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Best Air Fryer for Healthier Food

We love air fryers so much, we had to give you an updated review with even more unique features!

Everyone knows what they have to do to eat healthier. It’s the same methods: cut out fat, sugar, and starch. There are so many alternatives to both sugar and starch, but what holds so many people (including myself) back is that no one wants to give up their fried, crunchy foods. Even if we know exactly how unhealthy deep fried french fries and chicken are, there’s just something about that crunch that gets your mouth watering just thinking about it. Since I cook for my family, I wanted to find an alternative that would let us enjoy our favorite foods without all of the consequences. Enter the best air fryer.

It’s hard to give all of those tasty foods up. But now, thanks to air fryers, we can continue to enjoy our crunchy chicken and fries without the excess oils and fats (and you can too).

The best air fryer will work by cooking your food with consistently hot or pulsing air and with little to no oil. So, if you’re ready to eat healthier without having to sacrifice what you love, but don’t feel like searching for hours to find the right one, I’m here to help. I’ve researched what’s the best air fryer on the market today so you can have deliciously healthy food!

Best Air Fryer Top Pick: [amazon_textlink asin=’B01K1QQ2QI’ text=’Secura Electric Hot Air Fryer’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7c7fc117-f9c9-11e8-822f-5b24756e730a’]

Best air fryer

Secura is one of the largest small appliance manufacturers in North America. They’ve sold well over 8 million high quality, environmentally friendly products in the USA. So it’s no surprise that such a high quality, durable unit such as the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01K1QQ2QI’ text=’Secura Electric Hot Air Fryer’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’836691fc-f9c9-11e8-8518-5953603cd9ff’] is the best air fryer for consumers and businesses alike to purchase.

Functionality

The Secura Electric Hot Air Fryer basket has a 4.2 quarts capacity, which means it can feed at least a family of four comfortably. It’s a versatile unit that can fry, grill, roast, bake, and reheat your food through the use of Rapid Air technology. Without excessive fat from submerging your food in grease, you can add an oil of your choice on your ingredients before placing them in the air fryer. Though not required, it’ll give your food a crunchy layer.

Shake it halfway so that your food cooks evenly. The denser the food, such as homemade potatoes, the more shaking is required for a more balanced finish.

Design

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B01K1QQ2QI’ text=’Secura’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’938acd21-f9c9-11e8-af71-513ed25e2b3a’] is a smooth black air fryer that blends in well with your other kitchen appliances. It also has a smudge-resistant exterior which makes for easier cleaning. It weighs 10.3 pounds and its dimensional size is 14.8 x 12.4 x 13.1 inches.

Controls

Both the timer and temperature settings use dials. The timer goes up to 60 minutes. Once it reaches 0, it’ll automatically shut down. You also have the option to manually shut it down by turning the dial to zero if your food finished cooking before the timer went off.

The temperature is between 180° and 390°. To protect itself, it comes with a built-in overheating protection. If the sensory notices that the inner temperature is dangerously high, it’ll automatically shut itself down.

You can also preheat the Secura Electric Hot Air Fryer by selecting your desired time to cook then adding 3 extra minutes because that’s approximately how long it’ll take to preheat. The heating-up light will turn off when it’s done preheating.

Accessories

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B01K1QQ2QI’ text=’Secura’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a05c3489-f9c9-11e8-bb0d-2fafbcb75137′] comes with four skewers, a grill rack, and recipes. So, if you love a good shish kebab in the winter, but don’t feel like pulling out the grill in the frigid cold, then this definitely is a plus. You can even grill steak with it, just use the recipe book to see how to go about cooking it.

Warranty

The Secura Electric Hot Air Fryer comes with a 2-year limited warranty when purchased from the manufacturer or an authorized seller. Most manufacturers only offer a one year warranty. That’s why this warranty is one of the best because it offers you longer protection and peace of mind.

Flaws but not dealbreakers of the best air fryer

  • It’s a little noisy. Like any appliance that has a compressor and exhaust, it will make some noise. But it’s not loud at all, it just sounds like a low running fan.
  • It’s big. Although it can hold 4.2 quarts of food at a time, the entire air fryer’s dimensions are 14.8 x 12.4 x 13.1 inches. Depending on how much counter space you have, it may or may not fit comfortably enough for you. So, before you buy it check to make sure that it can fit in your desired locations by taking its measurements. But if it doesn’t fit, you can always place it anywhere that it’ll have access to a power cord.
  • Timer knob can be difficult to turn. The timer knob is round and smooth, so if your hands aren’t dry, it’ll be hard for you to turn it. It’s similar to trying to open a can top, you need grip. So, before you use it, make sure that your hands are dry or have a towel nearby so that you can use that to turn the knob.

[amazon_link asins=’B01K1QQ2QI’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’237edf1f-ff25-11e8-92f1-03e4a39d1664′]

Best Air Fryer Runner-Up: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00TR78QUI’ text=’Philips XL HD9240′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d147b47f-f9c9-11e8-87c5-cf46e6e6a31d’]

Best air fryer

Philips’ air fryers are the most popular in the world with over 5 million units sold alone! The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00TR78QUI’ text=’Philips XL HD9240′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d816ddc7-f9c9-11e8-90e3-c77a8b400fa7′] lives up to the hype with its digital analog, contemporary design, and its interior design that combines with the rapid air technology for evenly cooked food.

Functionality

The Philips XL HD9240 basket has a 3.5-quart capacity which means it can feed up to a family of four. Similar to the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01K1QQ2QI’ text=’Secura’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’abbf3e87-f9c9-11e8-af58-a315bdc6251c’], you can use this best air fryer runner-up to fry, grill, bake, roast and reheat food through Rapid Air technology. You’ll also need to shake the food halfway through so all the food is cooked evenly.

Design

The Philips XL HD9240 is an air fryer with a contemporary design that comes in the colors black and white. It weighs 18.4 lbs and its dimensional size is 16.6 x 12.4 x 11.9 inches. The unique starfish design on the bottom of the best air fryer runner-up ensures consistent air circulation from the Rapid Air technology which results in evenly cooked food.

Controls

Unlike the Secura, the timer and temperature settings are digital analogs. The timer goes up to 60 minutes and it automatically shuts down when it reaches 0. It’ll also automatically shut down if you don’t press a button in 30 minutes. Or if you didn’t set a temperature within 5 minutes of turning it on. So that makes it super convenient if you forget you turned it on

The temperature ranges from 180° to 390°. You can also preset one temperature and cooking time for the food you cook the most. For the best results, you can also preheat it for 3 minutes for a shorter cooking time.

Accessories

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00TR78QUI’ text=’Philips’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f4fe7750-f9c9-11e8-a737-ebe61b1516b0′] comes with a free app and recipe book that contains 150 air fryer recipes. The grilling pan, rack, and skewers aren’t included in the purchase price. However, you do have the option to purchase them separately.

Warranty

The Philips XL HD9240 comes with a one-year warranty if you’re planning on purchasing and using it in the US or Canada.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • Difficult to clean if you don’t immediately soak it. The basket is made of mesh so if you allow the food to sit, it’ll stick to it and it’ll be harder to clean. Since you don’t want to use any abrasive cleaning supplies, it’ll be hard to clean it after a while. So as it cools down, make sure to immediately soak it in hot soapy water.
  • It can possibly get smokey. Food that’s prone to smoke such as sausages, pork chops, and anything overly greasy can cause the unit to produce white smoke. To combat this, you can place it under your stove and put on the fan so that it can blow the smoke away.
  • It doesn’t come with rack and skewer accessories. Although this unit is a versatile best air fryer runner-up that can use different accessories with it, it doesn’t come with them. You’ll definitely expect it at this price point, but it does have other nice features that make up for it. You can also purchase these accessories separately if you want.

Best Air Fryer Honorable Mention: [amazon_textlink asin=’B005GM15HE’ text=’T-fal ActiFry’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2ec43254-f9ca-11e8-9df6-39d6bf6e3ae1′]

Best air fryer

T-fal is all about innovations. They’re always looking for ways to combine the latest technology with consumers’ expectations. They spent 10 years researching and eventually crafting the [amazon_textlink asin=’B005GM15HE’ text=’T-fal Actifry’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’34ffcf5b-f9ca-11e8-be83-354947412eaa’]. Although it’s not the absolute best air fryer on the market, find out why it’s unique feature keeps it in high demand.

Functionality

The T-fal Actifry basket has a 2.2 lb capacity which means it can definitely feed a family of three. You can use it to fry, grill, roast, or reheat your food using pulsing air technology. Unlike the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01K1QQ2QI’ text=’Secura’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b9a74589-f9c9-11e8-8af8-afbf53ccb0f4′] and [amazon_textlink asin=’B00TR78QUI’ text=’Philips’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’08228492-f9ca-11e8-8fc5-fd9b1d4a95a4′] which uses Rapid Air technology, this model periodically pumps hot air through the food. It does this while giving your food a crispy outer texture without sacrificing the inner moisture.

The most unique feature of the T-fal Actifry is that you don’t have to get up to shake it half way through because it does it by itself. It’s self-stirring paddle constantly stirs your food for you.

Design

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B005GM15HE’ text=’T-fal’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’54d7351c-f9ca-11e8-b592-218cd9874edd’] is a lightweight black air fryer that weighs 6 lbs. It’s dimensional size is 16.7 x 13.6 x 9.5 inches. Its lid doesn’t steam up so whenever you feel like checking the progress of your food.

Controls

It’s a very simple unit, so it only has two buttons: the ON/OFF and the timer. The temperature setting stays at a consistent 338°. The timer goes up to 99 minutes. Since you can only go up with the timer setting, if you mess up, just hold the button for 2 seconds and it’ll reset so you can start again.

Accessories

The T-fal Actifry comes with a measuring spoon so you use the correct amount of oil and a cookbook with recipes for you to try with it.

Warranty

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B005GM15HE’ text=’T-fal’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’676e1ec1-f9ca-11e8-b6aa-c33c0bd8d579′] has a one-year limited warranty.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • It doesn’t automatically turn off. When the food is finished cooking, it doesn’t automatically shut down when the timer turns off, which is inconvenient. You’ll need to be around it when it goes off so your food doesn’t overcook. Also, the timer itself may not be loud enough if you decide to relax in the living room and rely solely on the timer to tell you when your food is finished. To avoid missing the timer going off, use your kitchen or phone timer for a louder beep.
  • The highest temperature setting is 338°. Unlike other units that can go up to 400°, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B005GM15HE’ text=’T-fal’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’71e9874d-f9ca-11e8-ba6a-2dc34b595793′] can only reach 338°. This means that your food will take longer to cook. You’ll need to adjust your cooking times. If you’re entertaining guests, you’ll just have to start cooking earlier.
  • The stirring paddle can jam small food. The stirring paddle can crush small food and cause it to get jammed inside the [amazon_textlink asin=’B005GM15HE’ text=’T-fal’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7a585781-f9ca-11e8-92d1-5d816f871311′]. If too much food gets caught in the paddle, it’ll stop rotating and you’ll have to clean before it starts again.

Conclusion of the Best Air Fryer

It doesn’t matter what model you choose because they all are designed to help you eat healthier, less fatty foods without you having to sacrifice the flavors you love.

If you’re looking for the best air fryer that has the capacity to feed a family with incredible accessories and convenient features, then you need the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01K1QQ2QI’ text=’Secura Electric Hot Air Fryer’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c0764867-f9c9-11e8-bb0b-bb48f75f5df1′].

But if you’re looking for something more modern with a contemporary style, unique design for even cooking, and a digital interface where you can preset your favorite setting, then look no further than the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00TR78QUI’ text=’Philips XL HD9240′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0e532511-f9ca-11e8-93f6-291c9a1ce1c8′].

However, if what you really want is to relax and not worry about stirring your food at all, then you need the [amazon_textlink asin=’B005GM15HE’ text=’T-fal Actifry’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2327a1ca-f9ca-11e8-be83-354947412eaa’].

FAQs

Q: How does an air fryer work?

Unlike deep fryers that need cups of hot grease to cook your frozen food, air fryers use consistently hot air to get your food crispy. It works by circulating the heat through and around your food. Another way to look at it is that air fryers are similar to conventional ovens.

Q: What can I cook in an air fryer?

Though it’s widely known that you can cook french fries in an air fryer, it’s definitely not the only thing you can cook in it. There are hundreds of different foods you can cook in there. Anywhere ranging from meats such as steak and beef to vegetables such as potatoes and Brussel sprouts. You can even cook pastries and cakes in them.

The only thing that sets one air fryer apart from the other is how big it is. The size of the basket can greatly differentiate if you can cook a roast or only cook a 2-pound bag of fries.

Q: What type of food can’t I cook in there?

Anything with a fresh batter isn’t recommended. It’s because the batter will fly off your food, similar to leaves flying around in high winds. It’ll cause a mess that I doubt you want to clean. So, if you’re craving buttermilk chicken tenders, you’ll need to cook them in the oven or deep fryer.

Q: What will my food taste like?

The best way to explain why your food isn’t going to taste like it just came out of a deep fryer is by explaining the science behind frying.

Foods that are deep-fried get their crispy crust from dehydration. The higher the temperature of the fat (oil) the quicker that the outer water contents of your food dehydrate. Simultaneously, the sugar and proteins in your food get broken down to create those mouthwatering flavors you love and its golden brown skin (which is known as Maillard reactions).

The crust forms as a protective barrier to ensure that the food doesn’t absorb any more oil. That’s why if you’re frying food on a low fire, it’ll be greasier than if on a medium heat. From this point, only heat is allowed through to your food’s inner content where it continues the frying process until completion.

