Best Air Fryers | Best Oil-less Fryers
Whenever you think of frying you automatically associate it with a lot of oil. Well there is an alternative way of frying your food. Using an air fryer (sometimes called an oil-less fryer). An air fryer is a great way to cook your food as it produces much healthier food whilst still tasting great. The added benefits are having to buy no (or very little) oil, which can quickly add up when frying the conventional way. In this buying guide, we’re going to go through some of the best air fryers available today and go over what an air fryer is and how it works.
- 1 Best Air Fryers | Best Oil-less Fryers
- 1.1 What is an air fryer?
- 1.2 How does an air fryer work?
- 1.3 Best Low Budget Air Fryer
- 1.4 Best Mid-Range Air Fryer
- 1.5 Best High-End Air Fryer
- 1.6 Pros and Cons of an Air Fryer
What is an air fryer?
An air fryer isn’t actually a fryer. It doesn’t fry in a conventional way, instead the name is more of a marketing move. Whilst not being an actual fryer they do produce food that tastes like it has been fried. You can still get the same crispy outer coating and soft inners that you would from a normal fryer. But, from an air fryer you tend to get much lighter, less greasy and much healthier food because they are generally oil-less. They are usually indoor, electric, household appliances but some versions work outside and use gas like a BBQ grill or smoker.
How does an air fryer work?
An air fryer or oil-less fryer works in a similar way to a convection oven. There is a heating element somewhere in the fryer that provides radiant heat that does a lot of the cooking. A fan is usually positioned near the heating element that creates an air flow of super heated air that flows around the food to provide a good heat distribution and creates even cooking. The hot air flow also allows the foods natural moisture to create steam to complete the cooking.
If the air fryer uses some oil it will usually be a very small amount. One or two tablespoons of oil is about average. This oil is turned into a fine mist by the convection action and as it flows around the cooker it coats the food with the oil. This creates the traditional crispy outer coating on the food that normal deep frying would produce.
Best Low Budget Air Fryer
If you’re a little hesitant about buying your first air fryer you really shouldn’t be. The Simple Chef Air Fryer is good low budget air fryer that can do almost everything the more expensive models do. It has a 3.5 liter capacity which is enough for about 8 to 10 chicken wings. It uses the standard convection heating method and is able to produce great tasting food with no oil at all! We recommend using a little oil to give best results but if you’re looking to be as healthy as possible it’s great to have the oil-less option.
Other features include:
- Cooking time of around 30 minutes.
- Great design and build. The handle and pan feel rugged and durable and are made from 100% BPPA free plastic.
- Easy to wash. There are two dishwasher safe parts that are the only bits that will get dirty, so cleaning is very simple.
- Safety features include overheat protection and automatic shutoff after the cooking has finished.
- Temperature range of 180°F to 400°F (82°C to 204°C)
Dimensions: 14.1 x 12.9 x 12.6 inches (35.8 x 32.8 x 32 cm)
Weight: 11.9 lbs (5.4 lg)
Overall, the Simple Chef Oil-Less Air Fryer is everything you want if you’re looking to buy a first time air fryer. It’s simple to use, produces good quality, healthy food with little to no oil use and is very reasonably priced. A lot of other people agree with us and the Simple Chef Air Fryer reviews speak for themselves.
If you’re looking for a slightly larger capacity that the Smiple Chef then the Secura 4 Liter Electric Hot Air Fryer could be the one for you. It’s generally cheaper than the Simple Chef and has 0.5 of a liter more cooking capacity. This does tend to increase cooking time a little, but that’s to be expected. It produces some great tasting food that taste almost genuinely oil fried, but with very little (or no) oil. Again, we recommend using a little if you’re looking for that oil fried taste. What we like about the Secura is that it’s very versatile. You get a few little accessories with the air fryer itself, including skewers and a toaster rack. This makes cooking almost anything in the Secura a breeze.
We recommend trying to re-heat old fried. Never have we managed to re-heat fries to the same taste as new ones but the Secura (and many of the other models) can do it just fine!
