The Air Fryer is Heating Up in More Ways Than One

The Air Fryer is Heating Up in More Ways Than One - Food & Nutrition Magazine - Stone Soup
Photo Courtesy of PowerXL

Product reviewed: Power XL Vortex Air Fryer

If you use the internet and you’re remotely interested in food-related content, you’re likely familiar with the current obsession with the air fryer. I can get on board with anything that makes vegetables taste great in record time. The real question I was interested in answering: Is the functionality worth it for yet another trendy appliance? Air fryers aren’t dainty by any account, so I took a deep dive into determining whether the counter real estate it takes up yields a significant return on investment. The Air Fryer is Heating Up in More Ways Than One -

The PowerXL Vortex Air Fryer claims to cook your favorite foods in a “turbo-charged whirlwind vortex of superheated air.” Sounds very futuristic, right? Essentially the idea is that you can crisp food items in a fraction of the time it takes in a full-sized oven and with much less added fats than with a deep-fat fryer. As for what foods can be cooked, the product description lists everything from meats to vegetables to doughnuts. The machine functions like a convection oven, so really anything goes.

First impression: The PowerXL Vortex Air Fryer looks very modern and has a digital screen (no actual buttons). When turned on, it lights up and the temperature, timer and presets become visible. I must admit, even though it’s large, it is much sleeker and quieter (and healthier, of course) than a deep fryer. Bonus: The parts are dishwasher-safe, which is a huge selling point for anyone who is short on time.

To get the full experience, I tested a variety of foods, so I could really compare air frying to oven cooking. I air-fried sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, tofu, chickpeas and even a hunk of frozen chocolate chip cookie dough. In general, I found the main appeal to be speed. It takes just three minutes to preheat, and all the foods I made were ready in 10 minutes or less. I also appreciated how easy it was to mix things up halfway through the cook time; just pull out the basket, give it a shake and push it back in. It doesn’t heat up your kitchen, so it’s suitable for hotter months. Speaking of heat, the basket gets hot, so this is not a kid-friendly cooking tool by any means.

One claim I found to be misleading is that you need “little to no oil.” Technically this is true, but I found items were dry without a sufficient amount of added fat. I used about the same amount of oil as I would with roasting to create a product that was crispier. As a dietitian, it was slightly discouraging to see the included recipe book doesn’t include a single vegetable. Instead, foods like chicken tenders, bacon-wrapped potato tots and mozzarella sticks are featured for an appliance marketed for healthier cooking. Personally, the redeeming health-promoting quality of the air fryer is the ability to quickly and easily make vegetables appealing; this is how I would “sell it” to a nutrition client.

After using the PowerXL air fryer in multiple ways, I think this appliance makes the most sense for households of one or two people. Even the larger model isn’t roomy enough to fit vegetables for four individuals in one batch. I also would recommend it to anyone who prefers simple, straightforward meals and snacks, such as a protein with a side of vegetables. Finally, this air fryer could be a great investment for the fried-food lovers who want to lighten up favorites at home, but this is assuming a willingness to learn how to cook them in a different way. Regardless, I think it’s a fun and innovative machine that has a lot of potential in the world of healthier cooking.

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Leanne Ray
Leanne Ray MS, RDN is a food blogger, recipe developer and freelance food photographer based in Denver. Find her blog at LeanneRay.com where she creates approachable, plant-forward recipes that are family-friendly and big on flavor.