May 14, 2024

Air fryer use is up, but cooking time ambiguity remains

More than half of UK households (51%) now have an air fryer and most owners (62%) use their device weekly, but many (43%) say they struggle to figure out cooking times.

Leatherhead Food Research recently commissioned a representative UK-wide survey of air fryer use to ascertain any changes since its last study in September 2022. Ownership has increased by 70%, and more owners are now using their air fryers weekly or even daily. Results indicate that the two main drivers of use are the speed and cost-efficiency of cooking.

Despite this upward trend, less than a fifth of UK owners (19%) say that most of the items they air fry have dedicated instructions on the label. Many (67%) say they would cook more items in their air fryer if instructions were included.

Mariko Kubo, Operations Director at Leatherhead Food Research, says consumers are becoming more ambitious in their air fryer use, and require guidance to ensure products are safe to eat.

“Many manufacturers have already devised air fryer cooking instructions for products traditionally associated with the deep fat fryer, such as chips or breaded chicken,” Kubo explains. “However, our research shows that consumers increasingly use air fryers to cook fresh chicken and fish, bacon, and even larger joints of meat. It’s important to ensure they can achieve safe time and temperature combinations with clear on-pack guidance. Alternatively, it may be necessary to advise that a product is not suitable for air fryer cooking.”

According to Food Standards Agency (FSA) guidance, food should be cooked until it reaches a core temperature of 70°C for two minutes to ensure microbiological safety. FSA also outlines alternative time and temperature combinations which can be just as effective from a safety perspective. Achieving a lower temperature for longer (e.g., 65°C for ten minutes or 60°C for 45 minutes) is one option. Another is to hold a higher temperature for a shorter length of time (e.g., 75°C for 30 seconds or 80°C for six seconds).

“Understanding how to apply different time-and-temperature combinations to specific products is important to ensure consumer safety,” Kubo explains. “It’s about striking an effective balance between microbiological factors and consumer enjoyment. A joint of beef might benefit from a longer cook at a lower temperature in the air fryer to enhance sensory qualities without compromising food safety. On the other hand, tuna steaks or prawns may respond better to a quicker cook at a higher heat. From cooking regularly in air fryers, we have also found that cooking in a single layer and not overfilling the device has a significant impact.”

As well as indicating how people use their air fryers, the survey reveals that the top ten products for air fryer cooking are now: chips (78%), breaded chicken (59%), potatoes (57%), sausages (56%), chicken (52%), breaded fish (49%), bacon (31%), fish (30%), beef burgers (28%), vegetables (26%). Roast joints such as chicken, beef, and lamb come in 11th at 23%.

Leatherhead Food Research is a UKAS accredited testing laboratory (no. 9365) for cooking instructions testing (microwave oven, gas and electric thermal oven, electric fan oven, gas and electric hob, gas and electric grill, deep fat fryer, air fryer, defrost). It successfully maintained accreditation status following its annual audit conducted by accreditation body UKAS, achieving zero findings.

How can we help?

By submitting your details you agree to us holding the personal data you've supplied for the purpose of processing your enquiry. For information about how we handle your data, please read our privacy policy