If you have followed my work at all over the past few years, you have probably seen me praising air fryers a few times before. Indeed I have been singing the praises of this oft-overlooked plug-in cooking device for some time now, having long loved our plucky little Bella 2.6-Quart air fryer for making everything from air fried chicken to chocolate chip cookies.
But the more I used that elegantly simple, compact air fryer, the more I started to long for more. The food was great, but with a family of four, the volume was simply not there. And as said foursome consists of a vegetation wife, a son who will eat pretty much anything but chicken, a daughter who is proving to be a bit of a picky eater, and a husband who tolerates tofu but prefers chicken, that single basket of our air fryer wasn’t cutting it regardless of capacity.
So, we upgraded to an Aria AAO-890 Oven Air Fryer. Its 10-quart capacity was a draw, to be sure, but its amazing adaptability and custom cooking configurations were the key.
Aria Air Fryer
Unlike many air fryers that have that single removable basket, this one uses a hinged door that swings open and down to reveal a capacious interior that can be fitted with a drip tray at the bottom, up to three wire mesh shelves, a rotisserie bar (yes, you can roast a whole chicken in this thing), or a rotating mesh food basket.
Right away I knew this was a good choice for the family because of those shelves. I can cook meat on the bottom so no drips fall on a vegetarian’s entrée, prepare different starches and/or veggies without flavors co-mingling (and turning off the toddler’s taste buds), and can easily cook myriad foods for different times just by quickly popping out (or in) a shelf or two while leaving another in situ and cooking away.
The rotating food basket seemed almost superfluous, but then I used it to make home fries and ended up making the best home fries I have ever made. Every cube of potato was lightly golden and perfectly tender throughout, every bit of onion and leek lightly caramelized, and the bit of oil and salt I tossed the mix in was spread to perfection. Now cleaning the basket? That’s a chore and a half, but at least now I know it, so it’s a cost-benefit analysis in the future. But aside from the basket, everything else is easy to clean: soak and scrub the shelves and drip tray or just toss them in the dishwasher.
The controls take a bit of time to get used to given the volume of touch screen buttons, but my son read through the manual for me and we figured things fast enough, and you can always stick with just setting the time and temperature if you want to skip the programs. If you don’t need this level of varied cooking options and don’t want to bother with all the hardware but still need to cook a lot of food, by all means stick with a simpler design like the eight-quart Bella Pro Series Air Fryer, a perfect choice for a family all eating the same stuff and from a brand I can vouch for having used their air fryers for going on three years. But if you want one countertop device that can cook multiple different foods at once and will replace multiple other appliances, then the Aria is the one to look at.
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