My friend, Trish, has an unabashed love of deep-fried food so it only seemed fair that she be the judge! We decided on a menu of onion strings, chicken tenderloins, and apple pie egg rolls.
(Click on the following titles to be taken to the printable recipes.)
As we were waiting for the oil to heat up, we made a pitcher of Cranberry-Apple Sangria.
Once we got the oil in the deep fryer at our desired temperature we were ready to go.
First course: Onion Strings.
The air-fried onion strings are on the left and the oil-fried ones are on the right.
The air friend ones were crispy, but retained a powdery coating of flour. They tasted okay, but the flour residue was not a pleasant effect.
The oil-fried onion strings only took 2 minutes per batch, the air-fried ones took about 4 1/2 minutes. Due to the longer cooking time required (and not being able to place as many onion strings per batch) in the air fryer, we were able to deep fry about triple the amount in the same amount of time.
Trish and I agreed that the oil-fried onion strings were the best, hands-down.
Crispy Chicken Tenderloins with honey mustard dip.
Similar to the onion strings, the air-fried chicken took about twice as long to cook as the deep-fried chicken (14 minutes for the air-fried versus 6 to 7 minutes for the deep-fried).
However, Trish and I both agreed that they both tasted fabulous! Both were crispy and very flavorful. The only drawback was the time difference...we were able to prepare two batches of the deep-fried tenderloins in less time than it took for one batch in the air fryer, AND the air fryer does not hold as many per batch. If I were preparing these for my family of five, I would need to make three batches in the air fryer, or two batches in the deep fryer--45 minutes vs. 15 minutes.
Trish and I both concluded that if we were preparing one batch, for two servings, the air fryer wins. The additional half-hour needed for three batches, while keeping the early batches warm in the oven (and hope that they don't dry out!) makes the air fryer a very inconvenient choice for more than two servings.
Finally: Egg Roll Apple Pies!!
The deep-fried egg rolls are on the left in the above photo, the air-fried ones are on the right.
Can you guess which ones were the winner of the taste test? I will tell you this...the winner was so good that I'm not even going to bother you with the boring analysis details.
I'll just say that we cut one of each type of egg roll in half, and our plan was that I would try the air-fried egg roll as Trish tried the deep-fried one, and then we would switch and try the remaining half of the other egg roll which we hadn't yet sampled. As I was attempting to switch halves, my sweet, lovely, mild-mannered friend showed a bit of food aggression! She wanted it all to herself.
The deep-fried one was absolutely delicious, with a perfect, flaky-yet-chewy crust...the air-fried one had a dry, tasteless, crackly crust reminiscent of a saltine. Trish and I both agreed: when it comes to egg roll apple pies, air frying is a waste of time!