If you’re tempted into trying one of our best air fryers recommendations then it’s also worth considering this, the Russell Hobbs 26095 – also known as the Express Air Fry Mini Oven. Why? Well, it can air fry chips and spring rolls with the best of them, but it’s also a multipurpose mini oven that does the job of several appliances.
In fact, it's really more of a convection oven than it is an air fryer, but it's easy to see why Russell Hobbs has managed to add this feature to the others on offer here.
Air fryers have become hugely popular of late and they’re perfect if you love the taste and texture of fried food, but want to have less oil present when you cook it. However, having one appliance that can take on other tasks makes sense too, especially if you’re looking to maximise your kitchen space.
So while the Russell Hobbs Express Air Fry Mini Oven can turn out lovely fries, chicken nuggets, spring rolls and so on, it’ll do a lot more besides. In that respect this kitchen gadget also looks to be a practical solution, because it allows you to bypass several other appliances, while only having to find space for one.
Better still, the Russell Hobbs Express Air Fry Mini Oven will appeal to anyone who prefers a more conventional 'dials and buttons' kitchen gadget, as opposed to those that feature a touchscreen and require an app in order to function at their best. It’s not old school as the performance is efficient, but operating it feels vaguely retro. In a good way that is.
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Russell Hobbs Express Air Fry Mini Oven: what is it?
If you’re looking for something that’s a little more versatile than even the best air fryers on the market then the Russell Hobbs Express Air Fry Mini Oven is an interesting proposition. As mentioned, this sizeable kitchen appliance isn’t just an air fryer, because it comes with four other cooking modes. So it’ll air fry, grill, bake, toast and keep for warm too. Not bad for a machine that costs under £100.
There’s more good news too, as Russell Hobbs claims it boasts a speedier preheat that’s up to four times faster than a conventional oven. The figure is based on a conventional electric oven when preheating to 220°C. To look at it is certainly more oven in design than air fryer, with access to the cooking area gained from the front via a glass door that opens downwards. There's no noisy fan either.
However, because of the way it’s been designed it appears to be more frugal when it comes to power consumption. The Russell Hobbs people state that the unit is 63% more energy efficient compared to an oven if you’re cooking a frozen cheese pizza at 200°C. There’s 1500 watts of convection technology at your disposal, while the capacity is pretty good too.
Indeed, it’s got 12.6 litres of space for cooking everything from your biggest and best pizza through to a whole chicken. Just like a regular oven the shelves can be adjusted up and down using the sliders on the inside, allowing bigger items to be bundled in when required. So it’s versatile, very accommodating and efficient. But is it any good?
Russell Hobbs Express Air Fry Mini Oven: is it any good?
Pulling it out of the packaging for the first time the Russell Hobbs Express Air Fry Mini Oven is notable for its size. It’s got dimensions of 35.8 x 45.1 x 30.5 cm and weighs in at 6.47 Kilograms, so think along the lines of a large microwave. It’ll take up a similar footprint too, so you’ll need some space on your kitchen worktop in order to accommodate it.
Naturally, as with any appliance like this, you’ll also need to give it a bit of space too as with the decent amount of power it comes with the resulting heat needs a chance to dissipate. That might be a sticking point if you’re stuck with a teensy galley kitchen.
Aside from the unit it comes with everything needed to get started, including a wire shelf, a bake pan/drip tray, air fry mesh rack and a crumb tray. The latter accessory slides into a slot on the underneath of the unit just below the door, and catches breadcrumbs and other foodie detritus that accumulates over time.
The other shelves slide into slots inside the unit, in much the same way as a regular oven. Three dials on the front allow you to adjust the mode, heat and timer settings. There's a red power light above these and that's about it. Overall, the quality of the components and the general design and build quality is pretty good for a sub 100 quid appliance.
Russell Hobbs Express Air Fry Mini Oven: Performance
It turns out the performance is just as impressive as the design and build quality. Perhaps the best thing about the Russell Hobbs Express Air Fry Mini Oven is the way that it can cook food in several different ways. A dedicated air fryer is all well and good, but this occupies the same sort of space and can be used to produce a variety of meals. There’s very little to do in order to start cooking. Simply slide in the supplied pan and rack accessories as you need them and load in your foodstuffs.
We got the ball rolling with a 12” pizza, which we did actually have to carve up in order to fit it onto the shelves. Pizzas can be a chore to get right in a conventional oven, whereas the Russell Hobbs units did a sterling effort. Our dough-based tasty treat emerged crispy without being burnt, while retaining moisture too. The bonus with this appliance is it is higher up than many conventional ovens, allowing quick and easy visual checks on food that can normally be easily scorched, which definitely includes pizzas.
Next up, we had a go at the air fryer staple of French fries, with both frozen and from-scratch offerings given the Russell Hobbs treatment. The unit made quick work of both services, although like most other fryers you’ll need to whip them out shake the fries for more uniform cooking. Again though, the window on the front lets you keep tabs on progress, which is handy. There is actually a bit of a knack to getting air fryer chips just right. Do it a few times and you gain an eye for fries.
If you like appliances that offer a tactile experience then the Russell Hobbs Express Air Fry Mini Oven will certainly appeal. The dials on the front of the device let you control all of the settings and, with practice, it is possible to become quite slick at getting them to cook food just to your liking. While you’re still in the learning curve though we found it is possible to overcook food, particularly baked items.
Careful management of the 1500 watts does eventually yield some quality results. A real bonus is the way it’s particularly good at warming pre-baked bread rolls and keeping them that way while allowing your kitchen to smell like the local bakery.
Russell Hobbs Express Air Fry Mini Oven: verdict
This is a good solution if you’re looking for an excuse to use the oven less and want to cook a variety of different meals using a countertop appliance. The Russell Hobbs Express Air Fry Mini Oven offers a quick and easy alternative, and also rolls several cooking options into one machine.
However, it's more of a convection mini oven than an air fryer, but it is still pretty versatile. The controls require a bit of practice to master depending on how you like your food to be cooked. Those controls are quite good fun actually and make a change from touchscreens and LCDs.
The Russell Hobbs Express Air Fry Mini Oven certainly gets hot too though, so is great for anyone who loves their meals to have a crispy edge, with fries and fried chicken being the two standouts for us. Conversely, we found it came in useful on more than one occasion for simply keeping food warm until we were ready for seconds.
You could potentially use this machine instead of your oven, especially as it heats up nice and quickly. Although it appears to be aimed at families we think this combo unit would actually be ideal for one or two users. The capacity inside the unit is okay, but in practical terms it’s not going to be a complete solution for anyone with many mouths to feed. Ultimately it's hard to fault for the money although its slightly retro feel might not appeal to everyone.