Wilko 4L Air Fryer Review: the best cheap air fryer a small amount of money can buy

Enjoy the best crispy and crunchy fried food for peanuts with the Wilko 4L economy air fryer

Wilko 4L Air Fryer
(Image credit: Wilko)
T3 Verdict

A brilliantly simple design that cooks excellent air fried food without the faff or the expense makes the Wilko 4L Air Fryer a bit of a hit with us.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Excellent results

  • +

    Brilliantly simple

  • +

    Great value

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    No LCDs or presets

  • -

    No food viewing window

Tempted by the thought of eating fried food, but want a healthier variation on the theme? The Wilko 4L Air Fryer might be just the kitchen gadget you’ve been looking for. While this is already a packed marketplace, as our guide to the best air fryers illustrates, there’s always room for another contender and Wilko has come up trumps with its own entry. Known as a brand that offers value, the Wilko 4L Air Fryer is just that; you get top value but it comes with all of the right air fryer credentials.

Buying an air fryer makes a lot of sense if you’ve got a family with a penchant for fried food. While frying anything isn’t seen as a great way to eat more healthily, an air fryer has been built specifically for the task and the design allows you to cook with little or no oil. Add in the ability of any decent air fryer to crisp your food to perfection and you’ll soon be looking at the crunchiest fries, wings and spring rolls this side of a high street takeaway. And Wilko’s humble 4L Air Fryer looks more than up for the challenge.

Wilko 4L Air Fryer: what is it?

Wilko 4L Air Fryer

It's simple to use but the Wilko 4L Air Fryer cooks food a treat

(Image credit: Wilko)

The Wilko 4L Air Fryer is a budget or entry-level air fryer, which might suggest that it’s going to be inferior to the competition. However, that couldn't be farther from the truth. Wilko might be the go-to outlet if you’re after a bargain, but its own brand electrical appliances are a pleasant surprise. The Wilko 4L Air Fryer is a nice looking thing, which crucially doesn't take up loads of space on your countertop or in a cupboard if you want to store it after use.

The design is pretty impressive too. Refreshingly, this air fryer comes with old school dials rather than packing all of the controls into a digital screen. The lack of an LCD might actually make the Wilko 4L Air Fryer all the more appealing to anyone who has grown tired of too many functions that get in the way of performance. Imagine that? No touchscreen shenanigans here. All you get with this gadget is two chrome dials, one for setting the cooking time and one for setting the heat.

Add in a red power light and a blue one to indicate if it’s at the optimum operating heat and that’s it. The simplicity is wonderful. The other great thing about this strategy is you can be up and running in no time and, to be honest, this is all you really need to complete any type of air frying task. The knack with getting your French fries cooked just right, or anything else on the fried front, is to keep an eye on the food. Wilko’s 4L Air Fryer also boasts a quaint ticking noise as your food gets the heat treatment and then celebrates when it’s ready with a ‘ting’. Great stuff.

Wilko 4L Air Fryer: is it any good?

We loved using the Wilko 4L Air Fryer because it can be easily set up and configured. You’ll be frying chips or anything else on the fried food menu within minutes. Again, it's the overall simplicity that allows you to get great results too. For example, there are no pre-programmed settings on offer with this model. Some other rivals have one-touch button functions for things like fries, meat, fish and so on. The Wilko 4L Air Fryer has none of that nonsense. You can dial in a time up to a limit of 30 minutes, set the required heat yourself and away you go.

Naturally, the 30-minute limitation on the timer front means that if you’ve got a particularly challenging frying task, or you love cremated fries, then this might not be enough. However, the 30 minutes timeout is actually deceptively useful. Air fryers can be used for roasting as well as frying. So, thanks to the accommodating size of the Wilko 4L Air Fryer basket, you can roast something like a small chicken, using the 30-minute timeout to turn it around, or over, or to quickly baste it. There’s nothing innovative here, but the simple format just works.

Wilko 4L Air Fryer: Performance

Wilko 4L Air Fryer

The Wilko unit has two dials for controls and that's about it

(Image credit: Wilko)

So then, how does the simplicity of the feature set stack up against performance? We did the decent thing and loaded the generously sized basket with some frozen French fries as this is the ideal benchmark for a first time air frying session. It’s always a good idea to preheat an air fryer to get better results, which we did, so after setting the dials to match the cooking instructions we let the 1400 watt Wilko 4L Air Fryer do its thing. One immediately noticeable thing was the noise as this air fryer isn’t exactly whisper quiet but few are due to their built in fan, which is usually going to be up on your countertop unlike a low level conventional oven.

Air fryers do get hot too, and the Wilko 4L Air Fryer is no exception with the exterior feeling pretty warm during use. It’s advisable then to ensure you’ve got it in a safe and well ventilated space. The inner heat works a treat though as the fries were soon looking just like the picture on the bag, which rarely happens in reality. The downside with this air fryer, and indeed many of the others out there, is you can’t see the food cooking. The only way around this is to slide out the drawer and take a peep. This is good air fryer form though, as getting fried food just how you like it is as much a visual thing as it is a cooking technique.

With the frozen French fries a success we moved on to a couple of other air fryer staples. Chicken wings are great to check the performance credentials as they’re not substantial, so can be cooked quickly, but can also be easily ruined if you overcook them. We played around with the heat settings, which maxes out at 200 degrees Celsius, for this exercise and after mildly scorching a first batch we got a second serving right on the money. Crispy and crunchy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside.

Rounding it out by air frying a gaggle of spring rolls we found the Wilko 4L Air Fryer more than capable of heating the innards to piping hot temperature levels while nattily crisping up the exterior to deliver mouth-watering crunch appeal. Really, just as long as you keep an eye on what’s cooking, the Wilko 4L Air Fryer gets the job done brilliantly. A bit of a hit for something that costs a fraction of its rivals. It gets rid of the excess oil nicely too, with the mucky stuff dripping into the basket underneath the removable metal grill.

• Buy Wilko 4L Air Fryer at Wilko (UK)

 

Wilko 4L Air Fryer: verdict

It’s always great to get more from an appliance than you expect and in the case of the Wilko 4L Air Fryer the performance, results and value for money aspects all come together to make it a winner. Air frying food is, in essence, a pretty simple task that uses a fan and lots of heat to crisp up things like chips and chicken wings. If that’s all you want yours to do and don't want to break the bank then the Wilko 4L Air Fryer makes a lot of sense.

Sure, it doesn't have lots of different pre-programmed settings and relies on old-school oven-like dials for heat and time. No matter, because the Wilko 4L Air Fryer just works. If you like to occasionally treat yourself to something on the fried food front then this model is perfect for the job. At the same time, the Wilko 4L Air Fryer has more than enough capacity to deliver small mountains of French fries to your offspring if they demand nothing less than chips with everything.

Rob Clymo
Rob Clymo

Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember...