Air fryers are one of a number of high-tech cooking appliances, like popcorn and soup makers, which have become kitchen favourites in recent years. These trendy gadgets provide an easy way we can all eat healthier, and they couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Because, as a nation, we’re becoming much more aware of the health implications of a poor diet. As a result we’re more closely scrutinizing what ingredients go into our meals.
The problem is we all enjoy the odd treat. But how can we have these treats whilst sill being relatively healthy? This is the bridge the hot air fryer fills. They help make naughty treats much better for us by vastly reducing the amount of oil we use to cook.
What is an air fryer?
Air fryers provide a way to get the deep-fried food experience, without the deep frying. They use a clever heating system and a tablespoon of oil to emulate the effect frying has on food. The end result is crispy food without a vast amount of excess oil.
Whilst every hot air fryer cooks the food in a very similar way, the amount of different appliances available is staggering. You can buy cheap and small units right up to large appliances which can feed the biggest families.
Not only that but air fryers can feature both digital or analogue controls. There are also those which automatically agitate the ingredients and those which need the food to be manually shaken to ensure even cooking.
In this guide, we’ll help demystify the process of buying an air fryer by showing you how they work, reviewing the best appliances available in the UK today and by showing you why they are better than deep frying.
Air Fryer Comparison Table
Prices & information last updated on 2020-01-18
Air Fryer Reviews: Your Guide to The Best 6 in The UK
Cooks Professional Digital Rotisserie
Extra features, gizmo’s and gadgets really float our boat. So, if we said that the idea of an incorporated rotisserie for spit roasting in the Cooks Professional air fryer didn’t excite us just a little, we’d be lying.
In addition to the ability to spit roast succulent meats, it also features a very impressive looking digital display panel complete with a glowing LED display. This panel allows you to access all kinds of different cooking features.
But, it’s not features which make any appliance great, its how useful it is. So, let’s lift the lid on the Cooks Professional Rotisserie air fryer (Rotisserie) and find out exactly what it can do.
How does it work?
The obvious place to start is with the Rotisserie’s top-mounted control panel which impressed us so much. It gives a subtle hint at just how versatile this appliance is.
After pressing the power button you can choose from 6 different cooking modes. As you select each mode different (or all) parts of the inner cooking surfaces will heat up allowing you to roast, fry, bake, stir-fry, grill and even BBQ your ingredients, that’s quite a selection!
Although you might be inclined to think that, with all these cooking modes, you could forget which one you have selected. This is not the case with the Rotisserie. A handy red LED illuminates adjacent to your current selection.
Moving on to the middle of the control panel you’ll notice a central LED display. This toggles between the temperature and cooking time remaining. Setting either of these is also very easy. Start by pressing the button labelled ‘TEMP/TIME’ and using the plus and minus buttons to set the duration for both the temperature and time respectively.
Once you’ve done this you can press the ‘start’ button to begin cooking.
There is, however, one final thing, we have not spoken about and that is the rotisserie function. This can be started and stopped by pressing the rotisserie button located on the left-hand side of the panel.
But how can you spit roast say, a chicken, or get crispy roast potatoes or chips using this function?
To answer this we need to provide you with two replies:
The first is that the Rotisserie is supplied with a central rotating skewer which connects to either side of the cooking pan. To this skewer, you can attach spit roast forks for gripping chicken and small joints of meat. As the skewer rotates so does your meat.
Secondly, in lieu of a rotating paddle found in most other air fryers, the Rotisserie comes with a cylindrical cage in which you place your potatoes or other ingredients. This cage is slid over the skewer and placed in the appliance. Yes, as you’ve guessed, this then rotates for a truly unique way of cooking your chips!
Is there anything else I need to know?
Accessories add a real sense of ‘value’ to any appliance you buy. They increase its usefulness by giving you everything you need from the initial purchase.
With this in mind, you might be pleased to know that the Rotisserie comes with a grill rack, for multilevel cooking or to allow fats to drain from your food, and a pair of tongs to prevent burnt fingers.
