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.
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.
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.
The best air fryers to buy in 2023
1. Ninja Air Fryer AF100UK: The best mid-range air fryer
Price: £130 | View price at Amazon
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, there’s also a 5.2l MAX version for £150.
Key specs – Power: 1,550W; Capacity: 3.8l; Display: Digital, Accessories: Removable crisper plate
2. Tower T17005: The best budget air fryer
Price: £44 | View price at Amazon
This low-cost air fryer is unassuming but sturdy and easy to use. It also produces great quality fried foods: it’s equipped to crisp up everything from chicken goujons to chips (which are made even better by parboiling first).
Price isn’t the Tower’s only attraction: it has a good capacity for two people and reportedly cuts down on fat by 99% compared to traditional frying. Its parts are dishwasher-safe, which is great for speedy cleaning up after cooking. Accessories, such as a basket divider, can also be bought separately.
Plus, while the Tower might still rely on a manual 30-minute timer with an auto switch-off, what gives it an extra edge is that it can also be used in conjunction with the Tower Recipe Alexa skill – so you won’t be limited to making tasty crunchy chips.
Key specs – Power: 900W; Capacity: 1.5L; Display: Manual timer; Accessories: Several available, sold separately
3. Tower Xpress Pro Combo 10-in-1: The best air fryer for chicken
Price: £140 | View 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 (£90) 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.
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: The best air fryer for most people
Price: £220 | Buy now from Amazon
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.
Key specs – Power: 1,700W; Capacity: 7.6l; Display: Digital; Accessories: Two non-stick grill plates
5. Ninja Foodi Dual Zone: The best Ninja air fryer
Price: £220 | View price at Amazon
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.
Key specs – Power: 2,400W; Capacity: 7.6l; Display: Digital; Accessories: None
6. Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1: The best high-end air fryer
Price: £285 | View price at Amazon
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.
Key specs – Power: 1,500W; Capacity: 1.7kg; Display: Digital; Accessories: Measuring spoon, removable 2-in-1 tray
7. Tefal Actifry Genius+: The best self-stirring air fryer
Price: £220 | View price at Amazon
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.
Key specs – Power: 1,500W; Capacity: 1.2kg; Display: Digital touchscreen; Accessories: Measuring spoon