That’s why an air fryer doesn’t produce the same crisp as a deep fryer. However, that doesn’t mean your food isn’t crispy, just not to the same degree as deep-fried food. Though you’ll have to see for yourself how it comes out because we all have different taste buds and preferences.

Q: Does it need to be preheated?

Yes, they do. It’s similar to cooking in a conventional oven. While you can place your food in there before it’s at your desired temperature, it’ll cook faster if you preheat it. However, each model is different so make sure to read your user manual to see how long you have to preheat it for.

Q: Can I use parchment paper or aluminum foil inside it?

Technically, you can. It isn’t recommended since air fryers work by producing consistently hot air so your food can cook. Parchment paper and aluminum foil can block the air from reaching and cooking your food effectively and in a timely manner. So, if you do decide to use it, make sure that it’s not hindering the air fryer from cooking your food properly.

Q: Do they really require no oil?

Some foods don’t require any oil, while others only require a tablespoon of it. However, most people choose to add a small amount of oil to their food, not the basket, for a crisper texture.

Q: How should an air fryer be cleaned?

The most important factor to extend the lifespan of an air fryer is to clean it after each use. If you don’t, it won’t last long and before you know it, you’ll be buying another one.

The first step to clean an air fryer is to unplug it and let it cool down before touching it. Once it’s cool to the touch, soak it in hot soapy water for at least 10 minutes. However, if you prefer to toss it in the dishwasher, you can after soaking it.

Then you’ll need to clean it with a non-abrasive sponge or cloth. Once you’re done cleaning the basket, set it aside and let it air dry. Then you’ll need to make sure that there’s no food inside the fryer itself. If there is, you can use a non-abrasive sponge with warm soapy water inside it too.

Each model is different so you’ll need to check the user manual for any specific directions. However, using hot or warm soapy water and a non-abrasive sponge or cloth are the basic cleaning instructions.

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The Best Cast Iron Cookware

cast iron cookware

Since inheriting my first Lodge cast iron griddle/grill combo over 20 years ago, I’ve grown my collection with both new purchases and garage sale scores. Based on my countless hours of experience lasting for two decades, as well as those of the many product reviewers, cooking clubs, and other available online references, I have selected the top brands and cookware types to recommend.

What To Know About Cast Iron Cookware

Before I reveal my top choices, I’d like to share some background as well as things to consider when shopping for cast iron cookware.

Iconic and enduring.

Cast iron cookware has a rustic, frontier-appeal not commonly found in kitchens. These items have seen a recent return to popularity as people look for non-toxic, reliable alternatives to Teflon coated and aluminum cookware. Free from chemical sprays, sturdily constructed, and visually attractive, cast iron cookware appeals to professional and home chefs who believe it’s not just about what you cook with, but how you cook.

Looking to buy cast iron cookware?

Things to consider when shopping for cast iron cookware include:

  • Type: do you need a durable frying pan, a casserole dish lovely enough for the dinner table, or something large enough to feed a soccer team?
  • Surface: cast iron comes pre-seasoned or untreated, as well as enameled
  • Weight: lighter cookware is easier to handle but can heat food unevenly or too quickly
  • Price/value: cast iron ranges in price from largely affordable to a gourmet range

Best Overall Cast Iron Cookware Brand: [amazon_textlink asin=’B004QM8SLG’ text=’Lodge’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f8c65f39-554e-11e8-af39-a7b6d0228a3d’]

Dependable

Lodge has been around for over one hundred years, the oldest family-owned cookware foundry and manufacturer currently operating in the United States. Their products last forever and their customer service has been praised everywhere I’ve looked.

Sustainable

I also appreciate that the company has updated its manufacturing practices over the years. Lodge has instituted environmentally safe and sustainable methods, including reusing and re-purposing production materials and upgrading to induction furnaces for lower energy use.

Versatile

Lodge offers an impressive array of options, with over 120 different cast iron products. Whether you’re an avid baker looking for the perfect muffin tin or a practiced panini maker in need of a new press, Lodge has something for you. My go-to pieces are a skillet, griddle, and Dutch oven, and I’ve provided my recommendations below.

Affordable

Most cast iron is modestly priced, and Lodge fits that bill. Because their products are so durable, you can often pick up a “vintage” piece at garage sales or antique stores.

Attractive

Cast iron is both functional for cooking and striking to display. I have several pieces hanging in my kitchen, including the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00063RX7O’ text=’Biscuit Pan ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c9142dee-5569-11e8-8718-bd4de3141c2c’] reviewed below.

Flaws But Not Deal-Breakers:

  • I don’t recommend Lodge for enameled cookware. In my experience and echoed in online reviews I’ve read, it tends to chip easily.
  • Newer, pre-seasoned pieces are lighter weight than older versions and can cook unevenly.

[amazon_link asins=’B004QM8SLG’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’421f6d1f-cc17-11e8-8b24-77e8e03db5fe’]

Best Cast Iron Cookware Skillet:[amazon_textlink asin=’B00006JSUA’ text=’Lodge 10 ¼” Pre-Seasoned Skillet’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3cc60345-554e-11e8-9eff-d159369f1d05′]

All-Purpose

This is the most practical sized skillet I own – big enough to sauté a delicious dish for four, but small enough to easily manipulate. I use this skillet for everything, from omelets to chicken tenderloins to cinnamon rolls to green beans.

Notable Features

The small spouts on the sides are convenient for draining off extra liquid when slow cooking meat or pouring out a nice pan gravy. Small but “handy” detail: the extra handle on the side is great for safe lifting or hanging. I will note that the newer skillets have a rougher finish than vintage skillets. I have both old and new skillets and haven’t noticed any differences in cooking performance, but the newer, bumpier version can be harder to clean. See “How to Clean” in FAQs below for tips.

Non-Stick Except for Eggs

Speaking of omelets, let’s talk about how to cook eggs in a cast iron cookware skillet. The most important tip I can give you is this: always oil your pan. Yes, I know this pan is pre-seasoned and the product description probably brags about it being non-stick. But trust me when I say this is not so for eggs.

Heat your oil over medium-high heat before adding eggs. I like butter for a crispy fried egg, coconut or light olive oil for scrambled (avoid extra virgin olive oil as it burns easily in a properly heated cast iron pan). If your eggs are still sticking, you may need to experiment with the heat level on your stove top – too hot makes eggs stick – or re-season your pan (see instructions later in this article).

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 16.1″ x 10.7″ x 2″
  • Weight: 5.67 lbs

Flaws But Not Deal-Breakers:

  • The 10 ¼” skillet is a bit shallower than [amazon_textlink asin=’B00008GKDJ’ text=’Lodge’s Chef’s Skillet ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’51d71ec4-554f-11e8-a82f-f7180ae9e132′][amazon_textlink asin=’B00008GKDJ’ text=’Lodge’s Chef’s Skillet ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’522a9616-554f-11e8-ad77-73cf688b2746′] (2” deep versus 2.7”), which contributes to messier cooking for energetic stirrers like myself.
  • Some people prefer the more sloped sides of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00008GKDJ’ text=’Lodge Chef’s Skillet’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’706b5620-554f-11e8-a154-139b81d62851′].

Honorable Mention: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00L4771OG’ text=’Calphalon 12” Cast Iron Skillet’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’21cf7a7a-5550-11e8-8141-256c41d7e5cb’]

I love my [amazon_textlink asin=’B004RIY4J4′ text=’Calphalon nonstick skillet ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ffebd44c-5550-11e8-8c02-63f148b51e3a’] so tried out a friend’s [amazon_textlink asin=’B00L4771OG’ text=’Calphalon 12″ cast iron skillet.’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’424f54fe-5550-11e8-91ca-d13fc0e6585f’]

Notable Features

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00L4771OG’ text=’Calphalon skillet ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’caae110a-5550-11e8-ace5-9ff6c6c08798′] is a little lighter weight than other skillets, making it easier to handle even at the larger size. The 12″ skillet is a great size for cooking larger meals like Skillet Chicken or deep dish pizza. It has the curved sides I like in the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00008GKDJ’ text=’Lodge Chef’s Skillet’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’319e9b31-5551-11e8-b8f1-39dd687a90e4′].

But I found the pan heated up too quickly, even on a low-medium flame, resulting in uneven cooking. All in all, I think this cast iron cookware pan could work well for someone looking for a lighter option. But cooking heat and time may have to be adjusted for the thinner cast iron.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 12.5″ x 2.5″ x 18″
  • Weight: 7.1 lbs

Best Enameled Cast Iron: [amazon_textlink asin=’B0076NOO5G’ text=’Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’76ab9c47-5551-11e8-886e-b178651642c6′]

The Colors

Le Creuset brings eye candy to your kitchen with a rainbow of color choices like cherry red (my favorite), soleil (sunshine yellow), and Indigo. The enamel is long-lasting and chip-resistant and makes for easier cleaning than non-coated options.

Also called French ovens, these cast iron cookware kitchen staples are a must for stews, steamed mussels, or the iconic French dish, coq au vin. I have the 7 ¼ quart Dutch oven because I love to entertain, but the smaller 5/12 or 2-quart versions offer ample space for your specialties.

Notable Features

Normally I like a curved bottom in my pots, but the straight sides of the Le Creuset Dutch oven provide extra space for browning meats or caramelizing onions, essential for the one-pot-recipes I favor for my Dutch oven. Another nice feature is the extra-large handles, big enough to accommodate your oven mitts and very useful for safely handling a heavy pot full of hot food. The lids are very well-fitting, which helps seal in the moisture and flavor. Both pot and lid are oven-safe up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and will keep your dish hot until you’re ready to serve.

[amazon_textlink asin=’B0076NOO5G’ text=’Le Creuset’s Dutch oven’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’fb19e3d9-5551-11e8-b996-9d2830a49ec2′] is a superior cooking pot and a spectacular serving vessel. Well worth the investment.

Good Things Are Worth the Effort

Dutch ovens are ideal for one-pot cooking, but not all ingredients can always be cooked all at once. For example, the key to tender beef in your stew is properly searing the meat, which should be done in two batches to ensure even searing. Similarly, the chicken in coq au vin will need to brown in batches. Trust me, the extra time spent searing or browning will pay out in rich flavor and juiciness.

Cooking With Alcohol

Another key to delicious Dutch oven recipes seems to be booze. The glass of wine you enjoy while cooking is even better added to the pot. This is because the alcohol helps dissolve fats and release the flavors of the meats and veggies. Personally, I don’t like “cooking wine” and prefer to use the real stuff.

Which wine you choose depends on what you’re cooking:

  • A tannic Cabernet Sauvignon is great for fatty meat dishes like beef stew.
  • Anything tomato based needs a high-acid wine like Chianti to hold up against the acidic tomatoes.
  • Crisp Sauvignon Blancs compliment citrus sauces.
  • Classic, oaked Chardonnay is perfect in cream sauces or a seafood saute.

Cognac, brandy, or bourbon are also delicious additives to dishes like coq au vin.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 7 1/4 quart; 11.6″ x 14.1″ x 7″
  • Weight: 12.8 lbs

Flaws But Not Deal-Breakers:

  • LeCreuset is very pricey compared to other cast iron brands.
  • Tends to stain, which detracts from the lovely finishes of an enamel pot.
  • Enamel is more delicate than regular cast iron – don’t bang your utensils on the side of the pot and clean with care to avoid chipping the enamel.
  • Enamel can’t be used over an open flame.

Most Versatile Cast Iron Piece: [amazon_textlink asin=’B0187ZLQJ8′ text=’Lodge Reversible Grill/Griddle ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5150f798-5552-11e8-bd2c-8f8b9e754cdf’]

Lodge offers a 20” rectangular cast iron pan with a flat griddle on one side and a ribbed grill on the other. The cast iron cookware pan nicely spans two burners for cooking up batches of hotcakes or pan-seared fish.

Outdoor Cooking

I’ve had this griddle for over twenty years. It’s a staple in my camping kit, with a sleek profile that slides easily under seats or the bottom of a camping tub. The 20” length fits larger Coleman camp stoves and works great on campfire grills. I frequently prop mine on rocks over an open flame for campfire meals that are the stuff of legends.

Kitchen Cooking

In the kitchen, this pan moves effortlessly from stove top to oven, perfect for searing a crust on fish fillets before slow cooking in the oven. This pan is heavy, but the cut-out handles offer secure gripping. The drip canal along the side is appreciated when cooking bacon or other fattier foods. You can’t beat a breakfast prepared on a cast-iron griddle!

Tips for Double-Burner Cooking

Like all cast iron, this grill/griddle combo will eventually reach an even heat throughout the pan, but the longer length means this process takes a bit longer. When cooking items like hash browns on the griddle side, be sure to stir often to avoid burning the food cooking directly over the burners. On the grill side, if you’re going for those nice sear marks, stick to the ends of the pan for the best color.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 19.8″ x 10.7″ x 1.2″
  • Weight: 16 lbs

Flaws But Not Deal-Breakers:

  • This model is a bit costlier than other pan types, but you are getting a two-for-one.
  • Like all cast iron, griddles can get very hot, so be cautious when maneuvering between stove top and oven.
  • The large size and weight requires two hands to lift the pan.

Cast Iron Cookware Piece I’m loving Now: [amazon_textlink asin=’B004W4TXZI’ text=’Lodge Deep Camp Dutch Oven’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0af51dd1-5554-11e8-b3a9-7905a9ef0f0a’]

I received the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00008GKDW’ text=’Lodge Deep Camp Dutch Oven ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’46af5699-5554-11e8-874b-e7a8d99e4e6c’] for Christmas last year and have begun testing my outdoor cooking skills now that spring has finally sprung.

