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Best air fryer: 5 top choices for healthier frying

Healthier, crispy fried food the easy way with our round-up of the best air fryers

The simple truth is that, unhealthy as it is, deep-fat frying food makes it taste so good. If you want the same kind of taste but using between 70% and 80% less oil, you need one of our best air fryers.

Rather than submerging food in hot oil, you first of all coat the food in oil, and then the air fryer circulates hot air (typically at around 200C). The result is that you get that crispy finish to your food, but it’s a healthier process, and you don’t have a vat of hot oil to clean up afterwards.

We’ve reviewed stacks of air fryers to bring you the best ones for any use and home. We’ve listed the top ones below in the handy list, but you can read further on to get more information on each review, and you can click through to the full review for even more information.

How We Test

Learn more about how we test air fryers

We use standard tests with air fryers, so that we can compare performance between different models. We always test by cooking home-made chips, sausages and frozen convenience food, such as fish fingers. Depending on the model, we’ll also test additional features including reheating pizza and drying out herbs.

Ninja Foodi Dual Zone 7.6L Air Fryer

Two cooking zones for the ultimate flexibility
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Pros

  • Two separate drawers
  • Clever timing options
  • Large capacity
  • Excellent cooking programmes

Cons

  • Can’t fit in very large ingredients

Air fryers are brilliant but one of the biggest issues with them is that you can usually only cook at one temperature or setting at a time. Not so with the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone 7.6L Air Fryer, which brings you two individually controlled cooking zones, with their own pull out drawer.

You can cook individually, use the same setting on both drawers or, cleverly, use different settings on each drawer but have them synchronise to finish at the same time. There are options to air fry, max crisp (a 240C turbo setting), roast, reheat, dehydrate or bake.

Performance is excellent across the board, delivering crispy chips, succulent burgers and perfectly cooked corn. The only minor complaint is that while capacity is large, each drawer is the same size as a regular air fryer, so you can’t fit in larger ingredients, such as a whole chicken. This is a beast of an air fryer, but if you want the ultimate flexibility, it’s the best.

Reviewer: David Ludlow

Full review: Ninja Foodi Dual Zone 7.6L Air Fryer review

Ninja Air Fryer Max AF160UK

A family-sized air fryer that can reach higher temperatures to cook food even faster
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Pros

  • Generous capacity
  • Six handy presets
  • Dishwasher-safe

Cons

  • Larger worktop footprint
  • No power cable storage
  • Heavier than most air fryers

If there’s one problem with air fryers it’s that many models are very small. The Ninja Air Fryer Max AF160UK is completely different, as this model is family-sized, designed to cook for multiple people fast.

Inside the cavernous 5.2-litre basket, you can cook enough chips for a family, or fit in larger items, including a 1.2kg chicken, which Ninja says can be cooked in around 30-to-35 minutes. This air fryer even has special programmes, including a roast option (for chicken and the like), plus bake, reheat and dehydrate options.

There’s also the Max Crisp function, which ups temperature to 240C and increases air flow to speed up cooking, first thawing ad then crisping frozen food in minutes. The good news is that all of the features work brilliantly. We had super-crispy and evenly cooked chips; crispy-based reheated pizza; and succulent chicken legs.

If you want to do more than just cook chips, the Ninja Air Fryer Max AF160UK is the perfect choice, able to cook most family meals during the week.

Reviewer: Rachel Ogden

Full review: Ninja Air Fryer Max AF160UK review

Tower 4.3L Manual Air Fryer

Low-cost and simple to use, this is a great air fryer to get started with
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Pros

  • Generous capacity
  • Six handy presets
  • Dishwasher-safe

Cons

  • Larger worktop footprint
  • No power cable storage
  • Heavier than most air fryers

Cheaper air fryers can suffer from poor cooking and a lack of room, but the Tower 4.3L Manual Air Fryer avoids both of these pitfalls. As such, it’s a great air fryer for occasional use or for those that just want to get started with what an air fryer can do.

Controls are simple, with a temperature dial of between 80C and 200C, and a timer of up to one hour; just remember to set a temperature, or the timer will count down without cooking.

There’s room inside for 500g of chips, although we found cooking a little uneven. You’ll need to remember to shake and turn chips regularly to prevent this issue. What’s good about this budget machine is that the 3.2-litre basket meanes that there’s room inside for larger items: we managed to cook three chicken legs to perfection.

Spend more and you can get machines that cook faster and more evenly, but the benefit of this model is that it’s well priced and does a good job. If you’re on a tight budget, this is the air fryer to buy.

Reviewer: Rachel Ogden

Full review: Tower 4.3L Manual Air Fryer review

Ninja Foodi MAX 7.5L Multi-Cooker OP500UK

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Pros

  • Generous capacity
  • Six handy presets
  • Dishwasher-safe

Cons

  • Larger worktop footprint
  • No power cable storage
  • Heavier than most air fryers

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Reviewer: Rachel Ogden

Full review: Ninja Foodi MAX 7.5L Multi-Cooker OP500UK review

Sage the Smart Oven Air Fry

An oven and air fryer all in one: this model is super fast at cooking everything
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Pros

  • Generous capacity
  • Six handy presets
  • Dishwasher-safe

Cons

  • Larger worktop footprint
  • No power cable storage
  • Heavier than most air fryers

Most air fryers tend to look a lot like deep fat fryers, but the Sage the Smart Oven Air Fry looks a lot like a microwave oven. This design lets you spread out food, so that it’s evenly cooked, rather than having to shake food as you do in an air fryer.

The oven can also employ its Element iQ tech to direct power where it’s needed to eliminate cold spots in food. In practice, it worked perfectly, leaving us with evenly cooked home chips that had a crispy outside and fluffy inside.

And, the size the oven means that you can use it for larger items, including chicken legs or even an entire pizza. Just be careful with the preset options, as we found that our pizza began to burn after 15 minutes, although the programme was set for 20 minutes.

With a higher-than-average temperature option of 230C, rather than the usual 200C, the Sage the Smart Oven Air Fry can cook food faster than many other air fryers, although it does take a bit longer to heat up.

Comparatively expensive, this model won’t be for everyone, but its unique design lends itself to foods that other air fryers can’t even think about.

Reviewer: Rachel Ogden

Full review: Sage the Smart Oven Air Fryer review

FAQs

How important are temperature settings?

Most air fryers work at a standard temperature of 200C, which is required to crisp the outside of your food. If you find air fryers with higher temperature settings, they can cook food faster, which can be handy when dealing with frozen foods.

Can an air fryer do everything a deep fat fryer can do?

Not quite. While you’ll get similar results for most food, air fryers aren’t very good when it comes to wet batters, such as for fish and chips. Here, you’ll find that the batter drips off and you won’t get even results.

Most air fryers require you to remove the food and regularly shake it, too, in order to evenly coat food in oil. Some models have clever features and layouts to reduce this, but it’s something to be aware of.

What accessories do I need?

Accessories vary by device. Some air fryers have optional basket separators, which let you cook different foods at the same time. Grill pans can help you cook other types of food. Some models even have muffin or cake trays, although you’ll probably find it easier to just use a regular oven.

Is size important?

Make sure that you buy an air fryer large enough for your needs. If you’ve got a large family, then you’ll want a model that can cook enough chips for you all.

Most budget models suffer from small baskets that are good for one or two people, so you may need to up your budget to get a larger model. A larger basket also upgrades what you can cook, with some models even managing an entire chicken.

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