Fryer. The word alone seems coated in batter, grease, and general gluttony. That’s probably because to fry means to cook in piping hot fat. So ‘healthy fryers’ is a phrase that might be met with some skepticism. And ‘oil-less fryers’ sounds like a downright miracle. No fear, they’re actually quite a simple invention.
How Do Regular Fryers Work?
A fryer, aka the stuff of Kentucky Fried Chicken lore, is a kitchen appliance used for literal deep frying. The fryer container is filled with oil, which is allowed to heat. Then food, such as chicken wings and potatoes, is cradled in a metal basket and immersed into the depths of the hot oil.
After some shakes throughout and patient waiting, the raw poultry and vegetables miraculously emerge as hot and crispy fried chicken wings and french fries. When they cool down, you dip them in honey mustard and eat them while watching the football game and loving your life.
How Do Oil-Less Fryers Work?
An oil-less fryer, aka an air fryer, is a kitchen appliance that cooks via rapidly moving hot air. Food, such as chicken wings and potatoes, is nestled in a basket. This basket is placed inside the air fryer, which has a heating element and a fan on the inner lid. This element gets hot fast and the fan cycles the hot air all around the food, along with particles of the food’s natural oil that have accumulated at the bottom of the air fryer.
Less than twenty minutes later, you pull out the basket to find hot and crispy fried chicken wings and french fries. When they cool down, you dip them in honey mustard and eat them while watching the football game and loving your life a little more knowing that your chicken wings have way less fat than usual.
So the name ‘oil-less fryer’ might be a slight misnomer – you aren’t frying the food in the traditional sense of the word, and you can also still add oil if the recipe calls for it. But overall, air fryers cook healthier than deep fryers, and they also cook faster, since you don’t have to wait for the oil to start burbling with heat. They’re also more portable and result in a lot less messiness, since most have dishwasher-safe parts and you don’t have a lake of oil to dispose of after cooking.
4 Oil-Less Fryers that Make Good Chicken Wings
Oil-Less fryers are still a fairly newfangled appliance, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of them out there. We weeded out the riff-raff and selected the four best air fryers for making fried chicken wings and other deliciously healthy foodstuffs. All of the below models require no oil when cooking foods that naturally have fat, such as chicken wings, while a few drops of oil are recommended when cooking items like french fries, zucchini, frozen products, etc. Using an oil-less fryer can reduce fat by 70% in french fries, for example, when compared with a deep fryer.
Avalon Bay Deluxe Air Fryer – AB-Airfryer100B
|Avalon Bay AB-Airfryer100B||Appx. Price||Capacity||Timer Length||Temperature Range(°F)||Dishwasher-Safe||Automatic Shut-Off||Power Consumption||Control Type|
|$109||3.2 lbs||30 minutes||200-400||Yes||Yes||1500W||Manual|
We like the Avalon Bay Deluxe AirFryer – AB-Airfryer100B because it’s simple to use and is by far one of the most affordable models on the market at around $109. This is a multi-purpose machine that’s capable of baking, frying, grilling, roasting, and more. It has a 3.2 pound capacity and an adjustable temperature control from 200°F up to a maximum of 400°F. Since chicken wings need to be air fried at just above 350°F, you can easily achieve that temperature with this model. It has two manual control knobs: a timer and a thermostat.
The fan and stainless steel heating element are built-in to the top of the AB-Airfryer100B. Once you turn it on, that heating element warms the air up, and then the fan blows it evenly throughout the interior. At the same time, natural fats and oils drip from the chicken wings and through holes in the bottom of the inner circular basket. The hot air that’s roaming around inside then picks up these particles, and “air fries” the chicken wings via a thin, even coat of natural oil. So in essence, you’re crisping up the wings in their own juices.
The countdown timer on the AB-Airfryer100B can be set up to 30 minutes. After marinating, let’s say, 2 pounds of chicken wings overnight in the refrigerator and then patting them dry, simply put the batch in the cooking basket, turn the temperature knob to the 356°F setting, and let them cook for about 20 minutes. Shaking the basket one time about halfway through can only help. Otherwise, you can go do your own thing somewhere else in the house.
