Choose Your Cooking Appliance Wisely

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Which Cooking Device is Better?

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In a kitchen, the primary heating appliances include a stovetop, an oven, an air fryer, or a microwave oven. Large kitchens have them all. Small dorms may have only one.

Here‘s the premise. You must choose between one of them. Your selection is your only heating appliance for a full year. Before you answer, consider the advantages of each.

The Stovetop Advantages

Most stovetops have at least four burners. With pots and pans you can boil, deep fry, sauté, and simmer simultaneously. Who could imagine preparing pancakes without a hot iron skillet over a stove? For others, their food of choice is fried chicken.

Stovetop burners

For ovens that don’t include one, it’s possible to purchase a third-party griddle that covers two burners. The larger surface allows you to grill a stovetop pizza! And who doesn’t enjoy a hearty soup or stew on a cold day?

Did you know that federal agencies are considering a ban on gas stoves? A US Consumer Product Safety commissioner said gas stove usage is a “hidden hazard.” The agency plans “to take action” to address the indoor pollution caused by stoves. Any regulatory action would “involve a lengthy process.”

The Versatile Oven

If you’re a baker, this is no contest. Cakes, breads, biscuits, cookies, and other sweet treats emerge from its hearth. But ovens are also responsible for soufflés and frittatas.

Antique oven door open

Beyond baking, you can roast vegetables or meat. When timed correctly, this concentrates flavor and provides a somewhat crispy outer layer. Basically, you preheat the oven to at least 400°F. Then insert oiled and seasoned food, as you would in an air fryer.

The broiler adds another dimension to oven cooking. Brown casseroles, sizzle bacon, or broil cheese on toast.

Air Frying is a Breeze

Contrary to the nomenclature, this device doesn’t fry. An air fryer is a small convection oven. With central heating elements—usually on the top—it circulates air to concentrate heat on all sides of your food.

This cuts cooking time by about 20%. Spread out in a thin layer for good circulation. Some air fryers include a couple of racks, or stacked trays, like a mini oven. When using them simultaneously, remember that the top tray somewhat obstructs the bottom. You may need to exchange tray places while heating.

Air fryer with open door

Your model might have an audible alert to turn food halfway through the cooking time. This is because the side closest to the heating element crisps faster. Enjoy egg rolls, french fries, hot wings, and more. Some include a rotisserie for chicken.

Many recipes and packaged foods include air fryer instructions. Convert recipes from oven to air fryer by reducing suggested temperature by 25°F (5°C). Then cut the cook time by about 20%.

Though small, an air fryer does much of what an oven does. There are settings for air fry, broil, roast, bake, and dehydrate. Using less oil, you can also prepare many of the foods you normally fry. You can also warm foods that you normally place into a microwave—without them getting soggy.

Another advantage to air frying is that there is no need to preheat it. The temperature activates like a hair dryer when you press the start button.

Microwave in a Zap

People who are cooking-adverse, often gravitate to the microwave oven. Generally, we consider it as an appliance to quickly warm food. Leftover takeout meals or frozen foods emerge piping hot after a little nuking.

Microwave oven

You can also make a cup of tea or pop popcorn. Keep in mind that microwaves heat liquid, so you may need add some water before warming up rice or other somewhat dry foods. Digging through online videos reveals many clever ways to expand microwave use.

Some Food Best Suited For Particular Appliances
FoodStove­topOvenAir FryerMicro­wave
Baked Potato
French Fries
Pizza
Chicken Wings
Broiled Chicken
Burger Patty
Rice
Popcorn
Toast
Crispy Spring Roll

≈ Possible with special technique or reheating.

Experts don’t recommend cooking raw chicken in a microwave. It does not heat evenly enough to kill potential bacteria. Do yourself a favor and avoid cooking fish in there as well.

The Winner Is…

I have gone a year with just a stove and oven or stovetop and microwave. If I had to pick one, it would be the stovetop. What about you?

The Instant Vortex Plus air fryer was my introduction to this method of cooking. It received a daily workout. I wasn’t fond of the non-tactile buttons. The controls are black, same as the background. Unless you press exactly where the button should be, it doesn’t light up or register a click.

Cleaning is another issue. Only the trays are non-stick. Splatter on the internal metal surfaces and glass builds up. After six months, the Vortex panel darkened in the middle of cooking a meal. It never awakened.

I missed the flavors and convenience. So my next model was the Ninja DZ201 Foodi 8 Quart DualZone air fryer (with 4-year extended warranty). It doesn’t have a viewing window, but both compartments include complete non-stick coating. It also has tactile buttons with audible sounds.

You don’t need to wait for my assessment; there are over 16,000 Amazon reviews with an average 5-star rating. The primary downside is the small size of the two 6.375 x 8.375 inch compartments. The largest dish will likely be 5 x 7 inches. As your only heating appliance, it takes some ingenuity to prepare something like lasagna for a large family. The good news is that you can cook directly within the two non-stick compartments if necessary.

There are other cooking appliances, like hotplates, crockpots, pressure cookers, instant pots, grills, coffee pots, and toasters. Your selection will depend upon your current level of familiarity with each device, and the size of your family.

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