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If you absolutely need an air fryer, you should get a stainless steel one — here’s why

Don't mess with forever chemicals

food in air fryer
Nander / Adobe Stock

2017 was the year of the air fryer — one of the greatest kitchen appliances created. There’s no question that the air fryer is here to stay, offering a fast, healthy, and easy way to cook nearly anything you’d cook in a conventional oven. Cooking in an air fryer requires less time to warm up and cook food than a standard oven and also heats food more evenly.

On the surface, it seems there’s nothing not to love about this exciting kitchen appliance. Unfortunately, the air fryer comes with a few drawbacks such as the chemicals used in the cooking surfaces. When heated during cooking, the chemicals in these surfaces can make their way into your food, leading to potentially dangerous health side effects.  With this in mind, many consumers have switched to healthier pans, such as the popular All-Clad stainless steel cooking pans that are non-toxic.

But what about the air fryer? The good news is that many companies are now offering stainless steel air fryers that are non-toxic and free of these potentially harmful chemicals.

air fryer food
Cooking potatoes and carrot sticks with spices in an air fryer Francisco Zeledon / Adobe Stock

Chemicals in air fryer baskets

Most air fryers are made with baskets or shelving that is made from a material known as Teflon. This material is often used on pots, pans, and other cookware too.  This material is often used in cookware products since it offers a great non-stick surface and is stain-repellant. However, Teflon contains hundreds of chemicals known as PFAS. Short for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, PFAS builds up in the human body over time with repeated exposure and never leaves. Because of this, they’ve been nicknamed “forever chemicals” that cannot break down in the human body or the environment.

Even small doses of PFAS chemicals could lead to some pretty scary health problems, ranging from potential birth defects for babies, and several types of cancers, to endocrine disruption. Despite several studies suggesting concerns about the potential health effects of these forever chemicals, they are still present in the vast majority of cookware on the market today.

When heated at temperatures over 400 degrees Fahrenheit (such as during cooking in the air fryer), forever chemicals slowly make their way into the food and then, into us when we take a bite. But don’t panic yet — we don’t want to give up our air fryer either. That’s why cooking in non-toxic air fryers made of stainless steel is a great option for a smarter, healthier choice.

If you’re looking to reduce your exposure to PFAS chemicals, your best bet is to ditch your air fryer for a stainless steel version. Stainless steel offers a non-stick surface that is equally as effective as Teflon but without the forever chemicals. Stainless steel is classified as a non-reactive material, which means that it will not release any chemicals when heated.

wonder oven air fryer
Wonder Oven / Our Place

Best air fryers free of forever chemicals

Once you’ve chosen to ditch your toxic air fryer for a healthier variety, it’s time to go shopping. Be sure to do your research when browsing air fryer models, as marketing claims can be tricky to decipher. Below are two of the best air fryers currently on the market that offer healthier cooking surfaces, however, many new brands are coming on the market every day.

Our place’s wonder oven

Upon first glance of the Our Place Wonder Oven, you might question if this is a real air fryer or an Easy Bake oven. Despite its youthful and retro look, this unique kitchen appliance is an air fryer, toaster, steamer, and more. The exterior of this air fryer is 100% stainless steel, whereas the interior is made of a stainless steel basket, tray, and rack, alongside a ceramic-coated baking pan. Both the stainless steel components and the ceramic baking pan are entirely free of PFAS. Not only will you feel great about this purchase for your health, but it also comes in six fun colors to jazz up your kitchen counter.

Gourmia digital air fryer oven

Gourmia’s digital air fryer ovenis another great option on the market, especially if you’re looking for something a bit more sophisticated in appearance than our place option. This air fryer is made from safe stainless steel, and notes that it does not use any Teflon in any part of the appliance. Plus, the option for the French door variety makes it easier to cook more food at once.

Water runs over the basket of an air fryer
The Kitchn

Cooking on healthier surfaces

Ditching your perfectly working air fryer probably seems wrong — but it’s for a good cause. Limiting your exposure to forever chemicals by switching to a stainless steel air fryer can help protect your health. If you’re someone who uses your air fryer weekly or even daily, consider this an especially important action for the health of you and your family.

Emily Caldwell
Emily is a freelance writer with a special focus on health, fitness, lifestyle, food, and nutrition topics. She holds a B.S…
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