Preparation

Like I do with all cast iron, I seasoned the inside of this pot with oil. Because it will spend so much time over a fire, I also rubbed shortening into the outside of both pot and lid and baked it in a hot oven for an hour. So far, I haven’t noticed any discoloration from the fire, but I’m not far into the season.

Notable Features

This 12”, 8-quart pot features three legs for setting over a campfire or coals. The rimmed lid can hold charcoal briquettes or coals from the fire, essential for browning bread or achieving a nice crust on a cheesy casserole. The lid is formed with a sturdy loop handle and the pot itself has a thick wire handle for carrying or hanging over the fire. Cooking in a Dutch oven is a slow process. Attempting it over an open flame requires frequent turning to avoid burning and uneven cooking.

Accessories

My next investment will be the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0000TPDJE’ text=’Lodge Lid Lifter’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0ccfb576-5555-11e8-843e-d98b75b5389b’] and the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JETRZQ0′ text=’adjustable camp tripod.’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1f3e3814-5561-11e8-a82f-f7180ae9e132′] The lid lifter should make it easier to check the contents of the Dutch oven without burning myself. I’m in love with the idea of a pot of chili slow-simmering over a fire.

To date, I’ve made an excellent lasagna, a tasty berry cobbler, and a not-exactly-browned batch of dinner rolls. I highly recommend the [amazon_textlink asin=’B000L3QB0Y’ text=’Lodge Field Guide to Dutch Oven Cooking Cookbook’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d1256f1e-5561-11e8-99a5-990cc06e076b’], for these recipes and helpful tips for outdoor cooking.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 8 quarts; 12″ x 12″ x 5.5″
  • Weight: 20 lbs

Flaws But Not Deal-Breakers:

  • Legs make this piece impractical for use in the oven.
  • Large size makes it heavy on its own, even before the food goes in.
  • Manipulating over an open flame can be tricky.
  • I recommend this piece only for those with patience and a strong desire to cook like its 1896.

Best Cast Iron Baking Pan: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00063RX7O’ text=’Lodge Pre-Seasoned Drop Biscuit Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’42fa4078-5563-11e8-8b0e-bbefc3432f78′]

Biscuits made in cast iron can’t help but come out wonderfully puffy and crispy. I’ve also made delicious cake-style muffins with this pan and intend to try a friend’s English muffin recipe soon.

Notable Features

The flower-shaped pan features seven wells, each 3 1/4″ round and 1″ deep, a perfect size for drop biscuits or large muffins. At just under 13″, this pan will fit easily in home ovens and even a large Dutch oven for outdoor baking. The open rim surrounding the wells make great handles. This is another cast iron cookware piece that can double as wall decoration.

Tips for Perfect Biscuits

The heat-retention of cast iron speeds up the baking process so you may have to adjust your favorite recipe. I pre-heat my pan before placing the dough. You should remove biscuits from the pan as soon as you pull them out of the oven to avoid burning the bottom. Unlike a baking sheet, the separate baking wells of this pan don’t allow the biscuits to touch each other as they bake, which helps them fluff. A tip I found to help them rise is to press a thumbprint into the top of each biscuit. Also, pasty flour makes a lighter biscuit than all-purpose.

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 12.9″ x 5.7″ x 11.3″
  • Weight: 6.95 lbs

Flaws But Not Deal-Breakers:

  • This biscuit pan runs a little heavier than other brands.
  • Despite being pre-seasoned, this pan is not non-stick and needs to be lightly sprayed with oil whenever you bake with it (better yet, grease the sides and bottom with butter!).

Honorable Mention: [amazon_textlink asin=’B075KY7N6B’ text=’Emeril Legasse Biscuit Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7bfafa93-556a-11e8-a4b8-a713fbbc35d1′]

Emeril Lagasse is a household name for foodies, so I tested a friend’s biscuit pan to see if his product lives up to his brand.

Notable Features

The 8-well set-up is better for most recipes, which generally work in even numbers. The pan heated evenly and produced fluffy biscuits. The handles are nicely sturdy and easy to grab. But I found the length awkward and the style uninteresting, compared to the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00063RX7O’ text=’Lodge Biscuit Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’bf320cd3-556b-11e8-b346-dfa25e6b0d83′].

Specs:

  • Dimensions: 15.9″ x 6.8″ x 1.2″
  • Weight: 6.76 lbs

FAQs:

Why cast iron?

  • Flavor: nothing beats cast iron for creating a smoky sear on your fish, slow-simmering meats and veggies so the seasonings infuse the stew, or flash-frying an egg to crackling, buttery perfection.
  • Versatility: cast iron is at home on a gas range, electric burner, or over a fire.
  • Affordable: most types of cast iron are available at a modest price point.
  • Durable: with proper care, your cast iron piece will outlast you!
  • History: a perfectly seasoned skillet or Dutch oven becomes a family heirloom.

How do I season cast iron?

Whether your new pan is pre-seasoned or not, I recommend a thorough scrub with a stiff brush and hot water. After drying the pan, smear the inside with shortening or bacon fat and bake in a fairly hot oven (425 degrees F should do it) for about an hour. I generally apply a light “season” after every use by adding a small dollop of coconut or olive oil to a hot pan and coating it with the melted oil. Before you put the pan away, be sure to wipe away any excess oil with paper towels. Your pan should have a soft sheen to it but no standing oil.

Home-made seasoning will result in a nice brown color that eventually turns to a shiny black patina. The color to avoid is rust-red (as pictured below). If your pan starts to rust, scrub it with hot water and coarse salt, rinse well, and season as directed above.

Do I need to use oil to cook?

Personally, I don’t believe in a “non-stick” cast iron, even pre-seasoned pans. I always use at least a light spray of cooking oil, and for delicate items like eggs I use butter or olive oil. Warm the pan before adding the butter or oil to avoid burning – if your pan is smoking, it’s too hot!

How do I clean cast iron?

Don’t put cast iron cookware in the dishwasher. If re-seasoning a piece, it’s ok to use soapy water, but otherwise, stick with hot water and a stiff cleaning brush. It’s best to clean your cookware as soon as it’s cooled down enough to touch, to avoid cooked on/baked on foods.

Pro tip: After I’m done cooking and before the pan cools off, I throw some water on the surface and let the heat steam and sizzle the food loose, then scrape it up with a metal spatula (or a wooden one, for my enamel pots).

Does cast iron leach into my food?

Cast iron cookware has been deemed by the American Dietetic Association as a safe source of nutritional iron. People with anemia or other iron deficiencies may benefit from cooking with cast iron, while people with hemochromatosis (bronze disease) are recommended to avoid it.

Can I use it on induction stove tops?

I haven’t tried it, but I’ve read multiple reviews stating you can.

Is cast iron safe for the environment?

The Lodge foundry claims to produce zero hazardous wastes and received a state award for Excellence in Hazardous Waste Reductions for upgrades to their Tennessee foundry. Lodge recycles used vegetable oil from the seasoning process and recycles and reuses the sand used for casting. The foundry has upgraded their heat and power sources for energy efficiencies.

Questions to consider before you purchase cast iron cookware:

What’s your cooking style? Consumer Reports has an excellent article on how to identify which type of cookware best matches your style.

Are you willing to spend time prepping and maintaining your cookware? Even pre-seasoned pieces require attentive cleaning and occasional seasoning.

Do you have physical limitations on lifting or carrying? Cast iron is heavy and the larger pieces can be awkward to maneuver.

Are you an outdoor cooker, indoor, or both? Once you decide on cast iron as your cookware of choice, where you want to cook will help guide which pieces you choose.

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A Comparison of the Best Air Fryers on Amazon

There are known concerns over the consistent consumption of fried foods. However, advancements in technology have made it possible to have fried food that doesn’t have an unhealthy influx of processed fats. This critical change is made possible by the invention of air fryers: the ideal kitchen companion that makes it possible to fry your food with a minimum amount of oil, with no diminished flavor. I’ve spent several hours researching the latest after seeing and hearing about how my friends use their own air fryers to make delicious treats.

Here are the top air fryers available on Amazon, with some of the best value picks for you.

Best Air Fryer Winner: [amazon_textlink asin=’B079L2ZQGB’ text=’Philips HD9630/98 Avance XXL Twin Turbostar Airfryer (3lb/4qt)’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2a30004d-bc59-11e8-bf56-87762b4d1b24′]best air fryers

This fryer is the leading model in 2018. The [amazon_textlink asin=’B079L2ZQGB’ text=’Philips HD9630/98 Avance XXL Twin Turbostar Airfryer (3lb/4qt)’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’57eb9c4e-bc59-11e8-b4a5-433d86effc94′] knocks it out of the park when it comes to fries, regardless of how stacked the basket is. One thing I love about this sleeping bag is its ability to load up to three pounds and still have the food efficiently done: crunchy, tender, and bursting with flavor.

A chicken dish comprising of wings will come with a delicious, crackling crust, while burgers will rival ones prepared on a grill. These performances are some of the indicators of genuine quality, with a consistency in a delicious, well-done dish. You want a fryer that exhibits excellent performance, regardless of the load in the cooking basket.

Biggest Selling Points

The Philips XXL has an impressive capacity, with a cooking basket that can hold more than three pounds of ingredients. The narrative that bulk cooking results in an inferior quality output doesn’t apply to this cooking unit.

Efficient cooking is guaranteed, with the cooked meal coming out well-done with a tasty crust, especially chicken and fries. Over and above the price and size, you need a cooker that does what it is expected to do, meeting and exceeding the expected performance.

The fryer comes with a cookbook, giving you some exciting recipe ideas for the perfect cooking experience. This addition is an excellent touch, providing additional insights into your existing cooking ideas.

This fryer is relatively easy to use and requires no preheating. Having an easy operation procedure is a big plus, as you don’t want equipment that is too tedious to operate.

Flaws But Not Dealbreakers

This air fryer is somewhat bulky and may cause inconvenience if your kitchen doesn’t have a lot of space. Convenience involves ease of storage, and for this reason, this is a downside. As the name suggests, the Philips XXL is massive. Too much weight may be a considerable inconvenience considering the cleaning involved in both this machine and in general. As this usually involves moving the cooking equipment, a heavy device may not be ideal.

The air fryer is also noisy. The added noise means that the cooking process may not be a quiet process as well, and too much noise can be a bit uncomfortable for some users as well.

The price may deter consumers from a purchase. The model has more components than your conventional unit and is therefore not easier to clean. With a big basket, the dishwasher is bound to be stacked when cleaning the fryer.

Why It’s the Best

All said and done, this is a worthy investment, with the fryer capable of preparing some of the best fried – and healthy – meals you can have. While there may be cons, its performance is head and shoulders above the rest regarding the quality of food prepared. This model is the number one pick, combining size and efficiency to perfection.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B079L2ZQGB’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’b313e2be-bdc2-11e8-bb16-570d1951df75′]

Best Air Fryer Runner-Up: [amazon_textlink asin=’B01M2Z9P9L’ text=’SimpleTaste 1400W Multi-Function Electric Air Fryer’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’94ae2e6f-bdc5-11e8-bef8-990eb37d4bbe’]

This air fryer is your ideal companion for preparing those fried foods on a daily basis. Not only does it give some good results, but it is also relatively easy to use. The [amazon_textlink asin=’B01M2Z9P9L’ text=’SimpleTaste Multi-function Electric Air Fryer’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d194d8e5-bdc5-11e8-a41e-91b06c6ca64a’] produces some of the tastiest french fries you can have, manifesting excellent performance in the preparation of nuggets, chicken, or even vegetables.

Tip from a friend: if you want a better-tasting meal, spray items with a little oil before feeding it your ingredients. With performance that rivals that of a small convection oven, this is an ideal cooking partner for you.

Why You Should Consider Getting One

This piece is a big plus and remains a pocket-friendly purchase for an excellent piece of kitchen equipment. It is also easy to clean. This fryer is one that will present a minimal challenge when cleaning, with the process usually taking less than a couple of minutes.

The 3.2-quart capacity means that is spacious enough to prepare a relatively sizeable meal: you can fit in a couple of large chicken breasts, about eight chicken wings, or four drumsticks. You can even quickly cook a whole chicken, granted that it is not too big. The detachable basket is relatively easy to remove – doable with a single hand.

The SimpleTaste air fryer comes with an array of smart programs that greatly aid excellent user experience. Pre-set settings ensure that you save time and effort during daily use. The fryer is easy to use, coming with user instructions that are easy to read and understand. The straightforward operation makes your cooking experience that much easier.

Flaws But Not Dealbreakers

This air fryer is not big enough for the preparation of multiple meals, meaning that if you need a sizeable dinner ready, especially when you have guests, an alternative option is inevitable.

The SimpleTaste air fryer is a cooking companion with numerous advantages, in spite of the apparent limitation in size. If you don’t need to prepare a big meal, this is the best bet for you. The fryer is not as big as the Philips XXL, but it offers a similar performance.

Best Air Fryer Honorable Mention – [amazon_textlink asin=’B01K0W8LTE’ text=’Cuisinart TOA-60 Cuisinart Convection Toaster Oven Air Fryer’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7e500713-bdc9-11e8-95b4-cd652c60ee63′]

This counter-top oven is one of your best cooking companions, letting you fry, bake, warm, broil, and toast in relative comfort. This high-power fryer is considerably large, weighing in at 21 pounds. This fryer is relatively spacious, with the ability to comfortably hold up to 3 pounds of ingredients. The package comes with a wire rack, air fryer wire, as well as a baking pan. The oven interior is stainless steel-made, making for a non-stick and easy to clean interior.

