The Tefal ActiFry Express XL is, at the time of testing, a brand new health fryer that promises to cook 30% faster than the original family ActiFry. It makes up to 1.5kg of healthier (3% fat) chips.
It's physically huge and has an equally large price tag, but sadly its repertoire of recipes is small compared with rival health fryers.
The ActiFry Express XL is aptly named because it is huge. Its big, curvy body looks like a giant space helmet has been deposited on the worktop… but it's bigger than that because there's a bit that sticks out behind it too. Think wok-sized rather than saucepan and you get the idea.
In its defence, it does look pretty cool, with a completely transparent lid that magically doesn't get covered in sticky fingerprints.
The capacity is pretty huge too. It cooks 1.5kg of chips with 20ml oil, which gives you 3% fat chips (once the chips have lost half their weight due to moisture escaping). It takes 25-27 minutes to cook 750g of fresh chips and 36-38 minutes to cook 1.5kg.
For such a huge cooker, the ActiFry Express XL has surprisingly tiny instructions and recipe book. The good news then is that it's very simple to use.
It has no heat settings, just press the plus and minus buttons to select your cooking time and the built-in digital timer counts down the minutes for you. Unlike the DeLonghi Multifry Extra it's not designed to cook without the paddle. So all you need to do is add ingredients and pick a time.
The bad news is that, for such a large and expensive machine, it comes with just 11 recipes plus a bunch of recommended cooking times. Hardly comparable to the DeLonghi's 250+ strong recipe app. Hit the Tefal website and you'll find 38 recipes; these tend to be stews and similar dishes that are cooked and stirred.
The Tefal comes with a green plastic measuring spoon which cleverly fits on top of the central spindle, so you can park it there while you measure oil and other ingredients. In fact, you have to… because the spoon won't balance on a flat surface. We cooked 750g of chips in 10ml of oil, which took 27 minutes.
Unlike the DeLonghi there's no element in the base, it just cooks from above using fanned hot air. Yet the Tefal is significantly quieter. And when the cooking time is up, it automatically stops and beeps.
The sides of the machine get surprisingly hot, but not dangerously so. And underneath, when we came to clean up, we found small wet patches where condensation must have run down.
The chips from the Tefal ActiFry Express XL were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, but they were no tastier than oven chips. And while the texture was a bit better than the DeLonghi's, a few chips had clearly been squashed by the Tefal's blade.
We also tried to cook prawn crackers in the Tefal, but to no avail. They ended up small and brown, not big and white and definitely not edible.
Cleaning was easy as everything that's removable is dishwasher safe, although the large bowl takes up a lot of dishwasher space.
No. We love the looks even if it is gigantic. But it's a bit of a one-trick pony. The more affordable DeLonghi Multifry Extra cooks chips in a similar way, but it's more versatile for cooking other dishes.
This huge health fryer has a huge price tag but a small repertoire.