What do you do if you’re an Instant Pot fan, you really want to get an Air Fryer, but you have no kitchen counter space? Do you have to pick one or can you have both? This was me. Fortunately, I found a solution.
I love my Instant Pot
I’m a big Instant Pot fan. Ever since I got mine it has migrated to live permanently on the kitchen counter and I use it several days a week for a wide variety of things. When I got my Instant Pot I was able to get rid of my popcorn popper, my rice cooker, and my pressure cooker. My husband was pushing for me to get rid of the slow cooker as well but I defended it because (a) I’ve had it since I was 18 and I’m kind of attached to it, and (b) when you have a party sometimes you need an extra cooking device.
For me, having an Instant Pot has been a game-changer in my kitchen. I use it for a so many things, especially this delicious Instant Pot Summer Vegetable Soup.
But I want an Air Fryer Too
When I heard about Air Fryers I was tempted. I'm seeing them everywhere. They are very popular and everyone seems to be getting one. But after much careful consideration, I decided not to get one.
Sure an Air Fryer is a cool idea. It uses only a tiny bit of oil plus some heated air to ‘deep fry’ your food. Okay, it’s great that you can make “fried” foods that are healthier and cook them really quickly. I was seriously tempted.
But then I looked at my kitchen and realized that counter space was at an all-time premium. In fact, I joked that if Instant Pot came out with a new version that did air fryer plus the other 11 functions I would be all in, but until then I was sticking with my IP.
How does an air fryer work?
For all you Air-Fryer-Curious people, let’s look at how an air fryer works. Unlike the multi-function Instant Pot, it’s pretty much a single-use device. With just a little bit of oil, a high temperature (an average of 392°F / 200°C according to my research), and air circulating rapidly, you get convection cooked food with a “fried” texture. Due to the convection cooking, foods do cook in much less time than actual frying.
Although the process is somewhat similar to a deep fryer, the Air Fryer uses a lot less oil so the idea is that you are getting a healthier “fried” food. This cuts down quite a bit on the fat and calories. However, you still get to enjoy the crispiness of fried foods.
While I wasn’t prepared to give up my Instant Pot I was very tempted by the idea of an Air Fryer (have I mentioned that?). Then a friend shared something I had never heard of before. A Mealthy Crisplid.
What is a Mealthy Crisplid? It’s a lid that converts any 6 or 8 quart Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker into an Air Fryer. It’s kind of like the best of both worlds because you get to keep your Instant Pot but you don't have to have another big counter-space-required appliance for air frying.
I was blown away by this concept. And I bought one. Of course, now I’m having to learn how to make air-fried things. And while I don’t plan to make a lot of them, it’s a nice way to be able to add that to our meal planning.
I’m still learning how to use my crisplid, but I’ve learned a couple of tips that are important whether you have an air fryer or a crisplid.
Do the Prep Work
Prep work is key for this method of cooking. You have to take your time to make sure that things are properly coated, that they’re seasoned or oiled as required, and that you’ve followed instructions on how to prep the food. The recipes are not like traditional deep-fried recipes where you can just throw it in the oil and it mostly sticks together.
Loading Your Air Fryer
You’ll need a basket to hold the food in so that it can get good circulation (the Mealthy comes with a trivet and a basket). I’ve learned the hard way that you need to (a) not overcrowd the basket, and (b) flip the food partway through to make sure the browning and crispiness is even. I’m still working on perfecting French fries (this is where I’ve really learned the importance of not putting too much into the basket).
Be aware of temperatures
Your Mealthy, and I’m assuming an Air Fryer too, gets HOT. You need to use caution when handling it, have a good surface to set the lid down when flipping items over, be careful when handling the parts, and remember the foods come out fried-food-hot. You also need to wait until the device is completely cool before you clean it. So caution and patience are the words of the day here.
If you're looking for a solution to the Instant Pot vs. Air Fryer dilemma, this may just be the answer you are looking for.
As I mentioned above, I'm still learning, but here are a few quick recipe ideas that I’ve found as I’ve been doing my research. I’m going to keep experimenting and learning as I continue to use my Mealthy Crisplid but I’m glad I got it.
Instead of the melted cheese thing that tends to happen in a deep fryer, air frying is an easier way to make mozzarella sticks. Cut mozzarella sticks in half, dip them into beaten egg and roll in grated parmesan with 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Then put them into the air fryer (spray the basket with olive oil) at 390°F for 4-6 minutes.
This can be a delicious way to eat broccoli. It comes out with a crispy edge. Soak small florets in water, and drain. Then roll in almond flour with a seasoning of your choice. Put into your sprayed air fryer basket and cook at 400°F for 10 minutes.
I love banana chips and this could be a great way to make them at home and skip the preservatives that they typically come with. It’s important to use bananas that are greener and not too soft or mushy. Slice thinly, mist with a little olive oil, add salt, cinnamon, or any other seasoning you’d like. Place into an oiled basket and cook at 395°F for 15 minutes.