I bought an air fryer after years of thinking they're overrated. I was right, but it's good for one thing.

  • I thought air fryers were too good to be true but I finally bought one.

  • The size and involved cleanup process make the appliance underwhelming to me.

  • One strength of the air fryer is how well it reheats leftovers, from cold pizza to roasted veggies.

I'm generally skeptical of hyped-up products. I've been burned before by the empty promises of everything from Bumpits to the Instant Pot.

After years of avoiding buying an air fryer, I finally gave in and purchased the countertop appliance.

Six months later, here are the main reasons I still don't think it's worth it — and one thing I keep it around for.

I find the texture of most air-fried food a bit off-putting

Texture is an important component of any dish.

Air fryers are advertised as a healthier cooking option, mostly because they don't require a lot of oil. But fat has a big impact on the texture of foods.

I've found that the appliance typically produces dishes that are more dry than crisp.

To avoid this, I really only use the air fryer for fattier foods, like chicken wings and butter-laden pastry dough.

It takes up valuable real estate on my counter

black air fryer on a kitchen counter in a small apartment
I don't have that much counter space to begin with. Priscilla Thomas

This is a very "tell me you lived in New York City without telling me" reason, but after years of creating makeshift counters by balancing cutting boards over sinks or squeezing bookshelves into kitchens, I'm wary of space-hogging appliances.

My air fryer has a 2.5-liter capacity, which seemed right for a two-person household. Externally, it's only 11-by-9 inches, but as I mentioned, counter space goes fast.

Plus, some air-fryer fans recommend buying a bigger model for the full experience.

I could be sold on the theory that larger air fryers are more productive in the kitchen — but I just can't justify giving up even more space.

The arduous cleanup kind of negates the saved cooking time

One of the most alluring promises of the air fryer is the time it saves. Many oven-based recipes cook 20% faster in an air fryer.

Of course, you also have to clean the air fryer, and it's a bit higher maintenance than an oven or even a toaster oven. Aside from spills or splatters, which should be cleaned as soon as they're cool enough, I usually deep-clean my oven every three months.

But an air-fryer basket should be cleaned after each use. On top of that, it's often recommended to give your air fryer a deep clean every few uses to prevent the buildup of grease and crumbs.

I'm not sure a slightly faster cooking time is worth all that extra effort.

But there is one thing I'll keep my air fryer around for: reheating leftovers

two slices of hawaiian pizza in an air fryer basket
I have to admit that air fryers are really good at reheating leftovers. Priscilla Thomas

I know it might seem like I'm ready to kick my air fryer to the curb, but it's complicated. Although I have my list of cons, the biggest pro is how the air fryer levels up leftovers.

From cold pizza and soggy fries to lasagna and roasted vegetables, the appliance consistently beats out the microwave without the work of using the oven or stove.

If I knew about these limitations before I bought an air fryer, I'm not sure this silver lining would convince me. But if you have roomy counters and lots of leftovers, an air fryer might be perfect for you.

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