The Philips Viva Airfryer is a hot air cooker that offers a healthier alternative to deep fat frying. It's effectively a small fan oven on your worktop.
Its chips are superb for a health fryer – the best we've tested. But its repertoire beyond chips is fairly limited. And it's let down by a small capacity and a large price tag.
The design of the Viva Airfryer is surprisingly compact on the worktop; it's tall and thin rather than wide like rotary health fryers. The top section is a heating element and fan, while the bottom section is drawer that pulls out to reveal the cooking basket. As a result, there's no window for keeping an eye on cooking progress. The bottom of the basket is a metal mesh, so air passes straight through it and hits the bottom of the drawer, which is sculpted to circulate air.
Controls are simple: a dial at the top lets you set temperature (80-200°C) while the timer knob above the handle controls cooking. And on the back there's an unusual cord storage that's handy, although it protrudes annoyingly.
It cooks up to 800g of chips, with a tablespoon (18ml) of oil, to produce 3% fat chips. And it cooks them a bit faster than a rotary health fryer: 22 minutes for 800g at 180°C. Interestingly, it comes with recipes to twice "fry" larger wedges, first at 160°C then at 180°C.
The accompanying recipe book makes it clear that the Viva Airfryer is basically a small fan oven: baked potatoes, spring rolls and drumsticks; plus you can cook cakes, crumbles and quiches in an oven dish inside it – good luck finding a small enough oven dish.
The Philips' design is appealing – compact and glossy. And the timer knob is cool in a retro way: it's an analogue timer but the Viva Airfryer does turn off (and make an old-fashioned "ding") when you're out of time.
To prepare chips, you need to first toss them in oil in a bowl. Then pop them into the pre-heated machine. The fan is audible but not noisy enough to get in the way of a conversation or the radio.
The resulting chips were impressive: ready in just 20 minutes and tastier than any of the other health fryers we've tested. They were slightly dry, not quite soft and fluffy enough in the middle, but decidedly tastier than an oven chip.
Related: Best Fridge Freezer Round-up
As an experiment we cooked fresh chips made from the same potatoes in the oven with a spoonful of oil, stirring them just once halfway through the cooking time. The Viva Airfryer is the only healthy fryer that made chips that could beat them.
We also tried to cook prawn crackers in it. We weren't optimistic after disastrous attempts in rotary health fryers, but the Philips at 200°C cooked them quickly and passably – they weren't as big and fluffy as you'd expect from a deep fat fryer, but they weren't as greasy either. The only problem was that, with no window to keep an eye on progress, you could hear them getting blown around inside but it was hard to tell whether they were cooked or not.
Cleaning was OK – the wire mesh at the bottom of the cooking basket takes a good brushing because it catches everything, but it's not as greasy a job as cleaning a deep fat fryer basket.
Related: Best Kitchen Gadgets
Yes if you want to cook healthy chips. This is the only machine we've tested that makes healthy fresh chips that taste better than the same chips cooked in an oven.
If your priority is tasty chips, rather than worrying about fat content, then consider the DeLonghi RotoFry F28311 or the Sage Multi Fryer. And if you want to cook large quantities of healthy chips, consider the DeLonghi Multifry Extra… or just use the oven.
An impressive, small hot air health cooker that makes tasty, healthy chips… but not much else.