Other features include:
- Auto shut off and heating and temperature indicators for added safety.
- Temperature range of 180°F to 390°F (82°C to 199°C).
- 2 Year Manufacturer’s Limited Warranty.
Dimensions: 16 x 14.5 x 14 inches (40.6 x 36.8 x 35.6 cm)
Weight: 10.7 lbs (4.9 kg)
Whilst the Secura is a very good air fryer it does have a few problems here and there. The timer is analogue and can sometimes be a bit inaccurate. Also, despite the 4 liter basket, you’re still going to be only able to cook for a maximum of two people at once unless you want to cook in batches. Both of these problems are not big of a deal and aren’t unique to the Secura. Most air fryers at this price range aren’t going to have the quality or ease of use that some of the more expensive models have. Having said that, you’re not going to get much better than the Simple Chef or the Secura if you’re looking to spend under $100.
Normally we only have one alternative option for you but this time we thought we do something a little different because we like the Char-Bril Big Easy so much. This is classes as a Turkey Fryer but really, we think it should be classed as an oil-less fryer. You can cook almost anything in it, not just turkeys but it does shine as a turkey fryer. We did a complete rundown of the best turkey fryers and the Char-Broil was the best oil-less turkey fryer on the list.
It’s a gas-powered turkey fryer that uses infrared technology to evenly heat the turkey (or anything else you’re frying) and eliminates any hot or cold spots.
The Char-Broil Big Easy can cook a whole range of foods and can cook a turkey up to 16lbs. It can cook turkeys at a rate of about 8-10 minutes per pound. So, for a 15lb turkey you’ll be looking at around a minimum of 2 hours.
Other features include:
- Included meat thermometer and quick start cooking guide.
- Solid construction from high quality metals.
- Drip tray located under the heating chamber to catch any falling juices and make cleaning easy.
- Usually less money than any Butterball.
Dimensions: 16 x 16 x 24.5 inches (40.6 x 40.6 x 62.2 cm)
Weight: 31lbs (14 kg)
Overall, the Char-Broil Big Easy is a brilliant oil-less turkey fryer that produces high quality food that is on par with anything produced from an oil fryer. The bonuses of the Big Easy is just how easy it is to use. There is no need for messing around with oil and you simply place the food inside, turn it on and wait until it’s cooked. There is a need for a gas bottle so you’ll have to set up outside. But if you’re looking for one of the best oil-less fryers that will produce perfectly fried turkey or anything else without the calories then the Char-Broil Big Easy is the one to buy.
Best Mid-Range Air Fryer
The T-fal Actifry is our go to air fryer. We’ve cooked some of our favourite air fryer recipes in this fryer and they have all come out fantastic because of the simplicity and ease of use that the ActiFry has. For example, you’ll be able to cook the best air fryer doughnuts in this without any hassle. What makes it so good is the thought that’s gone into the design. It uses a unique method of heating the little oil needed which cooks your food to perfection. It also has a paddle that we really like that moves the food around the ensure even cooking. Some people don’t like this feature as it works best with smaller chunks of food so it does somewhat limit you.
You can cook up to 2.2lbs of food at once, which isn’t the best we’ve come across but is generally enough for a couple of people. It has a removable ceramic-coated nonstick pan which helps with the even distribution of the heat and makes cleaning up very simple. All you have to do is take it apart and put most of it in the dishwasher. There’s even really nice safety features built in. For example, it has a secure lid to reduce any oil splashes and a magnetic power cord for easy release to stop it falling if someone pulls the power cord by accident.
Other features include:
- Simple on and off switch with a digital countdown time and buzzer for the easiest monitoring we’ve come across.
- Large LCD screen for simple and clear display.
- No-preheating required.
- Clear lid for easy checking on whatever is cooking.
