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. We now also cook chicken wings and roast pork, but as not all models incorporated these tests, the results do not contribute to the performance or overall scores.
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. Where possible, we test these additional features by toasting bread, baking pizza, and roasting a whole chicken. The results for these tests can be found under benchtop ovens.
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.