Do Air Fried Foods Really Taste Fried?

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Reader Question: I’ve been looking at air fryers since they came out. Does food really taste as good as deep frying?

Ok, truth time, my friends. No, air fried foods do not actually taste deep fried, even though I’d really, really, really like them to.

So what does air fried food actually taste like? It tastes like extra-crispy oven-baked food.

Here’s why: Air fryers are basically tiny convection ovens, which work by constantly circulating hot air all around your food. In an air fryer, the food you’re cooking also sits inside a perforated basket, allowing lots of air flow all around your food.

Combined, this results in food that cooks really fast and with lots of crispy edges, which makes it taste delicious! But if you’re looking for that crackly, melt-in-your-mouth sensation you get from traditional deep fried foods, an air fryer isn’t going to do that. You need at least a little bit of oil on your food to help it crisp up in that way; otherwise, the food just dehydrates and becomes tough, rather than nicely crispy.

THE EXCEPTION! The exception to this is frozen fried foods that you reheat in the air fryer, like tater tots and fish sticks. This food has already been fried prior to freezing, so you’re really just heating it up and making it crispy. And boy does it get crispy! Straight from the air fryer, these foods truly do taste super close to fried.

Personally, I love cooking in my air fryer (I have this Cuisinart combo-oven; a few other people on the team have the Phillips model). I like that foods get crispier in my air fryer than in my oven. Check out my favorite recipes below!

~Emma, Editor in Chief and lover of faux-fried foods

A FEW FAVORITE AIR FRYER RECIPES!

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Emma Christensen

Emma Christensen is the Editor-in-Chief of Simply Recipes, and has over 10 years of experience creating food and content for web and print. She was formerly the recipe editor for The Kitchn and is the author of three books on home-brewing, True Brews, Brew Better Beer, and Modern Cider. Emma is a graduate of The Cambridge School for Culinary Arts and Bryn Mawr College. She lives in San Jose, California.

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9 Comments

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  1. Migdalia

    My Dr. Says no more fry food. So I started using the air Fryers and it comes out a little dry. So I started to put aluminum foil to the bottom that way my food will no lose it juice part. It works perfectly, I love it, it is faster and the test is excellent.

  2. C Heatherington

    Get a Tefal Acyrfty 2 in 1 and I defy anyone to know the difference from deep fried French fries.
    I use a measured 20 gms of animal fat, dry the cut French fries thoroughly and cook for approx 25 minutes whilst the Actifry central paddle gently tumbles the fries to a golden crispy perfection.

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  3. Terri

    Crispy but not like deep fried. I don’t eat fried foods but I like roasted and crisp foods. I make oven fried sweet potatoes that are very crispy, better than the regular oven with very little oil. I’ve made oven fried chicken tenders, vegetables, left over pizza, among other items. If you have counter space and can display it fine, if not, make room in a closet but it’s worth buying one.

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  4. Gil

    I don’t have a lot of kitchen space, but was considering an air fryer for one item – I make a roasted/spiced cauliflower in the oven @ 450 for 20ish minutes, 1 head + 1 Tbs oil and spices. Will an air fryer make the texture better and/or cook it more quickly?

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  5. Annette

    Emma, how much energy does an air fryer use? For example, I have heard good things about brussel sprouts – how does preparing them in the air fryer compare to a convection oven or a frying pan, electricity-wise?

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