Standout Qualities

This fryer has an array of impressive functionalities that enable you to roast pork or chicken, giving you room for experimentation and creativity with your recipes. This piece of cooking equipment serves the roles of air fryer, convection oven, and toaster, all rolled up into one functional unit. The [amazon_textlink asin=’B01K0W8LTE’ text=’Cuisinart TOA-60 Cuisinart Convection Toaster Oven Air Fryer’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’eef8a993-bdc9-11e8-8fcf-b111833dd61d’] exhibits some very straightforward operation, making it very easy to use for the best cooking experience.

The air fryer does not need to preheat and is very fast in all cooking operations. This mode of operation translates to better convenience, making it ideal for meals prepared by someone with a crowded schedule. This air fryer is spacious, with the ability to comfortably accommodate a sizeable amount of ingredients.

Flaws But Not Dealbreakers

The absence of a removable drip tray can leave a mess, meaning that grease and breadcrumbs collection is only possible by the additional use of a baking tray. Sometimes, you may not be sure of the temperature settings for your meals, meaning the adoption of a trial and error approach at some point. This uncertainty means that the risk of burning food will be a constant concern. The fryer comes with a tray and basket that is not dishwasher safe, and you may need to get creative and put in some effort to keep these components clean.

For this Cuisinart fryer, microwave and rotisserie functions are conspicuously absent. Considering that these serve a consistent purpose, this may be a severe downside when it comes to this fryer. Although it is more affordable than the Philips XXL, it goes for twice the cost of a SimpleTaste air fryer. For all its functions, the impressive service will set you back a considerable amount.

This air fryer has an undeniably good performance and should be a serious consideration when in the market for one. The Cuisinart cooker exhibits an impressive array of functions and is a fast-cooker. For a busy kitchen, this is your perfect pick.

Best Air Fryer Honorable Mention: [amazon_textlink asin=’B075G3CCH8′ text=’KRUPS AJ1000US Air Fryer Low-Fat with Adjustable Temperature’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’dd912389-bdca-11e8-8e73-0f0cc875eaf3′]

The chief characteristics of this kitchen appliance include the ability to cook quickly, as well as food that is prepared adequately without diminished flavor. Ovens will at times struggle to replicate delicious crispiness, but the [amazon_textlink asin=’B075G3CCH8′ text=’KRUPS AJ1000US Air Fryer Low-Fat with Adjustable Temperature’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’fd1b53a7-bdca-11e8-a04c-d126a8c63b71′] will deliver that with minimum fuss, especially with chicken meals.

A simple interface ensures simple, straightforward functionality that is easy use. This air fryer offers excellent flexibility, with the chance to set temperatures as desired: anywhere from 30 to 390 degrees Fahrenheit. I understand that not everyone using an air fryer has prior experience. This one is straightforward to use, with a simple interface consisting of icons depicting foods that cook at various temperatures on the temperature adjustor. With such a helpful interface, the need to consult a manual about temperature settings may not be necessary.

Key Selling Points

For its features, this air fryer is one of the most affordable considering the available features and performance. The fryer offers a variety of functions at a very affordable price. The KRUPS air fryer is fast, and the food is cooked through. This speed and efficiency make it perfect for the person with a crowded daily schedule.

The fryer offers some fantastic flexibility, giving you the chance to adjust the desired temperature with ease. You don’t need to be well-versed on functionalities of similar equipment to use this one. Useful icons on the temperature knob assist you to know the ideal temperatures for your choice of food. This bit of ingenuity on the interface is a big selling point.

Flaws But Not Dealbreakers

If you are not sure of the ideal temperature for cooking your meal, you risk burning it at a temperature that is too high.

Why get a KRUPS air fryer?

With a bargain comes an inevitable limitation of features. However, if the fryer adequately addresses all your cooking needs, this is an ideal pick. This fryer is an excellent buy, especially if you don’t have a lot of time to get your meals ready, or if you don’t have a lot of experience with air fryers. The impressive balance of a pocket-friendly price between a friendly price and excellent performance is its biggest plus.

My Take on the Best Air Fryer (and What to Consider When Buying)

There are tons of advantages evident in the use of air fryers, with the principal one being better, healthier meals. Price remains a core consideration when making your purchase, and whatever you get off the shelf will need to fit comfortably within your price range. Along with the price, pick a fryer that serves the purpose, as the primary target of your shopping trip is to get a cooking appliance that resolves an existing need.

As with every new invention, different brands are available in the market. The presence of variety is inevitable. This availability of different brands and models necessitates careful consideration to make the perfect purchase for your cooking needs.

Considerations that come about on your shopping trip for the best air fryer will include:

Cost

We all have an idea of how much we may be willing to spend to get that excellent kitchen item off the shelf and any amount overly exceeding that may prove a deterrent. The set price has to be reasonable, or at least fall within the range of price affordable or deemed reasonable to you. To get a fair price, we will usually go online and check the rates quoted by different prices quoted by different sellers. This online check gives us an idea of the price ballparks, avoiding the possibility of hitting the aisles blind.

Capacity

Cooking equipment must have the size needed to serve the purpose as desired. Any item that is too small may limit the portions that you can prepare, and this may, in the long run, be discouraging. A fryer that is too big may also make it harder to move around or face some inconvenience regarding managing the available kitchen space. You, therefore, need to get a fryer that perfectly fits the bill regarding size and capacity. Both size and cooking capacity is critical, so this consideration is inevitable.

Temperature Variation

Different foods cook at various temperatures, and a cooker that doesn’t offer much wiggle-room regarding the ability to adjust temperatures may not be excellent. You will want a fryer that gets all desired meals done, with a level of temperature flexibility that reflects true value for money.

Any foods that you fry must at least be capable of being prepared on the fryer, as you seek to maintain a healthy dietary plan. Ensure that you know the temperatures your desired range of foods cook at, as this is a critical consideration when making the pick for your ideal cooker.

Ease of Use

Ideal cooking equipment should not be too complicated to use, as in the process you may inadvertently cause damage to the unit. A complicated setup may also translate to additional work in getting everything set up correctly, which may prove too much of a hassle when you want to prepare a relatively simple meal.

Ideal fryers will have a relatively straightforward operation, and with the desired output, this straightforward operation makes the cooking experience a breeze. The settings and components should come with clear and appropriate labeling, in a proper font size that translates to convenient use.

Features Versus Price Factor

Cheap isn’t always the better deal. Be sure to check the capabilities and the corresponding price quotation. Many of the ‘cheaper’ models will usually have a lower capacity or exhibit other limitations regarding the available features. It is essential to know what features you need in the ideal fryer and go for one that checks all the right boxes.

Remember, it makes no sense to pay for features you may not need in your usual food preparation routine, so buy what works for you, and stick to what serves your cooking needs best.

Remember to Consult

It doesn’t hurt to check around for user experience and professional perspectives. Consult and get more details and insight before paying. Expensive doesn’t always indicate quality, and affordability doesn’t always reflect limited functionality.

In your consultations, be sure to confirm the materials making up the actual cooking unit, as weak components may affect longevity and leave you feeling shortchanged. Every consumer desires to get value for money, and a great deal of value comes in the form of long-term service. It doesn’t matter how good a fryer is if you have to look for a replacement after a short time.

In Summary of the Best Air Fryer Available Today

Here’s my perspective on the reviewed models:

Best Air Fryer Performers

The Philips XXL, Cuisinart, and the SimpleTaste air fryers are the best air fryer options available. These models offer performance and excellent value for money, with the Philips giant being the standout best air fryer performer.

Bargain Pick Best Air Fryer

The KRUPS air fryer is a bargain pick best air fryer. It is a very efficient one, which is a steal.

Remember to get confirmation about the available warranty with your best air fryer, as with every piece of electronic appliance you purchase. With this inquiry comes the need to know the extent of the warranty. Get to understand the scope of cover involved as well as the duration it is valid. Electronic equipment is prone to failure and malfunction, even in the absence of misuse. Additionally, the warranty is a critical facet of all purchases involving electronic equipment.

Wisdom also dictates that you find out if some components remain designated for separate purchases. Some parts are paid for separately, so be sure to confirm if the listed price is inclusive of all elements. It is these seemingly minor charges that end up driving the initial cost of securing the best air fryer up.

Put on some fun music on your favorite speakers and start cooking. Enjoy! Bon appetite!

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The Best Bread Pan for Baking Homemade Bread

Once you’ve measured, kneaded, proofed, and shaped your favorite homemade bread dough, how much does the pan you bake it in influence the final result? Quite a bit, actually! The color and texture of the finished loaf are dependent on the pan you use. That’s not all; once the bread is baked and sliced, your choice of bread pan affects the time it takes to clean up as well.

Who am I to recommend the best bread pan? I am an avid home baker and self-proclaimed cookware nerd. I’ve been making all of the bread (sweet and savory) my family of five can eat for nearly a decade. My start to this tasty hobby began through baking sandwich bread, and I’ve developed strong opinions about the best bread pans for homemade bread along the way.

After making hundreds of loaves of my own sandwich and sweet bread over the past ten years, I reach for my pick for the best bread pan (a [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan Bakeware 1 lb. Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’fa0dba49-3674-11e8-9242-9395d528465b’]) every time, thanks to the fact that it bakes bread evenly without over browning and is incredibly easy to clean. To give you even more options, I have also narrowed down the myriad choices online and in the baking aisle to four of the best bread pans for both savory and sweet loaves. In this article, I will go over the pros and cons of our favorite bread pans.

Our top pick: [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan Bakeware 1 lb. Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’36edfd3f-3675-11e8-8ad6-7d3de4bd0853′]

This [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3eafebad-3675-11e8-bbaa-15d1d778e254′] is our number one choice for both savory and sweet breads because it bakes evenly without over browning and is incredibly easy to clean. I have never had a loaf stick in the pan after baking, including loaves that are notoriously difficult to remove like loaves with raisins or fruit in the dough.

Specs

The pan is made from heavy-gauge aluminized steel with a unique fluting to encourage the bread to release easily and prevent warping. If the professional-grade design looks familiar, it’s probably because USA Pan sells customized versions of its pans to many specialty baking stores around the country. Once I learned to recognize the signature fluting and design, I found it at high-end gourmet stores all over.

Although the non-stick coating is PTFE/PFOA free and dishwasher safe, I have never needed to use the dishwasher…or even an abrasive scrubber. A simple rinse with soap and water is all my pans ever need. The bread pan comes in multiple sizes, but I find the 1 lb. loaf pan to be just right for an everyday, multipurpose pan. This is the best bread pan for almost every situation I’ve come across in my years of regularly baking bread for my family of five.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B002UNMZOO’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’8fc278c0-36b4-11e8-ab07-89f19fd95d49′]

First Runner-Up: [amazon_textlink asin=’B00H5BQICG’ text=’Pyrex 1.5-Quart Clear Basics Glass Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f6b79586-3675-11e8-904d-bb04c913e92a’]

Glass pans distribute heat more evenly than metal pans do, which is one of the main advantages of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00H5BQICG’ text=’Pyrex 1.5-Quart Clear Basics Glass Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0b49b254-3676-11e8-81d3-6d23e7967ffb’]. Another nice feature is the ability to see the bottom of the loaf while it is still in the pan, helping you prevent any soggy or underdone loaf bottoms. When I was first starting out as a bread maker, I really appreciated being able to check if the bottom of my bread was done in my glass pan.

Specs

I find I have the best results when I reduce my cooking temperature slightly with glass pans to prevent the loaf from cooking too quickly on the outside, a byproduct of the better heat distribution. My bread crusts are softer as a result of the lower temperature. If you prefer a sandwich bread with a soft crust, try baking it in a glass pan. You will need to preheat the glass pan before adding your dough—a major obstacle with most yeast breads—if you are looking for a crispy crust.

The one major downside of baking in a glass pan is that loaves are prone to sticking unless you thoroughly grease the pan prior to baking. This is especially true of quick loaves of bread like banana and pumpkin, which was ultimately why we chose the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan Bakeware 1 lb. Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b23b8a16-3675-11e8-81f2-b1929da38b26′] as our top pick instead. The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00H5BQICG’ text=’Pyrex 1.5-Quart Glass Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ec70bf0d-3677-11e8-b53b-a94db10faa0c’] stands up to scrubbing and is dishwasher safe, so you can wash off any stuck-on bits without worrying about scratching the pan or having it rust.

Second Runner-Up: [amazon_textlink asin=’B001K2058E’ text=’Wilton Perfect Results Large Non-Stick Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’310bfc50-3676-11e8-9278-75ea90f126db’]

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B001K2058E’ text=’Wilton Perfect Results Large Non-Stick Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3b1df5dd-3676-11e8-abb7-dbe614e62f6e’] is a popular choice among bread bakers for good reason. Wilton is known for making quality products accessible to home bakers—both in price and availability. As long as the non-stick coating is intact, nothing will stick to the pan, making it incredibly easy to use and clean.

Specs

The dark non-stick coating leads to a darker crust, which can be a positive or negative factor depending on the type of bread you bake. Bread also cooks more quickly in this pan than in any other pan on our list because of the dark coating. Oversized handles on each end make it easy to grab without sticking a thumb into the side of your load, even with bulky oven mitts on. In the end, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B001K2058E’ text=’Wilton Perfect Results Large Non-Stick Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’58cb4f8e-3676-11e8-9b21-79ace8c3251f’] just missed the top of our list because it is significantly less convenient once the non-stick coating is scratched or damaged in any way.

My Wilton loaf pans were my go-to pans for over a year before one of the pans was scratched too much to use. Before the coating scratched off, it was the best bread pan in my kitchen. It fell just short of our pick for the best bread pan, however, because it was not nearly as durable as my [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan loaf pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4d86bf9b-3675-11e8-9278-75ea90f126db’].

