So you are looking to make a purchase for your kitchen that will enable you to cook healthier but tasty food with minimum hassle. Ideally, the cooker should take care of everything once you have switched it on, and you could just come back when it is ready to find a hot, delicious meal waiting for you. The reality is that busy families often find it hard to eat together or to get the time to prep healthy meals.
However, in a world where we’re inundated with information, it’s not always easy to pinpoint easy choices. Which items could you consider purchasing to achieve this goal, and what are the differences between them?
Air fryers offer a way to have food that looks and tastes fried without actually deep frying. The cooker sometimes needs a minimal amount of oil depending on what you are cooking, but they cook by air, which ultimately means lower fat food.
Air fryers have a fan built in that circulates the hot air rapidly and evenly over the food to create the desired finish. For the most part, they are easy to use: you just put the food in to cook and then mist it with a little oil if needed. Then set the timer and required temperature. During the cooking time, you may need to shake the basket to ensure an even cooking process, but that is all.
These machines produce food that is lower in both calories and fat. The cooker doesn’t take up too much room and is also easy to clean. They aren’t just limited to cooking fried food though; they can also be used for baked potatoes, cookies and even pork chops or salmon.
Advantages of an Air Fryer
Some advantages of air frying include saving money on cooking oil, avoiding deep frying, using up less space, ease of use and cleanliness and producing “fried food” with fewer calories and less fat.
Disadvantages of an Air Fryer
Disadvantages of an air fryer include the outside surface getting very hot, the cost, the inability to cook for a large family and the fact that the food is still fried, which is not ideally healthy.
Like the air fryer, this appliance uses air to cook. It is also equipped with a fan to circulate the hot air but might not cook as evenly as an air fryer. This is because of the size and design of each cooker. Convection ovens are bigger and usually have two racks. In contrast, the air fryer circulates hot air in a smaller oven, and the ingredients are separately contained in a basket that allows the air to move more evenly over the food.
Convection ovens are more energy efficient over time than a standard or conventional oven. A halogen convection oven will use more electricity than a regular oven, but you will save money overall because it cooks more quickly. These ovens can cook a range of foods with no oil. They are also very easy to use. As with the air fryer, you just pop in the food, set the correct time and temperature and leave it to do its work.
They do, however, get very hot. If you end up choosing a halogen oven instead of a standard convection oven, you will find the lid gets very hot, and it will need a safe surface to be safely placed on after use. Halogen ovens have a self cleaning function that will help remove food debris and grease residue, but you will still need to clean it yourself. Also, the bowl is very bulky and heavy. If you drop it, then your cooker is finished. Finally, there are kitchen top convection ovens that are rectangular and look more like microwaves.
Advantages of a Convection Oven
A convection oven can cook healthy food even from frozen, doesn’t need oil, can be less expensive than an air fryer and can cook pizzas, cakes and roast meats. The glass bowl of a halogen cooker means you can see your food cooking clearly to check progress.
Disadvantages of a Convection Oven
Unfortunately, the glass bowl of a halogen cooker and the lid get extremely hot and can be awkward to handle and clean. Additionally, you may find you still need to add a little oil to some foods to get the desired taste and crispiness. Finally, the size and bulkiness of such an oven is itself a disadvantage.
Instant pots have become popular over recent years. They are a newer and more modern form of pressure cooker with more features than the older styles. Like the air fryer and convection oven, they require no added fats or oils, so they cook healthier and lower fat food than some cooking methods. These pots work by trapping steam inside the cooker and raising the pressure to a level where the food is cooked far quicker than standard methods. They can cook up to 70% quicker and thus save you time and money on electricity.
They can cook a bigger range of food than a convection oven or air fryer and have more features. You could easily cook a roast in an instant pot. The slow cook feature lets you have a stew cooking away while you use the time for yourself – all while knowing there will be a meal waiting for you and your family when you return home. You can use the timer feature to free up time for yourself. If you take the time to put the ingredients in before you go to work or the gym, you can set the time to come on while you are out; once again, you will have food ready and waiting when you walk in the door.
Advantages of an Instant Pot
Instant pots are smaller than a convection oven. They can cook everything from rice to chili con carne. They tenderize tough cuts of meat and make them more digestible. An instant pot retains more nutrients and breaks down hard to digest proteins better than steaming or boiling. The stainless steel inner pot is easy to clean, which is a big time saver.
Disadvantages of an Instant Pot
An instant pot can be expensive depending on the size and features, cannot fry or make skin crispy and takes up worktop space. It also needs time to build up pressure before cooking and then more time to release pressure before it can be opened. Additionally, it’s not easy to check on the cooking or adjust the seasoning once the cooker is sealed.
Convection oven, instant pot or air fryer? If you are considering one of these cookers, decide on your budget and whether you will use them enough to purchase one. They all have some health benefits and will save money on electric bills if used properly. Finally, weigh the pros and cons of each along with what you want to be able to cook before making your decision.