Cut fat, energy bills and save time cooking your favourite dishes with the best air fryers – tried and tested
The best air fryers are ideal for cooking everything from chicken nuggets and chips to vegetables and even stir-fries. That’s because air fryers are an efficient way to satisfy your craving for “fried” foods with a much lower fat content – so you can nibble on your favourite comfort foods with less oil, or potentially none at all.
In this article, we will explain all the key features of the best air fryers, which you may find useful – or even essential – to get the absolute most from your new kitchen appliance. We’ve tested all the air fryers that we recommend here, too, so we know that every model here is capable of serving up tasty dishes time after time.
If you want some quick recommendations, then read our at-a-glance list below, or scroll past and our quick buying guide and mini reviews will help you find the best air fryer.
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Best air fryer: At a glance
How to choose the best air fryer for you
How do air fryers work?
Air fryers work by convection, meaning they circulate hot air around your food, ensuring every bit of surface area is exposed to the oil and heat. You simply need to spray or pour a little oil onto whatever you’re cooking before switching on the appliance – although you don’t always have to use oil if you don’t want to. Add just a dash, however, and a clever chemical process called the Maillard reaction creates a crispy result with far less fat – up to 99% in some cases.
Air fryers generally operate between 150 and 200˚C, although different models will vary. Because so little oil is used, an air fryer won’t recreate exactly the same results as your local chippy, though most of our picks below do come close.
If you want to learn a little more about how air fryers work, and what benefits they have compared to a standard oven, then have a read of our handy explainer here: What is an air fryer?
How much should I spend?
Air fryers aren’t the cheapest appliances, but you can get a decent air fryer for a starting price of around £80. This should do the basic job of frying food with a minimum of fat, but cooking times might be slow compared to pricier models and you may not always achieve perfection.
Style is also a factor, as is a machine’s capabilities. Some air fryers have quick cook functions and stirring paddles, which do all the hard work for you, while others can also grill or bake. You should also consider the capacity of the air fryer – some are big enough to cater for a family meal, while others are smaller and can fit into dinky kitchens. For a large, fast air fryer you should expect to pay somewhere in the region of £150-£250.
What are the standard functions?
The best air fryers will have a number of basics you should look out for. These include weight and temperature settings, so you can adjust the heat and cook time to suit your ingredients.
Good models will come with dishwasher-safe removable parts and a pull-out loading tray that slots into the machine. For easy cooking from the get-go, look out for models with preset functions for popular dishes too. These work out the timings and temperatures for you.
Most also come with a recipe booklet for culinary inspiration, which is ideal if you’re new to air frying.
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Do they come with accessories?
While most air fryers don’t come with anything beyond the standard basket or shelf, there’s a range of accessories that can turn your fryer into more of a mini oven. For example, certain air fryers have compatible grill pans, while others have roasting trays or rotisserie skewers meaning you can roast whole chickens in them too.
Can you cook a full meal in an air fryer?
While budget or compact air fryers compromise on cooking capacity, so are only capable of cooking a single portion of vegetables, chips or similar, you will often find that larger models are capable of simultaneously cooking multiple dishes. Up your budget and you will often get a larger capacity machine, or an appliance with multiple compartments. Some premium models even make it possible to cook an entire Sunday roast, potentially allowing you to squeeze in a whole chicken alongside potatoes and vegetables for the ultimate in tasty, energy efficient cooking.
What else should I look out for?
Air fryer technology is improving all the time. Older models might take a while to get going, and can require more oil than newer designs. Cheaper models may also require you to parboil chips, which might not be ideal if you’re looking for fast cooking times.
You should also look for additional functions if you plan on using your fryer for more than chips and nuggets – some air fryers can cook curries, stews, risottos, and more.
How do we test air fryers?
We put every air fryer through a rigorous set of tests to ensure they do everything they claim, whether that’s cooking perfectly crispy chips, tender fish, evenly browned oven food or even whole chickens.
As well as observing how well they cook a single portion of potatoes and vegetables, or single pieces of protein such as fish and steak, we also fill each air fryer to its advertised capacity. This shows us how consistently each appliance cooks across the board, to ensure that four-portion air fryer really is big enough for a family dinner.
