If you go looking for air fryer answers online, you’ll find a full-on debate underway. Some, like Pitre and Mims, tout their ability to cook everything from okra to roast beef. Others sneer at their noisy fans and objectively uncool design. Mims argues that while “culinary movers and shakers of New York” have regarded the contraption with skepticism, he has found “users all over America who were obsessed with their air fryers.”

I’ve been cooking with an air fryer for about a month, and I can say that they’re good at crisping things that have been breaded, like frozen chicken fingers. I’ll also confirm that they don’t actually fry food. With the notable exception of chicken wings, foods that are traditionally deep fried, like french fries, fried tofu, and doughnuts, are just not that great prepared this way. By the time they’re cool enough to eat, all the crispiness has been lost.

Another warning: They won’t feed a crowd. For my family of four, almost anything cooked in our three-quart NuWave air fryer needs to be done in several batches, which is cumbersome.

But it’s easy to see how the air fryer could be ideal for a person living alone. A single plate of salmon and charred broccoli, or a lamb chop with roasted Brussels sprouts, would be faster and easier to clean up in the air fryer than on the stove—and just as delicious, if not more. I can imagine Urvashi Pitre’s gochujang chicken wings would become a go-to, alongside a salad. This machine is the perfect scale for a single diner, with less hassle than a meal kit, and more adaptability.

Urvashi Pitre’s lamb sirloin chops.
Urvashi Pitre’s lamb sirloin chops.
Image: Ghazalle Badiozamani

I often find myself using the air fryer to make lunch when I work from home. It’s the best way to reheat lasagna, and makes delicious roasted vegetables for a grain bowl. Fish is particularly good in the air fryer—it cooks through without getting dried out and without making your apartment smell like a fish market.

And the air fryer will also give you dessert. There are also all sorts of smaller pans designed for air fryers, and recipes to go with them, which makes it possible to bake four brownies (Ben Mims’ recipe is gooey perfection), or a batch of eight cookies.

It’s possible to spend as little as $50 on an air fryer, and Consumer Reports actually likes some of the cheaper models the best. The drawback with them is that they are kind of giant for how much you can actually fit in them, and their weirdly rounded, retro-futurist vibe is aggressively uncool. These are appliances that would look right at home on the set of an 1980s sitcom set in the year 2030 (the wacky neighbor would be an alien).

If you are going to make this the cornerstone of your cooking, spend a little more and get a toaster oven with a convection setting. The Wirecutter hated the entire notion of air fryers, but did recommend two multi-function air fryer-toaster ovens, and this $200 Cuisinart model is about the same price as the most expensive air fryers. It looks a lot nicer on your counter, and you can even cook a whole chicken in it, if you feel like entertaining from time to time.

Miso Salmon

Excerpted from Everyday Easy Air Fryer © 2018 by Urvashi Pitre, Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Servings: 2

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons white miso paste

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

2 (5-ounce) salmon fillets

Vegetable oil spray

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish

In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, soy sauce, miso, garlic, ginger, and pepper to


Place the salmon fillets on a plate. Pour half the sauce over the fillets; turn the fillets to coat the

other sides with sauce.

Spray the air-fryer basket with vegetable oil spray. Place the sauce-covered salmon in the

basket. Set the air fryer to 400°F for 12 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, brush

additional miso sauce on the salmon.

Sprinkle the salmon with the sesame seeds and scallions and serve.

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