How easy is it to clean?
It would be disappointing to get this far down our review list and come across an air fryer which was difficult to clean. Therefore we’re happy to say that the cooking bowl is non-stick and can be removed for easy cleaning or popped into the dishwasher.
What we think:
For a sub £100 appliance, the Cooks Professional Rotisserie really surprised us – in a good way! Its a really neat, versatile little gadget that makes cooking all kinds of things really simple and easy.
It has some features which we’ve only really come across on units costing over £100 and arrives with some useful accessories to boost its already versatile cooking capacity even more. If you’re looking for an air fryer which represents the ultimate ‘bang for your buck’, then look no further.
Philips manufactures some of the best selling air fryers available today. For the last few years their flagship fryer the HD9220 has topped the sale charts and the newer HD9240 builds on this success by addressing some of the niggles customers found in earlier models.
The first improvement is the capacity. The HD9240 features a roomy 1.2Kg cooking capacity making it large enough to feed up to five people. In fact, it is 50% larger than the HD9220, which some people found was not large enough to cook for the whole family in one batch.
The extra room eliminates this problem entirely.
Secondly is the introduction of a touch screen control panel. Whilst this might seem a bit like a marketing gimmick it serves two important purposes: the first is that it gives you precise control over the cooking temperature and times, so you can get your food cooking precisely to your liking. The second is that occasionally the HD9220’s analogue timer could stick causing food to burn. The digital timer in the HD9240 has no such fault.
How does it work?
Part of the reason air fryers are so popular is because they are very easy to use. The HD9240 does not break from this tradition and can be configured quickly using the touch screen control panel (everything seems to have a touch screen panel these days!).
To begin with, you’ll need to preheat the unit for 3 minutes. You can skip this step if you want to start frying straight away, all you need to do is add an extra 3 minutes to the timer.
Setting the temperature is easy and can be done using the up and down arrows located on the left-hand side of the touch screen. The temperature ranges from 80 to 200 degrees.
Next, remove the drawer from the bottom of the unit. Inside you’ll see the food basket (which can also be removed) and a max-fill indicator marked inside. Place your food in the tray and slide the drawer back into the machine. To help make sure your food cooks to a crisp finish try not to cram too much food in. The hot air needs to circulate around all of the food to emulate the effect of deep frying.
Lastly, you’ll need to set the cooking time. Just the like setting the temperature a set of up and down arrows allow you to set the time in 1-minute increments from 1 minute to 1 hour.
To help take the guesswork out of using your airfryer Philips have included a useful cooking guide. It will give you the temperature and cooking times of common meals and whether or not you need to shake up the ingredients mid-cooking.
Not only that but when you’ve found your perfect cooking time and temperature for your favourite ingredients you can use the preset button to memorize this information. The only downside we found was that this appliance can only store one preset temperature and cooking time, which was a little disappointing.
Once you’ve finished cooking the cord can be retracted into the machine for safe and easy storage.
How easy is it to clean?
Like all good kitchen appliances, this one is very easy to clean.
The entire bottom drawer and the inner basket are all dishwasher safe. This came as a surprise because we expected the basket to be dishwasher safe but NOT the outer drawer too. This is a huge time saver and makes cleaning a breeze.
What we think:
It’s always good to see brands who respond to the needs of their customers and Philips have certainly done this will the HD9240.
The extra cooking capacity and easy to use control panel are sure to make it a hit in any household who wants to enjoy family favourite meals such as fries and hamburgers whilst cutting down on calories.
The downside? It does cost more than previous models. If you’re happy with the smaller cooking capacity we recommend the earlier HD9220. But, if you want one of the best air fryers available today the HD9240 is sure to please.
Duronic Air Fryer AF1/B 1500w
Do you feel guilty whenever you indulge in chicken or chips? Or, are you a health nut who avoids these fatty dishes altogether? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, you will definitely benefit from adding the Duronic Air Fryer AF1 /B to your list of kitchen appliances. It uses a combination of high speed and hot air circulation technology to deliver low-calorie great tasting dishes you can enjoy guilt-free. Below is a complete guide to the good and the bad of this air fryer.
How to use the Duronic Air Fryer AF1 /B
Designed to be an easy-to-use air fryer, the Duronic AF1 only features timer and temperature dials as its controls. With this simple design, using this appliance only requires you to plug it in and pre-heat for a couple of minutes, pull out the frying pan, add in your ingredients, slide the pan back in, adjust temperature and timer settings to your liking, and you are done.
Similar to the Tefal FZ740840 air fryer, Duronic’s AF1/B Jet Fryer also features a sound indicator that lets you know when the cooking cycle ends. When the bell rings to remind you that your dish is ready for serving, the appliance also automatically shuts off
When steaming food, you will need to place the steam basket into the frying pan and set the necessary cooking temperature and time. Once the food is ready, there is a fry-basket-remove-button, which when pressed detaches the basket from the frying pan.
Ease of Cleaning
Unlike a deep fryer, you won’t need to clean off a lot of grease residue when using the Duronic AF1/B air fryer since it uses little to no oil. The non-stick coating on the pan’s interior also makes clean up easier. The best part is that both the fry bowl and basket can go into a dishwasher, saving you lots of time and effort. To keep the main unit clean, all it needs is a simple wipe down with a soaked cloth.
What’s to Love about the Duronic Air Fryer AF1 /B?
There is more to expect from the Duronic AF1 Jet Fryer besides its incredible ease of use and ability to whoop up healthy low-fat dishes. Other noteworthy aspects of this air fryer include:
1 Fast Cooking Time
Since the Duronic AF1 keeps hot air constantly circulating inside the unit during use, food cooks very fast. Baking a cake, for instance, is a time-consuming process that can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour or more depending on the recipe. With this air fryer; however, cakes can be ready in as little as 30 minutes or less.
2 A Closed Cooking System
The Duronic AF1 is designed in such a way that the cooking basket slides right into the unit leaving just the handle on outside. As a result, whatever you are cooking stays sealed inside the unit, meaning no spills or splatters to worry about.
3 Adjustable Temperature
Whether you are in the mood for a savoury dish like samosas, a sweet snack like chocolate fondants, or a healthier meal such as steamed vegetables, the Duronic AF1 cooks it all. And the best part is that all dishes come out perfect thanks to the presence of a knob which allows you to set the cooking temperature anywhere between 0 to 200-degrees C. With this heating range, you will be able to set the exact temperature required to deliver the best results for whatever you are cooking.
4 Helpful User Manual
Simple instructions with tips in the user manual make it easy to familiarize yourself with operating the Duronic AF1/B air fryer. In addition, the manual serves as a good reference resource since it includes tabulated temperature and time setting recommendations for basic ingredients and snacks.
If you strive to eat healthy foods or are thinking of starting to, the Duronic AF1 is for you. Being an air fryer, this unit delivers food whose fat content is 80% less than dishes cooked in traditional fryers. To top it off, the air fryer comes at an affordable price, is a pleasure to use, makes tasty food, and cooks fast thereby saving you a great deal of time in the kitchen. Overal, the Duronic AF1 air fryer is an all-round good buy.
Tefal FZ740840 ActiFry Original
Frying food with little oil has become increasingly vital for anyone who is trying to cut back on excess fat consumption. If you have taken the plunge into healthy eating, an appliance like the Tefal ActiFry would make a great addition to your kitchen. This rapid air circulation fryer lets you cook chips, sausages, chicken wings and so much more with little to no oil. In addition, it features a super convenient self-stirring function.
Plenty of other nice features make this air fryer a fantastic product. Find out everything you need to know by reading this buyers guide.
How to use the Tefal ActiFry Original Air Fryer
Tefal’s ActiFryer comes with everything you need to start using it right out of the box. In addition to the main appliance, the package also includes a green plastic spoon for measuring oil, one recipe booklet and the user manual.