One of the best parts about the AB-Airfryer100B is that it has a countdown timer. Unlike traditional deep fryers or a pan on the stove, this product will automatically shut off when the food’s perfectly done and will ding you to hurry your little self into the kitchen to grab your food. And because the timer only goes up to 30 minutes, if you forget, the worst that could happen is extra-crispy wings for dinner. Anyone with kids should consider an air fryer, such as this Avalon Bay model, over a deep fryer or other traditional kitchen appliances because it’s a lot safer.
Avalon Bay’s oil-less fryer is also easy-to-clean, since the cooking basket is removable and dishwasher-safe, along with the non-stick drip tray. The actual inside of the unit can be wiped down with a warm, damp sponge. Finally, putting it away is easy with the carrying handle on top. This feature also makes it a good choice for on-the-go air frying, such as at tailgating parties. And what better time to have chicken wings then before the big game?
The Avalon Bay Airfryer 100B doesn’t have quite the design glam that some of the other oil-less fryer models below have. One option for anyone looking for an extra spritz of liveliness is to get the red model, which is identical to the AB-Airfryer100B except for the color. Overall however, the Avalon Bay Airfryer 100B is a highly affordable oil-less fryer that works great for cooking chicken wings, frozen foods, french fries, pizzas, and more, with little to no oil needed.
Philips HD9220/26 AirFryer with Rapid Air Technology
|Philips HD9220/26 AirFryer||Appx. Price||Capacity||Timer Length||Temperature Range(°F)||Dishwasher-Safe Parts||Automatic Shut-Off||Power Consumption||Control Type|
|$199||1.8 lbs||30 minutes||176-390||Yes||Yes||1425W||Manual|
The Philips HD9220/26 AirFryer is another popular model on the market, with a lot of rave reviews about the unit’s ability to make chicken wings crispy just like a real deep fryer. This unit comes in at about double the cost of the Avalon Bay oil-less fryer, with a price tag of $199. It’s constructed similarly, with the fan and heating element situated at the top of the unit. Philips’ so-called “patented Rapid Air Technology” is essentially the same technology as you’ll find in the Avalon Bay model, just with a different name. The Philips model does use a unique starfish design at the bottom, which is supposed to encourage the air to circulate better and cook food evenly.
This model has a much lower capacity than the Avalon Bay model, at 1.8 pounds. This makes it more suitable for solo meals or quick snacks, but not ideal for whipping out chicken wings for the whole family. If you do want bigger portions, you’ll have to do them in batches. If you cook 6 chicken wings at 356°F, they should be done in about 18 minutes. The Philips airfryer is a tad faster than the Avalon Bay model, but the difference is negligible.
Like the previous product, the Philips air fryer has a 30 minute countdown timer that’s controlled by a manual knob, along with an automatic shut-off and sound notification when the food is done. While it does have non-stick, dishwasher-safe parts, including the pan, separator, and basket, it does not have a carry handle.
Overall, the Philips HD9220/26 AirFryer cooks chicken wings, french fries, pork chops, and more very well, crisping and browning the outside while keeping the inside tender. It’s important to note that the cooking quality is synonymous with the Avalon Bay AB-Airfryer100B , but with a much steeper price tag. Also, the cooking time will drastically increase if you want to make big batches of wings. Finally, some customers have found that the uniquely shaped bottom inside the Philips aifryer actually creates a problem of being more difficult to clean. In short, the Philips HD9220/26 AirFryer functions well and comes from a major, well-known brand, but the latter benefit literally comes at a high price.
GLiP AF800WHITE White Oil-Less Air Fryer
|GLiP AF800WHITE Oil-Less Air Fryer||Appx. Price||Capacity||Timer Length||Temperature Range (°F)||Dishwasher-Safe Parts||Automatic Shut-Off||Power Consumption||Control Type|
|$138||4.85 lbs||30 minutes||175-400||Yes||Yes||1400W||Manual|
With its name and design, the GLiP AF800WHITE Oil-Less Air Fryer seems to be a retro piece of cookware caught in the future. In other words, it looks pretty cool and it cooks chicken wings to perfection too. This product has many similarities with the units above, including a 30 minute countdown timer that dings and shuts the air fryer off automatically when cooking is complete, a max temperature of 400°F, and manual controls for the thermostat and the timer.
