Your Toaster is Toast: The air fryer is coming for your kitchen appliances
Next time your toaster goes on the fritz, will you glance at your air fryer and think, hang on… do I really need to buy a new one? As for your sandwich maker, it’s already headed for the tip.
It crept into your kitchen through the window one night when you were dreaming about alien invasions and has been glaring at you ever since. Its agenda is cunning and clear: universal kitchen dominance.
It’s had its Zoggian eyes on the microwave, within tentacle’s distance of its prime countertop spot, for months.
Now it’s coming for your toaster.
Is any appliance safe from the alien in your kitchen? If you’re not getting these references, you might want to read this story before reading on.
Is your toaster toast, now that the air fryer has claimed its spot as one of the most popular devices in the contemporary kitchen? Well, it stands to reason. Times are tight, we can’t afford to waste a penny.
So why spend on a spanking new toaster when that beast, right there, can do the job just as effectively? A slice of bread toasts golden brown and nicely crisp in minutes in an air fryer, although you do have to turn it over halfway through.
But it’s not only coming for your toaster. It’s after the snackwich machine too, or whatever kind of sandwich maker you might own. In fact, the sandwich machine and its derivatives are surely going to be sent to the tip even before the humble toaster dies its inevitable death. My old sandwich maker is rusting in a cupboard, sulking and skulking.
I’ve toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches in an air fryer and they turn out perfectly. The cheese oozes pleasantly into the bread, the crust turns deliciously golden.
Ditto cheese mayo or egg mayonnaise sandwiches. They’re a perfect Sunday morning breakfast treat, and you’ll smile lovingly at your kitchen alien while munching them. She might even wink back at you.
So how do we turn out a perfect toasted sandwich in an airfryer? It’s not complicated…
The rules for making a toasted sandwich in an air fryer
Toasted sandwiches cook in the air fryer at 200℃ for about seven minutes, turning after 4 or 5 minutes. Prepare them in the standard way, with the insides buttered, filling of your choice placed within.
Once assembled, you need to press them down firmly with the flat of your hand. This is because, unlike when making them in a sandwich maker, there is no weight on top of them in an air fryer. And there cannot be, because you need the swirling intensely hot air to have no encumbrance while that very wafting air does its job of browning and crisping the bread while melting the cheesy contents within.
Next, you need to spray the sandwiches top and bottom with commercial cooking spray.
Or, butter your bread on the outside to ensure extra toastiness.
Alternatively, spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the outsides, which has a similar effect as buttering them outside.
There is a school of thought that argues for wrapping a sandwich in foil before air frying it. This, the argument goes, is to counter the fact that the intense, moving heat in an air fryer can dry out the bread, perhaps too much. My advice would be to try it both ways, with and without wrapping in foil, and decide which result you prefer.
There are naysayers, however, as with anything in life. One in particular argues firmly against an air fryer as a toaster.
Lifehacker, the “world’s leading guide to tech and life tips, tricks and hacks since 2005”, is cynical about air fryers being any good as toasters. Blogger Claire Lower writes that she used to use it as a toaster until she figured out that it “makes horrible toast”.
She reasons: “A toaster is a simple appliance that works by browning a slice of bread on both sides with direct, radiant heat. If it’s a decent toaster, this results in evenly toasted bread. An air fryer also uses direct, radiant heat, but only from the top down. This means that only one side of your toast is seeing that heat at any given moment. This is obviously solved by flipping the bread halfway through, which is a minor inconvenience, but not my main issue with air-fryer toast. My big gripe is those darned whipping winds.”
The problem, she argues, is the fast-moving hot air dying out your toast: “Air fryers are great at getting food crispy because they are great at drying. The hot, circulating air efficiently removes moisture, which is why it’s such a good appliance for reheating French fries (or making *spam fries). It is, however, not great for toast, as those same hot gusts remove moisture from your bread, leaving it dry and cracker-like, instead of tender but toasted.”
The Lifehacker piece advises the use of thick-cut bread that is pretty moist to start with.
Dissenters in the comments below her story say but, well, I like my toast dry. Fair point. Isn’t toast meant to be dry? To counter this problem, that butter or mayo trick above might be the answer.
*Spam fries? 👀 Must be a Yankee thing, like Mac & Cheese as a side vegetable. I’d toss them to the kitchen alien. DM