Chips and fries are popular fast foods, but they come with a high fat content and, for many of us, a side of guilt. In a home kitchen there's also the added mess and the problem of disposing of the old oil.

Enter the low fat/no fat/air fryer. These mini ovens promise tasty chips and other fried foods without the using much oil and with greatly reduced clean-up. We've found that they make acceptable chips and fries.

Looking for the best air fryer?

See our expert product reviews.

Air fryer reviews

First things first: what is an air fryer?

Basically, it's a tiny oven and it cooks the chips in the same way as an oven would, using just a little bit of oil to coat them. It heats up relatively quickly and you might find one a useful tool if you want to use your oven for other things. It's also a bit easier to clean than an oven and less messy than a traditional deep fryer.

How many chips can I make in it?

An air fryer may look like a big appliance, but the actual capacity is way less than an oven. In most you can make enough chips for about four people. Some may have a slightly larger capacity, but you won't be able to supply chips for a large group without cooking multiple batches.

I think I could use one of these gadgets, so what should I look for?

How much space can you find for it? 

First, make sure you know how much bench space you have available. If you make chips a regularly, you might want to leave it out permanently and they are not small. The two basic shapes are tall and fat (Philips Vivo Air Fryer, Bellini Digital Air Fryer and the Kambrook AirChef) and short and slightly fatter (Tefal Actifry and DeLonghi Multifry). 

Cleaning

Make sure that all the appropriate parts are easy to clean. Most of the ones in our current air fryer review have dishwasher-safe parts.

Basket removal

Some of them have a basket inside a removable drawer, while others have a lid that opens at the top to remove the basket. The top opening ones could be out of the running if you have restricted space above the bench.

Controls

Digital controls are usually more accurate to set than dial ones.

Cost

$149 to $349