10 best air fryers for all budgets
11 December 2020
Air fryers are a firm favourite with families and can be a useful addition to your kitchen. Here are the top 10 air fryers for 2021.
If you love chips (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t?), but hate the fat content and calories involved in frying them, there is another option. Air fryers are becoming popular gadgets in a lot of kitchens.
These clever appliances make the process of frying food simpler and healthier than if you’re using an old-school deep fat fryer. Air fryers use a minimal amount of oil combined with incredibly hot air, circulated evenly around the interior of the fryer to cook food without compromising on taste.
Fact: a lot of Mumsnetters love air fryers. Talking about her own air fryer, one superfan enthused: “It's an absolute game-changer for me. I use it most days to make chips, wedges, roast potatoes, burgers, bacon, sausages, chicken thighs and drumsticks. Really simple to just whack everything in and leave it to do its thing – and it cleans easily too. It's now a permanent addition to my worktop and I would be lost without it!”
Here are the best air fryers for 2021.
1. Best overall air fryer: Tefal ActiFry FZ729840 Advance Snacking Air Fryer
“We’re on our third Tefal ActiFry. Wouldn't be without it. New one is much quicker than previous models. We always get the biggest capacity so it’s much more useful when family are round. There’s no smell.”
“Tefal air fryer here. Chipped Maris potatoes and a teaspoon of coconut oil makes lovely, soft-in-the-middle but crispy-on-the-outside chips.”
Ideal for families with its six-portion capacity, the Tefal ActiFry Advance Snacking Air Fryer gets consistently positive reviews on the Mumsnet forums.
It’s one of the more expensive models on our list, but it’s great for making crispy – but healthier – chips. It can also produce delicious curries, stir-fries and stews. The possibilities are endless really – especially if you download the recipe app, which has over 400 dishes designed especially for this ingenious kitchen worktop gadget.
Unlike some cheaper air fryer models, there’s no need to shake the food to ensure an even finish because the auto paddle will do the work for you. There’s even a snacking tray to keep more delicate or breaded morsels undamaged. Once dinner is done, you can bung the tray and paddle straight into the dishwasher.
The only downside is that there’s no auto shut-off so you need to listen out for the timer beep to signal that your food is cooked. But Mumsnetters are sold on this air fryer, with one explaining: “I hate oven chips so love the ActiFry for French fries or homemade chips as it’s less oil and less stink!”
- Power: 1400 watts
- Capacity: 1.2 litres
- Display: Digital
2. Best budget air fryer: Tower T17023 Air Fryer
“I love ours. It's a Tower one. Use it three to four times a week. It makes beyond-beautiful sweet potato fries!”
A sensible budget buy, the Tower T17023 Air Fryer is a great entry-level air fryer. With a capacity of 2.2 litres, it’s around half the size of the Tefal ActiFry, making it a useful small air fryer for solo meals – or for when you really just fancy a plate of crispy-on-the-outside but fluffy-on-the-inside chips.
It can easily cook chicken, vegetables and cakes and, with little to no oil required, your fried food will contain an impressive 99 percent less fat.
Given the price, it’s no surprise that there’s no auto-shake paddle so you’ll need to open the drawer half way through to shake the basket to ensure an even fry. The control is manual not digital but it’s simple enough to master – just turn the dial to adjust the timer and temperature.
- Power: 1000 watts
- Capacity: 2.2 litres
- Display: Manual
3. Best family-size air fryer: Pro Breeze 12L Air Fryer Oven
“I’ve got the largest capacity. Bought because, in lockdown, three teens were all down at different times and shoving the oven on for various bits. You can cook a croissant in the air fryer in two minutes. All beige freezer food is good and done in half the time it takes in the oven (and no heating up). I did a couple of sweet potatoes in it. Brilliant for bacon.”
When you have a hoard of hungry mouths to feed, you need an air fryer with the capability to cook lots of food at once. The Pro Breeze Air Fryer Oven certainly delivers on this score with a mighty 12-litre capacity, but that means it’ll also take up more space in your kitchen.
This extra-large air fryer includes a rotating fry basket, three cooking trays and a rotisserie skewer set, allowing you to cook an entire family meal – including rotisserie chicken – using up to 80% less oil than with traditional cooking. There’s even a built-in dehydrator – great news if your kids love to snack on dried fruit. The digital display has 12 pre-set modes to choose from and an independent temperature control too.
- Power: 1800 watts
- Capacity: 12 litres
- Display: Digital
4. Best small air fryer: Lakeland Digital Compact Air Fryer
“Lakeland is my favourite shop. l love all their stuff.”
An ideal air fryer for couples, the Lakeland Digital Compact Air Fryer is a space-saver gadget for smaller kitchens. It has also been approved by Quiet Mark, which means it’s been noise-assessed and judged to be one of the quietest air fryers in its category.
Using simple digital controls, you can fry a portion of chips for two using just a teaspoon of oil – much healthier than a deep fat fryer. It’s not big enough to make a family meal, but it’s a handy gadget for cooking the kids’ chicken nuggets for tea when they get in from school.