The removable hinged lid pops open when you push the button situated next to the cooking pan’s fold-down handle. Both the stirring paddle and frying pan detach from the appliance. Once these parts are clean and assembled to the base, you can add your ingredients to the air fryer cooking chamber. Adding a little bit of oil using the provided spoon may be necessary depending on what you intend to cook.
Two buttons for setting the timer and switching the air fryer on or off are the only controls provided on this unit. The control panel also has icons depicting the fry settings for common dishes like chips, shrimp, chicken drumsticks, vegetables and bananas. You can refer to these icons to find out the ideal cooking duration for frying certain amounts of the respective dishes.
Pressing the timer button sets the chosen cooking duration up to a maximum of up to 99 minutes. After setting the timer, simply hit the ‘on’ button to fire up the air fryer.
Ease of Cleaning
Cleaning the Tefal ActiFryer feels less of a chore thanks to a few convenient features. All the removable parts such as the cooking pan, filter, lid, turn-over ring, and stirring paddle are dishwasher safe. What’s more, the Teflon coating on the interiors allows for easy removal of grease when cleaning your air fryer. Just make sure to let the air fryer cool down before cleanup and only use a non-abrasive sponge to avoid scraping off the non-stick finish.
What’s to Love about the Tefal FZ740840 ActiFry Original Fryer?
Like most air fryers, the Tefal ActiFry Original is a great appliance that prepares healthy low-fat dishes with minimal effort. However, those are not the only points that make this air fryer appealing. Other fantastic features of this appliance include:
If you prefer an air fryer with variable temperature control and automated shutoff, the Duronic Air Fryer AF1 /B 1500W model would be worth considering. While the Tefal FZ740840 ActiFry Original air fryer lacks those features, it is nonetheless a decent unit designed to offer plenty of conveniences.
Russell Hobbs Purifry 20810
In our previous review in this guide, we mentioned that the Actifry was the personification of a ‘standard’ airfryer design. If this is the case then the Purifry by Russell Hobbs is certainly the antithesis of this.
In fact, it looks more like a traditional deep fat fryer (Russell Hobbs makes a few of these too). The inner cooking basket lends to this appearance and has a miasma of deep frying about it.
That said, it is most definitely, an air fryer! It is one of the more simple models available and features two simple analogue controls, with no LCD panel or buttons in sight.
Let’s kick off by looking at how this appliance works and what you can cook in it.
How does it work?
Like most air fryers you do need to preheat the Purifry for about 3-5 minutes before use. To do this set the temperature and timer, using the bottom and top dials respectively.
Once this is done the device will spring into action and sound like an extractor fan whirring up. You’ll also notice the thermostat and power lights illuminate to let you know the Purifry is working.
After the preheat time has elapsed you can start cooking.
Start by removing the bowl using the handle on the front of the device. This should just slide out. Place your food into the basket, as always being careful not to overfill it, and place this back in the machine.
Following this, set the timer and leave it to work.
You might be wondering if it really is that simple. Well, not quite. There is one caveat; about halfway through the cooking you need to remove the cooking bowl and shake up or turn over the food.
This means you can’t leave it to cook completely unattended. You can, however, leave it to finish cooking unattended, after you have shaken up your food. It will automatically switch off once the timer has elapsed. This feature is especially useful for people like myself who, on occasion, have left food a little too long and it has browned (IE burnt) a bit too much!
Finally, you can cook more than one type of food at the same time thanks to the supplied partition which divides the basket neatly in two.
Is there anything else I need to know?
There certainly is. Just like its more expensive counterparts, the Purifry can cook a fairly wide range of items which you might normally fry or cook in the oven. Using it you can cook the obvious foods such as chips and jacket potatoes. But, you can also cook the less obvious foods such as stir-fries, tortillas and even a Victoria sponge!
