More of an oven with an air frying function rather than the other way around, the Cuisinart Air Fryer Mini Oven is ideal for those seeking a second or portable oven. In addition to air frying, its functions include baking, roasting, toasting, and grilling, and it can easily fit small to medium-sized cake tins and smaller roasts. Its analogue controls mean it’s easy to use, but they also make temperature and time selection somewhat less precise, requiring you to keep a closer eye on the cooking process. At the same time, it’s powerful and fast, cutting the cooking time of many foods.
- Versatile functions
- Easy to use
- Powerful and fast
- Imprecise timing and temperature selection
- Accessories not dishwasher safe
- No auto programmes
Increasingly popular, air frying is a healthier option for crisping up food. While some appliances specifically focus on air frying, others – such as the Cuisinart Air Fryer Mini Oven – offer a combination of functions, also including grilling, baking, roasting, and toasting.
Relatively large and rather powerful, the Cuisinart Air Fryer Mini Oven aims to be a one-stop-shop for all cooking needs for up to four people, although its cavity will only fit smaller birds and a six-hole cupcake – though not muffin – tray. Its controls are analogue and thus easy to use, but a lack of increments on dials also brings in some imprecision.
Design and features
- Exterior and interior are easy to keep clean
- Comes with an air fryer basket, baking tray and oven rack
- Lack of dial increments complicates temperature and time selection
The design of the Cuisinart Air Fryer Mini Oven is more reminiscent of a small oven than an air fryer. Its bulky, though not particularly heavy, frame means that it will take up a fair amount of space – more than most air fryers – on your countertop. Then again, it seems to aspire to be a second or portable oven (with built-in carry handles on its sides).
With an old-school industrial vibe, its metal body has a grey powdered-paint finish that’s impervious to fingerprints. Carrying on the matte theme, the door handle and accents around the knobs are brushed metal. The only inconsistency is the shiny metallic paint-coated plastic trim, found around the light button and an external LED indicator. The viewing window is generous considering the size of the oven and easy to see through without much reflectiveness.
The inside features both top and bottom heating elements and two different slots for cooking, with 45mm of space between the two levels. The accessories include a 320x285mm baking tray and oven rack, as well as a 290x250mm air fryer basket that fits neatly over the baking tray so the latter can double up as a drip tray. None of these accessories are dishwasher safe, which is particularly challenging when it comes to the difficult-to-soak frying basket.
The control panel consists of four knobs – a timer, temperature, function, and toaster – and a switch for the internal light, which is only operational during cooking.
The mechanical timer ranges from 5mins to 60mins, marked in 5min increments. While 5, 15, 25, etc, minutes are marked with a dot, 10, 20, 30, etc, minutes are written out, posing a challenge of where exactly to aim the indicator on the knob – let alone what to do when your desired cooking time is, say, 18mins. For precise timing or cooking delicate items, it’s thus better to set a separate timer or keep an eye on the food – which is pretty easy to do thanks to the bright cavity light.
The appliance doesn’t have an on/off switch, and the heating process here is activated by setting the timer (rather than the common option of choosing a particular function). Once activated, the timer will emit a subtle ticking sound, although it’s likely to be largely drowned out by the noise of the internal fan. On completion, the timer will let out a ding to alert you that the appliance has finished cooking.
The temperature knob poses a similar challenge to the timer, in that only 90°C, 120°C, 150°C, 180°C, 210°C and 230°C are written out without an increment line in sight. But, unlike the timer, this knob isn’t tactile, so you won’t be able to feel the increments either.
The function knob features symbols for Keep Warm, Paninis & Toasties, Grill, Toast, Bake, Roasts & Pizza, and Airfry functions, which are explained in the manual, along with suggested accessories and tray positions for each function. The main difference between these seven functions lies in regulating the fan intensity and which of the two heating elements will be activated.
Finally, the mechanical toaster knob is akin to the dials you find on a toaster – letting you choose a shade setting from 1 to 6 (which crucially doesn’t correspond to minutes of toasting).
- Food is browned quickly and intensely
- Condensation drips onto countertop when cooking moister foods
- Preheating works by adding 5mins to cooking time
My first test was cooking 800g of homemade parboiled chips with three tablespoons of oil for 20mins at 200°C, following the manual’s recommendation for hand-cut chips. To achieve a more even result, I stirred the chips at 10mins and again at 15mins. At the 15-min mark, some were nicely crisping up, while others were still a bit pale. After another 5mins (which in reality was more like 6mins30secs due to the imprecise nature of the timer), the chips were ready: pleasantly browned and crispy on the outside while remaining fluffy on the inside.
The air frying function also proved useful for cooking four rashers of bacon at 200°C, which took 6mins. As opposed to regular frying, no oil was needed here, making it a slightly healthier meal.
I did use a bit of oil when air frying pieces of corn on the cob at 200°C for 13mins, having flipped them over about 8mins into the cooking time. The cobs came out a bit shrivelled and quite crispy on the outside, prompting me to think that perhaps 180°C would have been enough, but they still tasted juicy and caramelised – like freshly off the barbecue.
When cooking frozen chips, I raised the temperature to 220°C. After 15mins, the chips were quite browned. The manual’s recommendation was 10-15mins at 230°C. Perhaps a slightly shorter cooking time would have been appropriate, but I was glad not to have gone for the maximum temperature.
One of the things I noticed while air frying – particularly with the parboiled potatoes – was the amount of condensation that gathered on the inside of the glass. This led to some steam escaping through the sides of the oven door and small puddles of water forming on the worktop. The manual actually warns of this condensation build-up, but it doesn’t offer any fixes for it.
To test the grill function, I cooked some frankfurters at 200°C for 5mins26secs (what was intended as 5mins). They came out nicely done, but I wish the manual had more instructions on grill temperature selection.
Bizarrely, I also had to choose a temperature for the toasting function. I wisely opted for a relatively low one of 150°C for toasting some halved brioche burger buns. Shade setting 2 took about 3mins30secs and resulted in a pleasant golden brown hue.
For baking, the manual recommends adding five minutes to the baking time for preheating and only placing the food in the oven once this time is up. In a tin on top of the oven rack in the lower position, I baked some brownies at 180°C for 20mins (after 5mins of preheating). The result was a little overdone, proving the need to keep an eye on the food while using this appliance, and perhaps also to opt for lower temperatures and/or shorter cooking times than usual.
Should you buy it?
This appliance is great for someone looking for a second or portable oven with an air frying function.
This appliance isn’t suitable for someone seeking a specialist air fryer with auto programmes.
The Cuisinart Air Fryer Mini Oven is a large appliance that serves as an air fryer, grill, toaster and oven, yet its design and functions are fairly analogue, meaning there are no auto programmes or handy shortcuts. For someone looking for auto settings, the more affordable Tower 10-in-1 may be more appropriate, while the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone 7.6L Air Fryer adds versatility with its two drawers. Check out other recommendations in our guide to the best air fryers.
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Used as our main boiling tap for the review period
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It has seven functions: air fry, roast, bake, grill, toasties, toast and keep warm.
No, it has manual settings only.