Same taste – less calories – YES please!
If you have a serious soft spot for chips and other fried delicacies, one way to make less calorie-dense versions of the treats you love is by using an air fryer.
These low-fat air fryers use up to 80% less oil than traditional frying methods and can do other cooking tasks as well, like roasting and baking.
Adding an air fryer to your kitchen arsenal will have you easily whipping up a broad array of healthier foods that will satisfy everyone.
There’s no question these appliances are good investments. The only question to answer is, which is the best air fryer for you? Before we get into that, here are a few basics:
What is an air fryer?
An air fryer is a counter-top kitchen appliance that cooks food with rapidly circulating hot air. Air fryers are incredibly versatile tools.
They can create significantly healthier versions of foods fried traditionally in oil, but can also roast, bake, and more.
How do air fryers work?
An air fryer essentially fries your food in air rather than in oil. Air is heated to your desired temperature and is then rapidly circulated around the food. A fan spins near the heating element and sends the air towards and all around the food.
This fast-moving super-heated air cooks the food, leading to a crispy exterior and a tender interior.
Although air fryers are most popularly used to mimic the taste of fried foods, in many ways they are more like a traditional oven than a fryer.
However, they are really an entirely unique cooking device in the way they work.
Now you know the basics of an air fryer, here are our picks for the top 4 best air fryers to buy in the UK in 2021:
Best Air Fryer Reviews UK
Pro Breeze XL Air Fryer Review
The versatile Pro Breeze XL Air Fryer uses incredibly hot, air cyclone technology to quickly and efficiently cook your favourite meals, often in less than twenty minutes.
It has seven preset operating modes to fry, grill and sauté a variety of foods such as fish, potatoes and vegetables. It can even roast chicken, slow cook steak and bake cakes. Its extra-large 5.5 litre capacity is ideal for cooking family meals.
The Pro Breeze is really simple to use. There is a digital LED panel with touch screen control at the front of the fryer.
It has an intuitive navigation that allows you to easily select the different functions and fully adjust the temperature and cooking times.
Inbuilt safety features include sensors and an automatic shut off to guard against overheating.
The large, accessible frying basket has holes in the base to allow fat and juices to drain away from dishes as they cook. It’s durable, the non-stick coating is easy to wipe clean and completely dishwasher safe.
Weighing just 6.4kg, the compact Pro Breeze has an elegant appearance with a high gloss black exterior that’s easy to wipe clean.
Philips HD9220/20 Healthier Oil Free Air fryer
Philips is a trusted brand known for making products that make people’s lives easier. Their line of air fryers accomplishes this by helping people make delicious fried foods in a healthier way. The Philips HD9220/20 is the best air fryer if you’re on a budget.
This air fryer has a 0.8 Kg capacity, making it a good choice for small families and households because you can cook enough for everyone in one go. Larger families and households may prefer the HD9240/90 extra-large air fryer for its larger capacity.
The controls for temperature and cooking time are easy to use and clean-up is easy since the fry basket itself is dishwasher safe.
This, and other Philips air fryers, uses Rapid Air Technology to quickly fry, bake, roast and grill. You can throw some frozen chips or chicken in for a no-effort meal in minutes or you can try an elaborate recipe.
They’ve also included a handy recipe book with 30 ideas to get you started, including classic fried foods like chips and wings but also things like brownies and quiche (you can find tons more air fryer recipes online). One downside with this air fryer is that for many foods, you have to stop during cooking to shake the fry basket in order to ensure that everything cooks and browns evenly.
Morphy Richards 480001 Health Fryer
The Morphy Richards 480001 Health Fryer is a drawer-style air fryer with an impressive 3 Kg capacity. This is one of the best air fryer models with pre-programmed cooking settings.
Just select from one of the eight pre-programmed options, and the fryer starts the timer and heats up to the correct temperature for the job. You can make adjustments easily with the digital touch display, too. It also has a defrost function to handle frozen foods.
Although not dishwasher safe, this fryer is still easy to clean, and the enclosed design keeps oil splatters and smells to a minimum.
Like most drawer-style air fryers you’ll see, the Morphy Richards 480001 Health Fryer does not have a tilt function or a window to watch the cooking process, but has a more compact size as a result.
The Morphy Richards Cook and Create app can help you find new recipes to try and give you tips for making the best roasted, baked, and fried foods. One downside to this air fryer is its gloss black finish. It’s a fingerprint magnet.
Tefal ActiFry 2-in-1 Low Fat Healthy Fryer, 1.5 kg
What makes this fryer unique is its 2-in-1 cooking feature. There is a top plate over the main cooking bowl, letting you easily cook two different dishes at once.
You could make salmon fillets on the top plate, and stir-fried vegetables on the bottom or fish on the top and chips on the bottom. It makes cooking a full, balanced meal incredibly convenient.
Unlike most other air fryers, a rotating paddle takes care of stirring for you during the cooking process. This ensures that fried foods are cooked and browned evenly.