Because there’s no automated stirring paddle and it uses a very hole-ridden basket to cook we’d recommend you keep clear of meals which usually require a pan to cook such as soups and sauces! (Although some air fryers such as Multifry can cook these kinds of foods).
Lastly, for an appliance which can heat up to 200 degrees, it is very cool when it is in use. In fact, you can handle the outside without burning yourself. This is in contrast to the hinged-lid style air fryers which can often get very hot.
How easy is it to clean?
Luckily the Purifry is very easy to clean. The major components which come in to contact with food are all dishwasher safe. This includes the partition, bowl and basket.
The surfaces of the appliance can also be cleaned quickly using a damp cloth. Although these shouldn’t get dirty too often. Especially since the greasy vapours usually associated with frying won’t be made using an air fryer.
What we think:
Yes, the Purifry is simple. Yes, it does have a bit of a contrived name (PuriFRY). But, it is a very cheap air fryer and for a sub £100 appliance (at the time of writing) its a pretty solid entry by Russell Hobbs. The reasonably small cooking capacity may disappoint larger families but for most people, who want to start cooking more healthily, it should be more than adequate.
Breville VDF105 Halo Plus
When we first saw the Breville Halo Plus (Halo) in action we couldn’t help but be reminded of a cement mixer. Now, don’t be put off by this rather crude comparison it is, in fact, a very neat appliance.
But why a cement mixer? The reason for this is because, in a unique move, Breville have made two changes to how the Halo cooks its food when compared to most other air fryers.
The first is that the entire bowl rotates to agitate the food. This is in place of the removable paddle most other appliances use for ‘stirring’.
The second is that the whole appliance can be titled at roughly a 45-degree angle to further increase the movement of the food. The end result is, well, cement mixer-esque as you watch the ingredients tumble around inside.
But, this is not some rusting behemoth, which would look at home on any building site. No, it is a stylish and trending looking appliance which simply has a unique way of working. Let’s take a look at this in more detail.
How does it work?
Like most air fryers the Halo has its control panel located on top of the appliance. A central LED display is surrounded by 4 buttons and gives an indication of how simple the Halo is to use.
To begin with, you’ll need to use the two buttons located to the left of the LED display. These increment and decrement the timer in minutes, and you can choose from as little a 1 minute up to 75 minutes.
Next, you’ll need to choose your cooking mode. The Halo plus will allow you to choose between two modes: grill and dual cooking. Dual cooking activates both the grill and heats the bottom of the pan.
The last step is to choose if you tilt the machine or not.
Tilting the machine is what causes the ingredients to tumble around inside. But, there are occasions when this wouldn’t be suitable. After all, tumbling cake mixture or delicate fish would probably ruin your meal!
But, tumbling chips with sausages or roast potatoes to get a crisp result with slightly crumbly edges would be heaven.
The point is that you can CHOOSE whether to tumble or not. This ensures the Halo Plus is on par with functionality when compared to its competitors and does not limit it to foods which can withstand being tumbled around.
In fact you can cook an array of foods ranging from desserts to nachos or roasted Mediterranean vegetables to Thai green curry.
When the Halo Plus has finished cooking it will not only beep but will automatically switch itself off. Preventing it from burning food and making sure you don’t need to watch over it while it works.
Is there anything else I need to know?
When it comes to included accessories the Halo Plus gets our thumbs up.
Inside the box, you’ll find a recipe book containing lots of different sweet and savoury dishes for you to try in your air fryer. It also arrives with a handy grill rack to allow fats and oils to drain out of any foods you grill.
Lastly, it comes with a measuring spoon (which holds around 15ml of oil), a removable handle for the cooking bowl (to prevent burnt fingers) and a drip tray to catch condensation.
How easy is it to clean?
When it comes to any kitchen appliance easy cleaning is a must. We’ve all had those proverbial wonder-appliances that we never really use because they’re a pain to clean.
Well in the world of air fryers cleaning is not a problem. The Halo Plus follows this trend and the non-stick bowl, removable plastic lid, spoon and grill rack can all be removed and popped in the dishwasher. Cleaning doesn’t get much simpler than that.
