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.
In the CHOICE kitchen lab we've put multiple air fryers through their paces and can tell you which models work best. Here's how we do it.
With over 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 give appliances a thorough workout in the CHOICE kitchen lab 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 stores.
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 regular 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 for better performance.
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 four cooking tests to assess their performance:
- Crumbed chicken (400-500g of frozen crumbed chicken breast nuggets)
- Frozen chips (We follow the manufacturers recommendations but in the absence of a recommendation we use 500g of frozen stright-cut chips in models less than 5L. For models over 5L we use 700g)
- Marinated chicken wings (500g of free range chicken nibbles, or 800g if it's an XL air fryer, and half a cup of marinade)
- Roasted pork belly (500g-1kg of whole pork belly, skin scored, no bones).
For multi-function air fryer models we test these extra features as well (like rice cooking, slow cooking and sous vide). These results don't form part of the overall score, but we'll comment on these in the good and bad points in our air fryer reviews comparison table.
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're cooked inside, with deductions for sogginess, burnt areas and dried out or undercooked insides.
And as with other kitchen appliances like ovens and cooktops, when we're done testing, we get to eat the results. One of the perks of working at CHOICE!
Ease of use
We check how:
- Easy the air fryers are to assemble, store, operate and clean.
- Helpful the instructions are.
The overall score (which determines which products we recommend) 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 accurate results.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.