However, as a relatively new appliance, choosing a good air fryer often requires some research. An air fryer is a kitchen appliance that uses a combination of oil and hot air to cook food.
Unlike deep fryers, air fryers do not submerge food in oil, instead using hot air and a fan to provide a light coating of oil as it cooks. As a result, an air fryer uses as much as 80 percent less oil compared to a deep fryer, making it much healthier while still cooking food at high speeds and producing a crispy coating.
Also, an air fryer cooks as quick as a deep fryer, making them very convenient for preparing various foods. For instance, if you’re only using it to make food for one or two people, then a small capacity is fine.
This produces a similar result as a deep fryer, with a nice crispiness to the food. For instance, there is no basket or pan for cooking the food, instead using wire racks like in an oven.
For the top 10 list we consider only products that are available on Amazon while the ranking is based on factors such as customer reviews, number of sales and keyword. Fried chicken, sweet doughnuts and chunky chips may all be guilty pleasures, but they needn’t be the unhealthiest of foodie choices if cooked the right way.
An air fryer cooks with far less oil compared to traditional frying methods and provides a neat countertop hub for experimenting with flavors and ingredients. It works by circulating hot air around your food, producing a convection effect to cook and brown ingredients and create that satisfying crunch when you take a bite.
What makes the Teal Actuary Genius XL 2-in-1 (£210) stand out is its separate compartments for cooking different foods. In the box you’ll find useful accessories such as an oil measuring spoon and handle that you attach to the tray when you want to take it out.
On our first attempt to lift it out we hadn’t attached the handle properly and the chicken fell to the floor. The interior is relatively easy to clean and while we had to scrub it a little to get the residue off the mixing paddle, it’s nothing that a little hot soapy water and elbow grease can’t fix.
One of the latest countertop appliances to join Ninja’s fast-growing collection, the Food Dual Zone Hairdryer (£179) is unique in that it gives you two cooking chambers in one compact design. With its smooth black finish and chrome trim, the body of the appliance is stylish and contemporary in design.
While we expected the halloumi to melt through the crisper plates at the bottom of the drawers, they pleasingly kept their shape and had a satisfying crunch after cooking on ‘ Air Fry’ for 10 minutes. The manual comes with a selection of inspirational recipes, including Hunters BBQ Chicken and Chips, which can be cooked using the roast or air fry setting in 25 minutes.
Pros: Easy to wipe down and clean with warm soapy water, six in one cooking functions, sync feature for a perfectly timed meal Cons: Large on the worktop, need storage space to house neatly away. Design wise, the curvy black body of the Salter 4.5 Liter (£70) digital hot air fryer and its LED display makes it one of the most attractive looking appliances in our test.
Pros: Quiet; produces a decent chip with an even crunch Cons: No dishwasher safe parts; hot to touch exterior Like the Teal fryer it features a handy viewing window so you can check food during the cooking process.
You have to take out the basket to shake the chips during used to ensure an even cook, while noise levels reach an average 71db. A chart in the instruction booklet advises you on how long to cook certain foods and there are four modes to choose from, which can be easily adjusted via a manual dial.
You can use the control to adjust the temperature from 80 up to 200 degrees and use it to cook chips, chicken, fish, meat, vegetables and bakes. As advised you don’t need to use oil in the fryer, but this resulted in floury dry chips that were unappetizing.
Pros: Quiet; attractive design; digital display Cons: Hot to touch exterior; does in fact need oil This means that you can cook most food without any oil (though chips need a splash to ensure they crisp up).
They are a healthier option than deep-fat fryers, or even homemade chips cooked in oil in the oven. An air fryer is effectively a mini oven and you can cook all sorts of different dishes in it, from popcorn chicken to cauliflower ‘wings’.
Think of this smart little stainless steel appliance as a new permanent fixture in the kitchen, and watch as you start using it in place of your main oven more and more. It would be a lifesaver for Christmas and parties, a winner for small kitchens, or a good option for Age and range cooker owners who don’t want to ‘fire up the beast’ for the sake of a chicken Kiev.
Sage uses technology that combines a supercharged convection heater with air frying to really crisp things up. This reaches one of the hottest settings of the models we look at here, with a top temperature of 230 degrees, making for chip perfection.
Chips, pizza and wedges worked out well in this model, with a good even finish and no cool spots. As with a conventional oven, the highest shelf was hottest, so we did do a bit of moving around as things cooked, but it was easy to check on their progress thanks to the large viewing window and interior light.
The distinctive dome of the Teal Actuary has evolved into this multi-level cooker, which can be programmed to remind you when to add different menu components. You can get amazingly good results with very little oil, so it’s still far healthier than deep-frying or even baking on a sheet in the oven, where more fat is needed to cover the surface.
Another container for the likes of meat or fragile fish fillets can then be added over the central stalk, to double up cooking space. And you can see it all through a giant window so don’t have to lose heat by opening the lid to check on progress.
This model can also dehydrate herbs and fruit, and even make beef jerky if you’re feeling adventurous. We did, as usual, do a bit of shaking and rearranging to ensure even cooking, but annoyingly the digital timer continued to count down.
We liked the chunky looks and touch controls of this Salter model, which comes with a full range of presetting and a useful safety cut-off function. Like any kitchen gadget, you want something that’s going to make life simpler, and there’s no doubt that frying and baking conventionally can be messy, smelly or even dangerous.
Using an air fryer to bake, roast and fry will speed up the process, could potentially cut calories and save money as you won’t have to use a larger oven for smaller portions and side dishes. Firstly, the taller fryers such as the Philips and Ninja feature a main unit with heating elements and fans.
Secondly, there were ‘mini oven’ types, such as Sage and Tower, using convection or fan technology to cook food on flat, slide-in trays. Thirdly, the Teal model we looked at has an interior paddle; its stirring motion keeping the food moving around a doughnut shaped tray.
Unlike ‘basket’ models, the oil stayed in the pan rather than draining away, so sauces, rice, even casserole-type recipes could be used here. The key to crisp fries was to peel and soak sweet or normal potatoes in cold water for half an hour to remove starch, before drying thoroughly and tossing in oil.
Anything from the size of the cut to the variety of potato can make a difference here, so it’s always good to gauge things halfway through the time. We looked for fryers with clear, simple instructions, so we could get them out of the box and cooking our dinner as quickly as possible.
Value for money Some of our cheaper fryers made excellent fries without a big price tag. Quality of food To ensure fairness, we initially cooked chips in every fryer we tested.
Choice of pre-set programs Do you like to choose your own temperature and how long to cook things for, or would you prefer to leave all that to the machine? Some take up more space on the kitchen surface and if you’re going to keep it in a cupboard, check the dimensions, some are sizeable beasts.
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