Five healthy air fryer ideas for low-fat cooking

How healthy are air fryers, really? Our top five ways to cook healthy meals in an air fryer will help you make the most of this low-fat way of cooking. 

Are air fryers healthy? Well, that depends on how you use them. One of the main selling points of the best air fryers is their healthy and low-fat cooking method. But, are air fryers healthy, or is this just a myth? Well, the truth is that air fryers are definitely a useful tool for those who want to start cooking in a more healthy and low-fat way, but they’re only as healthy as the food you put in them.

We have reviewed a lot of air fryers over the years, and one of the recipes we always use to test them is homemade chips. By drizzling wedges of potato in a tablespoon of oil and a healthy sprinkle of herbs, you’re definitely cutting down on the fat of deep fat fryers, but that doesn’t mean your meal will always be healthy. This depends on what you put in the air fryer, from the amount of oil you toss your veggies or fries in, to the nutritional value of the frozen food you cook in it. When an air fryer claims to be a low-fat way of cooking, it typically means in comparison to a deep fat fryer. What we do know is that air fryers turn out tasty meals with a similar consistency to deep-fried meals, which is a big win for those who enjoy fried food. 

Here are five ways to make sure that you’re making the most of all the healthy solutions your air fryer has to offer your lifestyle. 

Check the oil

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chips and a burger from an air fryer

(Image credit: Breville)

Air fryers really don’t need much oil to work. This is because they function like a very small fan oven, circulating hot air around your food and evenly distributing what little oil you add in with it.

One of the best ways to make sure that your air fryer is producing delicious meals every day is to buy an oil spray, especially a low-cal one. This will make sure that your dishes have that slight coating of oil, but without needing to immerse them in hot fat as you would need to with a deep fat fryer. 

Make the most of baskets

Not all air fryers have a basket that drains fat away from your meal, but most do. This includes some of our top picks, such as the Cosori and Ninja models you’ll find in our guide. 

philips essential air fryer

(Image credit: Philips)

Baskets are great for making sure you don’t eat food that’s been sitting in fat while cooking. The best example of this is bacon. We’ve cooked bacon in an air fryer many times, and the basket always allows the fat to drip away from the bacon, leaving a crispy consistency but without covering the bacon in grease. This way of cooking bacon not only tastes great, but it also removes some of the fat from the bacon itself. That’s the best of both worlds.

Don’t forget the veggies

Air fried veggies are the way forward. While we may use them to cook the carbohydrates or proteins in our meal, if you’ve never tried using an air fryer to cook cauliflower bites or veggie fajitas, you’re missing out. 

Air fryers really allow vegetables to come to life. Rather than boiling your broccoli, air frying it can leave you with a crispy side dish to spice up your meal. Add some seasoning, and you’ll never steam it again.

Skip the takeaways

philips essential air fryer

(Image credit: Philips)

If you’re craving a Friday night fish and chips, skip the chippy and find out how easy this can be in an air fryer. You can either buy frozen fish and chips for a quick and easy dinner without any deep fat frying, or breadcrumb your own fish fillets and chop up your potatoes for a homemade alternative that’s just as crispy and delicious. What’s more, you know every single thing that’s gone into your meal when you make it from scratch. 

Portion control

One great thing about air fryers is that they all come with differing capacities. We like the Ninja AF300UK Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer because it has two trays that can roast and dehydrate as well as air fry, but what makes it particularly great is that the individual trays work best when not completely full.

Instead of guessing at how much food you’re eating, you’ll have an easy measure of just how much food you’re making for you and your family based on how full the air fryer basket becomes. Getting carried away is a lot more tricky than with an oven tray!

Millie Fender
Head of Reviews

Millie Fender is Head of Reviews at Ideal Home. She joined Ideal Home as an Ecommerce Editor in 2021, covering all of the site's small appliance and cookware shopping content. Millie formerly worked at Top Ten Reviews, another Future site, where she produced review and buying guides across a range of home products, from fridges to blenders. As Head of Reviews, her job is to test all the wackiest product launches, whether they're air fryers, bread makers, or juicers, and give you her honest experience.