Crisp, golden chips. Delicious, deep-fried chicken. Mouthwatering bacon, sizzling in a pan.
Fried foods have it all: good looks, great taste and a fantastic texture that makes for a satiating, mouth-pleasing meal.
There’s just one problem: regular consumption of these calorific delights – which, let’s face it, many of us gorge upon way too often – is bad for your health. What a conundrum!
Thankfully, there exists an elegant solution: the air fryer, which fries food with hot, circulating air, and up to 80 percent less oil than a conventional deep fryer.
So, without further ado, here’s our three best air fryer picks of 2021, followed by a handy buying guide.
1. Philips Avance Collection Extra Large Air Fryer
Cooking for more than one… or two, or three?
The Philips Avance Collection extra large air fryer is a top of the line cooker, offering exceptional cooking capacity. With 2,100 watts of power and Philips patented RapidAir technology – which quickly and evenly cooks food using up to 80 percent less oil than deep frying – the Avance air fryer is a powerful, high-capacity air fryer that’s perfect for a busy kitchen.
Fry, roast, bake and grill healthy and delicious – yes, the two can be mutually inclusive – meals and snacks on your countertop, with a minimum of time, effort and expense.
The Avance air fryer stands approximately 1 foot tall, and has a 1.2 kilogram capacity – that’s 50 percent more than the smaller Philips Viva air fryers, and large enough for up to five people.
The Philips Avance is our most recommended mid- to large-size fryer.
Like other Philips air fryers, the Avance features fully adjustable digital time and temperature controls, and can be set at up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Adjustments are made on a smooth, easy-to-clean touch screen, and are displayed on an illuminated LCD panel. There are no factory presets – instead, a Smart Pre-set system lets you save your preferred settings, which are easily accessed the next time you cook.
A non-stick coated food basket and oil collection tray are easy to remove and clean. Wash them by hand with soap and hot water, or put them in the dishwasher.
Like other Philips air fryers, the Avance Extra Large is round, smooth, and designed with functionality and ease of maintenance in mind.
Philips Avance Collection Extra Large Air Fryer Key Features
- Versatile: fries, bakes, roasts and grills with little to no oil
- RapidAir technology for quick, easy cooking
- Smart Pre-set saves your preferred settings
- Fully adjustable time and temperature control
- 2,100 watts and 200-degree Fahrenheit range
- Integrated air filter reduces cooking smells
- Large, 1.2 kg capacity is ideal for families and groups
- Minimizes fat consumption with special, oil-draining design
- Digital screen and controls are easy to wipe down
- Non-slip feet help secure unit on countertop
- Philips app with over 200 air fryer recipes
- Included recipe book
- 2-year worldwide guarantee
Philips Avance Collection: Pros and Cons
Big and powerful. A 1.2 kg capacity and 2,100 watts of power make the Philips Avance Extra Large Air Fryer a great choice when cooking for more than 2 or 3 people. And, despite the high peak wattage rating, overall energy consumption is kept low, thanks to power-cycling, and a heat-retaining design.
Lets you save your settings. If you cook the same things often, being able to access your time and temperature settings is helpful—faster, certainly, than making manual adjustments, and more convenient than referring to your phone or a paper note.
Low maintenance. A rounded shape, non-stick parts and thoughtful design make the Avance extra large air fryer easy to clean. Simply wipe down the exterior, and place the tray and basket in the sink or dishwasher.
Doesn’t just fry. The Philips Avance is more than a replacement for a traditional deep fryer—it cooks a wide variety of foods with aplomb, creating healthy, tasty meals that are low in fat and rich in flavour.
May require extra venting. Though the integrated air filter helps reduce odours, some users report that the Avance extra large air fryer generates a lot of steam that necessitates venting.
Needs to be cleaned regularly. Without regular cleaning, built-up fat – especially from cooking meat – can overheat and smoke. That’s the case with any air fryer, but seems a more common occurrence with this model.
Not the cheapest. The Philips Avance extra large air fryer is the costliest of our top-three recommended models. That said, the cost reflects its generally excellent performance, and above-average capacity.
2. Philips HD9220/20 Viva Air Fryer
The Philips HD9220/20 Viva is a well-liked and reviewed air fryer, designed and manufactured by Philips – a leading, global producer of consumer and commercial electronics, appliances and lighting fixtures.
At 1425 watts, the Viva is slightly less powerful than the Tefal Easy Fry – but the more compact size makes any difference in wattage negligible.
