Move over George Foreman, there’s a new healthy cooking sensation sweeping the kitchens of the UK and it’s called “air frying”.
Air fryers work by super-heating the air, usually to around 200°C, and circulating it rapidly using a fan to “fry” (by which people just mean brown and crisp up) the food you put into it.
Is this all just hot air? Well, you’ll often hear the claim that air fryers don’t need any oil at all, and while this is true for chicken and some other foods, for chips you’re going to have to add a little bit to help things along. The good news is that this is usually about 80% less than what you would need with a standard fryer.
With so many popping up on the market it can be hard to know which ones you should invest in. So we’ve pulled together the best ones available in the UK right now, starting with the cheap and working down to the more expensive models.
Tower T14001 (Best Deal)
Tower may not be a household name in the UK, but it’s a well-respected company that’s been going for over a 100 years. Their T14001 air fryer is simply the best deal on the list, and a great pick if you just want to test out the world of air frying.
It performed competently in our review and we were impressed that you can bake, grill, roast or fry on such an inexpensive product. Having 2 layers is also handy, and you can comfortably prepare a meal for four people. The product is nicely designed, and we found it mesmerising to be able to actually watch the food magically changing colour. It’s also a nice touch that they throw in a lid stand, tongs and an oil sprayer.
However, we did find that it didn’t cook as evenly as other models, despite claiming to use halogen, convection and infrared heating together for this very purpose. We reckon this is down to the fact that this model does not rotate the food. Compared to rivals, it also took a little longer to complete cooking. We have seen some users complaining about the longevity of the product, and we only tested it for a short period, though many others seem totally satisfied months after purchase.
Yes, another Tower has made the cut. Though a little bit more expensive and less nice to look at than its sister product, it does cook food more evenly, feels more sturdy and has a great capacity at 3.2 litres – enough to serve up 5 medium servings of food. It’s also dishwasher friendly. This is the best pick for a large family that needs a cheap option.
Duronic AF1 /B
This is another good budget option. Again the brand is fairly obscure, but the company has been producing good quality products for 12 years now.
The design is pretty compact and has an almost 1950s retro refrigerator look. It’s a bit more powerful than the offerings from Tower, which can save you time when cooking certain meals. It’s super easy to wash up too. Capacity is limited, with it being suitable for about 3 people maximum. If you don’t have a family to feed and are after a bargain, this is a good choice.
Tefal has been working on its ActiFry technology for quite a few years now, and the results shine through. Overall it made the tastiest food of all the cookers we reviewed and was exceptionally well cooked. This was helped by the use of the stirring paddle that ships with this unit and helps to create an even cook.
It’s listed as having a 1kg capacity, which is fine for a modest meal for 4 people.
There are a couple of niggles. We’d like to see the timer switch off the device rather than just beep and it is a bit noisy (even by air fryer standards). However, the quality of the food produced was top notch.
Breville VDF105 Halo+ Health Fryer
With the Halo+, Breville has really improved on cooking speed (tests report it cooks chicken in about three-quarters of the time of the previous generation) and the results are still impressive.
At the time of writing, it is priced in the same range as the Tefal. It has a 20% larger capacity, is a bit quicker to cook food and a bit less noisy while doing it. We also prefer its control and operation. Despite all that, in our tests the Tefal just edged in front in terms of taste and we felt the build quality of the lid could be higher. However, it’s still an excellent piece of kitchen kit.
Philips HD9230/20 Viva Airfryer
We’re not blown away by the looks, and it doesn’t allow you to look in on your food as it’s cooking. We’re also a little disappointed that it only has a 0.8kg capacity (which is surprising given it is much bigger in real life than it seems in pictures), which probably makes it only suitable for small families. The taste results are average on the whole were average.
So why is this on the list? The answer is that it really does cook a mean chip – in our view better than any other we researched.
UPDATE: Build quality was spot on during testing, but we were using a slightly older model and there have been reports that newer models do not live up to this standard.