After years of resisting, I finally bought an air fryer. I do admit that it was an impulse purchase provoked by Labor Day sales ads. I had been mulling over the pros—the promise of perfect fries, super-quick cooking, and no more deep-frying—but was deterred by the downsides, like the tiny cooking surface (we are a family of five) and the bulky, un-chic design that takes up a lot of counter space. But now I wonder what I did before I owned an air fryer, because it’s clearly an essential kitchen gadget.
With the model I bought, a Ninja air fryer, I spent a week making at least two meals a day and reheating leftovers. It’s so easy to use even without reading the instruction manual. I’m here to report that I won’t be returning it for my money back. Here are the two reasons I am glad I got an air fryer and if you’re on the fence, it’s time. Go for it.
The Air Fryer = Stress-Free Mornings
The air fryer is an essential back-to-school buy. My weekday morning alarm clock is set to 6:30 AM. That gives me one hour to stumble through coffee, breakfast, and packed lunches before stuffing our three kids in the car for school. Often the first thing I do is preheat the oven for Trader Joe’s samosas, pastry-wrapped mini hot dogs, or mini chicken tacos, our kids’ favorite lunches. My oven takes about 15 minutes to preheat. Guess what? The air fryer doesn’t need preheating.
As soon as you hit the start button, it blasts superheated air—mine goes up to 400°F—crisping up foods much faster than it would in the oven. Frozen samosas take about 35 minutes to cook in the oven, including preheating time. It takes NINE MINUTES in the air fryer. Even if I have to cook the samosas in two batches in the air fryer because of its limited cooking capacity, that’s still just 18 minutes total. My mornings are less stressful, and that alone makes the air fryer worth it.
The Air Fryer Reheats Food Like It’s Just Cooked
“Yay! Leftovers!” said no one ever. But wait until you try reheating leftovers in the air fryer. Nothing else—not the oven, not the stove top, or even the microwave—can crisp soggy day-old leftovers like they’ve just been made. I often roast a large batch of broccoli or cauliflower to reheat as sides for dinner during the week, and the air fryer is able to reheat them until the florets get those crunchy, almost-burnt edges that make them so delicious. I’ve also reheated tostones, spring rolls, a loaf of stale bread, and even a chocolate chip cookie. Each time, they emerged out of the pull-out basket as if just cooked—crispy around the edges and tender inside.
It’s worth noting that you’ll want to continue reheating wet foods, like casseroles, soups, rice, and pastas in the microwave or stove top. But anything with a crunchy texture can be reheated in an air fryer.