USING an air fryer is a great way to cook up a meal – and it will save you money too.
They use less oil so are a healthier alternative to deep or shallow frying, and experts believe they are more energy-efficient too.
You can cook most things, from burgers to chicken, vegetables, chips and roast potatoes.
But with so many models now on offer, which does the best job?
We asked mum-of-three Lynsey Hope, 41, from West Malling, Kent – who had never used an air fryer before – to test the most budget-friendly options, with ratings out of ten, and share her final verdict.
Tefal EasyFry Compact EY301840 (£74, ao.com)
A MINI fryer with a 0.6kg capacity, it’s enough to cook two to three portions of chips.
It’s a basket-style air fryer that slots in and out and can go in the dishwasher when you’re finished.
There’s no paddle to stir with this, so you’ll need to give your chips a shake.
This meant food was a bit undercooked or uneven and my chicken could have been crispier, so it wasn’t my favourite.
But the biggest perk is how easy it is – the pre-set programmes mean you can get going with just two taps.
A HUGE air fryer that comes in a range of colours, it could cook enough fried chicken to feed a small army.
With just a temperature dial and a timer, if you’re used to cooking in an oven the transition is easy.
It’s simple to clean and the nostalgic look is stylish on the kitchen side.
I did have to turn the chicken and fish cakes halfway through to make sure they cooked evenly and, at the pricier end of things, you are paying for the retro look and huge capacity.
Wilko Air Fryer 2.5L (£40, wilko.com)
ON offer at £32 when I tried it, it’s a great basket-style air fryer.
It was easy to use with just two dials – one for temperature and one for time.
It doesn’t have a digital screen like pricier models but I wasn’t bothered.
It provides an easy guide so you know, for example, that 300g of fries take around 16 minutes to cook at 200C.
And it did a pretty good job of cooking, though you do have to give it a shake.
I’d recommend this for anyone starting out and wanting a basic, budget model.
Tefal Actifry Advance 1.2kg (£149.99, aldi.co.uk)
THIS has a self-stirring paddle so will do all the work for you.
And once you’re finished, you can stick all the removable parts in the dishwasher.
It has enough capacity to feed six people and did a great job cooking fried chicken, taking about 25 minutes, and I was impressed by the crispy golden chips, too.
There are no automatic programmes or pre-sets, plus it’s the most expensive in our test.
However I reckon it’s a worthwhile purchase you won’t regret.
Nutribullet Magic Bullet 2.5L (£69.99, nutribullet.co.uk)
THE best thing about this is the size.
It takes up very little counter space.
It’s easy to set up and has six pre- set options allowing you to cook vegetables, chicken, fries and fish, and if you forget your food is in there, the 60-minute timer will shut it down.
It did a great job of crisping up chips and warming leftovers.
If you are a big family or do a lot of hosting you might need a larger model but this is a great, compact air fryer for the price.
Amazon Basics 4L Multi-Functional (£59.99, amazon.co.uk)
IT made a little more noise than the others but for less than £60 it’s a great option for bigger families.
It has a 4-litre capacity – big enough to cook meals for four or five people, with a digital display and seven pre-set options so you can get it going with just a few touches.
It will cook anything from French fries to veggies, chicken to bacon.
The basket came out easily, which helped me serve meals, and it goes in the dishwasher for fuss- free cleaning after dinner.
So popular it is currently sold out.
I’D never cooked with an air fryer before and assumed they were just a gimmick clogging up people’s kitchen cupboards.
They use hot air with little to no oil to cook, yet create a “fried finish” on foods so they’re healthier than deep-fat fryers and more versatile.
What I loved most was that they heat up almost instantly.
Chips that might take 20 minutes in the oven only took 12-15 in most air fryers so they are definitely more energy and cost-efficient.
John Lewis found that sales of these appliances boomed by 400 per cent in 2021 and now I can see why.
It’s worth spending a bit of time researching recipes and getting tips online before you start cooking but most are easy to use.