Mumsnetters love Lakeland quality and rave about it frequently on our forums, with one fan saying: “You need to buy EVERYTHING from Lakeland. I always want to buy the entire shop.” High praise indeed.
- Power: 1200W
- Capacity: 0.45 litres
- Display: Digital
5. Most versatile air fryer: Ninja Foodi Max OP500UK Multi-Pressure Cooker and Air Fryer
You can make almost anything in this super-sized air fryer – fluffy chips, mouth-watering steak, yummy mac ‘n’ cheese, pulled pork, freshly baked cakes and bread, delicious casseroles, creamy risotto, steamed fish, crispy roast potatoes, spicy curries, whole roast chicken, and even homemade yoghurt.
There’s no getting away from the fact that the Ninja Foodi is big and expensive, but it justifies its price tag by being multi-talented. Functions include Pressure Cook, Air Crisp, Slow Cook, Steam, Sear/Saute, Bake/Roast, Grill, Yoghurt and Dehydrate.
Much quicker than traditional cooking methods, you can cook your mains and sides at the same time thanks to the two-tier reversible ceramic-coated 7.5-litre cooking pot and 4.7-litre Cook and Crisp basket. Cleaning up after dinner is a cinch too, as you can bung the pots straight into the dishwasher.
- Power: 1760 watts
- Capacity: 7.5 litres
- Display: Digital
6. Most easy-to-use air fryer: COSORI Air Fryer
Offering 11 preset cooking functions and a digital one-touch LED control screen, this air fryer is simple to get to grips with – perfect if you’re a newbie to the world of air fryers. The removable basket is dishwasher-safe too, which is always a winner when it comes to clearing up after family meals.
The COSORI Air Fryer's auto-shake function ensures food is fried evenly, so you don’t have to worry about doing it yourself. Other useful settings include preheating and keeping warm options in case you can’t sit down to eat as soon as the food is ready.
Big enough to cater for a small family, the manufacturers claim that the non-stick square basket design offers more usable space for food than air fryers with round baskets. If you want to get creative, you can delve into the book of 100 recipes included with the product.
- Power: 1500 watts
- Capacity: 3.5 litres
- Display: Digital
7. Most innovative air fryer: Proscenic T21 Air Fryer
One for tech fans, this impressive air fryer has an app compatible with Alexa and Google Home Voice Control. This allows you to control your air fryer from afar – well, from another room, at least – scheduling, adjusting and monitoring the cooking process. The ProscenicHome app also offers lots of recipes to try.
The only downside is that, if you’re not technologically minded, it might all seem a bit ‘faffy,’ but that comes down to personal choice. Cleaning up is fuss-free as the all detachable parts, including the non-stick, Teflon coated drawer, are dishwasher-safe.
With eight preset buttons, the Proscenic T21 Air Fryer allows you to cook most things, including pizza, steak and cake, which actually sounds like a pretty delicious three-course dinner.
- Power: 1700 watts
- Capacity: 5.5 litres
- Display: Digital display, Alexa and Google Home Voice Control
8. Best large-capacity air fryer: Philips Premium Collection XXL Air Fryer
“I have a Philips Air Fryer and LOVE it. It gets used for all sorts – not just chips.”
“I have a Philips one too and it's fabulous.”
Philips developed the very first air fryer using their revolutionary Rapid Air Technology back in 2010, and have gone on to produce the world’s best selling air fryers. It’s fair to say that their products get a lot of love on our forums. One Mumsnetter said: “I've got a Philips one. It's fab and makes brilliant chips and potato wedges.”
This particular model – the Philips Premium Collection XXL Air Fryer – is the most expensive air fryer on our list. But it’s roomy enough to cook a whole chicken or 1.4g of fries – enough for a family of four or five. It’s the company’s most powerful air fryer to date too, which means it cooks faster – and with 90 percent less fat than traditional frying.
You can download the Philips NutriU app for hundreds of air fryer tips and recipes. One drawback is that you don’t get any accessories, such as skewers or a grill pan, included so you’d have to buy those separately.
- Power: 2225 watts
- Capacity: 1.4 litres
- Display: Digital
Price: £263.81Buy now from Amazon
9. Best air fryer for chips: Morphy Richards 480003 Health Fryer
“According to Which?, the Morphy Richards Health Fryer 480003 is much better than the Tower one.”
Another budget option, the Morphy Richards 480003 fares well with independent review sites including Which.co.uk, which praised it for producing wonderfully fluffy, delicious chips – as long as you stir every five minutes.
But this large capacity air fryer does so much more than just frying. It can also bake, roast and grill, and it’s roomy enough to make meals for a family of four. A perforated frying pan ensures the hot air is evenly circulated during the cooking process as well as speeding up cooking time. The manual dials allow you to set the temperature from 80°C to 200°C and the timer up to 30 minutes, and there’s also an auto shut-off for peace of mind.
Unlike some other air fryers, it’s pleasingly quiet, so you won’t be annoyed by noise while you’re waiting for your dinner.