Most of the scratches on my pan came from children trying to pry loaves out with butter knives, however, which may not be an issue at your house. As long as you care for your pans properly, or replace any worn pans promptly, you will love the ease of using and washing this truly non-stick pan.

Honorable Mention: [amazon_textlink asin=’B003OF9CY8′ text=’Mrs. Andersons Baking Silicone Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6f7d981c-3677-11e8-be2b-9d9ab81738c1′]

No list of loaf pans would be complete without mentioning a silicone option. Fans of silicone baking molds love them for how easy loaves of bread and cakes are to remove with a simple twist of the pan, even without any oil or spray. If you are looking for a non-stick pan without any non-stick coating, [amazon_textlink asin=’B003OF9CY8′ text=’Mrs. Andersons Baking Silicone Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7c0f5df8-3677-11e8-a2a4-cb611b633f41′] is our favorite.

Specs

Made from European-grade silicone, there are no fillers or plastics in the pan at all. While silicone baking molds do not hold their shape as well as glass and metal pans, [amazon_textlink asin=’B003OF9CY8′ text=’Mrs. Andersons Baking Silicone Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’856a8a6e-3677-11e8-959c-df8da65d6632′] has been reinforced for better longevity than most silicone pans on the market.

One disadvantage of baking bread in a silicone pan is that the bottom and sides will never brown as well as the top of the loaf because of the way heat is distributed along the silicone. Although we felt that knocked any silicone pan out of contention for our top pick, [amazon_textlink asin=’B003OF9CY8′ text=’Mrs. Andersons Baking Silicone Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’62388708-3677-11e8-9110-dd34fb30d904′] deserved honorable mention because of its superior ability to evenly bake and release quick bread loaves—which brown more evenly because of their high sugar content—and what it provides for any baker looking for a non-stick pan without any special coating.

For best results, place any silicone baking pan on a cookie sheet before filling. Some bakers even use [amazon_textlink asin=’B003OF9CY8′ text=’Mrs. Andersons Silicone Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a0b38dcd-3677-11e8-9d4e-1b1c6c9adf91′] as a non-stick liner with other bread pans.

Why Homemade Bread?

There are two main reasons I have enjoyed making my own bread for so many years: I can control what goes into each loaf and baking my family’s bread saves us money.

Homemade bread gives you better control over ingredients.

Making your own bread allows you to decide what ingredients go in your bread. The basics of yeast bread are the same no matter what variation you make. Once you master basic sandwich bread, you can easily try your hand at three-cheese bread, raisin cinnamon bread, and more.

Our family favorite is a walnut and sunflower seed whole wheat bread that we’ve never seen in stores. The same is true of quick loaves of bread; banana nut bread is not any harder to make than pumpkin, zucchini, or poppyseed bread. You will be surprised how easy it is to create your own variations once you learn the basic technique.

Do you have any dietary restrictions? Is anyone in your family gluten or dairy-free? If so, baking your own bread is often easier than carefully reading ingredient labels as you try to find your favorite loaves of bread at the store. By baking at home, you can make variations of all your favorite loaves of bread that everyone can eat. Choosing the best bread pan for the job is a major part of learning how to bake bread at home.

Baking homemade bread saves money.

In an earlier article, we told you the secrets to cutting your monthly food bill (according to the internet). The number one way to save money on food each month was to cook at home, and baking your own bread can be a part of that. Once you settle on a favorite recipe, you can easily purchase ingredients in bulk for a fraction of the cost of storebought bread.

It does take more time to make bread than to buy it at the store, but the difference in flavor and the quality of ingredients more than makes up that difference, especially because bread freezes so well. I make two loaves of bread almost every weekend: my family and I eat one loaf fresh over the next few days and I freeze the second loaf, pre-sliced, for quick toast and sandwiches later in the week.

While the actual cost per loaf will vary depending on the recipe you use and where you buy your ingredients, we’ve broken down the cost of homemade vs. storebought bread for comparison, assuming a basic whole wheat bread recipe and a loaf of standard whole wheat sandwich bread costing $2.98 per 1-lb. loaf.

The Cost of Homemade Bread vs. Storebought Bread

Storebought bread: $2.98
Per slice: $0.17

4 c. whole wheat flour: $0.88
1/2 tsp. instant yeast: $0.14
1/2 tsp. salt: $0.03
1/4 c. granulated sugar: $0.10
1/4 c. oil: $0.13
Homemade bread: $1.28
Per slice: $0.09

Even factoring in a smaller loaf size (15 slices) for homemade bread than storebought bread (18 slices), homemade bread is still a savings of over a dollar per loaf for a basic loaf of whole wheat sandwich bread! Baking your own specialty and artisan bread will save you even more money since many rustic loaves run upwards of $5.00/loaf at the supermarket. Baking bread not only saves you money compared to purchasing a loaf from the store, but the bread tastes better! There is nothing quite so delicious as a hot slice of fresh bread with butter and honey.

What to Look for in the Best Bread Pan

There are four main factors to consider when shopping for a new bread pan: How evenly does the bread bake? Will your bread loaf stick to the pan? How easy is it to clean the loaf pan? What is the bread pan made of? Any of the pans on our list will outperform disposable bread pans in all four areas, but let’s take a closer look at each to help you determine the best bread pan for your kitchen.

How evenly does the bread bake?

Ultimately, a bread pan that fails to produce an evenly-baked loaf will never see the light of your kitchen. I had a beautiful, decorative bread pan that I held on to for many years (and through multiple moves!) but rarely used because I was always unhappy with the results. When you are searching for a pan that leads to an even bake, start by testing weight. In general, heavier pans will distribute the heat more evenly.

Loaves baked in dark metal pans will brown faster than loaves baked in other pans, while loaves baked in glass or silicone will brown less on the bottom and sides. For yeast loaves of bread, I prefer a sturdier crust; when it comes to quick loaves of bread, I like the softer crust of a glass or silicone pan.

Will your bread loaf stick to the pan?

Loaf pans with the non-stick coating are the absolute best when it comes to removing bread without leaving any behind on the sides of the pan. The downside to coated pans is that the coating eventually scratches off or deteriorates with heavy use. That said, the coating on my favorite pan, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan Bakeware 1 lb. Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5dc512a0-3675-11e8-9fa5-cf4964d72d16′], has held up to many years of regular use: I bake bread in my pan at least once a week and have washed it by hand and in the dishwasher both without any reduction in its non-stick quality.

Stainless steel and glass loaf pans require greasing before each use, but they have the potential to outlive non-stick pans. Silicone baking molds provide the same non-stick ability without greasing the pan, but they do lose their shape over time.

How easy is it to clean the loaf pan?

Both the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan Bakeware’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’686ce327-3675-11e8-86df-63e0d7e5172c’] and Wilton loaf pans wash up quickly with just soap and hot water, although the former is also safe to clean in the dishwasher. If you are shopping for a pan without non-stick coating, look for something that can stand up to scrubbing for times when you need to use a little elbow grease to get it clean. Glass pans are my top choice for durability because they can withstand scrubbing with even abrasive chemicals and metal utensils.

What is the bread pan made of?

In the end, most bakers have a favorite material when it comes to bakeware. If that is true for you, find a loaf pan to match. I have recently started replacing my own muffin tins and cake pans with USA-brand pans because of how much I love the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan Bakeware 1 lb. Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6edef8d0-3675-11e8-aec1-55e27a81e813′].

If you still aren’t sure which material to choose, start by figuring out what traits matter to you most. Is durability your primary concern? If so, then the Pyrex 1.5-Quart Clear Basics Glass Loaf Pan or a simple stainless steel pan are probably your best bets. Do you need a pan that releases even the stickiest loaf every time? The Wilton Perfect Results Large Non-Stick Pan and [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan Bakeware 1 lb. Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’75b1577b-3675-11e8-8daa-494ec3168209′] is equally fantastic, although I favor the latter slightly because the coating is much more durable. If you are hesitant to use a non-stick pan for whatever reason, you may prefer a ceramic or silicone pan. While Mrs. Anderson’s Baking Silicone Loaf Pan is not perfect for every recipe, it does offer superior loaf release without any chemical coating or added oil.

Non-Stick Coating

A note on non-stick coating: Many home chefs are concerned that their non-stick coatings may contain dangerous materials. Ongoing research is underway about many of the chemicals used in non-stick coatings. At the time of this writing, the primary concern is for skillets and pans that are heated to 500°F.

Most bread is baked at 350°-425°F, so your bread pans should never be exposed to dangerous levels of heat. If you are still worried about what makes up the coating of your non-stick pan, carefully read the product description before purchasing or select another type of pan.

The Best Bread Pan for Everyday Use

Loaf pans are often inexpensive enough that you can purchase more than one model if you want to do your own at-home trial. In the end, however, there is only one pan I reach for each time I bake yeast or sweetbreads and give as gifts to all the graduates in my life getting ready to leave home (with a copy of my favorite bread recipe, of course). The [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan Bakeware 1 lb. Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7fad0935-3675-11e8-8867-b54702c0b0e0′] is our top choice because it performs well in each of the four factors I used to evaluate bread pans for both yeast breads and sweet quick breads.

If you are looking for the best bread fan for everyday use, I am confident you will love the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0029JQEIC’ text=’USA Pan 1 lb. Loaf Pan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’885670fe-3675-11e8-9968-31d49a9c1cd6′] as much as I do.

FAQs About Baking Homemade Bread:

Q: Where do I find bread recipes?

A. You can find great bread recipes online, in most cookbooks, and even on the back of many flour bags. My favorite way to get bread recipes is to ask friends and family for recommendations; many people have a favorite family recipe they are happy to share.

Q: Doesn’t making bread at home take too much time?

A. It does take a few hours to bake bread from start to finish, but there are quite a few ways you can reduce the time commitment. One way is to make a no-knead or overnight bread recipe that requires very little active preparation time. Another way to save on the time commitment is to make a larger batch of bread. Two loaves (or even four loaves) take the same amount of time to make as a single loaf, as long as you have enough pans and oven space. Like I mentioned earlier in the article, most bread freezes beautifully.

Q: How do I go about freezing my homemade bread?

A. If you find yourself with more fresh bread than you can eat in a day or two, freezing the rest is a great option. I prefer to slice my sandwich bread before freezing to make it even easier to use for breakfast and lunches during a busy week.

Once the bread is completely cool, slice up your loaf and wrap it in plastic wrap or a zip-top freezer bag before freezing. When freezing sweet bread, simply wrap the entire loaf in plastic wrap and freeze whole. Although it is possible to freeze individual slices of quick loaves of bread, the loaf retains its moisture better if you freeze it whole.

Q: What about thawing my frozen bread?

A. One reason I prefer to slice my homemade sandwich bread before freezing is because it makes thawing the bread so convenient. Remove the slices you need from the freezer and thaw at room temperature for around 20 minutes. For an even higher-quality result, warm the bread slightly in an oven preheated to 350° before serving. For quick loaves of bread, thaw the entire loaf in the fridge overnight or on the counter for an hour.

Q: How should I store homemade bread?

A. Homemade sandwich bread will maintain the best texture if you store it in a plastic bread bag once the loaf is completely cool. A bag leftover from a storebought loaf will work, or you can purchase specialty bread bags online. Quick bread should be wrapped tightly in plastic or stored in a plastic bag. Crusty, artisan bread should not be kept in plastic, however, as it will prevent the bread from keeping its signature crackly crust. To maintain a crisp crust, store rustic bread in a paper bag instead.

Q: How can I be sure my non-stick bread pan is safe?

A. Look for a pan that does not contain PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), which is a suspected carcinogen, and avoid using any non-stick pan at heats about 500° F. Fortunately, no bread recipes I have ever used—even when baking crusty loaves like baguettes—have called for temperatures above 500°. If you are still concerned about what might be in the non-stick coating of your bread pan, opt for a glass or 100% silicone pan instead.

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Which Juicer Is Best For You?

Surely you’ve heard of the amazing benefits of drinking all-natural juice. While diet fads and health trends come and go, this is one wellness practice that is here to stay. While juice bars are becoming widely popular, they can get pricey, especially if you are trying to get your daily green juice. What can you do to combat this? Buy a juicer!

I’ve been professionally and personally involved in the juice business for almost seven years. Interestingly, I’ve found that a lot of people are intimidated by the thought of making their own juice at home. It can be a costly judgment call if that machine ends up sitting there, unused. Maybe you’ve considered buying a juicer for your home but don’t know where to start?

Start here!

I’ve tried all the popular juicer machines – not just for home but the commercial models as well. I’ve done all the legwork for you. Sit back and read up on three models for your home that are great choices depending on your needs.

The Top Choice: Cuisinart CJE-500 Compact Juice Extractor

I own three juicers, but this is the one I use on a daily basis. It’s small but mighty. This model is surprisingly powerful yet an easy choice for quick juicing. Let’s go through the machine’s specs and what it can do. Then we’ll break down if this is the right choice for you according to my three key determinants:

  • What are you juicing?
  • Volume (How many people are juicing, and how often?)
  • How much time you have/are willing to put into the process

Size

Not only is this model compact, super quiet and easy to store, it’s easy on your wallet. In fact, it’s so small, you can take it on your vacation if you become a true juice freak like me. There’s not a lot of parts to deal with on this model which makes it not only easy to use but less cleanup time for you.