Featuring RapidAir technology, the HD9220/20 Viva Air Fryer easily bakes, roasts, grills and fries fabulous snacks and meals – with up to 80 percent less oil than a conventional deep fryer, making it a safer, healthier and more economical choice.
The Viva is a simplified air fryer—notable by their absence are preset program buttons. The fryer can be set using analog controls to cook at up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit for as long as 30 minutes, and an audible reminder alerts you when your food is ready.
This pared-down approach may not suit everyone.
That said, the Philips Viva air fryer performs admirably, evenly cooking and crisping chips, meat, chicken, and much more. The attractive exterior blends in anywhere, and is easy to clean – as are the removable, non-stick basket and drawer.
Philips HD9220/20 Viva Air Fryer Key Features
- Best-selling model with over 7 million units sold worldwide
- Features patented, RapidAir technology for quick, easy cooking
- Versatile: fries, roasts, grills and bakes
- Fully flexible time and temperature control
- Dishwasher-safe parts with non-stick coating are easy to clean
- Included recipe app features over 200 delicious air frying recipes
Philips HD9220/20 Viva Air Fryer Pros and Cons
Compact dimensions for use in most kitchens. The relatively small size and tapered, space-saving shape makes the Philips Viva air dryer a good fit for most kitchens. If counter space (or the lack thereof) is of primary concern to you, consider this model.
Easy to clean, inside and out. The Philips HD9220/20 Viva air fryer, with its round shape and simple, click-in-place food tray, can be cleaned with hot, soapy water. The simple design lacks nooks and crannies where oil and debris can hide.
Provides total flexibility. The Philips Viva air fryer lets you air fry your food exactly how you like it—just set the temperature and timer; the fryer does the rest. Unsure of the ideal settings? Don’t worry. There’s an included cookbook, and an app that features over 200 recipes.
Air-fries almost anything. From chips, meat, sausages and cake, to pudding, pizza and more, the Philips Viva HD9220/20 can handle nearly any food that fits in its basket.
Makes fantastic, low- to no-fat chips. The Philips Viva is well-loved by chip connoisseurs who praise the flavourful result—which can be achieved little to no added oil.
No preset menus. In our opinion, this isn’t really a drawback—simple is good, and fewer controls means less to go awry—but if you’re set on one-push, pre-programmed cooking, this may not be the fryer for you.
Timer could run longer. The Philips Viva’s half-hour timer limit is sufficient for most recipes, and if the timer runs out, restarting it is easy—but being able to set a longer runtime would be nice.
3. Tefal EY401840 Easy Fry Precision Air Fryer
From Tefal – a widely recognized manufacturer of cookware and kitchen appliances – comes the Tefal EY401840 Easy Fry Precision air fryer.
Using little to no oil, the Easy Fry is a healthy alternative to traditional deep frying machines. 1500 watts of power circulates hot air to quickly and evenly cook your favourite foods.
A 4.2-litre capacity allows up to six servings of tasty, air-fried food to be prepared at once – enough for families and small gatherings.
Digital touchscreen controls and eight preset modes make cooking a wide variety of food a breeze – but you’re not limited to factory settings: it’s easy to set a temperature and cooking time of your choosing.
We liked the audible, automatic reminder and auto shutoff features – perfect for busy get togethers.
The Tefal Easy Fry’s 3D cooking system – Air Pulse Technology – operates similarly to RapidAir, quickly and evenly circulating hot air for fast, predictable results. And after cooking, the Easy Fry’s patented, removable grid and basket makes cleanup simple and quick.
A food-grade, non-stick coating helps ensure that no oil or food particles are left behind.
Tefal Easy Fry Precision Air Fryer Key Features
- 4.2-litre capacity to air-fry up to 6 servings of food
- Extra-large capacity in a compact design—ideal for most kitchens
- User-adjustable thermostatic control from 80 to 200°C
- Digital timer runs up to 60 minutes
- 8 automatic menus: shrimp, fish, cutlet, chips, cake, pizza, grill and roast
Tefal EY401840 Easy Fry Precision Air Fryer Pros and Cons
Easy to use. The large controls and digital display make the Easy Fry Precision simple for anyone to operate.
Works well with frozen foods. There’s nothing more convenient than frozen food – much of which happens to taste best when fried. Luckily, the Easy Fry Precision handles frozen food well. Grab a bag of your favourite chips or sausages, pop them into the fryer, and enjoy.
