fries100g/226/2g75g/230/11g
Chicken Breast100g/130/4g100g/260/13.2g
Chicken Nuggets100g/120/3.6g100g/296/20g
Fish & Chips1 Serving/600/14.5g1 Serving/1087/72g
Onion rings1 Serving/176/10g1 Serving/411/25g

*AF = Air Fryer
*DF = Deep Fryer

*100g = 3.5oz.

As you can see the air fryer reduces the fat content of almost all food by a large amount in comparison to the deep fryer. Yet, the air fryer is capable of producing a similar crisp. While the outer crisp won’t be exactly as crispy as it would if it was deep-fried, it will still produce amazing results.

Does Air-Fried Food Taste As Good As Deep-Fried Food?

The distinct flavor of the air fryer is a result of the Maillard reaction, which occurs when specific carbohydrates and reducing sugars are heated, resulting in a golden brown surface on food. Additionally, the hot air that circulates in the fryer dries out the external layer of anything placed inside it, leading to a crispier texture than other cooking methods, although not as crunchy as deep-fried food.

To achieve a rich and full crisp using an air fryer, you can bread foods before placing them inside it. This will create a crispy exterior while retaining a tender and juicy interior.

Since the air fryer utilizes circulating hot air to cook, there is a possibility that your breadcrumbs may scatter around its cavity, causing a mess and even ending up in the heating element; to avoid this, I recommend dipping foods in egg yolk before coating them with breadcrumbs, which has worked well for me.

Another option is to cover the ingredients with a light layer of oil, resulting in a better crisp while also preventing breading and spices from falling off. Using only a small amount of oil won’t significantly increase calorie count. However, saturating ingredients in oil will completely alter the dish’s nutritional value.

Overall, the flavor produced by an air fryer can be enhanced using various methods such as adjusting spices or experimenting with cooking times and temperatures while coating ingredients.

How Do Air Fryers Really Work?

My mental image of “fried” always involves a piece of chicken soaking in hot oil, turning golden and oozing fat, but nowadays, air-frying has become an alternative cooking method; so how does it work?

Air fryers behave similarly to convection ovens by circulating hot air throughout the cooking chamber to cook food from all angles, incorporating a heating element and a fan that heats up the surrounding air and blows it at the ingredients inside.

The fan runs constantly to ensure that the food is evenly cooked since it circulates back to the heating element, taking no more than 2-3 minutes for the small-sized air fryer to reach its maximum temperature.

Whenever the hot air hits the food surface during cooking, it tends to dry it out slightly, resulting in a crispy exterior.

Stacking food in an air fryer won’t work since it hinders airflow from reaching all sides of the food; however, shaking or stirring them occasionally will expose all sides.

Make sure to check out our article, “15 Must-Have Air Fryers That Won’t Break the Bank!” for budget-friendly options to revolutionize your cooking experience.

Related Questions

Are Air Fryers Good For Low Carb Diets?

Air fryers do not affect the amount of carbohydrates in food, but they can be useful for those who want to avoid trans fats while enjoying fried foods. In an article I wrote, I discuss air fryers and their compatibility with low-carb diets.

When it comes to cooking, all methods result in some loss of nutrients, although some are worse than others. The air fryer has proven to be effective at preserving the nutritional content of food. For further information on this topic, please refer to my article.

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