My friend group knows me as an air fryer skeptic. I always felt it was an unnecessary oven alternative that took up valuable kitchen counter space. Then the pandemic hit. Extra time at home allowed me to explore my culinary creativity—and I started coveting kitchen appliances the way I once coveted shoes.
I finally caved and bought the Chefman TurboFry 2 Air Fryer ($50; amazon.com) on Black Friday after finding a ridiculously good deal on the appliance. Barely larger than a coffee maker, the 2-liter Chefman is perfectly sized for my tiny NYC kitchen and "dinner for one" recipes. Its minimalist design simplifies the cooking process with just 2 controls: a temperature dial up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and a 60-minute timer. Not to mention, it already had more than 4,800 perfect ratings from Amazon shoppers.
My air fryer arrived the first week of December and I used it the very same night. While I'd like to say my first air fryer recipe was adventurous, it was just cubed sweet potato fries. And despite taking just 15 minutes to prep and bake, they managed to be the best sweet potato fries I'd ever made at home.
I quickly become obsessed with putting every veggie possible into the nonstick air fryer basket—broccoli, zucchini, carrots, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, kale, leeks, etc. They came out immaculate every time, even with the most basic preparation of olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. As a vegetarian, I've cooked plenty of produce in the past 5 years, and I can easily say my vegetables have never tasted better than when they're prepped in my air fryer.
In fact, I've used my air fryer for almost every home-cooked meal since it arrived. I love that I don't have to obsessively stand over the stove and can let my meals cook in the background while I tackle other tasks. I also appreciate that it delivers the crispy crunch typically derived from oil without requiring excessive amounts in my recipes. Plus, with its dishwasher-safe basket that I can toss into the sink and soak with the rest of my dirty dishes, it's ridiculously easy to clean.
Better yet, I feel like this budget-friendly option skips the common complaints of air fryers: excessive noise and clunky size. Its subtle hum is comparable to a hair dryer on a low setting, and the compact design doesn't take up excessive space like many of the other options available online. Of course, this means you give up certain features, like preset buttons and grill options, but I've found this makes the unit easier to use.
My only regret about the air fryer is that I didn't purchase one earlier—and I'm not the only one wishing that.
"Why didn't I get one of these sooner," a reviewer wrote. "I like it way more than my [Instant Pot]; super easy to use [and] ridiculously easy to clean. I was heating up my oven (and my house) every day for years just to heat up 15 chicken nuggets or a slice of leftover pizza, etc. Never again! I haven't turned on my big oven for days! Love this thing."
Another wrote: "After hearing so many others talk about, write and post about it, I finally bought an air fryer. I didn't want anything too big or expensive, so I chose this one. We love it. In the past week, we have used it to cook anything that was previously frozen (egg rolls, chicken nuggets, tater tots)—and experimented with bacon, marinated chicken breast, and reheating. It all came out perfect. Even better, I didn't have to heat up the kitchen with the oven, break out 10 different baking pans, or clean afterwards."
Although I've only had the appliance for a month, I can confidently declare it the best kitchen purchase I've made in ages—and that includes my garlic slicer. I can count on it for healthy, delicious meals in minutes that leave me energized and satisfied. I'd even go back in time and pay full price for the Chefman TurboFry 2 Air Fryer.
Luckily, no one has to right now because it's currently $10 off on Amazon. Just be sure to lock down your purchase ASAP—the original design is currently backordered until the end of January, and it won't be long before the latest release follows suit.
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