Air fryers have recently exploded into the food world, changing the way many of us prepare and consume fried dishes. These countertop appliances have skyrocketed in popularity as a healthier alternative to traditional deep frying due to their promise of crispier textures. While deep-fried foods may seem appealing due to their “guilt-free” nature, they also pose a health risk due to the development of acrylamide. This article will guide you through everything you need to know about acrylamide in an air fryer.
During high-temperature cooking techniques like deep frying, acrylamide, a potentially hazardous chemical, occurs naturally. [1, 2] Long-term exposure to acrylamide has been linked to various health hazards, including possible carcinogenic effects. This discovery has prompted the search for healthier cooking methods that minimize acrylamide generation without sacrificing the desired crunch.
Acrylamide is a chemical compound that naturally forms during some high-heat cooking processes, especially those that involve proteins and carbs. [3, 4] Acrylamide is formed by a process called the Maillard reaction, which happens when sugars and amino acids are mixed together in hot water. 
When foods are heated above 120°C (248°F), like when they are deep-fried, roasted, or baked, the sugars and amino acids in the food combine to make acrylamide. 
Even though acrylamide is found in a wide range of cooked foods, both homemade and store-bought, it is most often found in foods that are high in starch such as, French fries, potato chips, bread, cookies, breakfast foods, and coffee. 
Animal studies have shown that being exposed to high amounts of acrylamide may cause cancer, especially in the kidneys, nervous system, and reproductive organs. 
Even though the evidence about the health risks of acrylamide in humans is still limited and not clear, regulatory agencies like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) acknowledge the need for more research and recommend limiting acrylamide intake as a precaution. 
Can Air Fryers Reduce Acrylamide Formation?
One of the main ways that air fryers cut down on acrylamide is by using hot air that moves around. Instead of completely submerging food in oil like standard deep fryers do, air fryers use a strong fan to quickly move hot air around the food. This moving hot air makes the food crispier by speeding up the Maillard reaction and reducing the amount of time food spends at high temperatures. [10, 11]
Air fryers use a small amount of oil, which also helps cut down on acrylamide. 
Even though air fryers can lower acrylamide formation by a lot, it’s important to know that they may not completely stop it.
Tips for Minimizing Acrylamide in Air-Fried Foods
There are a few simple things you can do when using an air fryer to reduce the amount of acrylamide.
#1 Choose Food with Low Acrylamide
Choose ingredients with naturally low amounts of sugars and amino acids, which are the main things that lead to the formation of acrylamide. For instance, use sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes because they make less acrylamide when they are cooked. 
#2 Soak or Blanch Certain Foods to Lower Acrylamide Formation
Some starchy foods, like potatoes, are better after being soaked or blanched before being air-fried. Soaking or blanching in water for 15–30 minutes can help get rid of extra starch and lower the amount of acrylamide that forms when cooking. [14, 15]
#3 Cut Food into Even Sizes may Results in Lower Acrylamide
To make sure the food cooks evenly, make sure the pieces are all the same size. This cuts down on the amount of time the food spends at high temperatures, making it less likely that too much acrylamide will form. 
#4 Use Lower Cooking Temperatures for less Acrylamide
Try out cooking at lower temperatures in your air fryer. Higher temperatures make food brown and get crispy, but they also make it more likely that acrylamide will form. By slightly lowering the temperature, you can still get tasty food while reducing the amount of acrylamide. 
#5 Limit Cooking Time
#6 Experiment with Alternative Coatings
You can try covering or battering your air-fried foods in different ways. Use crushed whole-grain cereal, ground nuts, or spices instead of standard breading to add flavor and crunch. These options can help cut down on acrylamide while giving your dishes a unique twist. 
Delicious and Healthy Air Fryer Recipes with Possibly Controlled Acrylamide
Air fryers not only let you eat your favorite fried foods in a healthier way, but they also give you a lot of options for making tasty, crispy dishes. Here, we’ve put together a list of delicious recipes that are perfect for air fryers. These dishes are a good mix between taste and acrylamide reduction.
Recipe 1: Japanese Sweet Potato Fries in Air Fryer
Recipe 2: Baked Japanese Sweet Potato in Air Fryer
Recipe 3: Fried Okra in Air Fryer
Questions People Usually Ask Related to Acrylamide with Air Fryer
Q1: Does air-frying get rid of all acrylamide?
Although air-frying cuts acrylamide production by a lot, it may not stop it totally.
Q2: Do all air fryers reduce acrylamide in the same way?
The amount of acrylamide that air fryers reduce depends on things like how they are made, how they control the temperature, and how they cook the food.
Q3: Is it necessary to treat items before putting them in an air fryer to cut down on acrylamide?
Certain pre-treatments, like soaking or blanching, can help lower the amount of acrylamide in foods that are air-fried.
Q4: Can an air fryer also be used to bake or roast?
Yes, air fryers can be used for more than just cooking. They can also be used to bake and roast.
Q5: Are foods that are air-fried better than foods that are deep-fried?
Air-fried foods tend to have less fat and less acrylamide than deep-fried foods. This makes them a better choice.