In an air fryer really worth the extra money? I put mine to the test to help you decide.
Very recently, a friend of mine suggested that I invested in an air fryer as part of my bid to start eating healthier. I was intrigued and curious about these kitchen contraptions, but I promised that I’d buy one and write an honest review of my experiences to share on my blog.
I decided to buy myself the Tower T17023 Compact Air Fryer, owing to the promises of its ‘compact’ size. It’s a classic case of buyer beware as ‘compact’ in this sense is misleading. It may be compact up to other air fryers, but standing taller and wider than the Russell Hobbs electric kettle, there is nothing compact about this beauty. I ordered a metal shelf unit to store some new kitchen gadgets on, but my air fryer and pressure cooker sit proudly on the top shelf as they’re too tall to go anywhere else!
The fryer itself heats up to 200 degrees and boasts a generous 2.2L capacity. For larger families it may not be enough, but for 2-4 people who are trying to eat healthier but still want to enjoy fried food, then this air fryer is quite ideal.
So how did it fair?
The Air Fryer Cooking Challenges
I decided to cook 5 different dishes in my air fryer and give you a fair summary of each. All of these dishes are available in the freezer section at Tesco.com, unless otherwise stated. You also need to pre-heat your air fryer for 3 minutes prior to cooking. No additional oil is required, apart from for the roast potatoes!
Experiment 1: McCain’s Oven Chips
Oven time: 25 minutes, as intructed
Air fryer time: 12 minutes, plus 3 minutes preheat, as instructed
I filled the container of my air fryer to the brim with frozen chips as I was concerned that portion sizes between three people would be scarce, but it actually turned out to be more than enough and produced three very generous portions, which was an overall pleasing result. When cut open a chip to test out the cooking quality, the chips were hot, slightly crispy and fluffy in the middle and everyone said they preferred them this way, compared to when they were cooked in the oven, where they turned out feeling greasy, still slightly hard, and like typical chip shop chips. Result!
Time saved: 10 minutes
Experiment 2: Quorn Vegetarian Nuggets
Oven time: 15 minutes
Air fryer time: 6 Minutes, plus 3 minutes preheat
I had to guess with these because there are no instructions for vegetarian nuggets in the air fryer instruction manual, but the back of the packet mentions 15 minutes in the oven so I took a stab at 6 minutes in the air fryer. One thing that amazed me about these nuggets is that there is quite a bit of oil that comes out of them after cooking, but as all of the unhealthy stuff is low on the packet, I gathered that maybe it just makes them healthier since the fat has kind of been cooked out of them.
I love my Quorn nuggets and, owing to the fact that I can sit down to eat in less than 10 minutes and the fact they are vegetarian and healthy, these delicious air-fried nuggets are now a stable part of my lunchtime repertoire!
Time saved: 6 minutes
Experiment 3: Egg & Bacon Omelette
Hob time: 7 minutes
Air fryer time: 15 minutes, plus three minutes preheat
Oh my dear readers, the things I put my poor air fryer through for you! You’re supposed to be able to fry almost anything fryable in this air fryer, including bacon and egg, so I wondered how difficult an omelette would be. The answer? Very.
I dry-fried the bacon for approximately 3 minutes to make sure I wasn’t divulging myself into a nice unhealthy slice of raw pork. With that looking suitably cooked through, I poured the eggy mixture on top, slammed the container back into the appliance, and waited.
Oh readers, what did I just do?
I hoped that the hot air from the air fryer would make my omelette bubbly and light, but it did not. The egg took an eternity to cook and came out firm and rubbery. The result from this test was so unappetising that I couldn’t even bring myself to photograph it for you.
Please, please, for the love of good food, please keep your bacon and eggs far, far away from your air fryer!
Time saved: -11 minutes
Experiment 4: Tesco’s Frozen Churros
Oven time: 20 Minutes
Air fryer time: 8 minutes, plus 3 minutes preheat
Okay okay, I know… I know I’m trying to eat healthily, but sometimes you need a little treat, right? I bought these for after our New Year’s Eve steak dinner and I had some left so I thought hey, why not air fry them this time?
Credit where it was due, these churros came out of the air fryer lovely and crispy. The ones that we’d cooked in the oven ton the first time tasted slightly burned in the centre, but they were lovely and chocolatey when we put our air fryer to the test!. Served up with a small quenelle of good quality vanilla ice cream and some fresh raspberries, they are quite the treat!
Time saved: 9 minutes
Experiment 5: Roast Potatoes
Oven time: 25 minutes, plus 10 minutes pre-boiling
Air fryer time: 20 minutes, plus 3 minutes preheat, as instructed
Wolfie will hate me for this, and he hated me for it at the time too (lovingly, of course!). Normally, Wolfie does the Sunday dinner, so when I took over the kitchen to test out cooking some delicious, crispy roasted potatoes in our air fryer, he wasn’t too impressed – well he was, but he at least tried not to be!
The trick to crispy potatoes is to pat them dry with some kitchen paper after peeling and cutting. If you don’t, then the potato juices repel the oil and the oil sits at the bottom of the pot. The result? Hot, dry, boring potatoes – bleurgh!
To make my potatoes, I mixed 1/2 tablespoon olive oil (as is the recommendation) with 1/2 teaspoon all-purpose seasoning, then poured the mixture on the spuds and gave them a good toss to coat them all. I did find that I needed to add about another tablespoon of oil as the potatoes started to dry out, but that’s still a lot less than what they would have been cooked in if I’d allowed my husband to cook them in the oven!
I definitely think they’d be better for a bit of drying with kitchen paper next time, but the best part was that you don’t need to pre-boil them before introducing them to the fryer. That’s a big +1 for saving time, energy and water right there!
Time saved: 12 minutes
Overall, air fryers definitely are a healthier, more time-efficient way to enjoy the not-quite-so-healthy foods that you know and love. If you have the room to store it, definitely consider adding an air fryer to your kitchen – just make sure you keep your eggs and bacon on the other side of the room!
Until next time,
Stay safe & have fun,