- Power: 1400 watts
- Capacity: 3 litres
- Display: Manual
Price: £64Buy now from AO
10. Best air fryer for roasting chicken: Tower T17039 5-in-1 Digital Air Fryer Oven
“DH had to talk me into getting the Tower Air Fryer. I thought it'd just take up space and never get used. I was so wrong. I use it all the time. Think crispy, succulent but healthy food that's cooked in a third of the time. It's a game-changer.”
The Tower T17039 5-in-1 Digital Air Fryer Oven provides a massive 11 litres of cooking space – so rotisserie quality chicken is no problem. It cooks it 30 per cent faster than a conventional oven too and is capable of cooking a 1kg chicken in 40 minutes.
The five functions provided include air fryer, rotisserie, dehydrator, baking and roasting. It features Vortx Frying Technology, which means you only need a tiny amount of oil because the hot air circulates evenly around the cooker. There’s an easy-to-use touch-screen digital control and eight auto-cook programmes so you can also prepare steak, fish and dried fruit.
You get lots of extras with this air fryer, including an oil-drip tray, rotisserie fork and handle, and three mesh air-flow racks. There’s even a viewing window so you can watch your chicken roasting to perfection.
- Power: 2000 watts
- Capacity: 11 litres
- Display: Digital
What is an air fryer?
An air fryer cooks food by heating air up to around 200°C and circulating it around the inside of the appliance. It works a little like a fan oven in this respect and can be used to cook a range of foods, including frozen food which is meant to taste deep-fried, along with cakes, bread, stews and even risotto.
Some air fryers allow you to rotisserie-cook entire chickens and also produce dried fruit and homemade yoghurt. The possibilities are endless.
Are air fryers really worth it?
Air fryers are a useful piece of kitchen kit if you eat frozen food and want to get the best flavour out of it. Frozen pieces, such as chips, scampi and chicken nuggets, are generally considered much tastier cooked in an air fryer than if they’re done in the oven.
An air fryer is also a healthier option than deep-fat frying because it uses a minuscule amount of oil in comparison to a deep fat fryer, which submerges food in boiling oil.
Air frying cuts calories by up to 80 percent and the food contains less trans fats, which are the type of fats linked with many serious health issues, including cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that food fried in an air fryer is still classed as fried food and that official advice from the NHS is to eat a healthy balanced diet, including at least five portions of fruit and vegetables, plenty of water and reduced amounts of sugar, fat and salt.
What to consider when buying an air fryer
There are a number of features to consider when you’re choosing an air fryer:
- Pull-out tray – some air fryers have a pull-out tray for slotting in food and these don’t generally allow you to check on your food during the cooking process, unless you actually pull out the tray.
- Viewing window – other air fryers, including the Tefal ActiFry, have a wider bowl with a viewing window to allow you to check your food without disrupting the cooking process.
- Stirring paddle – some air fryers have a stirring paddle so that you don’t have to shake or stir your food during the cooking process to ensure an even fry, although the jury’s out on whether stirring paddles improve the finish or not. You can sometimes remove the stirring paddle if you’d rather not use it.
- Rotating basket – this can be set to tilt for an even cook.
- Digital control panel and timer – most air fryers have these digital elements to make it easy to see how much time is left. Some have manual dials which can be slightly trickier to read.
- Auto shut-off – this means that the air fryer will turn off when the food is ready. Some air fryers don’t have this function, so you need to listen to the timer beep to know when to turn it off.
- Temperature controls – some air fryers have this function while others don’t. It’s worth noting that temperature control doesn’t necessarily lead to better-tasting food. You may find that it’s enough to rely on the relevant ‘function’ buttons on your air fryer.
- Smart controls – it’s an uncommon feature, but some air fryers have smart controls that can be controlled by your phone or tablet.
- Grill function – some air fryers have a grill function while others have a second cooking compartment so that you can cook your main and side dishes at the same time.
- Size and capacity – think about both of these things when choosing an air fryer. More compact models are ideal for couples or for making snacks such as plates of chips. Larger models can be capable of cooking entire meals for six people.
- Budget – price-wise, air fryers start from around £40 and can cost upwards of £300, depending on the size and spec you choose.
What is the best air fryer on the market?
The best air fryer on the market is the Tefal ActiFry FZ729840 Advance Snacking Air Fryer. Family-sized and able to make six portions of food, this impressive air fryer scores well across the board. Not only can you make entire family meals with it, you can produce a wide range of yummy treats from chips to stir fries and casseroles. It’s also easy to clean and easy to use.
The best budget air fryer on our list is the Tower T17023 Air Fryer. Compact and very reasonably priced, it’s a good air fryer for couples and small families, and covers all the bases you’d expect from a decent air fryer, cooking pieces of chicken, vegetables and cakes with little or no oil.
How we chose our recommendations
Our air fryer suggestions came from recommendations on the Mumsnet forums and from consumer reviews on the web. We consulted independent review sites for opinions about products to ensure we were bringing you an honest summary of the best air fryers.
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