How Real Homes reviews air fryers: our methodology and testing process

How we review air fryers, and the way we decide if an air fryer makes the cut for our buying guides

how we test air fryers - three air fryers ready for testing
(Image credit: Future / Millie Fender)

Reviewing air fryers requires consistent methodology, which is why we have developed a rigorous testing process to make sure that all of the products we review can be compared directly. This is how we choose the best air fryers to feature in our buying guide, and decide which air fryers are the top choice for certain buyers.

All of our air fryer reviews are conducted hands-on, over the course of at least a few weeks. We also try and review air fryers in batches, as this makes it easier to compare different models for our key criteria. 

Why it matters

In 2021, Lakeland (opens in new tab) reported that air fryer sales were 57% on 2020 figures, and we think that number will only continue to rise. While they have been around for over five years, for a lot of people an air fryer is still a new concept, and their air fryer purchase will likely be their first. This is why we make sure to include plenty of photos of our tests and advise how to get the most out of each product when we review them.

We do like to add some objective measures to our reviews, tracking how long it takes an air fryer to cook certain foods, and measuring noise levels while the air fryer is on. 

Even the most outstanding air fryer might not be the right fit for your kitchen or lifestyle, which is why we test in our own home to help you decide if a product is right for yours. This enables us to figure out how a product slots into day-to-day life, for example, how easy an air fryer is to clean, if an alarm noise can get a bit annoying over time, or if the product smudges easily. 

Standardized testing

When testing an air fryer, our first step is to cook a selection of standard recipes. There are four we use with every air fryer, but we will add some depending on the range of features offered. 

Fries: The first recipe is french fries. The ability to make speedy and delicious fries is one of the main selling points of an air fryer – after all, they are designed to replicate that deep-fried taste but without as much fat, so fries are a must-try. 

The recipe we use in every test involves taking whole potatoes, chopping them into chunky, half-inch wedges, and letting them soak for a few minutes to remove any starchiness. We then dry them off and toss the fries in a drizzle of oil and some seasoning. In an oven these would take around 25–35 minutes to cook, but some of our air fryers have crisped up our homemade fries in as little as 12 minutes. We measure how long this takes each air fryer, check for the consistency of cooking across the different fries, and do our all-important taste test. 

Instant Vortex Mini homemade fries

(Image credit: Future/Millie Fender)

Frozen food: Air fryers also work well with frozen food, so we cook something from frozen in every air fryer we test. This is usually some kind of breaded chicken fillet or goujon, and we use this test to see if it can crisp out the exterior of frozen food on the exterior without drying out the middle.

Bacon: Another important test we always carry out is cooking bacon. Air fryers can do this in as little as a few minutes, and it is a great way of seeing how evenly an air fryer can cook. In some air fryers, we have found that the fat renders on some of the bacon but not all of it, which is a sign of inconsistent cooking. In other air fryers, the fan as been so powerful that the bacon has been blown around the inside of the air fryer and lost its shape completely. 

how we test air fryers - the Ninja Foodi Max air fryer with roasted vegetables inside

(Image credit: Future / Millie Fender)

Vegetables: Our final standardized test is a bake or roast test. Many air fryers come with settings to bake or roast vegetables, meat or other foods you may not want to air fry. Others come with dedicated vegetable pre-set modes which we use in our tests. As vegetables have a high moisture content, this is a good way of seeing how well an air fryer can remove this moisture from the cooking basket. It also helps to get some greens on our plate after all of the fries and frozen chicken!

At-home testing

Breville Halo Air

(Image credit: Future)

An air fryer slots easily into everyday life, so we will always use an air fryer for at least a few weeks before completing our review. This helps us to notice any issues that we may have missed in our initial testing, and it will help us observe how well an air fryer slots into day-to-day life.

When testing air fryers at home we use the air fryer for the occasional lunch or dinner meal, and we have even air-fried the odd cake or cookie as part of this testing. 

How we decide which products to review

how we test air fryers - the Breville rotisserie air fryer

(Image credit: Future / Matt Gibbs)

Our reviews are always completely impartial and never paid for. Brands will often send us air fryers free of charge to give us the opportunity to review them. We are often allowed to keep them, which means we can add to our reviews over the months (and even years!) to note how well the product has fared after consistent use. 

When we're not allowed to keep a product we try to hang onto it for at least three or four weeks to make sure that the product is put through its paces before we send it back to the company. This means we rarely miss a new launch and are constantly reviewing new air fryers back-to-back, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Some brands are trickier to get hold of than others, but we're always striving to include as many different products as possible, with different price points and designs to suit any space or budget. We're genuine air fryer enthusiasts, so if someone launches a new product with an interesting feature, we'll be first in line to try it out. 

Millie joined the Real Homes team in 2021 after working at TopTenReviews as a Staff Writer. She is now the head of all things cooking, working as the Small Appliances and Cooking Editor on the Homes Ecommerce team. Millie is constantly on the hunt for the latest (and best) kitchen appliances, and reviewing these products hands-on. She has passed our five-step certification process to become a verified customer advisor on coffee machines. As a baking enthusiast, Millie’s job at Real Homes is the perfect excuse to cook up an endless supply of snacks. When she’s not in the kitchen though, she loves knitting and exploring London's top food markets. 

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