Despite their name, air fryers actually function pretty much the same as an oven. They work by using dry heat and a thin coating of oil to produce crispy fries and crumbed meats without the mess and health concerns associated with deep frying foods.
We've put multiple air fryers through their paces and can tell you which models work best.
There's no doubt our home economist/test co-ordinator Fiona Mair and kitchen test officer Chantelle Scodeller know their way around a kitchen. With 30 years of combined experience they've seen lots of new technology enter the kitchen space, including the increasingly popular air fryer. Fiona and Chantelle know how to put appliances through their paces in the test kitchen and air fryers are no exception.
With a range of products on the market, what makes us choose one air fryer over another to test? As with most of our product testing, our aim is to test the most popular models on the market and what you're most likely to see in the retailers.
We survey manufacturers to find out about their range of models, check market sales information and also check for any member requests to test specific models. From this information we put together a final list that goes to our buyers. They then head out to the retailers and purchase each product, just as a normal consumer would. We do this so we can be sure they are the same as any consumer would find them and not 'tweaked' in any way. The air fryer market in Australia is fairly small, so we've tested the majority of air fryers that are currently available for purchase.
Our kitchen lab puts air fryers through their paces by conducting five cooking tests to assess their performance:
Crumbed chicken – 400g of frozen crumbed chicken breast nuggets.
Frozen chips – 500g of frozen thick-cut chips with half a tablespoon of rice bran oil.
We've added new tests to make our results more relevant for those who use their air fryers for more than frozen foods. These new tests haven't been performed on all the models, so they aren't integrated into the overall score, but displayed in the comparison table for newly tested models. The three extra tests are:
Fresh cut fries – We use a mandolin to cut 500g of potatoes into 7.5mm widths, then cook them with half a tablespoon of rice bran oil.
Marinated chicken wings – 500g of free range chicken nibbles (800g if XL air fryer) and half a cup of marinade.
Roasted pork belly – 500-750g whole pork belly, skin scored, no bones.
For each test, we follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to cook that particular food. If there are no specific instructions or recommended settings we use common sense to determine the settings and cooking time and monitor the cooking progress visually.
We then assess the overall look and taste of the food, noting how evenly the pieces are browned and how well they are cooked inside, with deductions for sogginess, burnt areas and dried out or undercooked insides.
Ease of use
We check how:
- Easy the air fryers are to assemble, store, operate and clean.
- Helpful the instructions are.
The overall score is made up of:
- Cooking performance (60%)
- Ease of use (40%)
We maintain a kitchen lab that is up to date with the latest reference machines and calibrated measurement tools for our testers to bring you the right results.