Best air fryer 2021: get 100% of the flavour and up to 90% less fat

The best air fryers mean that suddenly, chips and fried chicken are good for you

Best air fryer
(Image credit: Philips)

The best air fryer is a revolutionary gadget that literally allow you to have your fried 'cake' – by which we mean chips and other food you'd usually deep fry – and eat it too. An air fryer uses hot air combined with just a teaspoon of oil (as opposed to the gallons required in a standard deep fat fryer) in order to produce the delicious crispy food we all know and love. 

For those of you who are sceptical; yes we know it doesn’t taste quite the same as deep fried food, but with a decent air fryer model, it’s not far off. Giving reduced health risks on some of your favourite foods, the best air fryers are increasingly popular with families, communal households and anyone who enjoys eating chips on a regular basis. 

This guide to the best air fryer also has links out to our air fryer reviews, so you can delve deep into the world of lower-fat frying. Bon appetit. 

How to choose the best air fryer for you

When buying the best air fryer for you, you’re going to be looking for the same things you look for in any kitchen appliance. First off: capacity. The size of the machine you buy will depend on the size of your family and the size of your kitchen, and the last thing you want to do is end up with a huge appliance that’s cumbersome and far too big to use for just you and your partner. 

Of course, the bigger you go, the more options you get, with some allowing you to fry multiple food items at a time, or even doubling up as other appliances such as steamers and grills. One of the other major advantages of air fryers compared to deep fat fryers is that they are much less hassle to clean and low maintenance in general. Look out for models with dishwasher safe parts and intuitive controls which allow you to vary the temperature for cooking to perfection. 

3 toppings you really need to try on your French fries

If you've ever been to a Dutch snack bar, you'll know that they know how to top off a portion of fries to turn them into little cartons of joy. Here are three Nederlandse snackbar toppings you must try on chips made in your air fryer. Eet smakelijk!

1. Patatje flip: fries with satay sauce and mayonnaise on top.

2. Patat speciaal: fries with ketchup and mayonnaise and a sprinkling of finely chopped raw onions on top. 

3. Patatje oorlog: Oorlog translates as 'war' and that's basically what happens here as your fries are drenched in satay sauce, mayonnaise and topped off with chopped raw onion. Some regions add curry sauce, too. A decadent delight.

The best air fryers to buy, in order

Best air fryerT3 Awards 2020

(Image credit: Philips)

1. Philips Airfryer XXL

Best air fryer

Best for: Large families/hungry people
Capacity: 1.4kg
Wattage: 2225w
Interface: Dial & buttons
Reasons to buy
+Great capacity+Precise controls+Can cook entire chicken
Reasons to avoid
-A bit bulky

Philips Airfryer XXL packs a lot into an admittedly sizeable package in order to accommodate anyone who needs to cook on a big scale thanks to a wide basket that can handle, for example, a whole chicken. There are a handful of preset modes so you can air fry, grill, roast, bake and dehydrate foodstuffs or take the manual route and choose from heat settings anywhere between 40°C and 200°C. A lack of accessories is a disappointment but the ability of the Philips Airfryer XXL to cook food quickly and efficiently cannot be faulted. Top marks also go to the digital display too, which works exquisitely and, thanks to simple-but-effective icons such as meat and fish, means it’s pretty hard to mess things up. Aside from the main electrical unit the Philips Airfryer XXL is dishwasher-friendly too.

In the UK, this is technically called model HD9650/99. The version in the USA seems to be slightly different and is called HD9630/96 Airfryer XXL as far as we can tell.  

Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

(Image credit: Ninja)

2. Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

Best air fryer if you don't need to cook entire chickens

Best for: Limited space
Capacity: 3.8L
Wattage: 1550w
Interface: Buttons
Reasons to buy
+Durable cook pan+Easy to clean
Reasons to avoid
-Controls less intuitive than Philips-Cannot cook entire chicken

Ninja’s AF100UK Air Fryer immediately impresses as you take it out of the box due to its more compact size and lighter weight. It’s not the smallest air fryer on the market, but if you’re stuck for space this model is perfect. Better still, the container you cook your food in is nicely made, with an extremely durable ceramic-coated crisper plate insert that you rest food on for more consistent results. Apart from the main unit, everything is dishwasher-friendly. 

Results-wise, the Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer is capable on all fronts, so it naturally does perfect air fry chips but can roast, reheat and dehydrate too. You can cook using presets or manually across the whole heat spectrum, as well as benefitting from two fan speeds when needed.

Philips Airfryer HD9621

(Image credit: Philips)

3. Philips Viva Collection Airfryer 9621

Newer, smaller Philips fryer is another classic

Best for: Limited space
Capacity: 800g
Wattage: 1300W
Interface: Buttons & dials
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Compact, attractive, easy to clean+Good cookin’ too!
Reasons to avoid
-Naturally smaller capacity

Both a strong rival to the Ninja, and a worthy Mini Me to Philips’ XXL Airfryer, this model, the Viva Collection Airfryer gives reliably succulent results, with a crisp outer skin. It makes great chips as well. Obviously, you can’t get an entire chicken in this one, but you can’t have everything.