What we think:
The Halo Plus is certainly very unique. Its approach to cooking ensures the food is adequately coated with the small amount of oil used and the hot air is evenly distributed. The end result is well-cooked, crispy food which is about as close to deep drying as you can get.
How Air Fryers Work
Air fryers appear to turn most foods deep fried and golden brown as if by magic. The truth is slightly more mundane and powered by distinctly non Harry-Potterish technology.
Here’s the cooking process broken down into steps:
1 Circuilating Hot Air
A heating element in the appliance quickly heats the air anywhere from a few degrees up to around 200 degrees. At the same time a fan circulates this hot air to ensure even cooking and a nicely browned outer (hence they are often referred to as hot air fryers).
It does this by taking advantage of a chemical reaction called the Maillard effect.
This happens on all foods where the browned outside provides a distinctive flavour. Such as with breads, seared steaks and, of course, chips.
Inside many air fryers a stirring paddle will agitate the food to ensure any added oil and the air moves around the food evenly and you get an even crisp (the paddle can be removed for delicate foods).
Those which don’t feature a handy stirring arm need to be stopped halfway through the cooking cycle and the food is manually shaken.
3 Auto Shut Off
This final step is not so much part of the cooking process but what happens after the cooking. In many cases a timer will count down to zero, beep and then automatically switch off the appliance. Ensuring your food does not get burnt.
Air Frying vs Deep Frying
Without a doubt air frying your food is going to be better (IE healthier) for you when compared to deep frying.
But what other advantages are there when compared to deep frying? In this next section we’ll find out as we take a look at each in turn:
OK, I know we’ve already mentioned the health benefits. But what does this mean? ‘Less fat’ is a phrase which often banded around when people talk of hot air frying. But how much fat is ‘less fat’? Well, using the common standard of cooking chips ‘less fat’ means around 90% less fat when compared to deep frying.
But it doesn’t stop at chips. ANY food which is usually surrounded by fatty oil when deep frying is covered in just thin layer of oil when air frying. Vastly reducing the amount of fat added to your food.
Far Less Odour
Boiling oil produces a lot of odour. Even with an extractor fan running the smell can still spread around the home. This ‘greasy’ smell is virtually gone when using an air fryer and you can only smell the food itself cooking, not the oil.
Having gallons or scalding hot oil around is never a good idea. Especially if you have children or very clumsy people (like I am) in your home. Air fryers are simply much safer to use.
Because you don’t need to heat a massive pan of oil you can get cooking in seconds with an airfryer. This makes them much more economical too!
If you’ve read our reviews above you’ll already have an idea of how versatile air fryers are. They aren’t just limited to chips and most can cook vegetables, curries, fish, cakes and different kinds of desserts too!
Cooking oils degrade
After only several deep frying session cooking oils begin to break down and vegetable oils separate into water and fat. This means you need to replace this oil often and disposal can become time-consuming and tricky.
In an age when we realise how important being healthy is air fryers have come to the rescue.
They allow us to enjoy our favourite sinful foods without the extra fat deep frying would add. Not only this but their versatility extends far beyond their deep-frying counterparts which are limited to foods that can only be cooked submerged in oil. In fact, air fryers can be used to cook anything from chips and fish to cakes and pizza. Meaning they can even be used for daily cooking and are not just limited to cooking our favourite treats.
If you’re ready to take the plunge into air frying, we recommend considering Duronic Air Fryer AF1/B. Its fantastic mid-range unit that will allow you to try air frying without breaking the bank.
However, if you’re willing to invest a little more the Cooks Professional Digital Rotisserie should definitely be on your short list. It arrives with a huge compliment of accessories that vastly increase the range of foods it can cook and it costs less than its better-known counterparts produced by Tefal and their ActiFry range. Plus it can cook food using a variety of methods from rotisserie, to spit roasting, baking and air frying, making it a truly versatile cooking appliance.