Air Frying: Friend or Foe?

Image of an air fryer with air-fried simosas.

By: Reina Black, CSUN Dietetic Intern Cohort 2021-2023

Fried foods are some of Americans’ favorite foods. Whether it be a crispy French fry, a succulent fried chicken, or a delicious donut, fried foods remain a popular staple in American cuisine. Though these foods taste good, it is well known by many consumers that deep frying foods is not the healthiest cooking method around. The high fat content of deep-fried foods can negatively impact heart health1,2. Thus, it is no coincidence that air fryers have become all the rage over the past few years. Marketed as a healthier alternative to deep frying foods, the demand for air fryers continues to surge. Are air fryers the answer? Let’s take a look at what we know about air frying. 

What Is Air Frying? 

An air fryer is essentially a small oven and works by cooking the food with hot air. It is meant to mimic the deep-frying process by completely surrounding the food with a high amount of heat, instead of submerging the food in hot oil. This hot air circulating the food produces the golden brown, crispy outside and tender inside that is normally achieved with deep-frying.2,3 

Is It Really Healthier? 

Compared to deep frying, foods prepared in an air fryer contain significantly less fat – up to 80% less.3,5 This reduced amount of fat results in a 70-80% reduction of calories as well, compared to that found in deep fried foods.4 One study found that air frying foods not only led to lower fat content of the food itself, but also 67% lower fat in people’s blood after the meal. This is important because the amount of post-meal fat in your blood contributes to your risk for heart disease.5 For starchy foods, like French fries, air frying may even support a lower spike in blood sugar due to higher amounts of slowly digested starch.6 

What About Taste and Texture? 

Air frying is well suited for foods that you would traditionally fry (think French fries, chicken, onion rings, mozzarella sticks), but also a variety of other vegetables and meat can be prepared in the air fryer. When compared to deep frying, such qualities as taste, appearance, and odor may be similar, while the lower oil content of air frying can produce products that are less oily and more crisp.3 Foods tend to still have the outer crunch, but you may find the inside to be softer.7   

How Much Time Is Involved? 

Air frying is a relatively quick process. It is faster than oven baking but can take twice the time of the conventional frying method.3 However, considering that conventional frying can take 5-15 minutes, depending on the item, the burden of doubling the time is not that great. Another consideration is that air fryers, being of limited size, cannot hold a lot at once. Thus, if trying to make large amounts of a food item, this could increase the time involved.4 

How Much Does It Cost? 

An air fryer can set you back anywhere from $40 to $300 or more depending on the size and functions.2 However, air fryers can also save energy compared to other larger appliances, up to 70% savings.3 


Overall, air frying is a convenient and healthy alternative for preparing your favorite foods, without compromising taste and texture. It uses less oil (fat) than deep frying, creates less of a mess, and is quicker than cooking with an oven. Yet, when deciding whether to use an air fryer, important factors to consider are the limited capacity of the air fryer and the foods not suitable for the appliance, such as marinated meats.2 

You can use the quick and easy recipes below to get you started with air frying. Become familiar with the various ways air frying can fit your lifestyle. If you are looking for other healthy cooking techniques to use at home, reach out to the Marilyn Magaram Center by emailing or calling 818-677-3102. 


  1. Harvard Medical School. How much will fried foods harm your heart? Harvard Health Publishing. 2021. Retrieved February 25, 2023, from 
  1. Greer K. How does an air fryer work? U.S. News and World Report. 2022. Retrieved February 25, 2023, from 
  1. Zaghi AN, Barbalho SM, Guiguer EL Otoboni AM. Frying Process: From Conventional to Air Frying Technology. Food Reviews International. 2019; 35(8): 763-777. doi: 10.1080/87559129.2019.1600541 
  1. Cleveland Clinic. Air-frying: Is it as healthy as you think? Health Essentials. 2019. Retrieved February 25, 2023, from 
  1. Feng X, Li M, Liu H, Higgins PB, Tang Y, Cao Y, Shen J, Jin S, Ge S. Reduced postprandial serum triglyceride after a meal prepared using hot air frying: A randomized crossover trial. NFS Journal. 2020;19:1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nfs.2020.03.001 
  1. Dong L, Qui C, Wang R, Zhang Y, Wang J, Liu J, Yu H, Wang S. Effects of air frying on french fries: The indication role of physicochemical properties on the formation of maillard hazards, and the changes of starch digestibility. Frontiers in nutrition (Lausanne). 2022;9:889901. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.889901  
  1. Winters M. Is it Healthier to Use an Air Fryer? Hackensack Meridian Health. 2022. Retrieved March 22, 2023, from 

Leave a Reply