Here's why an air fryer is the first thing you should pack when going back to college

Kit yourself out with a space-saving, super efficient air fryer – it's like fast food only healthier

 Tower T17021 Family Size Air Fryer
(Image credit: Tower)

Are you heading back to uni soon, or indeed, for the first time? Enjoy your holidays for now, but when the time comes, there's nothing better to take with you than an air fryer. I'm something of an air fryer aficionado, and I'm not at all surprised just how popular they’ve become, especially with students. There are models available to suit all budgets and range from basic through to advanced, with features and functions that take the place of several kitchen appliances.

If you’re not that great in the kitchen, or frequently can’t be bothered to cook a meal from scratch, the humble air fryer is a lifesaver. It lets you bypass the super convenient go-to option of a takeaway and can often be used to produced takeaway-style food, only for less money. In some cases the food served up might even be a tad healthier to eat too. My personal favourite of fried chicken, covered in my own recipe seasoning, beats the local chain equivalent hands-down I think. All you need is something from our guide to the best air fryers, and you're away. 

What's so smart about an air fryer?

Much of that is down to the neat way air fryers work. They get hot quick, thanks to an element and fan inside that makes them effectively a portable oven. That said, they don't actually fry food, which is why they're healthier as there's little or no oil involved. 

They’re very convenient too, with ingredients or entire meals being placed in a main compartment, so there’s much less mess compared to preparing your dinner from scratch.

Then, of course, there’s the easy clean aspect of an air fryer. Most can have their exterior wiped over with a damp cloth, while the inner baskets can be washed in hot soapy water or even be put into a dishwasher if you’ve got one. Less mess, less waste and a lot less cleaning than a pile 'o' pans.

Is air frying really that easy?

How to make perfect air fried chicken

(Image credit: Getty)

The main thing though is that air fryers are generally a doddle to get to grips with. In fact, an air fryer can be a revelation if you’ve never used one and, even if you have, it’s always a result when you come up with something else you can throw in and cook in no time. The folks at T3 Towers have tried all cooking all sorts in their own air fryers and it’s all good stuff.

Take Duncan Bell, for example, who has mastered divine fried chicken, how to cook the best ever chips along with sizzling steaks, both meaty and not so meaty in the case of his delicious fake steak find. I too can vouch for how versatile these things are and regularly cook all sorts in my machine, from tasty wings through to entire roast dinners including meat, potatoes and all points in-between.

Check out the best things to cook in an air fryer if you're looking for some inspiration before or after you purchase your machine.

Should I pack an air fryer with my other stuff?

Innoteck Air Fryer Oven With Rotisserie And Dehydrator

Some models have a rotisserie function too

(Image credit: Innoteck)

If you’re student then an air fryer is one of the main things to ensure you’ve packed in the back of the car before you head off to your accommodation. Most air fryers are compact, though you can get larger machines if you’re sharing with other folks. Getting them into the boot of your car is not a problem, and leaving home without such a labour-saving appliance is nothing short of crazy.

When you arrive at the other end, the air fryer should be the first thing you use too. Chances are you’ll be hungry and the humble air fryer will rustle up a meal in no time. These things are very fast at cooking all sorts of foodstuffs, from faff-free frozen chips through to chunks of chicken. Burgers, sausages and so on can all be done with ease. However, vegetarians and vegans will be just as smitten with an air fryer as they can be used to produce excellent non-meat and plant-based meals too.

Any other positives about owning an air fryer?

Xiaomi Mi Smart Air Fryer

Many models can be controlled using an app - even easier!

(Image credit: Xiaomi)

Another bonus with having an air fryer to use instead of, say, an oven is that they’re very energy efficient. Although air fryers don’t technically fry food – more, they work like a fan oven, the smaller size of most machines makes them quick to heat up. 

Air fryers are portable too, and can be located on a worktop and put away again when you’re done and you’ve let the machine cool down as per instructions in the manual. If you’re tight on space an air fryer therefore makes a huge amount of sense and for little in the way of outlay too. So, what are you waiting for, get packing!

Rob Clymo

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 for a few years at Microsoft, as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of Stuff, 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 the numerous e-bikes in his collection.