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The Velvetiser was a strong contender and the Always pan nearly clinched it. But the uncontested must-have kitchen accessory of 2022? It has to be the air fryer.
Though they aren’t a new invention, air fryers well and truly hit the mainstream this year, as Brits searched for ways to cut their energy use.
The table-top cookers work by circulating hot air, and they get the job done quickly, slashing the time it takes to roast, bake or fry in the oven.
Now, researchers at the consumer watchdog Which? have confirmed that air fryers can indeed cut your energy bills, so you can breathe a sigh of relief if there’s one on your Christmas list.
Testers pitted a range of kitchen appliances against each other to cook popular foods – from chips to cakes – calculating how long it took, how much energy it used and crucially, how much it cost.
Air fryers came out top in a number of categories, but there are some drawbacks worth considering. The appliances can cost anywhere between £30 and £300, so it may be a while before you recoup any savings. (The Which? testers used the Morphy Richards Health Fryer, retailing at £109.99 on Amazon). Also, air fryers typically have a smaller capacity than ovens, so may be tricky for big families or batch cooking.
Still, there are some circumstances where they are probably worth investing in. Read on for Which?’s results.
1. Roast chicken – pressure cooker for cost, air fryer for taste
The cheapest and quickest method for cooking a roast chicken was with a pressure cooker – costing just 11p and taking just 32 minutes. However, it did not give the distinctive crispy skin that the other appliances did. The oven cost 39p to cook a delicious-looking roast chicken in 76 minutes, although testers noted that the meat was a little dry.
However, the air fryer cost 18p and cooked a perfect roast chicken, described by the testers as “juicy, flavoursome meat with a crispy brown skin”. If you were to cook a roast chicken once a week for a year, this equates to a saving of nearly £11 compared to cooking in the oven.
2. Chips – Air fryer wins
A big fryer win, The testers found that it was the cheapest appliance for cooking chips and also the quickest at 23 minutes. It only cost 10p to cook two portions of chips, compared with almost three times (29p) that amount to cook the same quantity of chips in the oven.
However, the drawback of the air fryer is its capacity. The model Which? tested recommends only filling the basket halfway and using a maximum of 500g of chips – enough for two to three portions. So if you are feeding several people, or want to cook a few different food items simultaneously, the oven is more versatile than the air fryer.
3. Baking a cake – how big’s your sponge?
Perhaps surprisingly, the air fryer offered excellent results for baking a cake at the lowest cost – only 8p and with delicious results. It also baked in almost half the time of the oven, at 33 minutes against 56 minutes. The oven cost three times more than the air fryer at 24p.
However, due to the size limitations of the air fryer, the experts did have to make a smaller cake than for the other appliances. If you are planning a multi-tiered masterpiece, it would be more efficient to stick to the trusty oven.
4. Soup – stick to the hob
The cheapest appliances for making soup were the induction hob and pressure cooker – both cooked vegetable soup quickly and efficiently, costing just 9p.
The testers said that while the slow-cooked option was more hands-off and therefore more convenient, it was 22p more expensive, costing 31p in energy.
The induction hub got the top marks for quality of cooking, while the pressure cooker was the quickest, taking 19 minutes to cook the soup.
5. Steamed vegetables – microwave to the rescue
Which? found that a microwave was the cheapest method for steaming vegetables – and was 3 to 4p cheaper than using an induction hob or pressure cooker, both of which cost 7p. However, the induction hob did give the best results.
The pressure cooker used slightly more energy than the induction hob and also overcooked the broccoli. Testers noted that the benefit of using the microwave or hob was that you have more control over the cooking time, they took 5 minutes and 9 minutes respectively.
6. Jacket potato – it’s complicated
The quickest and cheapest appliance for baking a large potato was easily the microwave – taking just 8 minutes to cook a soft and fluffy jacket potato, and using just 5p worth of energy.
The air fryer also proved its credentials, taking half the time of an oven and only using 9p worth of electricity. However, as with a lot of the other recipes tested, if you want to cook more than one potato at a time you may find yourself limited on space.
The oven took the longest amount of time and used 37p worth of energy – over seven times more than the microwave. Cooking results were strong across the board but the oven was best for crispy skin.
Interested in buying an air fryer? Check out some recommendations from our HuffPost Shopping team below.
This ultra easy air fryer keeps food moving whilst cooking
For super easy chips (and a hell of a lot of other dishes), this Tefal air fryer is a total godsend. It features a six portion capacity and constantly stirs food, meaning that you don’t need to worry about moving items around. I previously had this fryer and for anyone who likes fries – either homemade or frozen – it’s sure to be a winner.
This air fryer has two cooking compartments
Reviewers are absolutely obsessed with this air fryer that features two independent cooking zones, allowing you to cook two different dishes simultaneously using different programmes. Featuring six cooking functions, this easy-to-use air fryer can make up to eight portions, making it ideal for a larger families.
This smart air fryer works with your home tech
It’s no wonder everyone is raving about this app-controlled air fryer that has 6.4 litre capacity and 12 cooking functions. It’s compatible with Alexa and is also dishwasher safe, does not require pre-heating, and comes complete with a super useful cookbook for easier air fryer cooking.
My personal favourite air fryer
This super easy-to-use air fryer is one of my personal favourites (and the one I have at home). It features six simple cooking functions – Max Crisp, Air Fry, Roast, Bake, Reheat, Dehydrate, and Air Fry – and significantly speeds up the cooking process. It also has a 5.2 litre non-stick basket and is super versatile, making anything from crispy pulled pork to cooking chips.
This pro fryer is perfect for larger families
This multipurpose air fryer, that can air fry, dehydrate, roast, and rotisserie cook, an 11 litre capacity, making it ideal for larger families. Designed to be used to create a range of dishes, from pizzas and kebabs to char-grilled steaks and roasted meats.
This low-cost family-sized air fryer
Reviewers rate this large capacity air fryer – which features rapid air circulation tech to create ultra crispy finishes – thanks to how easy it is to use, how fast it cooks food, and how much energy it saves. It’s also a popular favourite thanks to its lower price tag.