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Chicken School

Air Fryers: The Healthier Way to Fry at Home

The air fryer cooks crispy, juicy chicken fast, with less oil and no mess, making it must-have for moms and a crowd-pleaser for families.

Few of us deep fry at home, and for good reason. The smell, for one — traditional frying fills the kitchen with a heavy, greasy, smoke. And clean-up — how does one properly get a frying basket clean, and what to do with all that oil? 

The issues associated with deep frying means that we typically satisfy our craving for, say, crispy chicken, by ordering in or going out. But what if you could safely fry at home, without sacrificing taste or texture, while cutting down on saturated fats normally associated with fried food?

Introducing the air fryer. The latest in must-have kitchen appliances, it’s roughly the size of large cooking pot (easy to store!), sits on the countertop, and functions like a small oven. Using concentrated heat and a powerful fan, an air fryer blows hot air around the food in order to achieve a fried texture. Ranging in price from $99 to upwards of $250 or more, these appliances make frying fast, use a lot less oil than conventional frying methods, and make clean-up easy.

Of the many kinds of foods that can be crisped up inside an air fryer, chicken is one of the best. The compact space of the air fryer oven doesn’t allow for much evaporation, ensuring chicken breasts have a nicely browned, crispy exterior and remain juicy — all while using a fraction of the oil one might use cooking on a stovetop. Golden, crispy chicken tenders or nuggets – a favourite with kids! – are perfect for air fryers too, since the convection-like oven gives them a crispy exterior, while ensuring the chicken remains juicy and tender. 

Here’s some simple tips for cooking chicken in an air fryer:

  • While the air fryer uses hot air to achieve a crispy result, you still want to add a little oil — typically a teaspoon or two. But which oil? Choose peanut, coconut, and extra light olive oils since they burn less easily. For chicken breasts, brushing them lightly with oil before cooking is more than adequate for the air fryer to achieve a crispy texture.
  • If making from scratch, don’t over-bread the chicken. Too much, and it may blow off in the air fryer. 
  • Make sure to also include a beaten egg, honey, or a mustard to your batter to ensure the coating sticks to the chicken. For best results, air fry from frozen or scratch.
  • When heating from frozen, don’t add any extra oil to the air fryer, since the pre-made batter likely already contains oil. An excess of oil in the fryer may cause the breading to become soggy. 

Finally, if you don’t want to add another appliance to your already-packed cupboards, the good news is that most convection ovens do a pretty good job of emulating an air fryer, especially with breaded things like chicken tenders.

Ready to take the leap into the world of air frying? Here are some recipes that are perfect for your air fryer, and have detailed instructions on how to adapt them for a traditional oven: