Love. (Hear the sigh as I wistfully look into the distance.) Is it possible to love an air fryer?
Here’s the story. My husband, who hates infomercials, admitted last week to watching an infomercial and being captivated by what he saw. He even says that he was going to buy another kitchen gadget. (sigh) Now, we have just about every gadget imaginable. For years, my family has purchased kitchenware for me during the holidays. Anyone who knows me is well aware that I loathe cooking. I do occasionally get in the mood to bake…unhealthy things of course, but I do not like to cook. My husband, on the other hand, enjoys cooking and his food is amazing!
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So when he mentioned the NuWave Brio Air Fryer, I had to stifle an eye-roll. I’d heard of and seen air fryers in the store, but had never seen the infomercial.
So, to help me out, he whipped out his iPad, pulled up a YouTube, and played the infomercial. It was a done deal!
That day, I went to first Boscov’s (sold out), then to Bed Bath and Beyond to purchase another must-have kitchen gadget. Over the past week (that’s how long we’ve had it), we have used it 2-3 times each day. The only kitchen gadget that has seen that much activity in a short period of time is my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer. After so much use, I thought I’d share a fair and unbiased review of this device.
The NuWave Brio Air Fryer is essentially a counter-top, compact convection oven. It has a heating element that resembles the element on an electric range, that heats quickly while a fan circulates the air around your food. The food goes in a wire basket that is nestled in a solid metal and plastic basket. The baskets are constructed so that the wire basket does not rest directly on the solid basket, thus allowing air to circulate above, beside and beneath the food.
Its footprint is as expected. It’s not too big, but not tiny. As stated before, although it isn’t very large, it does weigh more than I thought it would. With that said, it’s not “heavy”. The oven does have convenient areas beneath the device on either side which make carrying easy. And it does have a bag for carrying, as an accessory that can be purchased from the company. Its shape is less round and egg-like than the other air fryers that I have seen and the flat top was a smart design. It being less round, makes it easier to store next to flat things like other appliances and walls. I can rest a plate on top while I place the food on it, and it helps it fit better beneath the cabinets. All of the controls are digital, unlike most of the other air fryers I saw. This makes for more precise temperature and time control; no “eyeballing” the temperature.
So far, everything that we’ve made in the NuWave Brio has come out better than expected. We have cooked fish, roasted potatoes, onion rings, chicken wings, chicken legs, french fries, shrimp egg rolls, mozzarella sticks, tortilla chips, fish sticks, turkey burgers, biscuits, and eggs and cheese. Yes, you can make scrambled eggs, too!
Top 5 Foods To Make In The NuWave Brio
1. Onion Rings
2. Chicken wings
3. French Fries
4. Egg rolls
5. Fish sticks
It’s very easy to operate. My 12-year-old, with all of her TV distractions, operates this machine without a problem.
We have a gas range and oven in our home which I only allow my daughter to use when we are at home. This, however, will make the afternoon snacks simple for her to prepare while she waits (10 minutes) for me to get home from work.
With the ease of use, we take food from frozen and cook it up in no time. No hassle of thawing food out, heating up the oven (and entire kitchen) to make a quick snack. Now a quick snack is a quick snack.
- *Clean up*
You will notice clean up on my pro’s and con’s list. Clean up of fries, onion rings and fish sticks was a breeze. Chicken and fish were not too bad, but the design of the wire basket does not allow for the removal of the wire bottom. Therefore, food crumbs get stuck between the wire rim and the sides of the basket. I use a stiff, nylon dish brush to help with removal.
- Flat top
As stated above, the flat top of the device is great if storing it under counters to save space.
- Silicone feet on the bottom of the main basket
This sucker gets ‘HOT’. Having the silicone feet to raise the hot metal basket from the counter was a smart design element. Again, I feel safe with my 12-year old using this. Other models do not have silicone ‘feet’ and you would have to use a good potholder or trivet when handling. To be on the safe side, we do use a cork trivet when we remove it. (It just happens to always sit on the handy flat top of the machine).
- The baskets are dishwasher safe
The baskets in which the food is cooked are top-rack dishwasher safe. That pretty much says it all and ties in with convenience. I can’t say how well it does in the dishwasher since we use it so much that it has never made it past hand washing (which takes no time at all).
- Comes in a variety of sizes to fit your needs
As I mentioned, I went to Boscov’s and Bed Bath and Beyond. Both stores only sell the 3-quart model. However, if you go to the NuWave site you can choose between the 3, 6, and 10-quart models. (I did hear that the 6 quart was at Costco, but I have not verified that). You can also check out the other accessories available on their site, such as a grill pan.
- Digital control
Digital vs analog control for the temp and time…no comparison…no guessing
The power cord stores in the back of the machine. This may not seem like a big deal, but I hate twirling power cords around my appliances. It just looks sloppy. This machine stores the cord in the machine making it a bit safer and making it look a lot better.
- Little to no oil needed
Less oil means better health
- *Clean up*
As mentioned before, cleaning up anything that’s a bit juicy can be a little more time consuming to clean since the wire at the bottom of the basket does not come out.
I may get some flak for this, but it’s noisier than I expected. Other people that have other models have told me that the NuWave is quieter than what they have, but I don’t know that for sure.
- Wire mesh bottom does not come out
Here I am again mentioning this wire basket bottom. It is so annoying! Would it have been that difficult to make it so the bottom could be removable? We may never know.
I don’t know how else to mention this. Do Not Over-pack the machine. We are used to filling containers, but you can’t do that with this machine. Think single layer. Anything in a single layer will cook as expected. If your food is piled on top of itself, it’s impossible for the air to properly circulate around each individual portion. Putting less food in the machine makes the food cook even and quick, but depending on your family size, you may spend just as much time ‘cooking’ in this oven as you would in a conventional oven because you have to make so many batches of food.
- No indicator that the machine is hot or cold, so be careful
This too is just a pet peeve of mine. It would be nice to have an indicator to tell you when the machine has cooled. Not necessary, obviously, but it would be nice.
- Directions and “cookbook” are horrible
Trial and error are how we determined what temp to cook our foods on and for how long. You would think that the foods shown on the infomercial would be in the cookbook, or at least in the chart related to cooking times….Nope! So, we resorted to trial and error. Once we think we’ve nailed it, we write the item on a sheet of paper on the fridge along with the time, essentially making our own cooking instructions. Now I’m not saying that they should have covered EVERYTHING, but at least the things mentioned repeatedly in the infomercial (onion rings, salmon, grilled cheese, etc.)
Even with the cons, I love this machine! We will continue to use it often, I’m sure. And, as a country girl, I know that I can get similar results in my regular convection oven with a cookie sheet with a cooling rack over top (how I previously cooked my chicken wings), but I’d rather not turn on the gas oven and heat the entire kitchen for a few onion rings and 4 chicken wings. But, to each his own, right?
Well, that’s my review. If anyone has an air fryer, share your thoughts and favorite recipes below.