Does the Kmart oven air fryer basket live up to its glowing reviews?
By Bryan Wall
Product test writer
After my week with a real air fryer, it came to my attention (in other words, my wife told me) that we could get an air fryer for the princely sum of just $12. I was somewhat disappointed when she directed me to the Kmart website and showed me the $12 oven air fry basket!
Looking at the reviews, however, made me reconsider: “Works as well as the in-fashion air fryer appliances”; “Better than an air fryer! Use your oven and the baskets and you have a massive air fry capacity with the same result”; and my favourite, “If you buy two, as I did, you could even place them on your office desk, with one marked In and the other Out.”
So we sent out our awesome market researcher Kirsty to grab one, and I tested it on a few of the recipes that I had made for the ‘real’ air fryer. Let’s see how they compared.
Air fryer face-off
I decided that trying some of the more successful snack recipes might be the best way to try this out, of which I had three: potato chippies (crisps), spicy chickpeas and, most importantly, hot chips.
My initial reaction to the basket was surprise at how small it is. I was expecting something more akin to the size of my current oven tray but it’s probably about two-thirds the size. It’s bigger than most air fryer baskets, though. Another review from Kmart stated, “I thought it would fit in the air fryer, otherwise great!”
It’s also a pretty flimsy piece of kit, and doesn’t feel like it’s going to last a long time. Now you may argue, ‘well what do you expect for $12?’, but I don’t agree with that sentiment. Cookware products really should last a very long time as they are pretty simple objects.
These were a big success in the air fryer appliance – one potato gave me a good portion of kettle-style crunchy chippies that were devoured rapidly. How did the basket fare? I used the same process as for the air fryer: a mandolin to slice the potato finely, then soak the slices in water for 15 minutes and drain, then repeat. Pat dry, then toss in a tablespoon of olive oil and a little salt. Into the basket and oven at 200°C. Throughout the cooking process I had to separate the crisps regularly, so there's quite a bit of effort involved in making these. It also took a lot longer than the air fryer, probably twice the amount of time. The result was pretty good, but I had overcooked them a bit as I found that some crisps were cooking quicker than others. This didn’t happen with the air fryer…
Result: Air fryer wins
The easiest of the snacks to make – drain a tin of chickpeas, toss in some oil, spices and salt, and in they go. This time I decided to use a proper recipe as I made them a little too spicy in the air fryer. These came out as good as in the air fryer, but again took a fair while longer. They were, however, even spicier! Perhaps I should have taken note that using both chilli powder and cayenne pepper might have been overkill.
Result: A score draw
Now the ultimate test for an air fryer and the foodstuff they were made for, the best food in the world, the hot chip.
More soaking and draining to remove starch, patted dry, oiled and salted and into the basket in a 200°C oven. Again, a much longer cooking time than the air fryer – about 40 minutes in total, and they could have done with longer but the children were starting to raid the pantry. Easier to cook in the basket than on a normal oven tray, as they didn’t stick and need turning over. The result was better than my normal oven chips but not as good as the air fryer ones. I also learnt a valuable lesson about properly cleaning the basket after my youngest son told me they were "too spicy, Dad!"
Result: Another air fryer win
Air fryer 3, air basket 1.
For me, the air basket didn’t really compare to the air fryer in performance. However, it is a fraction of the price and I can certainly see the benefit as a non-stick tray for the oven. If they made a slightly larger one I would definitely get one for myself.
This was a very short and limited test but it did make me realise that the air fryer does have its place in the modern kitchen. It’s a very efficient way to cook a variety of foods, and it makes a damn fine chip!
We had a number of comments from people suggesting that we try the air fryer basket at a higher temp to get better hot chips. So I fired up my Smeg oven to 225°C and got chopping. After 30 mins cooking I decided that was long enough for a comparison (after all the air fryer only took 20 mins). My oven is relatively new and the chips were cooked on the fan setting. The result was not much different from what we found above – pretty good chips, but not as good as the air fried ones.
The basket is still the best way to cook chips in the oven though, they don’t stick like they do to my silicon ‘non-stick’ mat, and I will certainly be using my air fryer basket for chips in the future.