The GLiP model’s temperature dial does look much more like a thermostat/thermometer than the others, adding to its retro vibe. However, precision control of the settings is a little more difficult with this little knob-window combination. Clean-up is simple though, since the frying basket and frying pan are dishwasher-safe, and the inside of the unit is coated in non-stick material.
The AF800WHITE also has a whopping 2.2 liter capacity, which roughly translates to 4.85 pounds. This cooking space puts the Philips airfryer we looked at to shame. While that means the GLiP AF800WHITE would be more convenient when it comes to cooking large dinners or lots of chicken wings for a big group of guests, the product will take up slightly more counter space than the previous two models. In the GLiP, about 8 ounces of chicken wings will take approximately 15 minutes with the temperature set at 355°F. This cook time is right in line with the others, with a little edge over the competition in terms of speed.
Overall, the GLiP AF800WHITE Oil-Less Air Fryer is a mid-range model with extra wiggle room for cooking. Its only cons are that it’s a newer product, so it hasn’t been time-tested yet, it’s the heaviest airfryer of the four, and the settings are somewhat difficult to calibrate. Functionality-wise, it cooks most food in under 20 minutes, and the end results are non-oily and non-greasy.
T-fal FZ7002 ActiFry Low-Fat Healthy Dishwasher Safe Multi-Cooker
|T-fal FZ7002 ActiFry Multi-Cooker||Appx. Price||Capacity||Timer Length||Temperature Range(°F)||Dishwasher-Safe Parts||Automatic Shut-Off||Power Consumption||Control Type|
|$200||2.2 lbs||99 minutes||Constant – 338||Yes||No||1400W||Manual/Digital|
The T-fal FZX7002 ActiFry Low-Fat Healthy Dishwasher Safe Multi-Cooker uses the same hot air circulation technology for healthy cooking that the previous air fryers offer, just with a longer name that spells out its benefits. Indeed, although this air fryer comes with more accessories than the others we’ve covered — T-fal ceramic non-stick removable pan, stirring paddle, lid and measuring spoons — they can all be cleaned in the dishwasher, making the process after using the fryer very simple.
The T-fal fryer has a digital display and two manual control knobs. This display only indicates how much time remains before the food’s done, because there’s no option to adjust temperature on the air fryer — it cooks at a constant 338°F. That’s slightly lower than the recommended temperature for cooking chicken wings, so you can expect the T-fal product to have a longer cooking time than the others. That’s probably why the timer goes all the way up to 99 minutes, as opposed to the standard 30 minutes on the previous three oil-less fryers. The only other button on the unit is the On/Off button.
With a capacity of 2.2 pounds, this is a mid-sized air fryer. However, its actual countertop footprint is fairly large, since it enters the ring at 16.7 x 13.6 x 9.4. In comparison, the Avalon Bay oil-less fryer measures 13.5 x 11 x 12.75. What this means is that the T-fal is a larger airfryer overall, but it doesn’t offer greater relative capacity.
Overall, this model produces crispy fried foods, just like the other products. The one qualm we had with it is that it does not have an automatic shut-off. While the countdown timer will ding when the time’s up, if you’re out of the room and don’t hear that buzz, your chicken wings are just going to keep right on cooking until they curl into sad little shrivels. As such, the T-fal FZX7002 requires more attentiveness when cooking than the other units.
The Oil-Less Fryer Bottom Line
All of these oil-less fryers are successful at making fried chicken wings and other foods with lower fat content. When it comes down to it though, we recommend the Avalon Bay AB-Airfryer100B above all of the others, since it has the lowest price-tag without compromising on features or quality. Avalon Bay may be less well-known name than Philips or T-fal, but the end cooking results of this brand’s product are the same.