Best air fryers: Ninja, Instant and moreon January 5, 2023 at 15:05 Tech Advisor

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Air fryers must be the most talked-about kitchen appliance of the moment, and with good reason. They are much more versatile than you’d expect, and most people use theirs daily. If you want to buy an air fryer, we’ve found some great options. We’ve tested some of the best, from straightforward, dial-controlled appliances, to combination air fryers, to smart air fryers.

There are some good reasons to invest in an air fryer. They cook more quickly than an oven, give crispy results without the need to add extra oil and, perhaps most importantly now – when bills are skyrocketing – they’ll use significantly less electricity than oven cooking.

An air fryer isn’t really a fryer at all. It’s essentially a mini convection oven, so you can use it to cook anything you would in a conventional oven. But, if you buy one, it’ll take up a chunk of your kitchen counter space, so you should consider what you’re going to cook most often, and see if you can spot one with additional features that would be useful to you.

If you need more help, we’ve got buying advice under the chart. Otherwise, read on to see our top picks.

1. Instant Vortex Plus 6-in-1 air fryer – Best larger air fryer

Pros

ClearCook window

OdourErase technology

Fantastic for chips and roast joints

Cons

No cooking pre-sets

Tricky to serve from drawer

Rubber tray feet must be removed for cleaning

RRP:



£149.99

This is a traditional air fryer, with a deep, pull-out cooking drawer. It’s capacious too, at 5.7 litres/6 QT. It’s not particularly heavy, but it is still designed to have a permanent space on your countertop. It’s controlled via a digital touchscreen on top of the appliance.

There are six programmes to choose from: air fry, bake, grill, dehydrate, reheat and roast. But there are no pre-sets, so there’s no guidance as to the time and temperature you should use when cooking. This won’t be a problem for people accustomed to air fryer cooking but novices might have to do a bit of online research and be prepared to experiment at first.

There are some excellent features to recommend it over rival products: there’s a window to allow you to see how your cooking is getting on without opening the door, and the OdourErase technology really works. But if you’re buying specifically for these features, make sure you get the right model as Instant makes a number of similar models, with none, one, or both of them.

Read our full
Review Instant Vortex Plus 6-in-1 air fryer (5.7L/6QT)

2. Dreo Air Fryer – Best compact air fryer

Pros

Touchscreen

Pared-back design

Easy to use and cookbook included

Cons

No keep warm setting

Medium capacity: not for large families

RRP:



£94.99

Best Prices Today:



£71.99 at Amazon

This compact air fryer has a 4 quart/ 3.8 litre capacity, making it ideal for couples, singles and smaller families. It’s simply designed and shiny, with LED touchscreen controls on top. It has eight cooking presets (fries, steak, chicken, fish, bread, vegetables, plus it can dehydrate and reheat). Or you can adjust the cooking time and temperature yourself. There’s also a pre-heat function.

The air fryer switches off when it’s finished, so there’s no chance of overcooking, but there’s no keep warm function.

It’s a 1500 watt appliance, so it’s not very power hungry. It would be a good option for people new to air frying as not only is it solidly made and easy to use, but it comes with a 50-recipe cookbook that’ll give you plenty of ideas beyond beige frozen food.

Read our full
Review Dreo Air Fryer

3. Ninja Foodi Smart XL/ Max Health Grill & Air Fryer – Best for meat cooking

Pros

6 cooking functions in one

Large grill plate

Wide temperature range for air frying

Smart Cooking System & Digital Probe

Cons

Very bulky, takes up a lot of room

3.8L capacity is small compared to some air fryers

Expensive and hard to come by

This Ninja Foodi grill has a slightly different name depending on where you are in the world but it’s the same great appliance. It has six cooking functions (air frying, grilling, baking, roasting, dehydrating, reheating) and it does each one brilliantly – hence the premium price tag. But what makes it stand out is the “Smart Cook” system which, when used with the included digital probe, will help you cook steaks to perfection.

Bear in mind that this is a really bulky appliance with a comparatively small internal capacity (4 quarts/ 3.8 litres) and at 2460 watts, it is more expensive to run than many of its rivals.