We run these tests on both the manual cooking settings and any automatic presets they might have for common ingredients or dishes. Some air fryers also come with additional functions, such as baking and roasting. In these cases, we use a similar testing method, looking for speedy, even results.
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The best air fryers you can buy in 2023
1. Ninja AF100UK: Best air fryer for two people
Price when reviewed: £150 | Check price at Ninja Promising healthy chip frying with up to 75% less fat (than deep-fried hand-cut French fries), this Ninja air fryer is arguably so much more. As well as whipping up to 900g of fries, its removable crisper plate and two fan speeds turn it into a far more versatile machine. You can not only roast and fry food, but dehydrate it to produce beef jerky, chewy apple rings, banana chips, veggie crisps and other healthy snacks.
One of its other great functions is a reheat setting, which is perfect for bringing leftovers back to life without having to turn on the oven, and for crisping up single slices of pizza. It goes without saying that the Ninja is brilliant for frozen food but, thanks to easy controls and a digital display, it’s also simple to customise programs to suit whatever you’re cooking. If the 3.8l model isn’t quite big enough for the whole family, the 5.2l MAX version is perfectly suited to larger groups.
Read our full Ninja Air Fryer AF100UK review
Key specs – Power: 1,550W; Capacity: 3.8l; Display: Digital, Accessories: Removable crisper plate
2. Tower T17023: Best budget air fryer
Price when reviewed: £30 | Check price at Argos
A sturdy, no-frills option, the T17023 is the perfect choice for anyone looking for a cheap, compact and easy-to-use air fryer. While not the most capacious model on our list, the T17023’s 2.2l basket can still fit up to 500g of frozen chips at max capacity or a single serving of a protein such as steak or chicken breast, making it a great option for whipping up sides or acting as an auxiliary cooker.
Its compact dimensions will fit neatly into smaller kitchens or onto already crowded countertops, and the controls couldn’t be simpler: two physical dials allow you to set the cooking temperature between 80ºC and 200ºC and set a timer of up to 30 minutes.
Despite being a budget-friendly option, the T17023 was no slouch in testing, cooking oven classics such as spring rolls and hash browns to a commendable crispness and performing solidly when tasked with more delicate items like meat and vegetables.
Read our full Tower T17023 2.2L review
Key specs – Power: 1,000W; Capacity: 2.2L; Display: Manual timer; Accessories: Removable crisper plate
3. Tower Xpress Pro Combo 10-in-1: Best air fryer for chicken
Price when reviewed: £140 | Check price at Amazon If you want an air fryer that does a bit more than the basic chips and chicken nuggets, but can’t quite stretch to a premium model like the Tefal Genius XL, this is a well-priced compromise. It doesn’t feel too huge on the countertop compared to other brands but has plenty of space inside. You can bake, roast, air fry and dehydrate with this fryer and, unlike other models that have basket-style drawers, it has individual crisping trays, making it more like a mini tabletop oven
The real shining star, though, is the air fryer’s automatic rotisserie function, which allows you to cook a whole small 1kg chicken in just 45 minutes. Results are fantastic, producing a chicken with crispy skin and a juicy, perfectly cooked interior with little effort. If that’s not enough, this new and improved model also comes with kebab skewers, silicone oven mitts and a small pizza crisping tray.
Tower also sells a cheaper (£80) 5-in-1 model, which comes with fewer features but still has that excellent rotisserie and 11l capacity. Ideal if you’re looking to save more money but don’t mind giving up a few extras.
Read our full Tower Xpress Pro Combo 10-in1 air fryer review
Read our full Tower 5-in-1 T17039 air fryer review
Key specs – Power: 2,000W; Capacity: 11l; Display: Digital touchscreen; Accessories: Rotisserie spit, kebab skewers, 3 crisping trays, 1 pizza crisping tray, 1 multipurpose rack, silicone heat proof mitts
4. Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer air fryer: Best dual air fryer
Price when reviewed: £220 | Check price at Lakeland A well-built, stylish and versatile air fryer, the Instant Plus Vortex has many of the same commendable qualities as the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone. Like The Dual Zone, this twin basket air fryer produced excellent results in our cooking tests, with its handy Sync Cook and Sync Finish settings allowing users to sync up the two drawers, even if they’re using different times, temperatures or cooking modes. Alongside air frying, the Instant Vortex Plus offers a nice array of functions, including roasting, grilling, baking, reheating and dehydrating.
