Get fries without the fat.
If you’re trying to eat more healthily, consider an air fryer: they circulate hot, dry air to produce crispy food without the added kilojoules and copious amount of saturated fats you get with deep-frying.
We put air fryers to the test by cooking thick-cut fries, home-made french fries and crumbed chicken.
Low-fat or air fryers are like mini-benchtop ovens, with either a rotating basket, a paddle to stir the food throughout the cooking process, or a drawer. With the latter, you have to pull the drawer out and shake the food.
Cooking takes about the same time as a regular oven, but some models use more energy than an oven. At the extreme end of the scale, one air fryer in our test would cost $30 a year if you used it for half an hour three times a week. That’s about the average yearly running cost for a built-in oven being used three times a week for an hour.
Cooking functions: Some models can also roast, bake and grill.
Capacity: Some air fryers can only take 800g, so you might need to cook food in batches, or buy a larger size (at least 8L) if you plan on roasting a whole chicken or have a large household to feed.
Size: Air fryers can take up quite a bit of space on your bench or in a cupboard.
Temperature range and settings: Some air fryers don’t get hotter than 200°C or have pre-determined temperature settings.
Pans, baskets and paddles: Dishwasher-safe, non-stick coatings are easy to clean but can get scratched. Ceramic pans are also easy to clean but can chip.
Accessories: Check what equipment is included, as having to buy accessories (such as a grill rack or tongs) will bump the price up.
Viewing window or lid: Useful for checking food while it’s cooking.
Safety features: A timer and a timer cut-out (where the element turns off, but the fan stays on) are helpful, as is an overheat cut-out. Non-slip feet are a good idea if you have children – a secure grip will make it harder for a child to pull the fryer over. Also, handles on the pan make lifting it easier than trying to grab the sides with oven mitts.