The best air fryer is a revolutionary gadget that literally allow you to have your fried 'cake' – by which we mean chips and other food you'd usually deep fry – and eat it too. An air fryer uses hot air combined with just a teaspoon of oil (as opposed to the gallons required in a standard deep fat fryer) in order to produce the delicious crispy food we all know and love.
For those of you who are sceptical; yes we know it doesn’t taste quite the same as food cooked in a deep fat fryer, and essentially air fryers are heavily scaled down versions of the fan ovens you'll find in our guide to the best ovens. However, one of the best air fryer models is still worth a purchase, especially if space is at a premium or you are not a confident cook.
Giving reduced health risks on some of your favourite foods, the best air fryers are increasingly popular with families, communal households and anyone who enjoys eating chips on a regular basis. This guide to the best air fryer has links out to our air fryer reviews, so you can delve deeper into the exciting world of lower-fat frying. Bon appetit!
How to choose the best air fryer for you
What is an air fryer? Well, it is essentially a very small fan oven. When seeking out the best air fryer for you, you’re going to be looking for the same things you look for in any kitchen appliance. First off: capacity. The size of the machine you buy will depend on the size of your family and the size of your kitchen, and the last thing you want to do is end up with a huge appliance that’s cumbersome and far too big to use for just you and your partner.
Of course, the bigger you go, the more options you get, with some allowing you to fry multiple food items at a time, or even doubling up as other appliances such as steamers and grills. One of the other major advantages of air fryers compared to deep fat fryers is that they are much less hassle to clean and low maintenance in general. Look out for models with dishwasher safe parts and intuitive controls which allow you to vary the temperature for cooking to perfection.
The best air fryers to buy, in order
In the UK, this is technically called model HD9650/99. The version in the USA seems to be slightly different and is called HD9630/96 Airfryer XXL as far as we can tell.
Philips Airfryer XXL packs a lot into an admittedly sizeable package in order to accommodate anyone who needs to cook on a big scale thanks to a wide basket that can handle, for example, a whole chicken. There are a handful of preset modes so you can air fry, grill, roast, bake and dehydrate foodstuffs or take the manual route and choose from heat settings 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. We loved this so much, we gave it a T3 Award two years running.
- Read our Philips Airfryer XXL review
As well as turning out your classic air-fried staples – ie: chips, chicken and salmon – this actually doubles as a slightly Instant Pot-like cooker for 'wet' meals such as curries, stews and casseroles. It may look a little complicated at first glance but it's actually very intuitive.
With a glass dome so you can see what's cookin' and a handy little spatula/paddle thing that turns around inside to stir food, so you don't have to, it's something of a joy to use. If your kitchen is cramped you might struggle to find storage space for this hefty beast but when something is this useful and effective, why store it away anyhow?
- Read our full Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1 review
If you're looking for the best cheap model then, for us, the Wilko 4L Air Fryer is currently pick of the crop. It might have an entry-level price tag but this appliance can air fry a treat. There's a generous 4 litre capacity, which is ideal for family meals if we're talking fries and a brilliant no-nonsense design. A pair of simple dials allow you to set heat and time settings, a power light and a blue indicator to show optimum operating heat and that's it.
The Wilko 4L Air Fryer packs in 1400 watts of power, so it's more than capable of cooking up chips, chicken wings and spring rolls like any other rival. And, because it's got that sizeable capacity you can probably squeeze a few other things in there too. As befits the best air fryer design, there's a grill in the bottom of the pan that you site food on top of. Oil and grease then drips into the pan for disposal. It's wonderfully simply and brilliant for the money.
- Read our Wilko 4L Air Fryer 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 an entire meal in one go by taking care of, say, fries in one side 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. However, the way that you can bung everything into the one appliance more than makes up for that, especially if you're always pushed for time in the kitchen. As usual with Ninja, the finish of the Foodi Dual Zone is very plush, and this air fryer is heavily promoted on Food TV channels with 'proper' chefs using it to make great meals. However, the fact you can cook twice the normal amount of fries is probably an equally big selling point for many.
Instant Vortex is the air fryer spin-off of Instant Pot. The chunky lines of its flagship Air Fryer let you know that it means business, 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
The Sage the Combi Wave 3 in 1 is a beefy appliance but for good reason. Alongside its solid credentials for producing air fried food this model can turn its hand to a raft of varied cooking tasks. Choose from mealtime cooking options that include Fast Combi, From Frozen, Air Fry, Oven and Microwave from the sizeable onboard settings menu. Or set up everything using manual control. What's more, you can pick additional settings such as Grill, Keep Warm, Melt Chocolate and Soften Butter.
Sage has done a fab job with the design, with a delicious stainless steel exterior along with innards to match. It's cavernous too, with 25 litres of space to cook anything and everything in. You'll need to find space to accommodate it, but the trade off is you get a multi-purpose device that cooks great air fried meals and can also tackle plenty of other options too.
- Read our Sage the Combi Wave 3 in 1 review
Ninja’s AF100UK Air Fryer immediately impresses as you take it out of the box due to its more compact size and lighter weight. It’s not the smallest air fryer on the market, but if you’re stuck for space this model is perfect. Better still, the container you cook your food in is nicely made, with an extremely durable ceramic-coated crisper plate insert that you rest food on for more consistent results. Apart from the main unit, everything is dishwasher-friendly.
Results-wise, the Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer is capable on all fronts, so it naturally does perfect air fry chips but can roast, reheat and dehydrate too. You can cook using presets or manually across the whole heat spectrum, as well as benefitting from two fan speeds when needed.
- Read our Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer review
While the Russell Hobbs Express Air Fry Mini Oven is more than capable of serving up a solid portion of fries, this is also a multi-function device that lets you cook in several different ways. That means air frying, grilling, baking and toasting can be carried out. Meanwhile it's also nifty for warming food and keep it that way using the convection heat. The appliance is particularly adept at cooking pizza, so for anyone who lives by a diet of pizza and chips then the appeal is obvious. The grill trays allow you to easily dispense with oil though, making things that little bit more healthy.
Granted, the look and operation are a little bit old school in feel, but the upside is the Russell Hobbs Express Air Fry Mini Oven is a doddle to use and you know exactly where you are with it. Even down to the satisfying 'ting' when your food is done. That window on the front and drop down door offers the benefit of being able to carry out quick visual checks on progress, plus you can give things a prod too. Watch those fingers though.
Morphy Richards Health Fryer (model 480003) is proof positive that you don’t need to spend a fortune in order to enjoy high-end, primo chips. There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking about this air fryer, but it is very good at what it does, which includes providing us with yet more chicken wings.
We love the simple to use manual controls so you can fine-tune cook times. As per most air fryers it’ll fry, obviously, as well as roast and grill to great effect. We’ve found its baking prowess pretty good too with pizza dough and the odd muffin or two coming out tops.
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. No matter, it’s reasonably easy to clean and that square design means it’ll slot away in a cupboard when you’re done scoffing those fab fries.
3 toppings you really need to try on your French fries
If you've ever been to a Dutch snack bar, you'll know that they know how to top off a portion of fries to turn them into little cartons of joy. Here are three Nederlandse snackbar toppings you must try on chips made in your air fryer. Eet smakelijk!
1. Patatje flip: fries with satay sauce and mayonnaise on top.
2. Patat speciaal: fries with ketchup and mayonnaise and a sprinkling of finely chopped raw onions on top.
3. Patatje oorlog: Oorlog translates as 'war' and that's basically what happens here as your fries are drenched in satay sauce, mayonnaise and topped off with chopped raw onion. Some regions add curry sauce, too. A decadent delight.