Oil less fryers broke into the market only a couple years ago and are gaining popularity fast, which is no surprise considering how people are growing more conscious about the things they eat and the much healthier alternative that oil less fryers offer against traditional deep fried food.
But how does an oil less fryer really work?
Well, it’s a combination of things that actually make it possible for food to look and taste as it had been deep fried without actually being.
First thing to consider is that oil less fryers aren’t really completely oil free. They still require a small amount of oil in order to cook food as if it had been deep fried, but they are able to reduce the amount of oil necessary by 80%, which is already a huge step toward a healthier diet. Just so that you get a sense of what this means, a batch of crispy french fries will only require half a table spoon of oil for optimum cooking, as opposed to several cups which would be required if frying them the traditional way.
Now that being said and simplifying things a little, what an oil less fryer does is circulate hot air at very high speed around your food to cook them evenly.
How does an oil less fryer work?
An oil less fryer will heat up air to up to 200 Celsius (about 392 Fahrenheit) and circulate the hot air using one or more powerful fans around your food. The high temperatures and the high speeds of the air inside the machine will make that little oil that is required to vaporize and completely impregnate the air inside the machine.
The same way the air we breathe has a percentage of water in it which we refer to as the humidity level, the air inside an oil less fryer now has humidity level made up of oil instead of water. This allows for all parts of the food’s surface to be touched by oil, and therefore fried as if they had been submerged into a pool of boiling oil (which is what traditional frying is all about). This is scientifically called the Maillard effect, by which food obtain a brownish and crispy aspect.
In a way this is similar to the way an air oven works, but there is a very important difference. The key to frying is how it cooks food evenly, probably more than any other form of cooking other than boiling.
If you’ve plaid around with your traditional oven, grill or BBQ for a while you’ll probably noticed how it cooks differently in different parts. BBQs for instance tend to provide less heat towards the edges, cooking food slower there than they do if you placed them right in the center. Well that is the case for most forms of cooking, that’s why you usually have to steer your food while it cooks so that the food that was first on the “slow” cooking area gets pushed to the “fast” cooking area and vice versa, achieving an even cook, or at least the closest possible.
The interiors of an oil less fryer are carefully designed to ensure that air circulates evenly through every inch of the cooking area, always at a constant speed and temperature, to ensure your foods cook evenly. In most oil less fryers you can actually see the piece which is mainly responsible of ensuring this key part of the process. Simply remove the cooking basket and take a look at the design of the bottom tray of the machine. Those shapes which might seem purely random or arbitrary at first have been actually carefully studied to ensure no area of the cooking tray gets more heat than others.
This is also most of the oil less fryers available in the market are relatively small, because building a larger one would make it much more difficult to ensure an even distribution of the hot air and therefore will result in a lower quality cooking experience.
Now as you can see there is a lot of air involved into frying food without using oil, and a lot of heat and high speeds, which is way is important to understand how this is nothing to worry about and how this appliance is perfectly safe for the home.
An oil less fryer will reach temperatures of twice what water needs to boil, and we’ve all made the mistake of grabbing a cooking pot without any protection and getting burned some time. So how does it prevent us from getting burned when manipulating it? Well most of them are equipped with a cooling systems that circulates cold air between the wall of the internal cooking chamber and the outside plastic. This ensures that exterior of the fryer stays cool, even when the interior temperature is at its maximum.
This is not to mention with oil less frying there is literally no option for you to get burned with hot oil which is a common cause of hospitalization.
Regular deep fryers are also responsible for over 50% of household fires. A risk which you will eliminate completely by eliminating boiling oils from your kitchen and switching to the much safer option, an oil less fryer.
Another concern you might have is the smell of fried food usually leave behind which also easily impregnates your clothes and is so hard to actually get rid of.
Oil less fryers come equipped with air filters that ensure that the air that is released back into the room is perfectly clean and healthy. All the grease and therefore most of the smell stays on the filters keeping the air of your home clean and fresh.
Oil less fryers are also much more convenient that you might think. It is true that most foods will take longer to cook in them than they would on a regular deep fryer, sometimes even twice as much. But keep in mind when people say a batch of French fries only takes 8 minutes too cook when deep fried they are not counting the oil warm up and cooling down times, so as true as those times might be in a professional environment where you keep the deep fryer on all day long, an oil less fryer will actually put your food on the table faster when you are at home.
Oil less fryers are also incredibly easy to operate, some of them having as few as two buttons, which combined with how safe to use they are become a perfect solution for kids and teenagers who can now cook their own food instead of having to warm something up from last night when their parents aren’t home.