- 1450 Watts of power is easily enough to let the T-fal stay at an even 338°F (170°C)
Dimensions: 19.1 x 11.8 x 15.6 inches (48.5 x 30 x 39.6 cm)
Weight: 10.9 lb (4.9 kg)
Overall, we’d recommend the T-fal over almost all other air fryers. It’s incredibly easy to use with anything being ready to cook with a couple of button presses. Not only this but it also cooks some of the tastiest food we’ve made in air fryers. If you’re looking for a brilliant all round air fryer then the T-fal is the one to get.
If you’re looking for a little more control and a bit more of a conventional air fryer, then the Philips AirFryer is the one to buy. We were generally pretty impressed with the Philips despite it being fairly small. It has a temperature control which can be very useful although we found ourselves keeping it at one temperature for most cooks. You do get a neat little temperature guidance card with this air fryer to help you cook your meals to perfection.
The Philips AirFryer does give a slightly more ‘baked’ taste than ‘fried’ but we still thought it produced some really good quality food none the less. It cooks by using a convection type heating system similar to the others and has a power output of 1425 Watts. One of the best features of the Philips AirFryer is that it heats up very quickly so you don’t have to wait around for ages before you start cooking. It’s also very easy to clean up. The main basket comes outs and then the drip pan can be taken off and it can all be washed, it’s as simple as that.
Other features include:
- Need less than a tablespoon of oil for great quality food.
- Can fry, grill, roast, steam and bake.
- Can set cooking temperature and time to get the exact finish you want.
- Shuts off automatically and alerts you when the food is ready.
- Includes an air fryer recipe book with for that 150 recipes.
Dimensions: 13.8 x 13.8 x 15.1 inches (35 x 35 x 38.4 cm)
Weight: 16.4 lbs (7.4 kg)
If you’re looking for something a little smaller, quicker to cook and more versatile than the T-fal then the Philips AirFryer is one of the best air fryers you can buy. It’s easy to use, easy to clean and is even endorsed by Gordon Ramsey.
Best High-End Air Fryer
The Philips XL AirFryer is much like the standard AirFryer but takes some of the drawbacks of the standard version and fixes them. The obvious one is that the cooking capacity has been greatly increased. There is a 50% larger frying basket that can fit over 2.65 lbs of food in a single cook. This makes it the largest air fryer on the list and is just about good enough to cook for an entire family in one go. (Although at the price we would like to have had it a bit bigger). It features a lot of what makes the standard Philips AirFryer so good. It has a very short pre-heat time, has a tone of versatility and has some nice safety features.
Other features include:
- A very nice digital touch screen display for very easy control over cooking options.
- A 60 minute timer with automatic shut off and alerts.
- Adjustable temperature up to 390°F (199°C).
- Dishwasher safe for easy cleaning
- Includes a free air fryer recipe cook with over 150 recipes for oil-less frying.
Dimensions: 16.6 x 12.4 x 11.9 inches (42.2 x 31.5 x 30.2 cm)
Weight: 19.6 lbs (8.9 kg)
If you’re looking for the largest air fryer you can buy that also has a lot of quality-of-life features included to get you frying great food as easily as possible, then the Philips XL AirFryer is the best air fryer you can buy.
Pros and Cons of an Air Fryer
- An air fryer can produce crisp, moist food without the need for a deep fryer or large amounts of oil. This saves money on the oil, makes for a safer cooking experience and produces healthier food.
- Using an air fryer can greatly reduce the saturated fats of heavily fried foods whilst still keeping the taste relatively similar.
- Any type of oil-less fryer will be much easier to clean than a traditional deep fryer. A lot of the time they can be taken apart and put straight into the dishwasher.
- Generally, air fryers have much longer cooking times than traditional deep fryers.
- The food produced will have a noticeable difference from traditionally deep fried food, but is different rather than worse.
- There is also usually limited cooking space. You can buy much bigger deep fryers compared to air fryers.
If you’re looking for something that can cook a whole turkey, we did a guide to buying the best turkey fryers.
Read more: ‘What is the Best Oil for Deep Frying’
if you have any questions, please contact us or ask in the comments.