Air fryers anyone? This cooker’s popularity continues to grow

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Air fryers are by definition a lie, but it’s one that people are still literally eating up, 11 years after they first hit the market.

Why are they a lie? Because they really aren’t fryers at all, but smallish convection ovens that circulate superheated air around so fast that it makes your food crispy.

I say smallish, because they’re not all that small. They do take up expensive real estate on your kitchen counter, next to your George Foreman Grill, your Instant Pot and your toaster oven.

  • Marla Weisenfeld received this purple air fryer as a gift a couple of years ago and she puts it to good use in her kitchen, making healthy and crispy meals in Long Beach on Thursday, July 29, 2021. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)

  • Like many of the affordable air fryers on the market, the Gourmia Air Fryer GAF575 is easy to use but its size isn’t designed to feed a large crowd. (Photo by Cathy Thomas)

  • Fried chicken strips cook in about 12 minutes in an air fryer. (Photo by Cathy Thomas)

  • Potato wedges had a consistency between roasted and fried after being cooked in an air fryer. (Photo by Cathy Thomas)

  • Marla Weisenfeld received this purple air fryer as a gift a couple of years ago and she puts it to good use in her kitchen, making healthy and crispy meals in Long Beach on Thursday, July 29, 2021. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG)



The air fryer was first unveiled in all its magnificence to the world in 2010, when Philips introduced it at a major consumer electronics show in Berlin. But it didn’t hit the big time until celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, began to mention it a few years later.

Since then, the sales just keep on growing. According to, the U.S. sells the most air fryers in the world — $323 million worth in 2018 — and the market continues to grow. The company attributed the growth to the health benefits of eating less fried food, and growing awareness among consumers about the toxic compounds created during the process of deep frying. More commercial users are also buying them, in addition to consumers. Prices generally run around $100, though sales can bring that down to $50.

Meanwhile, they’re extremely popular gifts from air fryer true believers, even if some of the giftees have never taken them out of the box. And many end up in the garage unused.

Air fryer true believers tend to have evangelical fervor — they want to recruit new members. They post on Facebook, where various groups have names like Easy Air Fryer Recipes, Air Fryer Tips and Recipes, Air Fryer Daily, Air Fryer Tips and Tricks!, Air Fryer Lovers,  Air Fryer Fanatics, Air Fryer for Beginners and more. There’s Indian Air Fryer Recipes, Gluten Free Air Fryer Recipes, Vegan Air Fryer Recipes and Weight Watchers Air Fryer Recipes. Not to mention Twitter and Instagram.

And they share their love in person. Go to any wedding shower and you’ll find an air fryer on the gift table.

Lucy Dunn of Coto de Caza said she recently got one as a gift. She’d wanted one to make healthier French fries. “Opened the box,” she said. “Looked at all the parts and put it back in the box. Sigh. Intimidated.” She intends to “get brave soon.”

Then there’s Kathy Bussi of Long Beach, who received an air fryer from her nephew for Mother’s Day but hasn’t even managed to open the box. Yes, she actually wanted an air fryer. Nowadays, it seems like most people who own a kitchen want one.

“It’s sitting in its box on the counter where I intend to use it,” Bussi said. “I will use it soon. I just don’t know when.  A friend gave me an air fryer cookbook for my birthday. I flipped through it.”

That’s the corollary to the air fryer mania: The side businesses it has launched. Everyone now needs an air fryer cookbook, because the device does cook quite differently than an oven or stovetop.

After you have your air fryer and cookbook, you can even buy an air fryer T-shirt. Wear it while you’re using your air fryer. Then you may be tempted to add a cake pan, pizza pan, silicon mat, metal toasting rack, skewer rack and muffin pan. Then, once you’re fully initiated into the cult, you need your parchment paper, instant-read thermometer and olive oil mister.

Marla Weisenfeld of Long Beach is among those who received hers as a gift, from her brother and sister, two years ago. She’d been thinking about getting one, but hadn’t made a decision.

“I was in cancer treatment at the time and trying to eat healthy, so my brother and sister gave it to me for my birthday, Weisenfeld said. “The first thing I made was Ore-Ida French fries from the freezer and they were good.”

And, yes, she subsequently got a cookbook, though she hasn’t received a T-shirt yet.

“Everything I’ve made has been really good,” Weisenfeld said. “I like to make fried chicken with just a spray of olive oil maybe every two weeks. It doesn’t heat up my kitchen. I feel it’s a healthier way to cook and it’s less messy.”

One thing Weisenfeld doesn’t like is that the relatively small cooking area means she has to make three batches to provide enough fried chicken for her family of four, which takes 45 to 60 minutes.

“It’s also just another appliance on the counter top to put up and down (on the top of her refrigerator) along with my Instant Pot,” she said.

Favorite dishes she’s made include brussels sprouts, zucchini and salmon. She said she only makes things that seem “safe,” so she hasn’t had any failures to date.

Aficionados who’ve actually mastered the cooking method sometimes can’t get enough of the appliance. Gail Davis of San Bernardino said she and her husband “do everything in the air fryer,” including steaks and roasted vegetables. She described it as the “greatest thing since sliced bread.”

Barbara Kogerman of Laguna Hills said she bought an air fryer accessory to use with her Instant Pot that has been sitting there for months, and she just joined an air fryer Facebook group to get up the courage to learn how to use it.

Meanwhile, the gift wrap continues to go over those air fryer boxes, as more and more people are exposed.

Not Anne Ramirez of Covina, though. She’s not ready to give up frying the old-fashioned way.

“I think I would desperately miss those splashes of hot grease on my arms, and on my clothes … right where the apron doesn’t cover,” Ramirez said.

Lola Scott, who lives near Sacramento, said she’s now seriously considering using the one she bought.

“It turns out that air fryers are like gym memberships – they’re only good if you use them,” Scott said. “Mine’s still in the box.”