Air fryers have seen a meteoric rise in popularity over the past couple of years, and it’s easy to see why with the convenience and health benefits they offer. The ability to quickly whip up meals that are healthier than dousing them in oil and firing up the grill is a huge boon to the time-limited and health-conscious. You can use an air fryer to cook and reheat meals at similar speeds to microwaves, without adding that ‘microwave’ taste and texture to it.
With all of us needing food for the soul more than ever before, air fryers are an excellent option to bring into your kitchen to increase your culinary skill set.
The best air fryers to buy
Philips Airfryer XXL packs a lot into an admittedly sizable package in order to accommodate anyone who needs to cook on a big scale thanks to a wide basket that can handle anything up to the size of a whole chicken. There are a handful of preset modes allowing you to air fry, grill, roast, bake and dehydrate foodstuffs, as well as manual options to set heat 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.
- Read our Philips Airfryer XXL review
The Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer is a neat variation on the theme because it comes with twin cooking compartments. This allows you to cook an entire meal in one go by taking care of veggies in one half and a juicy salmon fillet in the other.
You can mix and match the arrangement to suit your tastes and hunger pangs. There are presets if you want to take the easy route, or the machine can be manually configured to cook things just as you like them.
There's plenty of heat, more than enough power and the usual performance that we've come to expect from the Ninja brand. The appliance is quite bulky to allow for the 7.6 litre capacity of the two compartments.
The chunky lines of the Instant Vortex Air Fryer let you know that it means business, which is backed up by a very generous 5.7 litre capacity. The design is wonderfully simple and needs very little in the way of manual input, especially if you're going for the one-touch settings. The 1700 watts of power means the appliance can take on fries with ease, but the size and adaptable heat settings makes the Instant Vortex Air Fryer great for other mealtime offerings too.
Indeed, choose from the likes of Air Fry, Roast, Bake and Reheat and you can cover most bases with this versatile gadget. If you spend some time familiarising yourself with the manual controls the Instant Vortex Air Fryer is actually very adept at baking. So then, this is a brilliant machine that can not only turn out the main course but it'll tackle dessert too. A quick and easy to clean design adds extra appeal.
- Read our Instant Vortex Air Fryer review
Morphy Richards Health Fryer is proof of the power in simplicity. There’s nothing particularly ground-breaking about this air fryer, but it is very good at what it does. We love the simple to use manual controls allowing you to fine-tune your cook times.
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. Despite this, it’s reasonably easy to clean and that square design means it’ll slot easily away.
According to Russell Hobbs, the 5L Brooklyn Digital Air Fryer can cook food up to 80% faster than its competitors, with little or no added oil. The 5L fryer comes with a digital touchscreen display and seven easy-to-use preset cooking functions, making it perfect for the family. With an RRP under AU$200, the Brooklyn Digital is a great mid-range air fryer for any use. It also comes with a 2-year manufacturer warranty.
On the downside, it's not the biggest fryer on the list, so if you want to mass meal prep, it might not be the best choice.
If you're conscious about your budget, the Healthy Choice 1300W Analogue 10L Air Fryer is a great choice. It comes with a high speed air circulation system for quick and even cooking, as well as fully adjustable temperature controls which give you superior-tasting goods every time.
You get a lot for what you pay, with a huge 10L capacity that can fit a whole chicken. It's also super easy to clean thanks to its non-stick finish. It might be basic, but it gets the job done.
So far, this is the only air fryer from personal blender pros Magic Bullet. While not the most feature-rich, this might be the best-looking air fryer on the list. It has a simple temperature dial and kitchen timer that ticks down to a classic “ding!” when your food is ready.
You won’t find nice-to-have features like preheating, a “flip food” notification or built-in cooking presets on the Magic Bullet Air Fryer. But if you’re looking for a simple appliance that air fries well, this is a great budget-friendly option.
- Red our Magic Bullet Air Fryer review
How does an air fryer work?
An air fryer heats air in a small space up to cooking temperature and then blasts that air right at the food waiting to be cooked. If you’re thinking that this sounds a lot like a standard convection oven you’d be 100% correct. Air fryers do not technically ‘fry’. What sets them apart as a tool is the smaller space and more concentrated swirls and eddies of heated air found within, combined with the use of a small basket instead of tray. This allows you to get the crispy crust on foods that you put within — as well evenly heat the food inside — without the need to douse everything in oil.
What can you cook in an air fryer?
Anything that doesn’t need to be steamed! An air fryer will happily handle almost anything you throw at it. The main things you’ll want to avoid are foods that need to be steamed and cheese. Beyond that, the world is your (fried) oyster.
Foods that are perfect for your air fryer include: frozen foods, baked goods, raw meat, pastries, root vegetables (or anything you can roast), non-meat protein.
Foods that are an air fryer no-no: Wet battered foods, fresh cheese, rice, pasta, fresh veggies (spinach, carrot etc), anything goopy!
Is air fried food healthier?
Comparing air frying to deep frying it is clear that air frying is the much healthier option for cooking your food. Using no oil instead of litres of the stuff means you’re guaranteed to get a healthier outcome. So, if you’re a fan of deep frying your food, an air fryer is an easy way to keep the same flavour profile while saving money on oil as well as keeping yourself a little healthier.
How to choose the best air fryer for you
When selecting the best air fryer for you there are a few key factors to look out for. Ultimately you're trying to answer the question "what is an air fryer?"
Capacity should be high on your hit-list. The size of the machine you buy will make a huge difference to its utility, and your decision here will of course depend on the size of your household and the size of your kitchen. The last thing you want to do is end up with a behemoth appliance that’s far too big to use. For a single person, look around the three litre mark. For a couple, five litres or more will sort you out easily, and then for a four person family or more look for seven litres and beyond.
Of course, the bigger you go, the more options you get, with some allowing you to fry multiple food items at a time, or at different temperatures. You can even use larger devices as air fryers, steamers and grills according to their specifications.
One of the other major advantages of air fryers compared to deep fat fryers is that they are much less hassle to clean and maintain. Look out for models with dishwasher safe parts and intuitive controls.