I’m an air fryer expert and this is the air fryer I would buy

This dual-purpose machine is still a firm favourite with T3’s air fryer reviewer despite newer rivals on the market

Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1
(Image credit: Tefal)

As someone who’s been reviewing air fryers for a number of years now, people often ask me if they should buy an air fryer (yes!) and what machines I recommend. The answer to that varies, as people have different needs, and the air fryer market is a lot more diverse than you might think. I can tell you what machine I use more than any other though…

I love my Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1 because it isn’t just an air fryer. Oh no, this beefy beauty can do way more than deliver crispy fries. I’ve tried most of the current air fryer models from all the major names, so for example the Philips Airfryer XXL is a frequent go-to solution if I need some chips, done just as I like them and cooked quickly too.

However, the bonus with this machine, as I say in my 5-star Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1 review, is that while it is more than happy to cook french fries, either frozen or from scratch using real potatoes, the appliance can turn its hand to many other meals too. The Tefal Actify Genius XL 2in1 is an all-in-one machine, with the added benefit that it can make ‘runny’ meals, such as curries, casseroles and stir fries too. That‘s why for me personally, it’s the best air fryer out there – and I’ve tried dozens of the things.

Sure, it’s hard to fault the top value and performance delivered by the budget Tower 10-in-1 Air Fryer Xpress Pro Combo, with its ability to air fry and cook all sorts to perfection. It's even got a rotisserie! Similarly, while I love the versatility of the Tefal, I’ve yet to explore all the features and functions of the much-praised Ninja Foodi SmartLid range, which can also do a little bit of everything.

There are alternatives then, but what is it that keeps my well-used Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1 in situ as the best air fryer for me?

Is the Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1 durable and dependable?

Tefal Actifry Genius XL

The Tefal ActiFry Genius XL is a one-of-a-kind creation

(Image credit: Tefal)

Yep, that’s one of the main reasons I’m still using it. The Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1 has been around for a while now, and it’s not the cheapest machine on the market. However, Tefal has done a fab job with the design, which has remained relatively unchanged since it was first released. The bulbous styling is a little different compared to the generally square box look of most air fryers, but that really makes it stand out from the crowd.

The Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1 is also very nicely put together and, in the couple of years I’ve been using it has never failed and none of its component parts or accessories have broken. It’s actually looking pretty good considering how much it’s been used. Much of that is down to the way you can pull the lid off and wash that in hot soapy water, along with the non-stick metal cooking container inside and the plastic paddle that works so hard to get your food cooked to perfection.

So how does the Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1 work?

How to make perfect air fried chicken

The Tefal ActiFry Genius XL cooks chicken wings a treat

(Image credit: Getty)

With the design and durability aspect covered the main thing I love about my Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1 is the way it performs. Much like the best Instant Pot machines, this appliance is able to cook lots of things, including complete meals such as curries and casseroles. That makes it a lot more versatile than most standard air fryers as they can generally only use their heated electric element and fan combination to work like a mini oven.

I therefore find the Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1 gets wheeled out much more frequently, simply because it can be used to cook a whole dinner recipe. In fact, this appliance has more to offer the keen cook too, thanks to the way it has a second circular cooking tray above the main bowl. This non-stick dish is relatively shallow and can house all sorts, from salmon or chicken fillets through to chopped vegetables and even fruit. Pineapple, for example, can be nicely toasted on this top tier.

Going back to the versatility of the Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1 for a minute… I’ve even baked a chocolate sponge cake in the bottom bowl of this machine. Granted, it looked a little odd due to the act that it was circular and had a hole in the middle where the paddle normally sits. However, the whole family was hugely impressed with the delicate way the Tefal cooked the sponge mix. It was a real treat.

Is the Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1 easy to use?

Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1

Versatility and a fab app is what makes the Tefal ActiFry Genius XL a success

(Image credit: Tefal)

Couldn’t be simpler. You can use the preset options, which are displayed along the top of the appliance in numerical order, with icons that display the most common food items that will cook if you’ve chosen them. Alternatively, the Tefal can be used manually, which allows even more culinary freedom. Tefal also has a great supporting app, which offers up myriad menu options that make use of both levels of the appliance.

One of the best things about the Tefal app is that it can be used even if you don’t have much in the way of ingredients. Tell it what you have in your fridge and it’ll come up with a recipe that the appliance can cook, and then all you have to do is chuck everything in. Cooking doesn’t come much simpler than that.

Using the appliance is very simple, thanks in the main to those numbered presets. So, for example, selecting 1 will let you cook fries, potato wedges and so on. Selecting 2 lets you take on breaded snacks, while 3 gives you the option to cook battered snacks, like calamari or onion rings. Going for 4 lets you cook pastry snacks and spring rolls, while 5 covers meat and fish. Meanwhile, 6 can handle chicken drumsticks and wings. On the other hand, 7 can be used to cook rice with prawns, sautéed beef, stir fry vegetables and so on.

That’s not all though because I often use the number 8 setting to produce lamb tagine, or kebabs thanks to the so-called ‘World Setting’. Rounding it out is 9, which can cook desserts such as apple and pear compote. It caramelises nuts to great effect too. Experimentation with the different settings has taught me that you don’t have to be rigid about the settings either. 

I’ve cooked all sorts using an array of the settings and most things that have emerged have been a success. Just keep an eye on what the machine is up to, rather than walking away and ignoring it.

Any downsides to the Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1?

Tefal ActiFry Genius XL 2in1

Twin cooking levels makes the Tefal ActiFry Genius XL perfect for combination meals

(Image credit: Tefal )

As is the case with any air fryer or one pot machine, you’ll need to practice a little bit in order to get used to the way it works. Air fryers can get very hot and have the tendency to over cook some foods if you’re not well versed in the way your model ticks. The Tefal is much the same, and can scorch some ingredients if you don’t keep an eye on them. The glass lid lets you keep tabs on things however.

The top layer is also fairly limited as to what you can squeeze in, so you’ll often have to dice meat or larger veg in order to get it all in and still get the lid shut. The bowl underneath has plenty of room though, but bear in mind that there’s a stirring paddle that revolves as the appliance cooks. This can be a little bit destructive with more fragile ingredients. A classic example is sweet potato, which if you’re making fries can tend to disintegrate if you’re not very careful.

Another quirk of the fan heating and paddle combination is that lighter crumb-like ingredients, or spices you’ve added, can tend to be blown out through the gap between the body and the lid. This can make a bit of a mess and the same goes if you’ve been roasting potatoes in their skins. Flakes of potato skin can get blown all over the place. It’s a small point, but one that’s worth remembering if you hate any kind of cleaning up. Aside from that, the appliance itself is really simple to maintain and get ready for the next cooking assignment.

Overall though, I think it’s pretty easy to see why the Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1 is still my favourite kitchen appliance.

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Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital he has run the Innovation channel during a few years at Microsoft as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working he's usually out and about on one of numerous e-bikes in his collection.