The air fryer is probably the most bought kitchen appliance during this pandemic. Your busy neighbors who want only the fastest and easiest possible way to prepare healthy food for their family most likely got one.
An ‘oil-less’ fryer does sound like a smart alternative, especially to the health conscious. But what’s that we hear from the back of the room? A murmured question basically saying, 'Doesn’t mom’s classic turbo broiler offer the same service and give you the same benefits?'
Hence, The Great Air Fryer versus Turbo Broiler Debate. It’s pretty heated, and dripping with the delicious fat of one-upmanship. Who should win in the end? Best to settle this, we thought, by way of a good ol’ mano a mano.
How it cooks
Essentially, both air fryer and turbo broiler do the cooking by using hot air circulating around the food. Both are equipped with air-circulating fans, which keep the temperature consistent in the cooking area, allowing the food to cook not just faster but evenly.
What you can cook
An air fryer works best with frozen foods that are meant to taste like it was deep-fried—french fries and chicken, for example. Or even non-frozen ones like empanada, lumpia, and homemade chips. You can also cook baked goods and hard-boiled eggs in the air fryer. Some air fryers have pre-programmed settings for cooking various types of food.
Some air fryers can’t cook large meals. A whole chicken? No. A whole fish for the CNY spread? Forget it. So if you’re feeding a big family, you’ll have to cook the food in batches. If you want to present an entire cooked animal on a plate, find a bigger air fryer. Meanwhile, your small air fryer should be perfect for appetizers.
Also, an air fryer doesn’t cook certain foods well, such as raw vegetables and greens, fresh cheeses, battered foods, and foods with loose herbs and spices (these make the appliance hard to clean).
Like the air fryer, the turbo broiler pretty much functions like a convection oven. You can cook your meats (lechon kawali, bagnet—no need to deep-fry!), fries and bake cakes, pastries and biscuits. If your appliance comes with an expansion ring, you can cook whole chickens and rib roasts.
You can cook more food in a shorter period in a turbo broiler than in an air fryer. In this sense, having a turbo broiler is more practical. But when cooking just for yourself (a relatively small amount of food), the time difference is negligible.
The health factor
Both cooking methods make for healthy alternatives to deep-frying. But some people say what makes an air fryer better is it allows the food to drip the extra fat. Actually, the turbo broiler also allows the food to drip the extra fat and you can even watch it drip, drip, drip.
Some turn those drippings into sauces or gravy. From the people we asked, however, there seems to be an ‘ewww’ reaction when we bring up using the drippings—but we don’t know if it’s just cause they don’t clean their catchers obsessively OR they find it nasty to put all that fat back into their food.
What our friends say
“I love my turbo broiler since it can be used for a lot of purposes. Even for just toasting my bread, baking my lasagna, etc.,” says Jenny Chan Tan of the fantastic Chinese takeout operation @jencooksph. “When my oven conked out, my turbo broiler became the star! As in [we cooked] everything there.”
“We super love our air fryer!” says Ryan Vergara, half of the photography duo Everwhereweshoot. “We like to fry a spring chicken a la Max’s. A half spring chicken fits! [His brand is Philips]. Ang saya lang! Wings are our favorite. And the skin really gets crunchy!”
The air fryer is a plug-and-play device. Simply pop the food onto the machine’s basket, pick the time and settings (some have pre-programmed settings for different types of food), then hit start. After a while, if you did your settings right, out comes your food in golden, crispy finish.
The turbo oven looks intimidating at first to a newbie, but it’s actually fairly easy to use. (It helps to read the manual. Wink wink.) The set may consist of about three to six parts—which include the glass bowl, the lid (which has the fan, the heating element, and the cooking controls). It may have a wire rack in the bowl and an expansion ring.
Both air fryer and turbo broiler are quite easy to clean. Once the machines have cooled down, just wipe them with moist cloth or paper towel, and wash removable parts with warm soapy water.
Both are nifty but need ample storage space on your kitchen counter or cabinet.
Cost of air fryers run between P3,000 to as high as P40,000+++ depending on the size and features. Turbo broilers are generally more cost efficient—P2000 to P5000—considering its use.