The ability to use different modes in each basket – for example, grilling bacon in one drawer while air frying hash browns in the other – gives the Instant Vortex Plus a real edge for people seeking to make whole meals in their air fryer.
Helping the Instant Vortex Plus stand out is the subtle ease of use and versatility it offers. The clear basket windows and lights inside the machine allows users to keep an eye on their food as it cooks, a feature lacking in many other models. Meanwhile, the digital touchscreen is sleek, responsive and easy to use. Overall, the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer is one of the smoothest and most impressive air fryers we’ve tested at this price point.
Read our full Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer air fryer review
Key specs – Power: 1,700W; Capacity: 7.6l; Display: Digital; Accessories: Two non-stick grill plates
5. Ninja Foodi Dual Zone: Best Ninja air fryer
Price when reviewed: £220 | Check price at Ninja Air fryers are great for low-fat dinners, but only being able to cook one part of your meal at a time isn’t exactly ideal. That’s why Ninja’s Foodi Dual Zone fryer – with its two separate cooking baskets – is so unbeatable. With the fryer’s sync function, both baskets can be set to different times and temperatures but will finish at the same time. So you can cook your chicken and chips simultaneously, without the worry that one will be done before the other.
The Dual Zone’s Max Crisp function is also worth shouting about, as it cooks thinner frozen foods such as chips, onions rings, and nuggets in a fraction of the time it would take a standard convection oven. During testing, one portion of frozen potato lattices came out perfectly crisp and golden in just six minutes, compared to the recommended 15-minute oven cooking time stated on the bag. This air fryer can also bake, roast, dehydrate, and reheat, making it a versatile tabletop multi cooker.
Read our full Ninja Foodi Dual Zone review
Key specs – Power: 2,400W; Capacity: 7.6l; Display: Digital; Accessories: None
6. Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1: Best premium air fryer
Price when reviewed: £150 | Check price at John Lewis A whopping 1.7kg capacity makes the Genius 2in1 one of the biggest on our list. Like the other appliances in Tefal’s Genius range, there are plenty of preset options for cooking classic meals like chicken and chips, stir-fries and more. With these automatic presents, there’s no need to adjust the time and temperature yourself, though you can cook manually if you prefer.
All that space isn’t just there so you can bulk fry chips, though. The extra-large capacity houses Tefal’s 2in1 function, which enables you to cook two different elements of your meal in one place. With a rotating stirring paddle on the bottom and a static upper tray on top, you can cook a curry and air fry samosas in the same machine, saving on time and washing up.
In testing, chicken and homemade chips came out beautifully crisp with one tablespoon of oil and were ready in just 25-30 minutes. What’s more, the stirring paddle meant we didn’t even need to flip or check on them. This may be a bigger investment than some of the other air fryers on this list, but there’s nothing else quite like it.
Read our full Tefal Genius XL 2in1 review
Key specs – Power: 1,500W; Capacity: 1.7kg; Display: Digital; Accessories: Measuring spoon, removable 2-in-1 tray
7. Tefal Actifry Genius+: Best self-stirring air fryer
Price when reviewed: £130 | Check price at John Lewis If you’re looking for a top-of-the-range air fryer that offers a decent alternative to deep frying with minimal fuss, the Tefal Genius+ is the one to try. With a 1.2kg capacity, this air fryer will cook up to six portions of food with little effort. You can opt for larger models in the Genius range, but these are rather large and we think this model is the ideal size.
The 360-degree stirring paddle is incredibly handy and ensures food is evenly and consistently cooked without the need for shaking your food mid-cooking cycle. Nine automatic cooking functions take most of the guesswork out of air frying but there’s still an option to manually set the time and temperature if need be. What’s more, if you’re using these presets, the Genius+ (and every other Genius model in the range) automatically adjusts the temperature and stirring paddle during cooking so your food isn’t overcooked.
There’s no doubt that Tefal’s Genius range is expensive, but you really won’t find a line of air fryers that do the job better.
Read our full Tefal Genius+ review
Key specs – Power: 1,500W; Capacity: 1.2kg; Display: Digital touchscreen; Accessories: Measuring spoon