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French fries in oil vs. fries in a deep fryer without oil: this is how they differ in nutritional and processing values

September is the month of great purposes and one of the usual ones is to try to take care of our diet. Especially in recent years, now that we have more nutrition information than ever before and that we know the effect that less nutritious foods have on our health. However, even if we try to take care of ourselves, it’s hard to live in a world without fries.


Luckily, technology has gotten on our side developing oil-free fryers. The idea is precisely to achieve a finish as similar as possible to frying, but without adding large amounts of oil. In this way, nutritional quality remains much higher, while the number of calories is significantly reduced. In any case, there are some differences with normal fryers and it is interesting that we get to know them.

How Oil-Free Fryers Work

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This is one of the main and most important differences between using a normal fryer and an oil-free fryer. And the one that will mark not only the final result of the potato, but also its nutritional quality once it comes out of the fryer. The difference between both ways of cooking potatoes is that these fryers, although they are called that, are not.

Oil-free fryers: how they work, are they or are not healthier than traditional fryers and what should we look for when we get one

Rather, they are small ovens. The potatoes would be fried by combining the grill with the hot air that circulates very quickly in the fryer. As in traditional fryers, they require that we use oil to cook the potatoes. However, the biggest difference is that the amount of oil we have to use is minimal. With a few drops we would have enough.

The result is not exactly the same

The reality is that you cannot say that the result of the fries in the fryer without oil and in the traditional fryer is exactly the same, because it is not. But it does seem reasonably to be practically oil-free and a much healthier and nutritionally adequate option.

The main differences that we will notice with respect to the traditional fries that they turn out a little less crunchy than the latter. The difference is not extreme, but if it is something that matters a lot to us, it is interesting to know that something is lost. In addition, as it has practically no oil, the flavor of it disappears from the potatoes, so they do not taste exactly the same. In any case, it is a very similar result and less oily than the original fries.

Cooking time also differs

Traditional fryers take less time to fry potatoes than those without oil. Especially if the quantities we want to cook are quite large. A study finds that frying with normal oil fries the potatoes in approximately nine minutes, while in air fryers are around 21 minutes approximately, but depending on the model and the quantities, we can be late half an hour or 40 minutes. The time difference can be something that determines the choice we make or our experience with the fryer.

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What are the differences nutritionally speaking

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This is the biggest difference of all and the one that will impact us the most, since at the caloric and nutritional level everything changes. Basically, it is about consuming the potato as a healthy food or the opposite. By nature, potatoes do not have very many calories (about 75 calories per 100 grams of cooked potato). And yet, when we fry them with oil that number increases a lot. After frying, 100 grams of potatoes would be around 300 to 500 calories approximately. All these extra calories are given by the absorption of the oil.

Raw potato

Fried potato in oil

Fried potato with air “fryer” (and between 10 and 15ml of oil)

Calories per 100g of potatoes

75 calories

Between 300 and 500 calories

88 calories

However, when frying them in deep fryers without oil, we use between 10 and 15ml of oil per kilogram of potato. That is, a minimum amount. This directly impacts the number of calories the potatoes will have in your bottom line. In total, 100 grams of fries in the fryer without oil will have 88 calories. In fact, a kilogram of these potatoes will have only 250 calories more than 100 grams of the fried potatoes with oil.

All the negative effects of trans fats on health, which is why we avoid them in the daily diet

This is not the only difference, and it is usual when we fry with large amounts of oil is to do it with sunflower oil – mainly because it is cheaper -, however this oil may not be especially good for your health. It is a refined oil that provides many polyunsaturated fats. At 160º it is modified, losing any benefit it may provide and generating substances such as peroxides, aldehydes and ketones, considered free radicals. In fact, It is not recommended for cooking and it is appropriate to consume it raw. Therefore, using it to fry potatoes makes us ingest large amounts of a modified oil that we should only consume raw. In the fryer without oil we do not have this problem.

Of course, reducing the amount of oil reduces the amount of fat we consume. Oil-free deep fry fries have about 75% less fat than those that we fry in oil in the usual way. Let us bear in mind that the sunflower oil commonly used provides us with polyunsaturated fats. The health recommendation is that the intake of this type of fat does not exceed 10% of daily calories. It is not always economically feasible to fry with olive oil, but these oil-free fryers are an excellent solution for reducing your consumption of oils and fats overall.

Images | Innsky, Unsplash