Also, Ninja products tend to sell out quickly, so if you want it and you see it in stock, grab one while you can.

Read our full
Review Ninja Foodi Max Health Grill & Air Fryer (AG551UK)

4. Instant Pot Duo Crisp with Ultimate Lid – Best multifunction air fryer

Pros

Space saving compared to a multi-lid cooker

Wet & dry cooking functions

Quick cooking

Cons

Too tall to open underneath kitchen cabinets

Expensive if you don’t use all the functions

In our testing, a part snapped off

The Duo Crisp with Ultimate Lid is a serious multi cooker, with 13 functions: pressure cooking, air frying, slow cooking, steaming, sautéing, warming, roasting, mini oven, grilling, dehydrating, yoghurt making, sous vide and bread proofing. There are handy pre-sets for these, plus a keep warm function. One of the points in this appliance’s favour is that there’s a single lid you use for every function, so there’s much less to store. You will, however, have to remove the pressure plate for some uses.

It’s capacious too, with an air fryer basket that can take four medium-size chicken breasts and a couple of thighs and sits inside a 6.2 litre (6.5 quart) stainless steel cooking pot. It’s also a 1500W appliance, which isn’t too power-hungry, so you get a lot of cooking power for its energy usage.

There’s only one issue to note. During our testing, a part snapped off and an online search showed that we weren’t the only ones to experience this. Instant were able to replace the part but we’d suggest handling the pressure plate with care if you buy.

Read our full
Review Instant Pot Duo Crisp with Ultimate Lid

5. Proscenic T21 smart air fryer – Best smart air fryer

Pros

Capacity

Ease of use

One-button programmes

Connected recipe feature

Cons

Takes up a chunk of space

Other smart functionality is of limited use

RRP:



£105.61

The smart features aren’t the only reason to opt for the Proscenic T21 air fryer. It has a large, 5.5 litre capacity, it’s solidly built and it’s extremely easy to use. There’s a selection of pre-set cooking programmes – including fries, shrimp, bacon, chicken and cake – that you can choose from the touchscreen. You can also opt to set the time and temperature yourself.

But the smart features are well organised and a definite plus. The app contains over 100 recipes and if you select one, it’ll show you the ingredients you need, take you through the prep stages and automatically set the right cooking time and temperature for your food.

If you get held up while cooking, you can pause the cooking programme in the app. You’ll also get an alert to your phone when your food is done.

Read our full
Review Proscenic T21 smart air fryer

6. Breville Halo Air Fryer Rotisserie – Best combination air fryer

Pros

Rotisserie spit and basket

3 cooking surfaces

Easy to use

Cons

Max 1.3kg rotisserie weight

Used accessories may require a pre-wash soak

Changing oven light might be tricky

RRP:



£136

The Breville Halo Air Fryer Rotisserie Oven is designed less like an air fryer and more like a countertop toaster oven. Instead of the drawer you’d expect to see in an air fryer, this appliance comes with a mesh drum, for cooking food such as chips, as well as a rotisserie spit. It also has a huge, 10 litre capacity.

One of the reasons to opt for this and not a traditional air fryer is its versatility: it can do everything that an air fryer can, and then some. The rotisserie spit is good for a whole, 1.3kg chicken and the drum can hold 750g of chips.

It has touchscreen controls, and you can opt for one of the pre-set cooking programmes (chips, chicken, vegetables, and steak) or one of the manual options (air fry, bake and dehydrate).  

Another handy feature is that it’ll switch itself off after cooking, so your food won’t be burnt to a crisp if you get distracted during the cooking process.

Read our full
Review Breville Halo Air Fryer Rotisserie Oven

7. Xiaomi Mi Smart Air Fryer – Best compact smart air fryer

Pros

Attractive design

Easy to use

Recipes included

Cons

Not very robust build

Smart features limited

Small capacity

RRP:



£79.99

This Xiaomi air fryer has a really attractive, minimalist design that would look good in most kitchens. Still, it doesn’t have the most robust build (the drawer can get stuck when you’re putting it back in). And, as it’s on the small side (3.5 litres), it’s really only suitable for a household of 1-2 people.