The base is solid but small. The entire dimensions of the machine are 11.75 x 11.5 x 14.25 inches. No matter where you live, you can easily fit this in a cabinet or on the shelf somewhere. The basic parts of the machine that require the bare minimum in the assembly are:

  • Bottom base. It’s sturdy. It has suction cups on the bottom, so even when I throw in a whole cucumber, it does not move or cause a mess.
  • Top base with a spout. Place this on the bottom base. This is where the juice is “caught”. It features an open/close switch that can be a lifesaver…more on this later.
  • Mesh basket with a blade. The blade is sharp and durable. I have had mine for over two years and use it multiple times per week but have not needed to replace the blade yet.
  • Top cover. This is plastic. Simply put it over the above parts and snap into place with handle.
  • Compost container. Place snugly behind the machine. This part will catch your pulp which you can then use in a variety of ways, or compost it.
  • Plunger. Durable and a decent size, this feature shoves the produce into the feed tube.
  • Juice pitcher. This part is actually optional. You can directly place a glass or small pitcher beneath the spout if you want to avoid using it.

Features

  • One-touch operation. A five-year-old can do this (when properly supervised of course). One button is all it has. For juicing at home, one setting is all you need.
  • Open/close switch on the spout. I LOVE this feature! Sometimes when I’m making a bigger batch I need to put the machine on pause. Or maybe I’m serving one juice to my child, and I accidentally add the jalapeño for my next juice. There’s a lot of scenarios where this feature will come in handy.
  • Basket brush for cleaning. I love this little brush. It makes cleanup even that much quicker.

What are you juicing?

If you’re like me, you want to juice a lot of leafy greens for the insane health benefits. This little guy can and will effectively do this for you if you know what you’re doing. Always place the leafy stuff like spinach, kale, parsley, etc. in the feeding tube FIRST. The other produce will push it out so you’re left with a good amount of juice from the greens.

The feed tube is a little under three inches in diameter, so you won’t be able to squeeze whole apples into it. I don’t find myself using the cutting board overtime, but you have to be mindful. As mentioned earlier, it’s powerful enough to juice a whole cucumber at once.

This model gets a great amount of blending turmeric and ginger, which I drink often. As with the leafy greens, put these in first.

Volume

I’ll be honest, this machine is not ideal for making a ton of juice at one time. The pitcher is only 16 ounces and is meant for single servings. In fact, you will need to clean out the compost container after every two to three juices. If you don’t, the pulp will invade your juice.

However, for small households, this isn’t a big issue. If you’re making four or less 16-ounce juices per day, this will easily handle the volume.

Time

If you’re low on time, this is hands-down the best thing for you. You won’t spend too much time cutting veggies due to the wide feed tube. There are so few parts to clean, all of which are small. Prep, make your juice, clean up and store in seven minutes or less.

The Cuisinart is my top pick because of its combined score under the three determinants. It will juice even the tough stuff like leafy greens and roots, provided you follow my suggestion and put them in first. It can’t handle a lot of volume at one time, but unless you have a huge family or are running an illegal juice bar, that doesn’t matter. Finally, you cannot beat the time management it offers you.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B009GQ038I’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’17ec919f-2eb8-11e8-b36d-15e4682238a1′]

Runner-up: Breville BJE200XL Compact Juice Fountain 700-Watt Juice Extractor

This particular model is slightly more expensive but more popular with consumers. I believe much of that is due to Breville’s marketing department and the ability to buy their products practically everywhere. Still, the Breville is a viable option for home juicing for a few reasons.

  • It’s compact. Like the Cuisinart, you don’t have to lug this thing in and out of the pantry each time you use it. The dimensions of the entire juicer are only 75 x 9.5 x 16 inches.
  • Less to clean. It also has a limited amount of parts. Less cleanup time for you means you’re likely to use the machine more often.
  • Dishwasher-safe. Other than the base, you can throw the rest in the dishwasher. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • Make more juice at once. The juice pitcher holds almost 28 ounces or roughly two servings of juice. You can also make about four to five 16 oz juices before having to dump out the compost.
  • It’s powerful. The 700-watt motor operates at 14,000 RPM. For you, this means less time cutting vegetables. You also don’t have to worry about the machine shaking or tip over.

Features

  • One-touch operation. Again, simplicity is the name of the game here and Breville nailed it. You do not need multiple electronic settings, even on a commercial juicer.
  • It won’t take up the whole counter. The compost container is actually an internal part of the machine. It’s a sleek design, not some bulbous thing that will dominate your counter space. It helps lower cleanup time too.
  • One year warranty. If something is going to go majorly wrong with your juicer, it will usually happen in the first year. A friend of mine has this machine and a few months in, noticed an internal problem. Breville promptly replaced the juicer and was very helpful and cordial about it.

What are you juicing?

For me, this is where the rub lies with this machine. While yes, it is very powerful and will effectively extract juice with most produce, it just does not get the job done with leafy greens or roots. Maybe it is due to the larger surface area of the basket. I’m not quite sure. But organic greens are expensive, and you would be wasting your money trying to juice them in this model. You simply won’t get the yield you want.

Volume

Volume is a good selling point in this case. This is a great machine for big families or, for example, someone who is making a half gallon pitcher of orange juice every morning. Unlike the Cuisinart, you do not have to empty the compost and wipe the bin after just a couple juices. This machine is powerful and can hold more pulp. For the people consistently making more than two or three servings at once, this is a good choice.

Time

The Breville is a great time-saver, mainly in the cleanup department. You can rinse off and wipe the debris from the parts, throw them in the dishwasher and be done with it.

The popularity of this model among juice enthusiasts and newbies alike speaks for itself.  It’s sturdy and reliable, and you can go crazy making juice daily for the entire family. You also can’t beat the fact that your dishwasher will help you out with the cleanup. The drawback with this one is based on preference; the yield is low on leafy greens and roots. But if you’re not heavily juicing these things, it’s a non-issue.

Honorable Mention: Norwalk Juicer

This is one of the top juicers on the market. It is one of the most expensive and powerful juicers you can own. I call mine “Betty” and I guard her with my life. This machine does not mess around and is not for the juicing novice. It costs over 2k and is very labor intensive.

However, if the money doesn’t scare you and you are committed to this healthy juice lifestyle in a real way, it could become your most prized possession too. The Norwalk is a great option for you if:

  • You want to make cold pressed juice. The other models use centrifugal methods to extract juice from fruits and veggies. This is a completely different process. The produce is first fed through a small feeding tube and finely ground. You must then carefully place the material into juicing bags or cloths. These are then put into the powerful press which uses hydraulic pressure to extract every last drop.
  • You have cancer or another chronic illness. Cold-pressed juice is used in many cancer therapies due to its high phytonutrient content. One very successful approach is called The Gerson Therapy. It prescribes a wide range of plant-based healing regimens including cold pressed juice. This method has been met with a large amount of success among people with serious illnesses.
  • You want your juice to last. The enzymes in cold-pressed juice are alive approximately 72 hours after being pressed. On the other hand, juice from centrifugal or masticating machines will lose its enzymes in roughly one to two hours. If you want to be able to make juice and keep it in the fridge for a bit, while maintaining nutrition, this is the machine you want.
  • You want to make more than juice. The Norwalk has many capabilities other than juice making. It makes delicious and practically effortless nut butter. This machine will quickly and uniformly chop veggies when making a large amount of salad, say for a dinner party or fundraiser. It can also grind a variety of elements to make flour. I personally have used it to make highly nutritious baby food with the perfect texture. The culinary possibilities here are through the roof.

Features

  • Multiple grates for different purposes. The Norwalk comes with multiple grates that allow you to take advantage of all its capabilities. There is a particular grate for peanut butter, one for making flour, etc. You can always order additional grates through the company or replacements when and if yours actually wear out.
  • Durable design. This machine is very heavy (almost 60 pounds) and is built to last. If you buy one, you will have it for life.
  • The best warranty. Yes, the Norwalk is a very expensive machine, but it’s backed by a very good company. Norwalk is known for their customer service. They stand behind their products 100%. Your juicer comes with a comprehensive 12-year warranty guarantee. If something goes wrong, you ship your machine to Norwalk for repairs. They cover the cost of the repair. Also, you can send them your blade which they will sharpen for free. I love this company and only have positive things to say about them.

What are you juicing?

This is one of the top juicers around. It can juice anything. For example, the most nutritious part of the watermelon is actually the green skin and white mantle beneath. The average person doesn’t know this, and most juicers are not strong enough to extract anything from that part successfully. But the Norwalk can. There are tons of hidden gems in the nutrition world that you can actually realize with this machine.  Plus, as already mentioned, it can do much more than just cold press juice.

Volume

Volume is a huge thing to think about if you’re considering purchasing the Norwalk. You will not get your value if you are making a few juices per week. This machine is for a high-volume juicer and culinary enthusiast that spends a lot of time in the kitchen. The cleanup alone is not worth it unless you are making large quantities.

Time

This is probably the single most important determinant with the Norwalk. Making cold-pressed juice is labor intensive. First, you must learn how to do it. It’s not hard, but you’ll need to read a lot of instructions and watch a lot of YouTube videos. After all, you don’t want to mess around when you’ve spent this much money.

The process itself involves many steps. I actually recommend enlisting another person for help to keep your sanity. It’s physical and requires constant attention. Lastly, the cleanup is a monster. Cleanup time is for sure one of the flaws but not deal breakers. To give you an idea, from prep to cleanup completion, making 10 juices yourself will take an hour or more depending on how fast you are. The volume question again comes into play. It’s wisest to make as many juices as you can in one go.

You absolutely cannot go wrong with the capability and culinary prowess of the Norwalk. But it’s for a very specific customer. I’ve watched quite a few people fork out the money for it, full of lofty ideas of daily juicing and becoming a cold pressed guru. If you want to buy this machine, you need to already be committed to the lifestyle in order to get your value. If you have the time, the money, and are truly committed, you will cherish it forever.

The Best Juicer for Your Home

In most cases, the Cuisinart CJE-500 Compact Juice Extractor will work best for you. It’s quick, quiet, and easy. This is the device I grab every day. I can quickly make a couple of juices for my son and me and not spend time chopping and cleaning. I still marvel at the power in this little thing.  Looks are deceiving in this instance.

The Breville BJE200XL Compact Juice Fountain 700-Watt Juice Extractor is a great alternative, and it’s popular for a reason. It won’t dominate your counter top and the parts are dishwasher-safe.

Finally, the Norwalk is amazing but it’s definitely for a very specific buyer with specific needs and enough time on their hands to actually use it. I do not recommend this machine en masse. But if you’re one of the few whose lifestyle corresponds accordingly, by all means, go for it.

Final Thoughts

No matter what juicer models you are considering for your home, do not forget the three key determinants: what you are juicing, the volume of items, and the time you have for it. You have to invest in the entire process. If you keep these things in mind, you can’t go wrong. Ask questions and do your research.

Hopefully, you will find the right machine for you and incorporate regular juicing into your lifestyle.  Juicing has changed my life. Directly, it’s given my overall nutrition a huge boost. Through juicing, you can consume more fruits, vegetables, and roots. What’s more, juicing was one of the first steps that lead me down a path to wellness and could do the same for you. Making a lasting change in your health requires many mini changes. It’s not about doing a crash diet and fooling yourself into thinking you will magically transform your life.

It starts with one choice. Those choices build on one another. You drink a green juice every day. Later, you decide to incorporate more vegetables into your diet. After that, you maybe eliminate processed sugar or fast food. Succeeding in one small area at a time helps foster success in the longer term. Drinking juice is an excellent first step.

Want to take another step in the right direction? Check out these rad tips to save money for the lifestyle you really want.

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The Best Home Espresso Machine

Life for an espresso lover without a home espresso machine can be rough – on the wallet at least. Perhaps you have been brave enough to add up last month’s tally of espresso drink expenditures at your local coffee house. Maybe you read about the best home coffee roaster and you’re looking to homebrew what you just home roasted. Or, maybe you love espresso so much, you want to make the move from espresso drinker to espresso connoisseur.

No matter what the reason, I can help you in your quest to find the perfect home espresso machine. Having roasted my own beans, brewed countless pots of coffee, and pulled limitless espresso shots, I love coffee talk. I am easily over 6,000 hours deep in my “all things coffee and espresso” obsession. So, I invite you to come along as I explain my picks for the best home espresso machines on the market.  

The Best Home Espresso Machines

Before I go into my top picks, I need to provide some information about the process. Home Espresso machines usually fall in one of two categories: semi-automatic home espresso machines and super-automatic home espresso machines. Semi-Automatic espresso machines put the power of the espresso in the user’s hands. The machine provides the heat and pressure. The user provides the grind, amount, tamp strength, and milk steaming.

With semi-automatics, the coffee beans must be ground with a separately purchased bean grinder. Or, the espresso user can use pre-ground coffee. Although a small learning curve faces the user at first, learning how to grind, dose, tamp and pull shots is a fairly intuitive process. With a few hours of experimentation, any espresso lover can be well on their way to a fine pull of quality espresso.

Like espresso making, the milk steaming comes with a learning curve as well. The right amount of milk must be poured into the steaming pitcher. Enough room should be left for the milk to expand during the process, but not fall short on milk in the final cup.

The art of espresso drink making can be experienced most authentically with a semi-automatic home espresso machine. The process can be a bit messier than what one may experience with a super automatic. But, the enjoyment of handcrafting a drink from scratch that’s up to one’s exact specifications can be wholly gratifying.

The Winner: Semi-Automatic Home Espresso Machine Top Pick – [amazon_textlink asin=’B00I6JGGP0′ text=’The Breville BES920XL’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2a87c4ac-20cf-11e8-9656-c7b173c2c310′]

A good part of what separates a good semi-automatic espresso machine from a great one is the number of boilers. One boiler is sufficient for espresso making and milk steaming. But, the wait time for the water temperature to adjust between the two different temperature levels (milk steaming vs. espresso brewing), is significantly less on a double boiler system.

