One of the best air fryers will be at the top of many wish-lists this season – for good reason. Ideal for saving you time in the kitchen and money on your electricity bills, the best air fryers for 2022 come in all shapes and sizes to suit a range of budgets and cooking needs. An air fryer can provide a healthier way to cook too so you can enjoy that delicious crispy, fried flavour with little to no oil needed.
Our favourite air fryer is the Ninja Foodi MAX Health Grill & Air Fryer AG551UKDBCP (priced £249.99), which has six cooking modes in one compact design. If all you want to do is cook a batch of chips, however, a more budget-friendly design such as the Lakeland Digital Compact Air Fryer (priced £89.99) may be more suitable. It can cook a 450g portion of chips with just a teaspoon of oil.
If you’re looking to buy an air fryer, you might struggle to find stock. However, with the Black Friday sale shooting out constant discounts over the weekend, it’s a great time to get yourself a saving.
The best Black Friday air fryers
What do I need to know before I buy an air fryer?
Consider this when hunting for the best design:
- Cooking modes: An air fryer is excellent for giving food a delicious fried finish with minimal oil needed and it works for both sweet and savoury foods. Use it to make anything from crispy-skinned drumsticks to crunchy mozzarella balls, to doughnuts and pastries. If you want a design that has more than air fry mode, however, look for one with variable cooking modes to grill, baking, roast, reheat and even dehydrate foods.
- Size: Check the dimensions of your air fryer before you buy to ensure you have enough space to house it permanently on your worktop. Even the most compact air fryer can be bulky in design and too big to store away in kitchen cupboards.
- Capacity: If all you want is to cook a batch of chips without having to heat up your whole oven, a compact air fryer with 1.6 litre capacity and above will be sufficient. If you have a large family, choose a design with a 3 litre and up capacity, as if you have to use the air fryer multiple times to cook for your whole family, it won’t be as energy efficient as your standard oven.
The best air fryers for 2022
The ultimate air fryer: Ninja Foodi Max Health Grill & Air Fryer
Who knew an air fryer could be such a thing of beauty? Finished in a limited-edition copper and black that looks stunning on the worktop, the Ninja Foodi Max Health Grill & Air Fryer is as stylish as it is versatile. With six cooking modes built into one compact appliance, we think it’s a great value buy for anyone who wants to do more than air fry meals.
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On top of the standard air fry setting, it has controls for grilling, roasting, baking, reheating and dehydrating. It also comes with dishwasher-safe tools including a crisper basket, digital cooking probe, ceramic-coated cooking pot, grill plate and skewers.
With a cooking capacity of 3.8 litres, it isn’t the largest in our round up, but it does give you the ability to cook six portions in one go. We used the air fryer setting to cook both home-made and frozen chips and were impressed at how crispy and quick the results were.
We cooked a golden batch of frozen chips in around 15 minutes simply by inserting the chips into the tray and pressing ‘Air fry’. You’ll need to factor in the pre-heating time too, which lasts a few minutes and the machine will beep to let you know that it’s time to insert your ingredients.
It automatically suggests 200 degrees for 20 minutes when you hit the air fry button but you can tailor the temperature and time easily with the dials. We also tried cooking a batch of chicken wings – using no oil – and these came out golden and ready to eat in just 12 minutes.
As the design comes with a lift-up lid – as opposed to a pull-out basket like the majority of air fryers we’ve tried in our test – you’ll need to use a kitchen spatula to ruffle the food half-way to ensure it’s evenly cooked. That said, we didn’t have to turn the chicken wings and they were cooked evenly on both sides. The air fryer conveniently stops when you open the lid, too.
What we also like about this design is that you can easily change the tray inside and switch between air frying and grilling modes – and this is particularly convenient when steak and chips is on the menu.
The most affordable air fryer: Lakeland Digital Compact Air Fryer
Don’t be fooled by the small size of the Lakeland Digital Compact air fryer, as its premium finish and intuitive digital controls make for an excellent buy. Its lightweight and compact design makes it one of the few air fryers we could actually pack away in the kitchen storage unit after use and it didn’t take up too much space on the worktop either.
Its small circular basket pulls out to reveal space to air fry up to 450g of frozen or handmade chips, which is around two portions. It has a small grill inside that raises the base so that any oil stays away from the food and drains away underneath. This can be easily removed so you can wash the basket and grill with hot soapy water, which we found easy to do.
It’s not just chips you can cook in this air fryer, either, which is why we think it’s great value for money. On its digital LED touchscreen control panel there are five pre-programmed functions making it easy for you to place your ingredients into the basket and press buttons for poultry, steak, meat, baking, fresh fries and veg, frozen fries and veg.
When we used the frozen fries setting, it suggested 25 minutes on 180 degrees, but we took the chips out at 18 minutes as by that point they were crunchy and golden and ready to eat. While the pre-set programs takes out the guess work, you can also choose your own temperature and timings using the control buttons.
Best value for money air fryer: Ninja Foodi Dual Zone air fryer
The perfect option for anyone who needs to get dinner on the table fast, the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer- AF300UK comes with two drawers so you can cook separate foods at the same time. Or sync the drawers to cook two batches of the same food at the same time. You can even set the air fryer so that two foods with different cooking timings finish cooking at the same time. Clever, right?
Design-wise this air fryer has all the good looks you’d expect from a Ninja appliance, with an intuitive and easy to use control panel that is easy to navigate – even without a manual. As well as giving you an air fry option, it comes with its own max crisp setting and options for baking, roasting, reheating and dehydrating foods too.