The sole control beyond an On/Off switch is an innovative dial which houses a digital screen. There’s a top level menu of food options, including the expected fries, chicken wings and fish, but also steak and cake. There are eight pre set programmes in all. You can also set the time and temperature yourself, using the dial – or perform any of these actions via the app.

Because clearly, one of the key reasons to buy this model is its app control. Download the Xiaomi Home app and you can create custom recipes, monitor your cooking and pause or end the cooking programme remotely. It’ll also alert you when your food is done or needs to be turned over. There’s also a database of recipes you can try, with automatic cooking programmes and step-by-step instructions.

Read our full
Review Xiaomi Mi Smart Air Fryer

8. Swan Retro Air Fryer – Best budget air fryer

Pros

Retro styling in many colours

Easy to use

Consistent results

Cons

Loud fans

Basket wobbly in drawer

RRP:



£89.99

Forget digital controls, pre sets and smart features. This Swan air fryer is a simple, straightforward appliance. It’s controlled by a manual temperature slider and a time dial, which gives a satisfying ding at the end of the programme as it switches itself off.

It has a large, 6 litre capacity, which makes it a good option for families. But what sets the Swan air fryer apart from rivals is its retro design. If you want something with a bit more character than your standard kitchen appliance, its chrome-effect trim, old-fashioned dial and curved exterior make it an attractive option.

Our only reservation is its slightly wobbly drawer, which can catch when you’re sliding it back in.

Read our full
Review Swan Retro Air Fryer (SD10510)

Buying guide

If you’re not sure what to look for when buying an air fryer, we’ve got some advice.

Size

Air fryers are quite large appliances – around the size of a small bread maker. To get the most from one, you really want to find a dedicated spot for it on your kitchen counter. So, the first thing to check is the external dimensions.

But really, the internal dimensions are more important. The cooking space inside an air fryer ranges from around 2 to 6 quarts or 1.5 to 6+ litres. At the lower end, you’ll be able to cook fries for one to two people, two burgers, or two servings of chicken. At the higher end, you can fit in a main course for four people. There are also supersized air fryers with a 10 quart/ litre capacity. These are often be divided into two drawers you can use separately.

If you’re in a single person household and generally just cook for yourself, you can go for a smaller appliance but in general, we’d advise that if you have the space for it, go larger. It’ll give you more cooking options and, as it cooks food by circulating hot air inside, it’ll be faster and give better results with more space.

Bear in mind though that larger air fryers will likely have a higher voltage, and will likely cost more to run. If you’re looking to save money on your electricity bills, a smaller simpler appliance is best.

Controls

If you’re new to air fryers, choosing an appliance with pre-sets will help you cook popular food types perfectly, from your first time. Typically, air fryers with pre-sets will just require you to press a single button (for example, for fish, burgers or fries) and the appliance will take care of the rest.

Otherwise, you’ll be able to set the time and temperature manually. This is easy to do but it may mean you need to experiment before you get it right.

Most air fryers will have digital controls, but some have manual dials or sliders to set the time and temperature.

Smart features

Smart features on cooking appliances are limited by safety. Some appliance makers may suggest that you can fill your air fryer before going out and schedule cooking, or set it to start cooking remotely, via an app, so that you can come home to hot food. We wouldn’t advise this. First off, it’s never a good idea to leave food at room temperature for a long time before cooking, or to use cooking appliances when you’re not home.

That being said, there are some genuinely handy smart features that you may use. If you get stuck doing something while your food is cooking, you can pause or stop the programme via the app.

There may also be a database of recipes you can use for inspiration. Browse recipes in the app, pick up the ingredients on the way home and start the programme when you get in: the app will guide you through the steps of cooking and automatically set the time and temperature.

You can even monitor the cooking progress from your phone, while you relax on the sofa – and you’ll get an alert when your food is done.

Combination cookers

An air fryer is simply a mini convection oven. That means that it cooks in the same way that your oven does when you select the fan-assist setting. Depending on the design of the air fryer, this cooking method can be supplemented by others. You can get air fryers that also grill or have multi-cooker functions such as making soups, stews and rice.

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