Hailed as a kitchen appliance that's easy to use and can handle a multitude of tasks, the air fryer is riding a long-lasting wave of popularity. It's favoured by many fervent fans as a handy helper at mealtimes, with an ability to produce delicious and fast results for a wide range of foods.
But while there are plenty of fly fryers on the market, there are also many that won't give you much crunch for your cash, so make sure you know what you're buying to ensure you don't end up with a dud.
These three big-brand air fryers disappointed our test experts, so if you're looking to up your kitchen game, give these models a miss.
What to look for when buying an air fryer
"When buying an air fryer, it's important that you choose one with comprehensive instructions including cooking guidelines and recipes, particularly if you've never used an air fryer before," says CHOICE kitchen expert Fiona Mair.
"Otherwise it can be very difficult to figure out how to use them properly.
"Digital controls give better accuracy, and pre-programmed settings take the guesswork out of choosing a temperature and cooking time, and may also give you a reminder to shake the food to ensure even cooking."
The worst performing air fryers in our tests
The Kitchen Couture 3.4L air fryer received the lowest score in our air fryers test.
Kitchen Couture 3.4L air fryer
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 66%
- Performance score: 65%
- Price: $149
It might have the looks, but the Kitchen Couture's strengths lie in its form rather than its function: it received the lowest score of all the air fryers we tested.
Our experts found it was very good at cooking thick-cut frozen chips, but it failed to impress in the other cooking tests. And when it comes to ease of use, the Kitchen Couture is all style, no substance – our experts had a long list of complaints about its various idiosyncrasies.
It's not the newest air fryer on the block either, which perhaps explains its relatively low price tag of $149. In fact, our CHOICE shopping spies have recently spotted it on sale for as little as $69. Even though this may seem like a great opportunity to grab a bargain, our testing shows that are better buys at the budget end of the scale.
You get what you pay for with the cheap Kmart Anko 9L Twin Air Fryer AFD2906.
Kmart Anko 9L Twin Air Fryer AFD2906
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 67%
- Performance score: 65%
- Price: $125
While we've found many a Kmart appliance that delivers great bang for your buck, this just isn't one of them. And if you’ve considered investing in a twin air fryer, we suggest looking at other models we have tested that have more sophisticated features and receive better performance scores.
This twin air fryer doubly disappointed our testing experts on tests such as cooking frozen straight-cut chips and crumbed chicken, and was rated as only OK overall.
It does have some redeeming features though. Our experts say it was very good when it came to cooking roast pork and marinated chicken wings, and it has 11 pre-set functions from baking and defrosting through to cooking steaks, pizza, bacon and drumsticks.
If you're prepared to invest in an air fryer, spending just a little more will get you a machine that will do the job well
And with two separate cooking baskets you can cook two different types of food at the same time, using different cooking functions and temperature settings. But the extra basket means a larger unit, so it'll take up quite a bit of bench space compared to other air fryers.
It may be one of the cheapest air fryers in our test, but it's also one of the worst performing (and more expensive than another Kmart air fryer which we scored higher).
If you're prepared to invest in an air fryer, spending just a little more will get you a machine that will do the job well. And you don't need to spend a fortune: a number of the air fryers our experts recommend cost less than $200.
Read the full Kmart Anko 9L Twin Air Fryer review.
Should you buy a Kmart air fryer?
Although we recommend you steer clear of this Kmart twin air fryer, we haven't completely red-carded all the air fryers in the Kmart range. In fact, the other two Kmart Anko air fryers we looked at did perform better in our testing. We reviewed the Kmart Anko 5.3L Air Fryer ($89) and the Kmart Anko 3 in 1 Air Fryer Oven ($119). Each received generally good scores for performance but poorer results when it comes to how easy they are to use (CHOICE members can access the full reviews).
This Sunbeam oven and airfryer didn't shine in our testing.
Sunbeam 22L Multi function Oven + Air Fryer BT7200
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 69%
- Performance score: 74%
- Price: $299
This air fryer and oven combo may boast a range of features, but our CHOICE experts found that its performance is just not up to scratch in a few areas.
It's particularly sad news if you enjoy a crisp chicken nugget as this model disappointed our testers in this area. Their testing notes stated that the nuggs came out "unevenly cooked, pale in places with some soft crumb and a mostly moist centre". Not exactly the nuggets we were craving, then.
The air fryer oven also underwhelmed in our tests for cooking frozen chips, pork belly and marinated chicken wings.
"This air fryer provides no prompt to turn or shake the food during cooking, so you will need a timer to remind you to do this. You may need to turn the food a couple of times during cooking to get a better result," says Fiona.
We have tested several other Sunbeam air fryers that outperform this model, some of which cost less too, so perhaps this one is just the black sheep of the Sunbeam family.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.