If you’re looking for an air fryer review by a quarantined writer with a broken oven and a freezer full of Trader Joe’s meals, you’ve come to the right place. It goes without saying that a microwave rarely does anything justice (save for late-night homemade nachos—those can stay), and I wasn’t someone who went back to their family’s home when the pandemic hit. Instead, I moved in with my boyfriend in a studio apartment with an oven that was on the fritz and very little counter space—meaning, limited room or resources to do much of anything in the realm of cooking.
With no option to quell my anxiety with homemade banana bread and sourdough starters like the rest of the world, I was on the hunt for convenient hacks to throw down in the kitchen, avoiding putting delivery people (and my wallet) in danger with nightly Seamless orders. While deep in an Amazon shopping hole one night, I discovered a cute-looking air fryer that kind of resembled a friendly robot with an equally friendly price tag, and I realized the buzzy device might be the savior I was looking for. My brother had raved about how he was never going back after discovering the magic of the air fryer, and I was ready to give it a try.
The ability to cook French fries, chicken tenders, and dumplings to golden perfection is the obvious attraction of air fryers, but it was the sheer convenience of the gadget that brought ease and wonder to my life in lockdown. As soon as I saw how quickly and thoroughly it cooked pretty much anything, I was hooked. It became my new culinary obsession, and I found a million ways to utilize the appliance. Within a week I’d made everything from cauliflower-crust pizza to baked eggs to crispy kimchi fried rice that actually measured up to my go-to Korean spot. My signature Cajun French fries truly slapped, and in a matter of minutes, the homemade dumplings from my neighborhood bodega achieved an ideal crispness I was never able to master in a pan. The fact that I could just pop the goods in, hit a button, and walk away until it dinged brought a new level of convenience that quarantine me could get behind.
Not only was it worlds faster than a conventional oven, but it was quieter than I’d expected and surprisingly easy to clean. And contrary to popular belief, it’s good for a lot more than just frying—like roasting veggies and popping popcorn. I like to think of it as a turbo-speed oven with crisping superpowers. It doesn’t hurt that I can ditch the oil overload that comes with deep-frying and sautéing. On top of all that, it’s compact and actually looks cute sitting on my counter, so I don’t have to worry about lugging it around when it obstructs an ~aesthetic~ Instagram shot flaunting my domestic talents (mountain of dishes not pictured).
With its “rapid air technology,” a detachable cooking pot, adjustable temperature settings, and an easy-to-use control panel, it turned out to be far simpler than almost anything else in my life (aside from my faithful dedication to 90 Day Fiancé). In a world in which human interaction was swiftly replaced with jigsaw puzzles and deep talks with your appliances, this under-$100 air fryer has become a functional, reliable confidant.
Life is rife with uncertainty right now, but this thing comes through time and time again—and for that, I can never repay it. Other than by writing an air fryer review to tell you to go buy yours right now, of course. Yes, you. You’re welcome.
Originally Appeared on Glamour