Best air fryer: Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1

(Image credit: Tefal)

4. Tefal YV970840 Actifry Genius XL 2in1

A great air fryer AND a handy, Instant Pot-style cooker

Best for: Replacing all your other ovens
Capacity: 1200g
Wattage: 1700W
Interface: Touch panel (and there's an app)
Reasons to buy
+Excellent air fryer+Useful stew cooker too+Built in stirring paddle+Handy recipe app
Reasons to avoid
-Quite a sizeable thing, clearly-Noisy too

As well as turning out your classic air-fried staples – ie: chips, chicken and salmon – this actually doubles as a slightly Instant Pot-like cooker for 'wet' meals such as curries, stews and casseroles. It may look a little complicated at first glance but it's actually very intuitive. 

With a glass dome so you can see what's cookin' and a handy little spatula/paddle thing that turns around inside to stir food, so you don't have to, it's something of a joy to use. If your kitchen is cramped you might struggle to find storage space for this hefty beast but when something is this useful and effective, why store it away anyhow?

5. Tower T14001 Low Fat Air Fryer

Best cheap air fryer

Best for: All-rounder
Capacity: 1kg
Wattage: 1300w
Interface: Dial
Reasons to buy
+Multi-functional+Easy to clean
Reasons to avoid
-Tricky to master 

We haven't tried this one yet but the majority of online reviewers reckon this is a great gadget to have in your kitchen. Not only is the price low, but it's compact –36.7cm high, 35cm wide. It gives you a whole host of cooking options including baking, roasting, grilling and steaming, knocking up whole meals or one element of your tea couldn't be easier - plus it cuts down on cooking time too. The only issue is you’ll have to have some patience when learning how to master it as the instructions are a little thin. The Tower T14001 also looks a little alarming and there's some online gripes about its longevity – but given its low price, neither of those things are too surpirsing.

6. Tefal ActiFry Express

A quick and easy Tefal Air Fryer that takes the work out of cooking

Best for: Convenience
Capacity: 1.7kg
Wattage: 1550w
Interface: Digital
Reasons to buy
+Automatic mixing+Cooks up to 30% faster
Reasons to avoid

We haven’t yet tested this, Tefal’s answer to the Philips XXL, but judging by user feedback, the Tefal ActiFry Express is worth considering. Using only one spoonful of oil, this air fryer can make classic fried treats in a fraction of the time it takes in an oven, but Tefal also claims it’s faster than rival air fryers. It‘a quicker than Tefal’s 1kg model by 30% for a start.  

This doesn’t require preheating and the automatic stirring paddle means you literally just have to chuck food in and wait. Its extra-large bowl can, according to Tefal, cater for up to 6 people and it cooks at a higher temperature to get perfectly even results in no time at all. You can also download the ActiFry app for hundreds of delicious recipes to try at home. 

Morphy Richards Health Fryer

(Image credit: Morphy Richards)

7. Morphy Richards Health Fryer

Perfect if you love fries with everything and wings too…

Best for: Cheap chip fans
Capacity: 3.0kg
Wattage: 1400w
Interface: Dial & buttons
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Awesome chips
Reasons to avoid
-Not dishwasher-friendly

Morphy Richards Health Fryer (model 480003) is proof positive that you don’t need to spend a fortune in order to enjoy high-end, primo chips. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about this air fryer, but it is very good at what it does, which includes providing us with yet more chicken wings. 

We love the simple to use manual controls so you can fine-tune cook times. As per most air fryers it’ll fry, obviously, as well as roast and grill to great effect. We’ve found its baking prowess pretty good too with pizza dough and the odd muffin or two coming out tops. 

Available temperatures range between 80°C and 200°C while the air fryer uses rapid air technology to ensure consistent results. Other positives include a timer, up to 30 minutes, plus automatic switch off. There’s a removable basket, although a downside with this machine is its lack of dishwater-friendly parts. No matter, it’s reasonably easy to clean and that square design means it’ll slot away in a cupboard when you’re done scoffing those fab fries.

8. Duronic Air Fryer

A small and cheap air fryer

Best for: Compact design
Capacity: 1.2kg
Wattage: 1500w
Interface: Dial
Reasons to buy
+Not too cumbersome+Closed-door cooking
Reasons to avoid
-Basket a little flimsy 

The Duronic air fryer is small and compact but still roomy enough to make chips for 2, plus soups, chicken wings and even souffles. The closed-door fryer packs in flavour while keeping cooking as healthy as can be, and it doesn’t spit so it’s totally mess-free, too. Some users have noted that the handle of the basket is a little flimsy, so be sure not to toss your chips too vigorously to avoid any accidents. This air fryer has an adjustable temperature gauge so you can fry anywhere between 80 and 200C for the perfect even results every time.