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'Faster than an oven': Why air fryer fans can't get enough

 This kitchen trend is here to stay. 

Last updated: 29 February 2024


Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

New 'latest and greatest' kitchen appliances have always transformed the way we cook. Slow cookers began changing the game in Aussie kitchens in the seventies; microwaves ramped up dinnertime in the eighties, and the early noughties was the beginning of Thermomix mania.

But the 2010s and 2020s have been defined by one device that's still making waves almost 15 years after it first hit the shelves.

More than just a mini oven?

Although an air fryer is essentially just a mini oven, fans are fervent about their benchtop buddy and the ways it's become integral to their cooking routines. Our CHOICE experts don't get caught up in fly-by-night trends, though. 

We first started reviewing air fryers back in 2018 and while we noted several pros – they're convenient, and quick and easy to use, for starters – we were quick to dispel a few myths around this new darling of the appliance world. One: there's no 'frying' involved. An air fryer is essentially a small fan-forced oven. 

And two, despite the many marketed claims about cooking 'healthier' foods, this appliance isn't about to turn frozen chips or nuggets into virtuous low-fat options. Frankly, it seemed like it could be yet another flash-in-the-pan appliance that would clutter up kitchen benches and potentially end up in landfill.

Despite the claims, this appliance isn't about to turn frozen chips or nuggets into virtuous low-fat options

But, after years of testing air fryers and talking to owners, including several CHOICE staff, it's clear the air fryer has become a fixture in many of our kitchens. Australia's air fryer market is estimated to be worth more than $58 million (and growing!), which shows just how many households have embraced this handy appliance. 

It's important to choose models wisely, though, as CHOICE testing has uncovered that some perform better than others. And we maintain that you should think twice about buying one if you have limited bench space: some air fryers we've tested in our labs are, simply put, massive.


Air fryers have become fixtures in many Aussie kitchens.

The very best thing about air fryers is… 

The main reason people adore their air fryers? They stop your kitchen getting as hot as Hades. 

"There are so many pluses to an air fryer," says air fryer fan Lou. "[I love that there's] no preheat time for the oven, my kids can get fed super quickly and the house doesn't get warm from the heat of my regular oven in the middle of summer."

CHOICE experts agree – preheat times and cooking times on an air fryer are much quicker than an oven. Take our air fryer vs oven hot chips test: our oven took 10 minutes to heat up and 22 minutes to cook our frozen chips, while the air fryer had them golden and ready for the table in just over half that time.

As someone who is usually cooking for one, it's much cheaper to quickly cook something in the air fryer than to cook it in the oven

Air fryer owner, Sarah

Then there's the  added advantage of not turning your home into a sweaty sauna like an oven can on a hot summer's day – not to mention that quicker cooking and preheat times translates to savings on your energy bill.

"As someone who is usually cooking for one, it's much cheaper to quickly cook something in the air fryer than to cook it in the oven, especially when our oven takes forever to preheat and then cook anything," says air fryer owner, Sarah. 

"It's faster than an oven for cooking from fresh and it doesn't turn reheated food into a congealed nuclear waste jelly blob like a microwave," says another fan, Jodi. 

Lauren says the air fryer has other pros over the oven: "I use it most often for cooking hot chips. I find it quicker than the oven for these and I prefer the results: it's easy to shake the basket to turn the chips regularly than it is to take the tray out of the oven with an oven mitt and then try and turn all the chips over."

Hate cleaning your oven? Consider an air fryer

The ease with which you can clean an air fryer is another big drawcard. 

"I like that I can clean it easily and well every time, unlike ovens that are a nightmare to clean. I used to think they were absolutely ridiculous and now I can't get enough!" says air fryer convert, Ren. 

During testing, CHOICE experts give each air fryer a score on how easy they are to clean as part of our 'ease of use' score. "The air fryers that are the easiest to clean are those that can fit easily into a domestic sink and can be easily wiped over on the inside and out with a microfibre cloth," says CHOICE kitchen expert Fiona Mair

I used to think they were absolutely ridiculous and now I can't get enough

Air fryer convert, Ren

But while plenty of owners we spoke to chuck their air fryers in the dishwasher, Fiona doesn't recommend you do this regularly as dishwashers can weaken the non-stick coating over time, particularly on cheaper models. 

"Most air fryers have removable parts which are simple to clean, but mesh grills or rotisseries as well as fat reducers and other bulky parts can make things a bit trickier," says Fiona. "These may require extra soaking in hot water and detergent to break down the grease." 

If this still sounds preferable to sticking your head into a grotty grease-trap oven, an air fryer could be your next benchtop bestie. 

CHOICE tip: For more pros and cons about air fryers: Should you buy an airfyer?. Check out our expert air fryer reviews to see how each model performs in our cooking tests, how much they cost to run, and more.

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Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.