(Pocket-lint) – Air fryers offer an alternative and healthy way to crisp up your food without the need for half a bottle of oil. They are basically small ovens that use powerful – and normally pretty noisy – fans, along with a concentrated heat source to deliver a fried finish to your food, whether that be chips, chicken, wings or even veg.
Requiring very little oil, or none at all, and a touch of a couple of buttons to deliver crispy chips, crunchy onion bhajis or anything else you might otherwise fry, these air fryers are essentially a guilt-free way to eat chips and some will save you energy compared to using an electric oven too.
There are several options around, all with various features, and while Tefal, Ninja and Instant appear multiple times on our best air fryers list, there are others to consider as well.
Here’s our pick of the best air fryers to buy today
Ninja Foodi Max
The Ninja Foodi isn’t the cheapest on our list, but it’s not just an air fryer. This smart-looking device has six cooking functions: air fry, bake, roast, reheat, dehydrate and grill.
There’s a 5.7-litre cooking pot, 3.8-litre crisper basket for delicious chips and wings, a grill plate for cooking chicken or steak, a cleaning brush and you get a recipe guide. There’s also a leave in digital probe to make sure your food is perfectly cooked.
Instant Pot Plus 6-in-1 with ClearCook and OdourEase
The Instant Pot Plus 6-in-1 with ClearCook and OdourEase offers multiple ways to cook, making it a very versatile air fryer. It also has a window and a light to allow you to see cooking progress and there’s a touchscreen too for easy adjustment of time and temperature.
This air fryer comes in two options – a single model with 5.7-litre capacity, and a dual model with a 7.6-litre capacity. There’s also a built-in filter to reduce cooking smells. If you’re after crispy chips or wings, this Instant Pot Plus 6-in-1 with ClearCook and OdourEase is excellent.
Tefal FZ773840 Actifry Genius+ Air Fryer
This is higher up this list than the 2-in-1 option below, mainly for price. Like the more expensive option though, this air fryer has automatic programs to take care of temperature, cooking and stirring time, making cooking a breeze.
This model only has a single zone, but the 1.2kg removable bowl is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning, can handle between 5 and 6 portions and you can download the free app for hundreds of specific ActiFry recipes.
Ninja Air Fryer Max
The Ninja Max comes in three capacities so you can choose the best one for your home, depending on the number of people and your available cupboard space. We’ve picked the middle option for our list.
It offers six cooking functions: Max Crisp, Air Fry, Roast, Bake, Reheat and Dehydrate. There’s a 5.2-litre non-stick basket that is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning and the controls are nice and intuitive, making this one easy to use. It’s not bad looking either.
Cosori Pro LE L501
The Cosori Pro LE L501 is one of the cheaper options on our list, but it’s a good option for those on a smaller budget. The touchscreen sits on top, offering a sleek and minimalist design, and there is a dishwasher-safe basket for easy cleaning.
It has a compact 4.7-litre capacity and there are seven preset options for dishes including bacon. It’s not the best option for frozen foods, but it will deliver crispy chips and wings.
Tefal ActiFry Genius XL 2in1 YV970840
The ActiFry Genius XL 2-in-1 is one pricey bit of kit. In fact, it’s more expensive than most full-blown ovens, but it does pretty much everything for you by adjusting the temperature, time and stirring.
There are 54 smart program combinations taking advantage of the two cooking zones to cook all parts of your meal and have them ready at the same time, as well as nine smart auto programs and a built-in timer. The 1.7kg capacity can handle up to eight portions and there’s a dedicated free app with over 300 recipes too. Striving for the perfect dinner party host? This will be your best friend.
Philips Essential Air Fryer
The Philips Essential Air Fryer is probably one of the best looking air fryers on our list. Like others, it has an accompanying app that offers hundreds of recipes and tips to make the most use of your air fryer.
You can grill, roast, fry, bake and reheat using this model and comes with seven presets, as well as a compact 4.1-litre capacity for easy stroage. It also has a keep warm function, which keeps your food at the ideal temperature for up to 30 minutes.