Wide variety of presets. With eight automatic cooking programs and adjustable temperature and cooking times, the Easy Fry is a versatile device.
Fits well in most spaces. Despite its large, 4.2-litre capacity, the Tefal Easy Fry Precision’s outer dimensions allow it to fit in many average-size kitchens.
Auto-pauses and resumes. Even if the Easy Fry is interrupted while in use—for example, by lifting the basket to shake or stir food—cooking resumes once the basket is put back and the lid is closed.
Looks as good as it fries. With its glossy surface, black exterior and bright blue controls and display, the Tefal Easy Fry looks great in any environment.
Great value air fryer if you’re on a budget. This offer the style and performance of more premium fryers, at a fraction of the cost.
Runs loud and needs space for venting. The Easy Fry Precision is loud during operation – perhaps up to twice the volume of a typical microwave oven – and generates enough heat that it must be vented.
Chips may require shaking. Certain foods, such as chips, may require occasional shaking or stirring to prevent over- or undercooking.
Quality control could be better. The drawer can be tricky to remove and put back, and the occasional unit requires a short period of off-gassing to remove any residual smell from the exterior plastic cladding.
How Does an Air Fryer Work?
If you’ve ever used a convection or halogen oven, you know how efficient they are – the addition of a circulating fan results in quick, even cooking, often at lower temperatures.
Air fryers work in a similar manner, but circulate hot air even faster, ensuring rapid and consistent heating. The small size of an air fryer amplifies this heating effect, while a thin layer of oil coats food, making it flavourful and crisp.
Why Buy an Air Fryer?
Foremost, for your health. Deep-fried foods are associated with cancer, obesity, inflammation, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and increased all-cause mortality.
Air fryers use up to fifty times less oil than deep fryers, significantly reducing your caloric burden, as well as exposure to harmful compounds such as acrylamide.
Then there’s the matter of space.
Kitchens are often small, busy and disorganized – not exactly the optimal location for a deep fryer.
An air fryer requires neither a large oil chamber nor frying basket, and as such, is an ideal, space-saving solution. They’re safer, too – there’s no need to stand in front of a large volume of scalding hot oil.
And air fryers, with their automated settings, thermostatic controls and timers, are versatile, convenient and energy efficient.
Types of Air Fryer
There exist two primary types of air fryer: basket, and paddle. The former, as its name implies, features a basket into which food is placed. A light layer of oil is heated by high-speed, circulating air, cooking the food evenly.
Paddle fryers also use only a small quantity of oil, and include a motorized paddle that keeps food in motion.
Some air fryers utilize RapidAir – a proprietary technology based on an upwardly mounted, radiant heating element and fan, and laterally positioned air channels whose openings release hot air that evenly heats and cooks food.
How to Choose the Perfect Air Fryer
Today’s kitchen appliances are feature-packed. That’s not a bad thing, but can make choosing the right product a challenge.
Don’t worry – we’ll cover everything you need to know before buying an air fryer.
Quality comes first. An air fryer is likely to be used on a daily or near-daily basis, and as such, should be sturdily constructed, built from materials designed to withstand frequent use and high heat, and made by a trusted brand.
There’s no sense in saving a few pounds on an inferior product – especially not where cooking is concerned.
Sometimes, size matters.
Do you live alone, or with others?
How many people in your household regularly eat fried food? Give consideration to the frequency and size of meals you anticipate preparing, and let it guide your decision.
Err on the side of a slightly larger fryer if it fits in your kitchen – but if you’re short on space, a smaller unit is a good choice.
Cleanliness counts. No one enjoys scrubbing away old oil and bits of food, so look for an air fryer that’s easy to clean and maintain. Many fryers feature non-stick coatings, and easy-to-remove, dishwasher safe parts.
Time is precious. An air fryer can help you maximize your time by cooking different types of food at the touch of a button.
Look for a model with enough preset cooking modes to meet your needs, or simple time and temperature controls that can be quickly adjusted.
How much can you spend? Even our more economically priced recommendations are solid, high-quality performers. You’ll find a great air fryer that meets your needs and is within almost any budget.
Air fryers are fast, convenient, and in the long term, economical. Cooking with up to 80 percent less oil is good for you, and to buy an air fryer is to make an investment in your health.
We hope our guide has been of help. And our roundup and review of the best air fryers to buy online in the UK will get you set-up with one of the cookers as soon as tomorrow.
Last updated: 02/01/2021