The hot air fryer with its no oil frying technology has win over a lot of fans judging from comments of satisfied customers.
In fact, popular brands such as Philips and Tefal have come out with larger capacities air fryers to cater to larger families.
The Philips hot air deep fryer larger capacity model comes with a 2.6 pounds cooking capacity. However, only one model of Tefal Actifry is available in USA at the time of writing.
But can a small air fryer work for a large family? Can a large family get to enjoy healthier oil-free or minimal oil cooking with the standard size low fat air fryer?
Philips Air Fryer
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The standard Philips air fryer comes with a 1.8 pounds metal mesh cooking basket with a length and width of 7″ x 7″ and a depth of 3″.
You can fit in about 3-4 pieces of drumsticks, 4-6 pieces of chicken legs (without the thigh part), 2-3 pieces of chicken breast meat or about 4 portions of French fries.
This means that your large family of 5 or 6 members would need 2 batches of cooking if dinner is just fried chicken drumsticks. And dinner will take even longer to be ready if you’re also cooking other dishes to go with your fried chicken.
Food piled on top of each other is not the answer either as the hot air needs to circulate all around the food for even cooking. I experimented with chicken wings piled on top of each other. The part of the skin which touches got stuck together when cooking was completed.
Philips models from the Australian and certain Asian markets come with a separator that you can slot into the cooking basket. This basically separates it into 2 sections and thus you can cook 2 different food items at the same time. Again, this will allow you to cook even less per item and thus appeals more to a small family.
How To Cook For A Large Family With A Small Philips Air Fryer
However, there are some ways that you can use to cook more food using your standard size air fryer.
Philips offer optional air fryer accessories that you can use to add another layer of cooking surface besides the standard cooking basket.
Wire Rack Insert
The wire rack insert can be put on top of the basket as an additional surface for putting food. However, only flat food items such as fillets or burgers are recommended so as to avoid touching the heating element at the top part of the machine.
This wire rack insert also comes with skewers for cooking kebabs. Kebabs on top, some other foodstuff below in the cooking basket, some salad and you have dinner for more than 4 people.
Although it is recommended to put food in a single layer, however for smaller cuts food ingredients such as fries or chicken nuggets, you can pile them on top of each other. Just make sure you stop the machine and pull out the basket to give the food a shake every 5 or 10 minutes.
Depending on how much food you have piled up inside the basket, you might need to shake more than once before cooking is completed. This will ensure more even cooking and prevent the food from sticking together.
Smaller cuts food cook faster than bigger size cuts. On those days when you’re air frying food, you can try chicken wings instead of the bigger size drumsticks that include the thigh part. Chicken wings just need about 8 – 15 minutes. Cooking 2 batches will take less than half an hour. A whole roasted chicken will need about 30 minutes. Your large family can still bond over chicken wings and salad for dinner.
If your family members eat at different times, then the small air fryer would not pose a problem.
If you’re those types who cook during the weekends and reheat your frozen food during the weekdays, then the small airfryer will also not be a problem. Reheating food is fast, about 10 minutes. So, it is still possible for the whole family to have dinner together.
What about the Tefal air fryer?
The T fal Actifry comes with a 2.2 pounds cooking capacity, slightly bigger than the Philips frying machine.
The Actifry hot air cooker makes use of a non-stick ceramic bowl and a paddle for stirring the food.
You can cook stir-fried vegetables and meat cutlets in the Actifry with its stirring paddle. The portions are enough for more than 4 person.
I have no problem cooking for my family of 6 with the Tefal hot air cooker.
The Tefal brand does come with accessories to get more cooking potential out of the machine.
The wire snacking basket adds another platform for cooking more food. This basket is really useful as you can cook pastries, spring rolls, meat patties etc, with chicken wings or even a steak below. Once you add the snacking basket, you can’t use the paddle.
This means that you have to stop the machine, remove the basket, flip over the chicken or beef steak, slot back the snacking basket and close back the cover to continue cooking. Once the cover is closed back, the cooking process automatically starts back but the timer will still be operating even when cover is opened. You’ll have to take this into consideration when timing your cooking.
This does seem a bit of a hassle but food still turns out great.
The other Tefal accessory is another non-stick pan that you can add on top of the normal basic one. This adds another cooking platform for more recipes.
However, these 2 useful accessories, the snacking basket and cooking pan, are not available in the US market at the time of writing.
So, would I consider a small air fryer would work for a large family? I would say that it is still workable but more of a hassle.
Cooking choices are limited. Smaller cuts cook faster and therefore a second batch is still doable if every one wants to sit down for dinner together.
Getting the optional air fryer accessories would increase the cooking surface for more food to be cooked at the same time. This would involve additional expenditure but I would say it’s worth it even for small families.
Another way of using a small air fryer for a large family would be not cooking the entire dinner using just the hot air frying machine. Maybe just part of the meal with the air fryer and another dish using the pan on the stove.
For the Tefal Actifry, the 2.2 pounds cooking capacity works for 5-6 people, again depending on what you are cooking for dinner. You can cook more portions of meatballs compared to a big drumstick.