Alternatively, it makes sure stir-fries or risottos are cooked to perfection without you having to pause and stir every few minutes.
A gourmet recipe book is included, with ideas from very traditional foods to world cuisine. Not having to use oil for the majority of the dishes means everything you make with this fryer is healthier.
The included recipe book shows off the many cooking options beyond frying that the air fryer can handle, too, so you’ll be an air fryer chef in no time.
When you’re done, all parts are easy to remove and are dishwasher safe, making clean-up just as easy as the cooking process.
Still can’t decide? Here are a few tips to consider when choosing an air fryer:
Size – The first and possibly most important thing you should consider is size. Make sure you choose an air fryer that is large enough to cook enough food for your entire family in one go.
Some air fryer recipes can take up to 45 minutes, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t want to have to cook two lots at 45 minutes each.
Convenience – Consider whether convenience is a big factor for you. Some air fryers require you to shake the fry basket at least once during the cooking process while others tilt and rotate the basket on their own while cooking.
If convenience is key for you, the best air fryer for you will be one that doesn’t require manual shaking, instead go for the set and forget option like the Tefal ActiFry 2-in-1 Low Fat Healthy Fryer.
Looks – Choose an air fryer you would proudly display on your counter-top. You want something that looks good and something you won’t mind seeing sitting on your kitchen counter-top when friends come over.
Cleanup – Let’s face it, no one likes cleaning up after cooking (at least I don’t). Some air fryers, like the Pro Breeze XL, have dishwasher safe parts, just give the fry basket a lite scrub then straight into the dishwasher it goes, clean-up done.
Warranty – Last but definitely not least is the warranty. Try to find an air fryer with at least 2 years warranty, models like the Philips HD9220/20 come with a standard 2 years warranty.
This offers more than enough peace of mind considering most air fryers are relatively inexpensive.
Air fryer FAQ
What is the best air fryer to buy?
Honestly speaking, there is no best air fryer. All air fryers provide basically the same core functions.
What you need to look for are little extras like, is it dishwasher safe? Is it large enough for my family? Does it take up a lot of countertop space? Small things like this would determine which air fryer is the best for you.
What can I make with an air fryer?
The possibilities are almost endless, from chips to curries to cakes. The best air fryer foods are probably the foods you would traditionally deep fry, like chips or fries, onion rings, potato wedges, mozzarella sticks, and so on.
However, you can also roast a chicken, grill vegetables, and even bake a cake in most air fryers.
Does it really taste like deep frying?
Not exactly, but it comes closer than you might expect. Especially when you add a small amount of oil, you get that fried taste without nearly as many calories or fat.
You definitely get the desired texture of a crisp outside and tender inside.
How much oil do I need to use?
That’s the beauty of air fryers. You can cook most foods without any oil at all. We do recommend one tablespoon of oil if you cooking something like chips, especially if it’s thin-cut chips, this ensures the chips doesn’t come out dry.
How much does an air fryer cost?
Air fryers are relatively new in the healthy cooking niche, as a result, the prices are slightly inflated. A good air fryer costs anywhere from £80 upwards, some high-end models can cost up to £200.
Who needs an air fryer?
The main function of an air fryer is to provide a healthier way of preparing foods that are traditionally fried.
If you’re trying to cut back on calories and adopt a healthier lifestyle, an air fryer would definitely help you to achieve this.
Can I cook in an air fryer?
Yes. Besides frying, you can bake, roast, sauté, grill, and cook anything else imaginable. We would recommend getting a large air fryer if you plan on cooking full-sized meals.
What air fryer capacity should I look for?
A 0.8 Kg capacity is ideal for households of one to three people if you want to cook enough for everyone in one session.
A larger air fryer like the Pro Breeze XL 5.5L Air Fryer would be better for entertaining, cooking in bulk, and cooking for larger groups without having to do the cooking in stages.
Will I notice a lot of cooking smells when I use an air fryer?
No, air fryers use much less oil than traditional frying appliances, you’ll notice less of the “frying” smell when you’re cooking with an air fryer.
Higher-end models like the Philips HD9240/90 comes with a built-in air filter to keep cooking smells at low levels.
The enclosed design of an air fryer also helps with cooking smell issues, but you can set them under a stove vent or by a window to help keep smells to a minimum.
How do you clean an air fryer?
The ease of clean-up is another benefit. It’s simple to remove the parts and they are typically dishwasher-safe.
Depending on what you make, you often won’t even need to wash the air fryer in between uses. Just dump out any crumbs and wipe it down.
Is there any downside to an air fryer?
Not really, other than it does take up a little counter space. Air fryers are versatile, use less energy, minimise food odours, make for easy clean-up, and make delicious food that is better for you.
Hopefully, these air fryer reviews and buying tips can help you to find the best low-fat air fryer for your needs.
Whichever one you choose, it’s safe to say that everyone in your family will love the food these versatile machines can make.
You’ll also love how easy it is to use, how it’s even easier to clean, doesn’t create a strong lingering smell in the kitchen, uses less energy, and creates food that is significantly healthier.