Philips Premium XXL Airfryer
The Philips Premium XXL Airfryer is pretty pricey compared to some of the other options on this list but it’s great for all the family and it looks good too so you might not mind it on your worktop if there’s no space in your cupboards.
There’s a 7.3-litre capacity and you can fry, bake, grill and roast. There is also a Keep Warm function like the smaller Philips Air Fryer on this list and there’s fat removal technology on board too.
Ninja Foodi Max Dual Zone Air Fryer
The Ninja Foodi Max Dual Zone Air Fryer has two independant cooking zones, perhaps unsurprisingly based on its name. These zones allow you to cook different foods using different programs that will be ready at the same time.
Like other Ninja Air Fryers, this model has six cooking functions: Air Fry, Max Crisp, Roast, Bake, Reheat & Dehydrate. It comes with two cooking drawers, two crisper plates and a recipe guide.
Instant Pot Vortex 6 (4-in-1)
The Instant Pot Vortex offers four programs in one with Air Fry, Bake, Reheat and Roast functions. There’s a capacity that fits up to 1.8kg of chicken or 1kg of chips and there’s the option to cook from fresh or frozen.
The smart dial control offers temperature adjustment up to 205-degrees and cooking time up to an hour, and it looks pretty good too so if you don’t have the cupboard space, you might not mind it on display. It’s also one of the cheapest on this list.
Tefal ActiFry Genuis XL AH960840
The Tefal ActiFry Genius XL AH960840 has nine automatic programs including ‘1-meal-1-go’, where you add all the ingredients at once and let the Genius XL do all the work for you.
It offers a 1.7kg capacity, has an automatic stirring paddle and the automatic programs adjust the temperature and stir, without you having to lift a finger. This model will also turn itself off, keep food warm and it has dishwasher safe parts for easy cleaning.
Instant Vortex Mini Air Fryer
The Instant Vortex Mini Air Fryer is one of the cheaper models on the list, but it’s very compact and great for individual use or couple use. It has a 2-litre capacity and it offers Fry, Bake, Roast and Reheat programs.
It doesn’t have a dishwasher-safe basket so it’s a little harder to clean than some other options on this list, but it’s a great option for features and price.
What to consider when buying an air fryer
There are a number of considerations to take into account when buying an air fryer. Firstly, consider how many people you are typically cooking for. If you are a family of four or more, then you’ll want to be looking at some of the larger capacity options rather than the smaller and more compact options.
You also need to consider the space you have in your kitchen cupboards, or on the side. This might make a difference to which model you choose as if you have to have it on your kitchen side, you might not want an overly bulky option, or you may want one of the more streamlined designs.
There are also basket air fryers and bowl air fryers. The bowl options typically have windows to allow you to check on your food, but they aren’t as heathly as the basket models because the food remains in contact with the cooking juices. Basket air fryers on the other hand remove the juices from the food, but you normally need to open them to check on your food, which can let cold air in and slow down cooking time.
What can you cook in an air fryer?
There are a number of foods you can cook in an air fryer. The obvious options are the foods you might normally deep fry, such as chips, chicken wings and roast potatoes but there are plenty of other foods you can cook too.
Many air fryer models come with an app offering recipe inspiration so you can get the most out of your kitchen gadget, but you can also cook most things you would cook in a traditional fan oven as they use the same principal.
That means you can put frozen foods like mini pizzas in an air fryer or seafood. Where we have found air fryers struggle is battered foods, like onion rings – especially in the bowl air fryers. They also aren’t brilliant with light foods, like lettuce leaves. Otherwise though, air fryers are exceptional kitchen gadgets.
Is air-fried food healthier?
The answer to this depends on what you put into the air fryer in the first place, but in theory air-fried foods are healthier than fried foods as they require significantly less oil.
It depends on the air fryer model you opt for as to how much oil is recommended but most claim you will upwards of 75 per cent less oil than traditional frying methods.
There will be some foods that you won’t any oil for when cooked in an air fryer, like chicken wings, and some chips like McCain’s Naked Chips, but other foods you will need to add a little bit of oil.
Writing by Britta O’Boyle.