I made air-fryer brownies, and although they were delicious, they just weren't worth the hassle

I made air-fryer brownies, and although they were delicious, they just weren't worth the hassle
air fryer brownies
My air-fryer brownies.Gabbi Shaw/Insider
  • Air fryers are one of the most popular kitchen appliances of the last few years.

  • While meats and veggies are popular air-fryer options, the appliance can also be used for desserts.

  • I made brownies from scratch in my air fryer, and overall, it wasn't worth the hassle.

I used my roommate's Ninja air fryer, which luckily came with a little booklet of recipes, including this one for fudge brownies.

brownie recipe
The recipe.Gabbi Shaw/Insider

The air fryer I used retails for around $120 from the Ninja website, and it holds 4 quarts.

This isn't the first dessert I made with the air fryer — I made cinnamon-sugar donuts using this recipe — so I was excited to see what else could be made.

Here are all of my assembled ingredients.

The ingredients.Gabbi Shaw/Insider

I needed flour, sugar, brown sugar, two eggs, cocoa powder, butter, salt, vanilla extract, and chocolate chips for this particular recipe.

As you can see, I also have a box of Duncan Hines brownie mix in the corner in case this went poorly, but luckily, it wasn't needed.

Here's a better look at the air fryer. My main concern was finding a pan that would fit inside the basket.

air fryer
The air fryer.Gabbi Shaw/Insider

The recipe called for a 6-inch cake pan, but that wasn't available at my local grocery store. I ended up buying two disposable aluminum loaf pans and one Pyrex container, since I didn't know which one would end up fitting.

I also wasn't totally sure what is considered "air fryer safe," so I wanted to have options in case something didn't work. I ended up only using the aluminum loaf pans, but now I have a Pyrex!

The first step was to combine the first set of dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, and salt.

dry ingredients
Flour, cocoa powder, and salt.Gabbi Shaw/Insider

Specifically, the measurements were 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup of cocoa powder, and 3/4 teaspoon of salt.

Next, I was instructed to whisk the three together. At this point, I realized I most likely didn't have the counter space for all of the bowls needed plus the air fryer.

whisked dry ingredients
The dry ingredients.Gabbi Shaw/Insider

It takes up a considerable amount of counter space, so I had to pause and rearrange a bunch of things in my kitchen.

In a separate bowl, I combined the two eggs with brown sugar, vanilla extract, granulated sugar, and water.

more ingredients
Wet ingredients and sugar.Gabbi Shaw/Insider

This bowl contained the two eggs, 1 tablespoon of water, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract.

I whisked that together too, while cursing my commitment to making the brownies from scratch.

brown sugar combined
The wet ingredients.Gabbi Shaw/Insider

"They created boxed brownie mix for a reason," I thought to myself while eyeing the four separate bowls I had pulled out.

The next step was to melt my chocolate chips and butter, which called for another two bowls.

butter and chocolate
Chocolate chips and butter.Gabbi Shaw/Insider

I needed half a bag (or 3/4 cup) of chocolate chips and 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) of butter, both of which I melted in the microwave.

Next, I combined them. The dirty dishes I needed to clean later were piling up.

chocolate butter mixed
The chocolate chips and butter.Gabbi Shaw/Insider

Also, it just looks gross.

Finally, it was time to consolidate all three bowls of ingredients.

combining all ingredients
Combining everything.Gabbi Shaw/Insider

Whisking is a great arm workout.

The final step was to pour the brownie mix into the pans I had. It would have been much easier to just pour it all into one large pan instead of these little ones.

brownie in the pan
One of my brownies.Gabbi Shaw/Insider

This might seem like a nitpick, but it was genuinely annoying to pour half the mix out, deal with all the brownie mix dripping onto my counter, and then scrape the rest of it into the next pan.

And don't forget to spray the pans with cooking spray!

After 45 minutes of air frying, I had successfully baked my first little brownie loaf.

brownies in the air fryer
The air fryer brownies.Gabbi Shaw/Insider

This recipe stated to pre-heat the air fryer for 5 minutes at 300 degrees. Then, I put the brownies in at 300 degrees on the "air fry" setting (this one doesn't have a "bake" button), and set the timer for 1 hour.

The recipe suggested checking on them at 45 minutes, which I did, and they were done at that point.

The brownies themselves were delicious — moist and the perfect amount of fudgy ... but after 45 minutes, I didn't have that much to show for my work.

inside of brownie
The brownies.Gabbi Shaw/Insider

I was proud of my handiwork, though.

It took 90 minutes and a truly annoying level of counter space to make two teeny brownies. In the future, I'd stick to large brownie pans and an oven.

The brownies.Gabbi Shaw/Insider

While I'd use this delicious recipe again — Ninja, great job — I wouldn't necessarily use my air fryer to make the brownies. It didn't save me any time, like the air fryer does with other dishes, and it was difficult to balance the limited counter space in my NYC kitchen with everything I needed to make my brownies.

I also feel like I didn't actually get many brownies for all my work, since the air fryer basket is pretty small. There's just something about pulling a giant pan of freshly baked brownies out of the oven that my air fryer couldn't replicate.

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