It's the question on everybody's lips: Should I buy an Air Fryer? If the answer to that question was yes, but you want just a little bit more information, I'm here to detail seven things that I learned after owning and using an air fryer for about a month: some of them good, some of them bad.
For the uninitiated, an air fryer is ideal for cooking things that need to be fried without having to use a deep fat fryer, which have health implications (due to using lots of oil) and cleaning implications (also due to using lots of oil). Of course, if you're going to get one then you'll be needing the best air fryer on the market, which we think is the rather excellent Philips Airfryer XXL.
There are lots of other options, too, if you want to spend less (or more!) For now, though, we're looking at what I learned after having an air fryer in residence for a month. Let's dive in.
1. They get very, very hot
Seriously, it might seem obvious, but expect your air fryer to get incredibly hot and plan accordingly. Unlike a deep fat fryer, which screams I AM HOT (literally by boiling oil), it's a little more difficult to tell with an air fryer.
Think of them like a miniature oven, rather than a microwave, and make sure to read the safety instructions careful to avoid getting burnt. Don't be tempted to grab food with your hands, no matter how tasty those chicken nuggets look.
2. But use a lot less oil
The plus side is that you're using a lot less oil – an order of magnitude less. This is good for both health reasons (less fatty oils, especially on top of already-battered products), safety reasons (less hot), and clean-up reasons (you don't need to throw away litres of oil).
We all generally know that oil is back – part of the reason it tastes so good – and the biggest selling point for an air fryer is that you can get that same taste and texture without the added hassle. It's definitely worth it if that's your concern.
Plus, you can use it to speedily heat leftovers.
3. You'll want to use it for every meal (but don't!)
As you can imagine, we absolutely love gadgets – which means that an air fryer is the perfect new addition to a kitchen that already has one too many appliances.
The first few meals in an air fryer are so quick and simple that you'll be wanting to use it for every meal, a totally reasonable thing to want to do.
All we'd say is that, sadly, you're still using oil to cook food and the general foods that are ideal for the air fryer (chicken nuggets, oven chips, pizza, garlic bread) are not especially healthy or part of a balance diet.
(If you can find a way to successfully cook vegetables in an air fryer, something we struggled with, then disregard this point.)
4. Goodbye deep fat frier (if you have one)
People that own a deep fat fryer are the ideal market for an air fryer for very obvious reasons.
I don't personally own a deep fat fryer, a byproduct of renting a flat in London with a small kitchen, but if I did then the deep fat fryer would be gone straight away; the air fryer does everything that much better.
Having to heat up a literal vat of oil is costly in more ways than just electricity and the perfect invention is just a shopping trip away.
5. Air fryers take up a fair bit of room
As I said, my kitchen isn't the largest ever and an Air Fryer takes up a decent amount of room, something you might expect from what is effectively a miniature oven.
The Philips Airfryer XXL model that we mentioned earlier as being the best air fryer comes in at 39.5 x 39.5 x 39.8 cm (and weighs 10.3kg), a fairly large footprint for an appliance that you aren't going to be using everyday. Similarly, the budget Wilko 4L Air Fryer measures around 31 x 28.5 x 33.5cm.
It's worth doing some research if you have smaller cooking facilities or plan on taking the appliance out of the cupboard to use it.
6. It's worth splashing out to get better features
Some air fryers are pretty expensive: our top model, the Philips Airfryer XXL, costs around £300. The cheapest one of our best air fryers is the Tower 10-in-1 Air Fryer, which will set you back around £129.
While neither of these models is bad, Phillips has managed to cram quite a few extra features into the XXL. Of course, it depends on the kind of items you're looking to cook: small snacks and simple dishes will most likely be fine in any fryer.
But we do recommend taking a serious look at the more fully-featured models before taking the plunge, if only to make a truly informed choice.
7. Cleaning is deliciously simple
Finally, and this is maybe one of the biggest: cleaning an air fryer is really, really simple.
Cleaning your air fryer by hand will probably be the easiest and quickest thing to do and because they mostly use air for the cooking process, the faff is kept to an absolute minimum. Some even have dishwasher safe parts!
If you're used to dealing with a vat of boiling oil, then an air fryer will feel like someone else is cooking for you.
- Best non-stick frying pan for cooking with less fat and a lot less sticking and burning