Why Deep Fry When You Can Air Fry? The Differences Revealed

Written by: Prairie Park & the COSORI Chefs and Staff

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Time to read 8 min

The Healthy Switch: Why Air Frying Beats Deep Frying

Introduction: The Evolution of Frying Techniques

Crispy, golden, and piping hot—the french fry is one of the most ubiquitous side dishes at restaurants because it is versatile, affordable to make, and just downright delicious. The only downside? These starchy treats are typically deep fried in a vat of boiling oil, making this comfort food feel more like a guilty pleasure when it comes to your diet and wellness. Thankfully, there’s a better-for-you alternative to cooking your favorite fried foods: the air fryer. When you air fry your food, you can enjoy the same taste and texture of the deep fry method with less guilt and oil. Let’s dive into why and how air frying beats deep frying.


french-fry-comparison

Comparing Air Frying and Deep Frying

Traditional deep frying involves submerging food in hot oil at high temperatures. This method of cooking can be used in a deep fryer or at home in a large pot or deep skillet. The benefit of using oil to deep fry food is that the oil can reach higher temperatures than that of boiling water. The high temperature of the oil essentially  dries out the surface  of whatever food you are cooking and creates that signature crunchy texture while maintaining the moisture levels inside.


Air frying is like the hip, younger sister of deep frying. She’s just like deep frying, but easier to use and more versatile. When you air fry your food, you don’t need to use a ton of oil to reach those high cooking temperatures and crispy results. That’s because air fryers cook your food by circulating hot air at high temperatures,  up to 450°F  for some models, so that it emulates that same process of deep frying without all the oil. Air fryers have the added bonus of cooking at lower temperatures as well, making them useful for creating other kinds of dishes, not just fried foods. The best part is that most healthy air fryer recipe alternatives for fried foods simply require a spray or drizzle of cooking oil as opposed to the oil bath that the deep fry method requires.


So how do the two frying methods match up when it comes to your nutrition and wellness? Let’s look at how food prepared in the air fryer compares to deep-fried food.

What Happens to Food When Deep Fried?


  • Trans FatsStudies have shown that heating cooking oil at high temperatures can lead to  increases in trans fat concentrations . When you deep fry your food in frying oil, you may be increasing your consumption of trans fats. Repeatedly consuming foods with trans fats can lead to  increased bad cholesterol (LDL)  and lower good cholesterol levels (HDL), resulting in a higher risk of heart disease. 

 

  • Loss of Nutrients: While much of our caloric intake and nutrition varies greatly based on the ingredients we choose, how we cook it can affect the nutritional value of our food as well. Deep frying can  deteriorate some of the natural nutrients and vitamins  in our food so that some of the best properties of our food are taken away during cooking.

The Science Behind Air Frying

If you’re at all familiar with an air fryer, you know that the appliance is a breeze to use. You put your ingredients into a basket, push a button, et voilà! Food! But how does air frying work exactly? Here is a breakdown of the technology behind air frying:


1. Heat Generation: An air fryer contains a heating element, typically located at the top, that heats the air inside the air fryer to high temperatures. 


2. Fan Power: Once the heating element is at the desired temperature, a powerful fan kicks in. This fan rapidly circulates the hot air throughout the cooking chamber to emulate the effect of the food being submerged in hot oil or an oven.


3. Convection: The circulating hot air creates a convection effect, which is the movement of heat through the air. As the hot air moves around the food in the basket, it cooks it evenly from all sides.


4. Crispy Results: The rapid circulation of hot air also helps to brown the exterior of the food, creating that crispy texture we all love. This browning effect is similar to what occurs during deep frying, but without the need for a vat of hot oil.


When it comes to the science behind air fryers, studies show that cooking with an air fryer can have health advantages over deep frying. Air frying can help reduce calories by  70–80%  compared to frying in oil, allowing you to enjoy eating fried foods more often and with less guilt. Research has also shown that french fries absorb  significantly less oil  when you air fry compared to traditional deep frying. That means you can transfer your fries directly from the air fryer basket to your plate, without the added step of letting fries rest on a paper towel to help absorb the excess oil like you would after a deep fry.

Deep Frying vs. Air Frying: Is it the Oil or the Method?

Is it the Oil or the Method?

When it comes to fried foods, your choice of oil and cooking method both contribute to the calorie count and fat content of what you consume. Choosing the right kind of oil is an important aspect in cooking since frying your food requires cooking at high temperatures, and how you fry can impact your health as well. Let's examine how each of these can affect your diet and well-being.

