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Is an oven with air fryer mode worth it?

Fantastic feat of engineering or just clever marketing? We test one of Westinghouse's new air-frying ovens.

westinghouse oven air fry worth it
Last updated: 12 October 2020

CHOICE verdict

We tested Westinghouse's WVEP617DSC wall oven and its heavily-marketed 'AirFry mode' to see how it performed against other air fryers. While the oven rated very good overall, the Airfry mode produced just good to poor results for different foods, and proved very difficult to clean. Given the oven is more expensive than comparable models, our kitchen expert recommends buying a better, separate air fryer to complement an oven instead.

Price: $1400*

Air fryers are the hottest benchtop appliance on the market right now (about 200 degrees celsius, to be precise!), and owners are raving about their ability to cook everything from pizza to popcorn to pies

So it's little wonder that oven manufacturers are looking to cash in on the craze. Westinghouse are the first in the Australian market to release a range of ovens featuring an in-built 'AirFry' mode. But how exactly does it work and does it perform well enough to justify the extra cost? 

Our kitchen expert Fiona Mair has reviewed countless ovens and air fryers over the years and knows them inside out. She reviewed the Westinghouse WVEP617DSC wall oven and put its AirFry mode to the test.

choice_tester_fiona_mair_with_two_air_fryers_tested

Fiona in the CHOICE kitchen labs.

How does AirFry mode work?

First of all, it's not some kind of Frankenfryer contraption with an air fryer built inside an oven. As high-tech as it sounds, AirFry mode is just an oven setting which uses the top heating element in combination with the fan forced mode in order to circulate hot dry air. 

This mode is fairly unique among ovens, but our kitchen expert Fiona says you could get similar results by using the fan-grill setting on a normal oven.

The oven also comes with a mesh AirFry tray and an aluminium tray underneath to catch any drips. Westinghouse claims this design removes the need to turn food throughout the cooking process, but Fiona found this isn't actually the case.

"Although the mesh allows for air circulation, the heat from the top element is stronger than the heat circulating underneath the food, so you do need to turn the food with tongs to ensure even cooking."

westinghouse wall oven WVEP617DSC

The WVEP617DSC wall oven. Photo credit: Westinghouse.

How does it compare to a benchtop airfryer?

Capacity

While you might assume an air-frying oven would have a large capacity, there is only one AirFry tray provided, and you have to spread the food out to allow it to crisp properly. So the Westinghouse's AirFry mode has a similar capacity to some of the larger benchtop airfryer models.

Cooking time

The Westinghouse had similar cook times to an average air fryer for most foods, although it was significantly slower for roasting pork. And while air fryers typically require no preheating, Fiona recommends preheating AirFry mode for 10 minutes when cooking fresh (not frozen) food to avoid soggy results.

Temperature range

AirFry mode can get a little hotter than most benchtop air fryers, reaching a maximum temperature of 220C.

Running costs

In terms of electricity consumption, we found AirFry mode comparable to an average benchtop air fryer.

How does AirFry mode perform?

Fiona put the Westinghouse through its paces using our air fryer test method in our kitchen labs. AirFry mode received an overall performance score of 70%, which is decent but significantly lower than many benchtop air fryers we've tested.

It scored well for cooking chicken wings, frozen chips and crumbed chicken, but was let down by producing homemade chips that managed to be both soggy and burnt and it also failed to produce a crispy crackling on the roast pork.

It's worth noting though that, AirFry mode aside, this Westinghouse wall oven did score well overall (although there are cheaper models that score higher in our oven reviews).

How easy is it to clean?

Air frying can get messy, which is why most benchtop units have non-stick baskets or trays. Fiona says the Westinghouse AirFry tray can be difficult to clean.

"The tray is awkward to fit into the sink, stains easily and it isn't non-stick, so food is baked on. Even after soaking and scrubbing the tray, I still couldn't get it completely clean."

The tray is awkward to fit into the sink, stains easily and it isn't non-stick

And the tray isn't the only issue – the fan circulates fat all around the oven so the entire cavity ends up coated in grease and grime.

"It's a good thing this model comes with a pyrolytic cleaning function because if you're using AirFry mode, you're definitely going to need it," says Fiona.

Is AirFry mode worth the money?

You may think buying an oven with a built-in air fryer will save you money, but the reality is you'll probably end up spending roughly the same amount if you purchased an air fryer separately. This Westinghouse WVEP617DSC oven with the AirFry function costs around $200 more than comparable models, so you're essentially shelling out for an air fryer on top of your oven purchase anyway.  

Based on our testing, if you're a fan of air frying, you'd be better off buying a cheaper oven that performs better overall and then buying a high performing benchtop airfryer. Three of our CHOICE Recommended air fryers cost less than $200.

* Price paid at the time of testing, and may now vary between retailers.