We found the two drawers to be ample in size giving you 7.6 litres in total, which is enough to make up to six portions at a time. It is perfect for cooking frozen fast food such as chicken nuggets and chips, but also healthier options such as fresh spicey sweet potato wedges and fresh crispy chicken wings in under 20 minutes.
The temperature and timing settings on this air fryer are easy to adjust too, with the ‘sync’ and ‘match’ buttons coming in handy when using the two drawers. It’s a very powerful design and, while there is no viewing window, we did find it easy to pull out the drawers mid-way through cooking to see how well our frozen chips and chicken wings were doing.
When you insert food and press the ‘air fry’ option it automatically goes to work at 20 minutes on 200 degrees setting, but this can be adjusted to suit how many portions you are cooking. With 250g frozen chips in one drawer and 5 chicken wings in the other, we found that 18 minutes on a 180 degrees setting was more than enough to achieve deliciously golden results.
It’s also worth noting that if you only need to use one drawer the air fryer becomes much more energy efficient.
How we tested the air fryers in our round up
To discover the best air fryers for 2022, we put a range of the latest designs through their paces. We made a shortlist of the best air fryers and rated them on design, portion size, choice of cooking modes, ease of use, assembly and cleaning and added extras that come in the box such as recipe booklet or cooking accessories.
To see just how effective each air fryer is, we prepared a portion of chips and chicken wings (the latter of which didn’t need oil as the skin has fat) in each design and commented on the results.
How does an air fryer work?
Air frying can be a healthy alternative to deep-frying, giving you all the flavoursome results with little to no oil needed. Unlike deep frying, food doesn’t need to be submerged in oil. Instead, an air fryer uses convection heat – similar to a fan oven – and circulates hot air at high temperatures around the basket. A chemical process known as the Maillard reaction ensures the food has a crispy finish, while remaining moist and delicious inside.
Is an air fryer energy efficient?
Air fryers can cut standard cooking times in half, saving you money off your energy bills while reducing your carbon footprint. Using an air fryer also means that you won’t need to heat up your entire oven just to cook a single portion.
One of the downsides of your standard air fryer can be the capacity, however, as they do well at cooking individual food groups, there’s not always room for multiple options at once. If you have a large number of people to cook for, you may want to consider an air fryer as an extension of – rather than a replacement for – your conventional cooker.
Once you know the wattage of the air fryer you want to buy, you can use the Joteo electricity usage calculator to find out how much it will cost you to run.
Why should you buy an air fryer?
If you enjoy the taste of fried food but want to prepare healthier meals, an air fryer is a great option. Cooking with an air can be time-saving and efficient too, which is a bonus if you’ve got home late from work and need to get dinner on the table for the kids quickly.
Basic air fryers are ideal for cooking chips using far less oil than a deep fat fryer – while still giving you that delicious, crispy, fried finish. If you invest in a more versatile (and generally pricier) model, it’s easier to use for cooking a complete meal – plus dessert – in half the time of that of a conventional oven.
The best designs also have extra cooking modes on top of the standard air frying functions, so you can roast, bake, dehydrate, and grill foods if desired too – almost banishing the need for a conventional oven entirely.
Is eating air fried food healthier?
As air fryers use hot air to cook with little to no oil needed, they can be a healthier option than a deep fryer. But how healthy air frying is all depends on what you cook. If you’re using it to cook fresh meat and vegetables with a spray oil, for example, you’re onto a winner. But if air fried chicken nuggets and chips is on the menu every night you may need to rethink your options.
As air fryers cook at a very high temperature, it’s also easy to burn your food, with some studies suggesting that high heat cooking may be associated with a higher risk of cancer.
Can an air fryer replace a conventional oven?
Ovens generally provide a lot more cooking space than even the largest air fryers and allow you to cook multiple foods at the same time. The average single oven is around 66 litres, while air fryers range from 1 to 7.5 litres. That said, ovens tend to require a lot more energy to get them up to temperature and run, which is what gives air frying the upper hand in terms of time and cost.
If you’re planning on using your air fryer as an alternative to your oven – as opposed to an add-on – it’s important to check the air fryer capacity before you buy. If the air fryer basket isn’t large enough to cook enough for all your household, you will have to run it multiple times and therefore be racking up the usage costs.
What can you cook in an air fryer?
Air fryers can cook a whole lot more than a batch of homemade or frozen chips and you’ll find a range of enticing recipes online. When you purchase an air fryer, you may even get a recipe booklet included in the box to inspire you.
Frozen foods such as chicken nuggets, prawn tempura and roast potatoes do particularly well in an air fryer, and easily benefit from that delightful crispy, golden finish. Fresh meat such as sausages, bacon, pork chops and chicken also come out tasty, but these can easily be overcooked if you don’t keep a close eye on timings and temperature.
It’s best to choose smaller cuts of meat, rather than whole joints where possible due to size. But if you are planning on air frying a large joint or a whole roast chicken, you’ll need to ensure there is enough space in the air fryer for the hot air to circulate and cook the meat evenly.
Frozen vegetables do well in the air fryer as they retain moisture from the ice. If you’re opting for fresh vegetables, you’ll need to choose those that hold weight such as broccoli rather than spinach. It’s best to avoid air frying anything with wet batter or anything too saucy as the exterior won’t set like it does in a deep fryer.