The Oil

When cooking with oil, choose oils that are not partially hydrogenated, as those oils contain  unhealthy trans fats  that negatively impact cardiovascular health. Look for plant-based oils that are free of trans fats and have health benefits, like canola oil which is high-oleic, extra-virgin olive oil which is high in antioxidants, or avocado oil which has a high smoke point and is useful for cooking at high temperatures. It is important to remember that while cooking with better alternative oils helps, they don’t single-handedly address the health concerns of regularly consuming deep-fried foods.

The Cooking Method

The most obvious difference between deep frying versus air frying your food is in the amount of oil you are using to cook. When you deep fry, you submerge your food in a pool of hot oil, and that  oil is absorbed  into your fried foods as they cool. And with that added oil comes a higher calorie count and greater fat content. That is why deep-fried foods are considered one of the worst foods for individuals with high cholesterol. According to  this article by Harvard Health , deep frying food can “[increase] the energy density, or calorie count of foods.” Instead, use an air fryer to achieve the same crispy and crunchy texture with far less oil, which means fewer calories and less fat content in your chicken wings for game day.


fried chicken comparison

Tips for Making the Switch to an Air Fryer

Considering making the switch to an air fryer, but not sure where to start? We got you. Here are some important features to look for when purchasing your next air fryer:


1. Multiple Cooking FunctionsAn air fryer with various cooking functions can be your most versatile cooking appliance. With the right air fryer, you can proof bread, bake cakes, dehydrate jerky, and even make yogurt! The  Dual Blaze® 6.8-Quart Smart Air Fryer  has 12 cooking functions and smart control, so you can remotely start and monitor your cooking from your favorite device.

2. Faster Cooking Times: A big draw of air fryers is that you can get a meal from frozen to the dinner table quickly and easily. Look for air fryers with a powerful motor like the  TurboBlaze™ 6.0-Quart Air Fryer  that uses a DC Motor and cooks up to 46% faster than the COSORI CP168 (or Pro Gen 2) air fryer.

3. Space Saver: If you don’t need a large basket and want to save countertop space, the  Lite 4.0-Quart Smart Air Fryer  is a great choice for you. With three colorways, this small but mighty air fryer will cook a mean meal all while matching your aesthetic.

Real Life Success Stories

Ruben R. on the  Dual Blaze® 6.8-Quart Smart Air Fryer

“Very satisfied with this product, highly recommend it if you are interested in a healthier diet and [to] be able to fry without oil.”


CC Pack on the  TurboBlaze™ 6.0-Quart Air Fryer

“Cooking is so fast and the guidelines for this fryer are great. I use my stove and oven way less. In addition to things like veggies and frozen french fries, I've also been able to make juicy burgers, chicken breasts, and fish! I was always wary about doing this in my old air fryer because meat would overcook or cook unevenly. This one is perfect at caramelizing the outside while cooking thoroughly through to the middle. Not only can it do all of this, but it's also extremely quiet and compact for a 6qt. I'd recommend it to anyone!”


Steve Beegle on the  Lite 4.0-Quart Smart Air Fryer

“Very nice air fryer for the money. [It] does what it says and works very [well] for somebody that lives alone. [You] don't need to add oil or [anything] which makes it good for healthier food choices.”


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Healthier Alternatives

For those times that you are craving something delicious and deep fried, consider alternative ways to cook your favorites. Here are some healthier alternatives to frying up your food:


  • Air Frying: Air frying uses less oil to achieve the same crispy goodness of deep-fried foods. Use an air fryer to cook up healthier versions of classic snacks like chicken wings, tater tots, egg rolls, french fries, and more using little to no oil in the process.

  • Oven BakingBaking is a classic alternative to deep frying, especially for breaded foods like corn dogs, fried chicken, and mozzarella sticks. You may need to plan ahead, since oven baking will require a longer preheat, but you can still get a great outer crunch by cooking your food at a high temperature in the oven.

  • Pan FryingPan frying your food uses less oil than deep frying as it doesn’t require you to submerge the ingredients in oil. It can still add a considerable amount of fat to a dish, especially during the cooldown period, but the oil absorption will be less than that of a deep fry.


fried zucchini comparison



Important NoteEven with healthier oils and cooking methods, moderation is key when it comes to fried foods.