Healthy Cooking

‘I Wrote a Cookbook Dedicated to Air Frying, and This Is the *One* Model I Always Use at Home’

Photo: Stocksy/ Cameron Whitman
When people ask me what’s the one kitchen tool I would bring to a deserted island, it’s hands down my air fryer. That’s because this multifaceted tool can do it all, like transform potatoes into crispy, crunchy perfection or roast brussels sprouts until they're deliciously browned.

So, when we wanted to find out the all-time best one on the market, we knew we had to go straight to a pro. Enter Coco Morante, the author of the newly-released The Instant Kitchen Cookbook that’s basically a one-stop shop of all the foolproof recipes you need to fully maximize the A+ cooking skills of your Instant Pot and your air fryer. It's our lucky day, because Morante revealed to us the *exact* air fryer she swears by and used to develop her book, and it's as multifunctional as they come. This model can air fry, bake, broil, toast, and even dehydrate. Talk about a desert island appliance.

The best air fryer on the market, according to a cookbook author

According to Morante, the best air fryer on the market is the Instant Omni Plus 18L Air Fryer Toaster Oven, which retails for just under $250.

6 reasons why this expert says this is the best fryer… ever

1. You can use it for cooking every meal of the day

One of the main reasons Morante loves air frying is because it makes cooking every meal that much easier, from breakfast to dessert. “I use the air fryer multiple times a day in my house. For breakfast, I'll make some toast or warm up hash browns. At lunchtime, I use it to reheat things like last night's leftovers or make a quick grilled cheese or a quesadilla. And finally, for dinner time, the thing I do most often is roast vegetables in the air fryer as a side dish. It takes less than 20 minutes from when you start preheating the machine, which is half of what it used to take me in the regular oven,” Morante says.

2. It’s a great multitasking tool

Aside from its ability to cook just about every meal, Morante says the Instant Omni Plus air fryer is also a great tool when it comes to multitasking, which is particularly great for those short on time. “For instance, I often use it for making one component of a meal while the other is cooking on the stove. Think meatballs in the air fryer and pasta in a pot,” she says. "This is especially handy when feeding a hungry crowd—or a very demanding toddler."

3. It’s perfect for cooking for a party of one

While this large-capacity air fryer model is certainly great for families, it’s also hugely helpful when cooking for a party of one. “I love to do some sheet pan-style meals in there. You can cook a piece of salmon and some veggies for one person in the blink of an eye," Morante says. The generous space in the air fryer can fit a whole 12-inch pizza or six slices of bread at a time, which is more than enough room to whip together a meal for one (or two) in a matter of minutes.

4. Your food will be crispier and tastier than ever

Morante says that she feels that an air fryer is, without a doubt, superior to a regular oven. “I find that things get cooked evenly, and the browning is really good—better than an oven. Things tend to cook without drying out. So, for instance, vegetables will turn out nice and tender on the inside and still be nicely golden brown on the outside,” she says.

5. It cooks foods to crispy perfection

This all comes down to the science behind how an air fryer works. Morante says that the powerful convection fans inside the fryer circulate hot air evenly around the food, which helps promote perfectly uniform browning. Her favorite model, the Instant Omni Plus, has two types of heating elements (traditional coil and infrared) for mega browning and crisping action, which is yet another reason why she says it’s her go-to.

6. It’s beyond easy to clean

What’s just as great as getting dinner done fast? Minimal cleaning up to do afterward, of course. “I know some people put their ary fryer parts in the dishwasher, but I find that non-stick surfaces tend to be preserved better if you treat them a bit more delicately. So, I just stick to a dish brush in the sink because it's really easy to clean,” Morante says.

Ready to start air frying? Here’s one of Morante’s favorite nutrient-dense recipes loaded with tons of gut-healthy fiber and magnesium from her new cookbook, The Instant Kitchen Cookbook.

Delicata Squash and Brussels Sprouts With Walnuts Recipe

Yields 6 servings

Ingredients
1 delicata squash, halved, seeded, and cut into ½-inch-thick rings
1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved if large
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup
Leaves from 2 sage sprigs, chopped if large
1/2 Tsp kosher salt
1/4 Tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup raw walnut halves and pieces

1. Preheat the air fryer on ROAST at 350°F and set the cooking time for 20 minutes. If using a toaster oven-style air fryer, line the cooking pan with parchment paper.

2. Add the squash and Brussels sprouts to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil and maple syrup, then sprinkle in the sage, salt, and pepper. Toss until the vegetables are evenly coated.

3. Transfer the vegetables to the lined cooking pan or, if using a basket-style air fryer, to the air frying basket. Roast the vegetables in the preheated air fryer.

4. When there are five minutes left in the baking time, sprinkle the walnuts on top of the vegetables. Return to the air fryer for the rest of the cooking time.

5. When the cooking program ends, transfer the vegetables to a serving dish and serve right away.

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