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In Defense of the Air Fryer (and Really Good Gnocchi)

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Illustration for article titled In Defense of the Air Fryer (and Really Good Gnocchi)

Photo: Claire Lower

The pedantic criticism of appliances with devoted followings is not something I consider worthwhile. While I understand that it is human nature to want to push back against anything that achieves sudden and ubiquitous popularity, it’s helpful to stop and consider why things become popular, generally. Whether a collection of lovable teens with pretty singing voices or a kitchen appliance, things that become very popular, very quickly usually do so because they make people happy.

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For example, even though the Instant Pot is “just a pressure cooker,” it’s the pressure cooker that got the average home cook comfortable with pressure cooking, allowing them to expand their skill set and get dinner on the table faster. Some purchasers of the Instant Pot probably cooked new and exciting foods with theirs; some probably ate more beans. Either way, that has value, and looking down one’s nose at an appliance that gets people excited about eating and cooking is not, in my opinion, helpful.

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Not everything is meant for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t meant for someone. The air fryer—which, yes, is “just a tabletop convection oven” that “doesn’t really fry anything”—is not a good fit for a mother of four who functions as the primary meal preparer for her family. Even if you get a big one, it simply doesn’t have the capacity to prepare six servings of any given thing. It would make much more sense for this hypothetical mom to invest in an oven with a convection setting.

But for single people, students, or teens whose parents work weird hours and often find themselves in charge of their own dinner (this was me from ages 10 on), the air fryer is very useful, very cost-efficient (mine was $50), and very easy to use. You get convection oven results without having to wait for an entire oven to heat, which means most meals—yes, full meals—can be prepared in about 10 minutes.

It’s like a big Easy Bake Oven, with the speed of a microwave. It doesn’t technically fry anything, but it does help a certain subset of eater eat better, and getting pedantic about the name the appliance is sold under helps no one.

Anyway, this is all to say that an air fryer makes a pretty stellar plate of gnocchi and meatballs in about 10 minutes. Both gnocchi and meatballs are at their best when they’re tender on the inside and ever so slightly crispy on the outside, and shelf-stable gnocchi and frozen meatballs just happen to cook at near identical rates. There is some variation with size of frozen meatball, but the ones I used to test this out were fairly large, and the gnocchi came out perfect—pillowy on the inside with a slight, not-quite-crunchy shell.

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One of the great things about the air fryer is that you can easily check on the food as it cooks. Unlike sous-vide cooking (which is trapped in a bag) or Instant Pot meals (which are trapped under pressure), you can open up your air fryer, poke and prod its contents, then close it again without worrying about “letting all the heat out.” (Any lost heat returns very quickly.) Start checking your balls around the 8 minute mark. Slice one open to see if it’s warm in the middle, and give it another minute or two if needed. If you can handle cooking a TV dinner, you can handle this pasta dish.

Air Fried Gnocchi and Meatballs

Ingredients

  • As much gnocchi as you would like to eat
  • As many frozen meatballs as you would like to eat (do not thaw them)
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic salt (or salt and garlic powder)
  • Your favorite prepared pasta sauce (store-bought or homemade)

Instructions

Set the air fryer to 385℉. Add the gnocchi to a mixing bowl and drizzle with just enough olive oil to coat. Lightly season with garlic salt, then pour the gnocchi into the drawer/tray of the air fryer, keeping it in a single layer and leaving room for the meatballs. Add the meatballs, close the drawer, and cook for 8-11 minutes, until the gnocchi is crispy on the outside and the meatballs are cooked through. While the the air fryer is doing its thing, heat enough sauce for your meal (1/3 cup works for me). Plate the gnocchi and meatballs, pour on the sauce, and garnish with parm and/or fresh basil.

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
Black Wireless Charger Lamp | $20 | Amazon | Promo code ABC88699

When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

With this wireless charger lamp, you can make this crucial step of your nightly routine even easier by just setting your phone on the wireless charging pad and… well, that’s all there is to it!

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Other functions include multiple lighting modes as well as a sleep timer option for auto shut-off of the light after 30 or 60 minutes.

This lamp can be yours in white for $18 if you clip the coupon on Amazon (it’s below the original $40 price) and add promo code ABC88699 at checkout.

You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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