For the health-conscious foodie with a penchant for crispy fried foods, there's no better deal than a countertop air fryer. Using little to no oil, these mini convection ovens can cook nearly anything, from fries to steak, by circulating hot air inside the basket. So, is your air-fried meal truly healthier? Let's find out from experts, who share their go-to brands.
Are air fryers healthy?
When compared to deep fat frying, cooking in an air fryer incorporates no oil (although sometimes, one may add a teaspoon to elevate the taste). Your cooked food, therefore, will contain less fat than if it had been deep fried in oil.
"By using minimal oil, we're reducing calories by 70 to 80 per cent in our meals," said Mays Marwan Abelbaisi, a clinical dietician with NMC Royal Hospital in Sharjah. "One study showed that people with obesity are drawn to the 'crunch' sound effect. So, when air fryers came about, they turned out to be a great alternative to deep frying."
Mums and dads who struggle with their child's picky eating habits might find a solution in this appliance, too. Abelbaisi said: "I find air fryers helpful not only as a dietician but as a mum. To give the vegetables a nice crunchy texture, I air-fry cauliflowers, sweet potatoes, crisp some chickpeas with seasoning, and even beetroot slices".
Plus, you'll be encouraged to eat in than out on most days. Clare Kershaw, a Mac-Nutrition Universal (MNU) certified nutritionist and an online coach in Dubai, has been faithful to the Italian Balzano air fryers for years.
"I recommend air fryers to my clients, given how much fat you can cut down by cooking in them. Many people say that they don't have the time to cook - air fryers can make meals in 10 minutes, which is quicker than ordering food on delivery," said Kershaw.
Which air fryer is the best for me?
Nearly all air fryers today are equipped with a variety of cooking presets dedicated to, say, fish or cakes, says Dhiren Khiara, marketing director of Dubai-based Khiara Stores, a one-stop shop for all things kitchen and dining.
"Bigger families can always get an air fryer with two baskets in one. There'll be different compartments for frying different foods. Some even tell you how long your food will take via an app," he added. Most frequently bought brands in the UAE include Nutricook, Philips and Sonashi, according to Khiara, who also stresses the importance of keeping an eye out for warranty.
Based on expert recommendations and user reviews, we curated a list of the best air fryers for every kind of cook. Get them with Amazon Prime as early as today or tomorrow.
1. Best Overall: Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer
- Two 3.8-litre baskets that can be programmed separately
- Six cooking functions, including dehydrate for making dried fruit
- Dishwasher-safe parts
- Includes a chef-created recipe guide
- Basket diameter may be too small
- Might need frequent checking in, initially, for the perfect cooking time
Crisp, air fry, air roast, bake, reheat or dehydrate food - the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer gives you six cooking functions. Its 7.6-litre capacity caters to a big family of eight, who can enjoy two different meals, thanks to the dual baskets. Prepare food using different programs and have both drawers ready at the same time with the sync feature, without either going cold. This is ideal for whipping up a side dish or dessert, while the main meal cooks. Five-star reviews call it a brilliant piece of kitchen equipment, impressed with how it cooks within a fraction of the usual time, while still retaining flavour and moisture. The device has variable temperature controls, a digital timer and dishwasher-safe parts that make cleaning a breeze.
Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh74.92 for 12 months with select banks.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty.
2. Best Budget: Balzano 5.6L/XXL Air Fryer
- Large 5.6-litre capacity
- Seven cooking presets
- Easy to clean
- Shuts off automatically when the basket is removed
- Reviews say the basket takes a few tries to lock in
This Balzano air fryer offers an extra large 5.6-litre capacity at an affordable price. Coming in black with rose pink accents, the AF716 features a touch screen panel, a 30-minute digital timer and variable temperature control that goes up to 200°C. Fry, roast, grill and bake using its seven presets, without having to guess the right cooking time. Per reviews, the appliance is super easy to clean, and it even has an auto-shut off safety feature, where the air fryer stays off until the basket is securely locked in place. If you're on a tight budget but are looking to squeeze in at least 5kg of ingredients, this is your best bet.
3. Best for Busy People: Nutricook Air Fryer 2
- Smart technology that ensures foolproof cooking
- Has a pre-heat function
- Square basket ensures more space than a round one
- 'Shake' reminders to get an even fry
- Basket doesn't have a secure latch
This product is for busy cooks who want to drop in their food in the air fryer, pick a preset out of the 10, and forget about it. The Nutricook Air Fryer 2 has SmartTemp technology that ensures that you don’t need to keep checking on your food, because it automatically adjusts the temperature to make everything super-crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. It even has a handy 'shake' reminder to let you know when to shake the contents for an even fry; though, reviewers do add that the feature would be better off with a stronger latch mechanism for the basket. Because it's a square-shaped basket, you get to cook more food in it than in a round design pot. According to reviewers, the 5.5-litre capacity is perfect for a family of four, spacious enough for burgers, salmon, chicken and pizza.
Warranty: Amazon offers a 1-year extended warranty for Dh23, and a 2-year extended warranty for Dh33.
4. Best for One: Philips Essential Airfryer XXL
- Seven cooking presets
- Attractive design
- Keep warm function for up to 30 minutes
- Comes with recipes in an app
- Reviewers say it's a safer bet to wash the basket manually
Philips was the first home appliance brand to commercialise the air fryer, so it's been perfecting air fryer technology for over 10 years. Meet its 4.1-litre Essential Airfryer, which is a sleek black kit that takes little space on the countertop. Equipped with seven presets for frozen snacks, fresh fries, chicken drumsticks, grilled vegetables and more, the appliance also keeps your meal warm for up to 30 minutes. Reviewers say the taste is no different than food that's been deep fried in oil, adding that it even whips up pancakes for breakfast. Don't forget to check out the hundreds of recipes that you can access in the NutriU app.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a two-year warranty.
5. Best for Variety: COSORI Air Fryer
- Large, lightweight basket
- Has a pre-heat and keep warm function
- Comes with a recipe book
- Recommends cooking temperatures and times
- Square basket means more space than a round one
- Steam may escape from basket
A family of four can easily make do with the 5.5-litre COSORI Air Fryer. From steak and seafood to root vegetables and bread, take your pick from the 11 presets with a single tap. Simple time-saving options make the air fryer intuitive and easy to use: the pre-heat function helps you save cooking time and improve food texture, and the ‘keep warm’ button ensures the food stays hot while you’re finishing up other tasks in the kitchen. The COSORI Air Fryer basket has a square design, which means it offers 15 per cent more cooking space compared to round versions. The large basket space ensures the air fryer can fit a whole chicken weighing two kilograms, even as it occupies minimum counter space. Reviewers say you can 'pause' the cooking to check on food and shake it around, without having to reset the timer.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.