Include the best air fryer in your kitchen kit and you’ll never look back.
They’ll give you wonderfully crisp chips and crunchy fried chicken without the calories of a deep fat fryer.
But your favourite fried foods aren’t all you can make in these nifty machines – many of them can grill and roast meat and vegetables (and even bake – healthier doughnuts, anyone?).
Air fryers have been around for about 10 years or so, so they’re still a fairly new kitchen gadget.
The idea behind them is to provide healthier “fried” food that’s much lower in fat than traditional fried food that’s plunged in a vat of boiling oil.
They work by combining hot air – like in a fan oven – with small amounts of oil to give the taste and texture of fried food without the sky-high calorie content.
What should you look for in an air fryer?
First of all, you need to consider what you’re going to use it for.
Do want it to cook homemade chips, fried chicken and a few other staples, or are you planning to use it as a sort of a mini one-pot oven that you can cook whole meals in?
Many come with recipe booklets with meal suggestions, and you’ll be surprised at what they can cook, including meatballs, roasted veg and fish.
Next, think about the capacity.
Those around the 1.5kg mark will just about feed a family of four, but portion size is a little on the stingy side, so if you don’t have many mouths to feed, this capacity is plenty.
If, however, you like to batch cook or have a large family, look for 1.8-litre sizes and up.
Obviously the bigger the capacity of the cooking bowl, the bigger the machine and the more space you’ll need to store it, whether that be in a cupboard or out on the worktop permanently.
Make sure you have the room, as this is a fairly bulky piece of kitchen kit.
Some of the higher-end (and, therefore, more expensive) models have a rotating paddle or bowl that will do the stirring for you, so you can just switch it on and forget about it; others you’ll have to stir yourself.
Finally, some air fryers will cook food quicker than others, so look at timings when buying.
The trade-off for food that’s cooked quicker is usually a noisier operation, so take that into consideration. And double-check if the parts are dishwasher safe if that’s a make-or-break feature for you.
1. Tefal ActiFry Genius XL AH960840
- Tefal ActiFry Genius XL AH960840 1.7kg Air Fryer in Black, £179.99, Very – buy here
Tefal are probably the best-known makers of air fryers, and for good reason.
This model has a stirring paddle and Dual Motion technology, which basically means it circulates hot air around the bowl while continuously stirring the food.
It has nine automatic cooking programmes and two ‘1-meal-in-1-go’ settings so you can cook all your ingredients at once.
A super-handy addition is Tefal’s free MyActiFry App, with over 300 recipe suggestions, 150 of which have been created specifically for this Genius model.
2. Breville VDF122 Halo+ Duraceramic
- Breville VDF122 Halo+ Duraceramic 1.2kg Health Fryer, £91.29, Amazon – buy here
This Breville model is on the smaller side, both in terms of capacity and physical size, so it’s best for those who live on their own or couples, rather than families.
This model tilts and rotates the bowl to continuously turn ingredients for even browning, so you can let the machine get on with the work.
Planning to roast meat? There’s a roasting rack that raises food, allowing excess fat to drain.
Air fryers don’t get much healthier than this model.
3. Swan 5 Litre Manual Air Fryer
- Swan 5 Litre Manual Air Fryer, £64.99, Wayfair – buy here
This is a great-value option for its size.
With a whopping 5-litre capacity, you could feed a crowd with this air fryer, although you do need to stir what you’re cooking yourself.
Considering how big it is it’s pretty quiet too, and its sleek retro looks mean it’s stylish enough to leave out on your kitchen worktop.
Also comes in red and black.
4. Power 3.2-litre Air Fryer XL
- Power 3.2-litre Air Fryer XL in Black, £99.99, John Lewis – buy here
Not too big and not too small, this is a pretty good entry-level choice air fryer.
It has seven programmes for super-easy cooking, or you can manually adjust the timer and temperature settings on the digital controls.
There’s also an automatic shut-off feature to prevent overcooking or burning, non-stick, dishwasher-safe parts and a recipe booklet.
5. Morphy Richards Health Fryer 3L
- Morphy Richards Health Fryer 3L 480001 Black Health Fryer, £59.99, Amazon – buy here
We think this is one of the best-looking air fryers out there, so if easy-on-the-eye gadgets are your thing, this one’s for you.
It has a 3-litre capacity, eight programmes and a digital touch-screen display, but you have to do your own stirring with this one.
But it does have the benefit of being nice and compact – ideal if you have limited worktop or cupboard space.
6. VonShef 5-litre Air Fryer
- VonShef 5-litre Air Fryer, £69.99, Wayfair – buy here
Another model for the style-conscious among you, its black-and-copper-effect finish looks really smart.
It’s huge, boasting a 5-litre capacity, and the temperature can be adjusted from 80 to 200 degrees Celsius, allowing you to fry, grill, roast and bake, though stirring food has to be done manually.
Its parts are dishwasher-safe.
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