Most of the time, selecting a home espresso maker with a double boiler means paying a good deal more. But this isn’t the case with the Breville BES920XL. Yes, you’ll pay more for the dual boiler than a one boiler system by the same manufacturer. But it’s not what I would consider a price hike compared to other systems on the market.

Features

Well, for starters, this machine is remarkably consistent in maintaining water temperature and pressure. Properly extracted espresso requires consistent pressure devoid of fluctuation. Breville achieves this a few ways. First, through consistency by maintaining precise temperature levels thanks to its double boiler. Then it uses its Proportional-Integral-Controller (PID) to monitor and maintain water temperature. Finally it uses its device enabled group head to add a third temperature check before extracting the espresso shot.

For the flavor consistency factor of the overall enjoyable cup equation, Breville offers a gradual pre-infusion feature. This feature wets the espresso grounds at a low-pressure level. It then gradually increases pressure until the minimum optimal nine bars of pressure is achieved. And, if the grinds are too fine, or the amount of espresso in the basket is too much, it compensates. The Over Pressure Valve (OPV) activates so as to prevent any bitterness in the extracted shot.

Milk steaming is a true art form with the Breville BES920XL thanks to its classic steam wand. There is no easy steaming with this machine. But that’s the beauty of it. With this wand, latte art can be learned and achieved, making the entire espresso drink production a deeply gratifying experience.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B00ISQ6ZM0′ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’588c50ef-2193-11e8-82be-6d2ecd2811e9′]

Semi-Automatic Home Espresso Machine Runner Up – [amazon_textlink asin=’B0001KOA4Q’ text=’The Gaggia Classic’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’10857198-20cf-11e8-9a2d-d729ddbe432d’]

What’s so special about the Gaggia? The name for starters. Gaggia is the first manufacturer to design and produce espresso machines for home use. Gaggia invented the first pump-driven espresso machine back in the early 20th century. Since then, Gaggia has been churning out one high-quality beast of a machine after another.

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B0001KOA4Q’ text=’Gaggia Classic’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’db6d31d4-20c6-11e8-bfd7-194930af6b5d’] is one of its oldest and most reliable models still in production. It first sprung onto the market in 1991. Not much has changed since then, mostly due to the reliability and superior performance year after year.

Like most home espresso makers, this machine has a single boiler. But, heat recovery is remarkably fast in this little machine. What is also remarkable about the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0001KOA4Q’ text=’Gaggia Classic’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e56cb45f-20c6-11e8-87fc-cf80ec9db130′] is its high quality, heavy duty parts made of stainless steel, and chrome plated marine grade brass. Most machines feature a standard 15 bars of pressure, but the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0001KOA4Q’ text=’Gaggia Classic’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ee0294db-20c6-11e8-a8dc-9bfb498f99f6′] gives you 17 ½ bars and a high voltage boiler to keep water warming up quickly.

Design

The machine’s interface is simply designed. The bulk of the focus is on the high-quality interior components. The steam wand is simply designed as well. And it’s a bit easier to use than what you’ll find in the Breville. Gaggia uses a pannarello steam wand which allows you to steam the milk imperfectly but still get a nice foamy cup. Essentially it will do the foaming for you, as long as your placement is correct.

As with the Breville BES920XL, espresso making is completely in your hands with the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0001KOA4Q’ text=’Gaggia Classic’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ffaab188-20c6-11e8-b387-6b0b4f221529′]. Grind beans separately or use pre-ground ones. Choose between commercial or pressurized filter baskets depending on the type of grounds you’re using. Fill your portafilter and tamp down. Then insert into the group head, flip the switch, and watch a gorgeously extracted shot seep into your cup like honey.

The Super Automatic Home Espresso Machines

Top Pick – [amazon_textlink asin=’B01MSWO48Q’ text=’The Saeco Incanto’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’46ece7a1-20cf-11e8-9df1-77da5e88cec1′]

Another long loved and admired machine in the home espresso brewing industry, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01MSWO48Q’ text=’Saeco Incanto Carafe Espresso Machine’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’21c9bce4-20c7-11e8-be14-9993baec9520′] provides a completely automatic espresso making experience from bean to cup. And it does so at a reasonable price.

Like all super-automatic machines, the Incanto is equipped with an adjustable-grind bean hopper. The most you have to do is load the beans when the hopper goes empty. Other than that, just push a button to pull an espresso shot. The machine grinds the beans and doses out the correct amount of grinds. Then it tamps the shot and pulls it so that a perfect brew oozes into your cup each time.

The bonus here is that you can customize your espresso and program the machine to brew up your custom drink for you whenever you want. In fact, the Incanto offers six preset drink settings customizable by you.

An especially “money well spent” feature is the fully automatic milk function. To order a milk-based espresso drink, just pull your full milk carafe from the fridge. Attach it to the steaming head. Push the desired drink button, stand back, and watch full espresso milk frothiness fill your cup.

Other Features

The grind is adjustable on this machine up to five fineness levels. Also adjustable is the espresso strength (via amount of espresso dosed into the basket), brew length, and drink temperature.

The size of the water tank, bean hopper, and dreg bin is generous. You can enjoy a multitude of espresso before needing to perform dump and refill duties. Like all other super-automatic machines, the Incanto features a bypass doser. So when you need a cup of decaf at 10:00 pm, you can still use your machine.

Super Automatic Home Espresso Machine Runner Up – [amazon_textlink asin=’B06X19GFZS’ text=’The Jura WE8′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’622fa998-20cf-11e8-80b5-81cc0ced3315′]

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B06X19GFZS’ text=’Jura WE8′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’568138ca-20c7-11e8-a199-81dc198e4720′] is a super high capacity machine at the tippy top of the home espresso machine spectrum. Ideally, it would be used in any high espresso traffic home or a small office. What makes the [amazon_textlink asin=’B06X19GFZS’ text=’Jura WE8 ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5e7ed094-20c7-11e8-b73e-3b933a7f4c38′] perfect for this kind of its use is its super large capacity. You can enjoy a whopping 30 cups of espresso-based drinks before needing to dump pucks and refill water and beans.

Also the water tank holds an impressive 101 ounces. Most home super automatics range between 40 and 60 ounces. Dump an entire one pound bag of whole beans into the Jura’s 16.6 hopper and you’ll still have room to spare. Most other machines range between six and ten ounces.

But the Jura is not just about its size (though the size is nice). The whole operation of the machine is smooth. It quietly brews your espresso and it seamlessly mixes it with finely steamed milk using the cappuccinatore system. The high efficiency in drink production is due to Jura’s Pulse Extraction Process (PEP). The PEP doses out the espresso in a symphony of pulsed precision.

Other Great Features

There’s not much thinking needed with the operation of this machine. If you supply the water, milk, and beans, the Jura will literally do everything else for you. The Jura works from bean to cup, with the touch of a button. It will also alert you when the water filter needs to be changed thanks to its Intelligent Water System Filtration. And when it’s time to descale, the machine will be sure to let you know.

Just like most other well equipped super automatics, all the programmed drinks in the Jura menu can be customized. Customize it in terms of coffee strength, espresso brew length, drink temperature, and milk volume. Unlike, most other super-automatics, the Jura will let you put two scoops into the bypass doser instead of just one. So if you want to enjoy  an especially strong Decaf Americano, you can.

The Honorable Mention – [amazon_textlink asin=’B076PK4QV2′ text=’The PressoPump’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’75f723c9-20cf-11e8-bd0a-b33eef61f4fb’]

Who doesn’t like a good brew and go option, especially when you are an espresso addict? Taking a portable machine with you – whether you’re visiting a house full of tea drinkers, stuck in a lousy coffee hotel, or out and about hiking and camping – is an inexpensive way to get something pretty close to an authentic espresso shot.

Packaged completely in one neat and tidy unit, all you need to do is have a supply of ground beans and hot water on hand. Fill the appropriate compartments with grounds and water. Then manually pump the espresso by pressing the magic button. Viola, you have espresso.

Other Things To Consider When Home Espresso Brewing

The Quality

Whether you choose a semi-automatic or a super automatic, you should always choose quality over price. Price should not be the deciding factor between any two machines. Instead, the quality of the individual parts and the reputation of the company should be large components of the decision making process.

Look for home espresso machines that feature more stainless steel and less plastic. And, if you can, look for machines with even higher quality materials like brass. Boilers are often made of stainless steel at the home brewing level, but the best boilers are made from brass.

In the semi-automatic category look for machines that use commercial portafilters, or offer both pressurized and commercial portafilters. Machines that only use pressurized portafilters are trying to compensate for poor brewing pressure.

Lastly, take a look at the pump on the machine. It should be a vibration pump that offers a maximum pressure of at least 15 bars. Anything less can run the risk of under-extraction.

Once you’ve considered the inside of the machine, take a look at the outside. How heavy is it? Although a hefty machine can be an inconvenience, it’s weight often means it’s full of heavier, higher quality parts that will last longer, as opposed to light weight plastic components that will be certain to fail you sometime in the not so distant future.

Does the machine look cheap? If it looks cheap, it most likely is. With most espresso machines, you pay for what you get. Paying more, within a reasonable range, usually means an upgrade in quality, capacity, and capability. Paying much less means just the opposite.

The Bean

So much of what makes espresso truly exceptional begins with the actual bean: the origin, the blend, the roast, the quality, and the age.

The vast majority of coffee comes in two major categories: Arabica and Robusta. While Robusta is used for lower grade instant and bulk ground coffee, most Arabica will be found in whole bean packages.  But not all Arabica is created equal.

Arabica is sourced from farms, estates, and co-ops all over the world. The growing climate of the region in which the bean originates contributes greatly to the flavor profile of the bean. The higher the climate, and richer, preferably volcanic, the soil, the more intense the favor of the bean.  Beans from high altitude areas of Guatemala will have a distinctly different flavor profile beans grown in huge plantations in the lowland areas of Brazil.

Processing method has much to do with bean quality as the growing region does. If beans are not hand picked and weeded through after picking, lower quality, defective, and unripe beans will make their way through the process and affect the quality of the final batch – the roasted batch that you will taste when you grind your beans for a cup of espresso.

The Roast

The next step, roasting, has possibly the most impact on the flavor of the beans depending on the level of the roast. Most mass roasteries and supermarket brand producers over roast their beans to hide defective and unripe beans collected in the harvest. By over roasting, all natural flavor of the bean is completely hidden and replaced by the smoky, often sour flavor of the roast. If you see oil on your beans, it’s over roasted.

This is an important point as it relates to any super-automatic home roaster. Oily beans can damage your home espresso machine over time, because the oils can collect and gunk up the grinder, causing clogs and backups, and some headaches for you.

So, when you are looking for beans to use with your home espresso machine, look for beans that are medium brown in color and have only a slight sheen to them, like a satin finish on wall paint. You do not have to choose beans that say “Espresso Blend” on the bag. You can use any beans you like from anywhere in the world, and at any quality roast level for your espresso machine you prefer.  

Taking a little time to learn about the general flavor profiles you can expect from different coffee regions in the world will assist you in picking the best coffee for your espresso tastes. You may be surprised just how much variability is to be had in the flavor of espresso once you’ve had a correctly extracted shot from a finely roasted high quality bag of beans.

The Grind

If you’re purchasing a super automatic machine, then no need to worry. Most of the super automatics feature built in ceramic burr grinders. But if you’re purchasing a semi-automatic machine, then you’ll need to buy a grinder as well.  

The best grinder to buy is a burr grinder, not a blade grinder. Yes, blade grinders are incredibly inexpensive, and it is possible to pull espresso with coffee ground in a blade grinder. But you won’t have the consistency you need, which may result in an under extracted or over extracted shot in your cup. Yuck.

Conical burr grinders allow beans to be ground in the most even, consistent manner, and with a great amount of adjustability in grind fineness. Most blade grinders can’t even compare in fineness that a good burr grinder can achieve.

Another option is to purchase pre-ground “espresso”. While this is an option, I’d say it’s a worst case scenario. Bags of ground espresso have been sitting on the shelf, or in a box, in a warehouse for who knows how long. And with “espresso” roast you have no control over the roast level or the quality of the bean. This means it’s probably low quality Arabica that’s been over roasted to hide bean defects. The resulting espresso may very well taste flat and stale and reflect badly on the machine instead of placing blame where blame is due – on the bean.

Recap of the Top Picks

Semi-Automatic Top Pick – [amazon_textlink asin=’B00I6JGGP0′ text=’The Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e93312e3-20c3-11e8-9847-b92706d6e6bf’] For the user in love with the art of espresso making.

Semi-Automatic Runner Up – [amazon_textlink asin=’B0001KOA4Q’ text=’The Gaggia Classic Semi-Automatic Espresso Maker’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’da9f6270-20c3-11e8-b317-3fe28537bb98′] A superb low-price option for the espresso user just getting into the game.

Super Automatic Top Pick – [amazon_textlink asin=’B01MSWO48Q’ text=’The Saeco Incanto Carafe Automatic Espresso Machine’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c9a9a55e-20c3-11e8-b5e3-255235931532′] A dependable, no fuss, customizable, bean to cup machine.

Super Automatic Runner Up – [amazon_textlink asin=’B06W2KPL8D’ text=’The Jura WE8′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ba9c3198-20c3-11e8-a1fc-2b19f19a9429′] An espresso brewing monster of a machine, super high capacity and super capable.

The Honorable Mention – [amazon_textlink asin=’B076PK4QV2′ text=’The PressoPump Portable Espresso Machine’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a87e2131-20c3-11e8-9d43-c5da953cf18f’] For the addict who cannot function without a decent espresso on the go.

Choosing Between A Semi-Automatic and A Super Automatic Home Espresso Machine

Prices vary widely from machine to machine in both semi-automatic and super-automatic categories. You can easily spend more money on a high powered semi-automatic than a basic, but capable, super automatic espresso machine. Don’t let price sway you too strongly when trying to decide between the two.

Choosing whether to go semi-automatic or super automatic is more about preference. You’ll need to ask yourself a few questions, and let your answers guide you.

Q: Do you enjoy steaming milk?

Yes – Choose a semi-automatic or a super automatic with a steam wand.

No – Go straight for a super automatic with a milk carafe or cappuccinatore.

Manual steaming milk can be an easy or more difficult process depending on whether you are purchasing a machine with a traditional steam wand or a pannarello. Pannarello wands use a specific technology that will almost steam the milk for you, provided you place it at the correct depth in the milk pitcher.

Using a traditional steam wand takes a little more skill depending on how foamy you like your steamed milk. To achieve true micro foam, the wand must be placed just below the surface of the milk so that the milk spins in a circular motion, slowly foaming the milk. Just putting the wand deep into the milk will heat it, but not produce foam. If you’re looking to become a latte artist, choose the traditional wand.

Q: Do you mind a little mess?

Yes you do mind – Then do not buy a semi-automatic machine.

If you don’t mind – Then you could consider both a semi-automatic or a super-automatic.

Because the coffee grinding, dosing, tamping, and extraction is completely manual, a small mess can be made as coffee grounds get here and there on the counter. Same goes for the milk. Manual steaming means a little milk and steam flows here and there. And a lot of wiping down and rinsing of equipment will be had.

Q: Is speed the priority?

Yes – It’s super automatic all the way for you then. Do not buy a semi-automatic.

No – Then you may consider models from both categories.

The higher quality super automatic espresso machines are usually the faster ones because they either have two boilers or they contain technology that allows for quick water heat recovery.

Because they are bean to cup with one button, no time will be wasted with manual espresso pulling or milk steaming.  Plus, as long as your dreg bin isn’t full, there is very minimal clean up, if any, with a super automatic home espresso machine.

 

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The Best Food Dehydrator Review

The Excalibur 3900 at full capacity

The Excalibur 3900 at full capacity

Food dehydrators are a kitchen item I have used daily for roughly a decade. I began exploring the world of food dehydrating using the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00A826ZEA’ text=’Excalibur 3900′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=”] dehydrator. My friends and family love the delicious foods that come from the dehydrator so much that many have purchased their own food dehydrators or now hire me to create foods for them.

As a busy, health-conscious mom of six, I’m as practical as they come. I want high performance, durability, and ascetics, all at the lowest possible price. The products I use have to be hassle-free and stand up to the rigorous demands of a large family.

Most people overlook the food dehydrator as an essential kitchen item. However, these machines can help save money and play a vital role in supporting your family’s health. Today we will explore the perks and pitfalls of three dehydration machines perfect for daily use: the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900,  [amazon_textlink asin=’B004L06USQ’ text=’Sedona SD-9000′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’bfa14ffb-f243-11e7-9747-5d09d39714ec’] and the [amazon_textlink asin=’B007SVF1JE’ text=’Omega DH9090TW’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ce4545ab-f249-11e7-83d5-d944a26b494b’].

Our Top Food Dehydrator Pick

The Sedona SD-9000 is my top pick and led the group in all areas except usable drying space and price. Though still fairly expensive, energy efficient settings are likely to save users money in the long run. Thus the initial cost seems reasonable compared to less efficient models.  It has a large drying cabinet, despite having less space than the Omega DH9090TW or Excalibur Dehydrator 3900. However, its rectangular shape, coupled with its smaller drying area may cause frustration during some projects. Glass doors allow users to visually monitor food during drying. A stylish design should make potential owners feel happy about making this dehydrator a permanent fixture in the kitchen.

 

The Omega DH9090TW has one of the largest drying areas and a respectable 26-hour timer. The relatively square shape of this machine also lends itself nicely to portioning. Dehydrated bread makers will not be frustrated when trying to score the bread mixture into even slices before drying.  With the Sedona SD-9000, this is one of the most expensive models. The digital temperature control feature means users can easily ensure that temperature-sensitive nutrients remain intact during the drying process.

A large drying area combined with a low price make the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 an excellent offering for cost-conscious buyers. Its interior space accommodates most drying projects and makes portioning square foods easy. While this model lacks many convenient features, it undoubtedly gets the job done.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B004L06USQ’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=’The Sedona SD-P9000 is our top dehydrator pick. Its size, temperature control and energy saving settings make it an excellent value for the price.’ link_id=’58296d1f-f243-11e7-ac26-93b8f17ede10′]

Real Life Food Dehydrating

I use my dehydrator for everything from making jerky, fruit rolls, cookies and “burgers,” to using it as a space heater when our home’s heater died this winter. We’ve even taken the trays out and used it to dry wet mittens so the kids could soak up the maximum amount of outdoor winter fun on snow days!

Why These Models

My gardening friends like to borrow as many dehydrators as they can at harvest time. They want to preserve fruits, vegetables, and herbs as quickly as possible to prevent spoilage. My Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 is often one of the first requested. Its overall drying area and large trays make for efficient dehydrating. This gives me an excellent chance to compare a relatively wide range of food dehydrator models first hand.

Kiwi sliced for dehydration

The smaller, round dehydrators often borrowed for the task are sharply limited by their drying dimensions. This makes them useful for only a handful of applications. Stackable tray dehydrators with vertical airflow require frequent tray rotation to ensure even drying. This adds extra steps and hassle. I have chosen to focus on more practical models like the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900, Sedona SD-9000, and Omega DH9090TW. Each model has an interior drying space that can accommodate a wide range of needs. Their horizontal airflow means that the extra step of tray rotation is not required.

Why Purchase A Food Dehydrator

A dehydrator can support most dietary goals. You’ll love knowing you have healthy foods and snacks available at all times. While it is possible to dry food outdoors using the sun, this may introduce bugs. Most ovens do not have low enough temperature settings to dry at ideal temperatures. Oven drying also means that it is not useable when family meals need to be cooked. Both methods are extremely impractical for most modern families.

Do you have a sportsman in your home or enjoy gardening or crafts? Drying herbs, meats, fruits, and vegetables are well-known food dehydrator uses. Did you know you can dry flowers for potpourris or dried arrangements as well? Non-gardening craft lovers can easily dry homemade decorative papers or other projects. Models with largest drying areas, such as the Omega DH9090TW and Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 expand the possibilities for use even further.

The Sedona SD-9000 still holds quite a bit of food for drying

Nutritional Benefits of Drying Food

Drying food has many nutritional benefits. It inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold, and yeast on food products and slows down the action of enzymes that cause decay. Enzymes aid the body with many biological processes including digestion, energy, and waste removal. They are an essential part of a healthy diet. Though enzymes react differently to drying, it is best to preserve as many as possible. To do this, it is best to avoid drying foods above 118 degrees Fahrenheit.

With the temperature dial on the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900, users may have to guess a bit. The closest labeled spot on the dial is 115 degrees. The Omega DH9090TW and Sedona SD-9000 have digital temperature settings, ensuring accurate and consistent temperature settings. Luckily, other nutrients like proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and minerals survive the dehydration process with very little loss. The same nutrients are simply packed into a smaller volume of food. Cinnamon dusted apple chips are a tasty and healthy snack from the dehydrator.

Money Saving Food Storage

Like many people, if I find a good sale on a perishable item at the grocery store, I buy extra and store the remaining items for a future date. I used to think I was saving money by storing perishables in the freezer. Once I started dehydrating food for storage, I wondered how much each drying session cost me. I wondered how the cost of freezing would compare.

I used the average U.S. electricity cost estimated for 2018 and an online energy use calculator which helps calculate how much running appliances and other electrical devices may cost to find the answer. There is no listing for a food dehydrator on this calculator, so I entered in data for six light bulbs at 100 Watts each for a total of 600 Watts. Since the Sedona SD-9000, Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 and Omega DH9090TW all operate at 600 Watts; this gives us an accurate approximation of cost. On average, I tend to dehydrate items for about 18 hours at a time. With that entered, I found it cost me a one-time electricity fee of approximately $1.43 to dry most foods for storage.

Cost of operating a dehydrator

Running my 16 cubic foot freezer for food storage yields a recurring charge of  $29.12 per month. It’s easy to see how the inexpensive, one-time cost of food dehydration saves users significant money over time. Combine this small change with the ones found in Mark Faris’s 5 Small Changes to Help You Reduce Your Monthly Spend to save even more money on monthly bills!

It’s worth noting here that the Sedona SD-9000 may allow for even more significant savings since the unit can be divided in half to cut down on energy consumption when only a few trays are in use. It also has a quiet night mode during which it consumes even less energy.

Why Tray Size Matters

A nine tray model is essential for producing enough food to make the time and effort of dehydrating worthwhile. With one tuber, I can fill three of the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900‘s trays with sweet potato slices. This ultimately yields about three cups of sweet potato chips. Conversely, I can fill a gallon size freezer bag when all the trays are full. This is a much better amount for anyone that wants chips available for snacks or meals.

Before making a purchasing decision, check the clearance between trays and the usable drying area. If you plan on drying only very flat items like jerkies or fruit rolls, the 3/4″ rack spacing of the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 should be plenty. The square dimension of the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 and Omega DH9090TW allows for easy portioning of these items too. Once people start using their food dehydrators, they are eager to begin exploring just how many new food options are now available to them. It is best to plan ahead!

Omega DH9090TW

Useable Area and Exterior Dimensions

A food dehydrator will take up quite a lot of counter space. Measure both the countertop dimensions and the clearance between the counter and the bottom of your cupboards before purchasing. This will ensure that the unit will fit. Allow an inch of clearance on either side to vent moist air from the machine.

The Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 has a roughly square dimension of  17″ x 19″ x 12.5″. This is perfect for making evenly sized bread and fruit rolls. The useable drying area is large, measuring 15 square feet in total. While the 3/4″ tray clearance is not the largest of the three models, the trays slide out for easy removal. This means items taller than 3/4″ like Portabella Mushroom “Meatloafs” are easily accommodated.

The Omega DH9090TW nine-tray food dehydrator also offers 15 square feet of drying area. This is 2.4 square feet more than the Sedona SD-9000. The exterior dimensions are more substantial at 19.5″ x 16.5″ x 12.2″. The extra height could pose issues with cabinet clearance in some homes. I couldn’t find any direct mention of how much clearance there is between trays. If we assume the trays are spaced evenly, we can infer the Omega DH909TW has a tray clearance of around 1.5″.

The Sedona SD-9000 food dehydrator has an overall dimension of 14.6″ x 17″ x 19.7″. It is smaller than the Omega DH9090TW but taller than the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900. The tray measurements of this model are the smallest of our sampling. Each tray offers only 14″ x 11.5″ of space for a total usable area of 12.6 square feet. Tray clearance for the Sedona SD-9000 nine-tray dehydrator is 1″ to support a broader range of food thicknesses.

Airflow Considerations

All three models of dehydrator reviewed have a horizontal airflow. Horizontal airflow ensures even drying on all racks and helps keep the flavors of drying foods distinct. Horizontal side vents and loose-fitting front doors allow moist air from dehydrating food to escape the drying compartment.

Fan size impacts drying time. The Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 and Omega DH9090TW have robust 7″ fans. The Sedona SD-9000‘s unique dividable drying compartment uses two 4.5″ fans instead. The Sedona SD-9000‘s fans can be used independently, giving it slightly more drying power.

Features of reviewed dehydrator models

Workmanship and Price

Both the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 and Omega DH9090TW are made in the USA. The Sedona SD-9000 is Manufactured in Korea.

Online reviews of the Sedona SD-9000 seem consistently positive. However, there have been issues with the product dying suddenly after a short period. Affected users caution buyers to register the product within ten days. Like anything, it may be wise to keep the receipt and box in case a problem develops. Only with receipt and box can a unit can be replaced under warranty.

The Omega DH9090TW is a little more expensive than the Sedona SD-9000 when it comes to price. While it lacks an energy-saving mode and has only a 26-hour timer, the extra 2.4 feet of drying space may be worth it. Owners of this machine are typically happy with it. The few poor reviews I found were simply due to packaging or mailing errors.

The Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 is the least expensive of our models. Previous buyers give this item excellent reviews. However, they recommend new buyers test the product immediately to ensure fan and heating elements are working correctly.

FAQs

Q. Where can I find recipes for dehydrated foods?

A. Depending on where you buy it from, some sellers offer the Excalibur Dehydrator 3900 with both a Dehydration Guide and [amazon_textlink asin=’0835956067′ text=’Preserve it Naturally’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d322e34c-f24a-11e7-b42a-43080b4314d7′] included. Texts like [amazon_textlink asin=’194345132X’ text=’The Ultimate Healthy Dehydrator Cookbook’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e2ff4027-f24a-11e7-8572-1dc9a2c870b7′] or [amazon_textlink asin=’1629145548′ text=’The Jerky Bible’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’eeffe983-f24a-11e7-b543-f9c99b5b752f’], are also excellent resources.

Q. How do I clean my food dehydrator?

A. All three models are hand wash only. Exteriors and interiors can be wiped down using a damp cloth. Wash trays, reusable sheets, and screens in warm, soapy water.

Q. I’ve heard dehydrators are noisy. Is this true?

A. The fans on drying machines do make noise. In most cases, this isn’t any louder than a dishwasher. Some devices like the Sedona SD-9000 have night time settings which reduce fan noise during resting hours.