Air frying is a popular way to cook. It makes sense why so many people are into it, as air-fried food has up to 70% fewer calories, and the fryers don’t radiate immense heat as ovens do. An air fryer sounds like something nice to have, but many people probably can’t afford one.
Air fryers are expensive because you’re paying more for the size and extra features. A five-quart digital fryer may cost more than a three-quart analogue one, for example. $30 to $100 is worth paying for an air fryer, but prices beyond $100 aren’t likely to be a good investment.
Air fryers are the up-and-coming trend of our age, for good reason. There’s a lot to unpack about air fryer pricing and features, so keep reading if you’d like to know more.
How Much Do Air Fryers Generally Cost?
Air fryer prices work like everything else you’ve ever purchased. The more features you want, the more money you have to put toward it. It’s not that air fryers are inherently expensive, but instead, you have to know what you want in your cooker.
Air fryers can cost anywhere from $25 to over $200. Because so many brands make them, air fryers don’t have a standard price range. In other words, while air fryers can be expensive, they don’t have to be. The real issue is whether or not you’re paying for an air fryer that’s worth its price tag.
You can buy air fryers starting at a wide range of prices.
Cheaper fryers can begin at about $25, while the more expensive ones can cost as much as $200 or more. One thing about air fryers is that branding doesn’t play too much of a role in pricing.
When you decide on a fryer to buy, you’re paying for the capacity and other features such as broiling and roasting.
How Air Fryers Work
If you want to know if you’re getting your money’s worth, it’s probably in your best interest to understand how air fryers function. The key is convection or the movement of heated molecules through the air.
Convection cooking allows air fryers to evenly distribute heat, resulting in a crisp outer layer and a moist, juicy inside.
Often, the more you spend on an air fryer, the more power it’ll produce.
Here, more energy means that the fryer can cook food more effectively. You should know how to use air fryers properly to get the most out of them, though. Something like improperly washing the fryer basket can affect the moisture and flavor of your food.
Air Frying Can Be Worth the Price
This article isn’t a pitch to sell you on the idea of air frying your food, but if you’re considering buying one, you should know what benefits having one brings. For starters, air-fried food can give you the same crunchiness grease frying does without all the unhealthiness that comes with grease-fried meals.
You can also expect faster cooking times with an air fryer.
Convection circulates heat throughout the space in question. In this case, convection heating moves hot air around your food, so every part of it cooks evenly. Heat in a regular oven is stationary and cooks more unevenly than in an air fryer, so meals have a comparatively slower cook time.
Air frying lends a different flavor to food also. The inside of the fryer basket will be dry due to constant, heated airflow, which makes caramelization easier to achieve.
Caramelization is when a food’s natural sugars break down during cooking, and it becomes browned and buttery, nutty, or toasty flavored. You can caramelize foods in an oven or on the stovetop, but it can be easier to accomplish with an air fryer.
Expensive vs. Cheap Air Fryers
By this point, we’ve thoroughly destroyed the idea that all air fryers are expensive. That’s nice, but now the question we have to ask is, “Does price matter when buying an air fryer?” That depends on what you want.
Technically, no, you don’t need to spend a lot on an air fryer, but you often get more if you do.
Do Expensive Air Fryers Cook Better?
Sure, you get more if you pay more for an air fryer, but does paying more mean it cooks better than a cheaper model? The answer: technically yes, but even then, it largely depends on the fryer size and what you want your fryer to do.
Some expensive air fryers cook better than their less expensive counterparts, but that’s only due to energy output and not necessarily built-in features. Additional air fryer features vary from model and brand, but the primary air fry function works the same way regardless of price.
I know there’s plenty of technicalities when dealing with air fryer pricing, but there’s a lot that you need to consider before buying one. How much you’re willing to spend is something you should know before purchasing anything, particularly a kitchen appliance.
Air Fryer Features
There’s plenty you should consider looking for when purchasing an air fryer. Some fryers have more features than others, and it’s probably a good idea to know what at least some of them are before you choose one.
An air fryer’s most important feature is arguably its capacity.
Simply put, the more you want your air fryer to hold, and the more you want to cook at one time, the more money you’re going to pay. Pragmatism is the way to go when choosing a fryer based solely on how much it holds.
Think of it this way: If you’re only going to use the air fryer for yourself, then you don’t need a large basket. People that live in smaller homes may want to consider smaller air fryers, as well. Those who enjoy cooking large meals for big crowds may wish to buy an air fryer with a bigger basket.
You’re likely to pay more for extra wattage in an air fryer, but do you need the extra power, and are you willing to pay for it? The most wattage you’ll get in a fryer will reach around 1800 watts, but 1200 to 1500 is the usual amount you can expect.
If I’m honest, there’s no precise reason you need up to 1800 or 1500 watts of power.
The only difference the higher wattage makes is that you’re able to cook more efficiently, or rather, quickly. The increase in energy, at most, shaves off a few minutes from your overall cooking time.
The decrease in cook time only matters as far as meals prepared at higher temperatures, though. Foods that require 350 degrees or lower to cook won’t vary much in cook times, even using fryers with higher wattages.
Preheating vs. Non-Preheating
The more you pay for an air fryer, the less time you’ll need to preheat it before cooking.
All you need to do is dump your food in, turn the dial (or push-start), and wait for your meal to finish cooking. A cheaper air fryer is going to need time to preheat, however. You won’t wait as long for preheating as you would with a regular oven, but it is about two to three minutes extra wait time.
If you make meals that need a lot of prep work, a less expensive air fryer may feel like cooking with an oven.
Oven cooks usually prepare many elements of their meals while getting the stove hot, after all. If you prefer to shove your food in the cooker and go, you should consider a more expensive fryer. If you like to preheat, a few extra minutes may not be that big of a deal.
Digital vs. Analog
It may come as no surprise that analog-controlled air fryers are cheaper than digital ones. Digital controls provide more accurate settings, but they both get the job done pretty well. You often get more setting options, like a timer or precise temperature control, if you go digital.
An analog cooker may have only one dial that sets the temperature or cooking time. Sometimes you get two dials that have temperature and timer settings, respectively, but you’re not getting anything else.
Digital air fryers usually have a sleeker look about them also.
If a streamlined air fryer with a few extra conveniences is what you’re looking for, then it’s probably not a bad idea to pay for a digital model.