I swear by Lakeland Digital Crisp Air fryer — it's a small sous chef that cooks sides perfectly

Make meals for one, or a portion of sides for two, in this compact cooker

Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer in modern grey kitchen with potted basil plant and plant based milk
(Image credit: Future)
Real Homes Verdict

The Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer works very well for cooking and reheating snacks and small meals for couples and singletons but falls short of cooking a complete meal for the average-sized family.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Compact and easy to store for smaller kitchen

  • +

    Can cook up to 0.5kg of chips

  • +

    Eight presets for popular foods

  • +

    Simple digital touchscreen controls

  • +

    3 year guarantee included

  • +

    BPA free

  • +

    Auto-off function will safely turn off the machine

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Only comes in one colourway

  • -

    Not enough space in crisper drawer for bigger meals

  • -

    First machine we used was faulty

  • -

    Recipes in booklet are a little basic

  • -

    Five bleeps after cooking were a bit annoying

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After testing out *almost* every cleaning product (including oven cleaners) known to man, I had fallen out of love with my oven. Yes, it's great for roasts and baking but when you're 30 plus, there's only so much scrubbing a gal can do. So, when sales of air fryers started to soar, I raised a curious eyebrow...

A mini oven that can cook almost anything for 46 pence an hour? Sign me up! I've always known Lakeland as a retailer my mum and aunties would go to for their homewares, but this was the first time that the brand appealed to a millennial (just) like me.

Living with my husband-to-be isn't all fancy dinners and flowers. As unromantic as it sounds, sometimes we just need a bit of beige. Planning for a wedding is costly in this climate, so now seemed like the perfect time to test an air fryer. And for budget but delicious meals, the Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer seemed like a good contender.

Given the cost to run an air fryer, it was worth a shot, if only to shed some timber.

So while we're still renting, we're hoping that this appliance will allow us to pare back the need for a toaster, microwave, and oven... Until we can afford a larger kitchen at least!

 Air Fryer specifications

A cut-out image of Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer

(Image credit: Lakeland)
  • Weight: 5kg
  • Dimensions (cm): H26 x W32 x D35
  • Temperature: 80°C to 200°C
    Power: 1350W
  • Cost to run (per hour): 46p
  • Cooking modes: 8 presets (pizza, baked goods, poultry, steak/meat, fresh fries and vegetables, fish, seafood, frozen fries and vegetables)
  • RRP: £109.99
  • Colour(s): Black
  • Cleaning: Base: wipe clean | Crisper drawer and basket: wash in hot soapy water
  • Comes with: A 24-page instruction manual with a few basic recipes

Unboxing

Unboxing the Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer on brown glossy laminated floor

(Image credit: Future)

I'd consider this air fryer to be on the light side at 5kg. We're thankful to live in a ground-floor maisonette, so the exchange with the courier was pretty easy, as things go.

Opening the box, I was pleased to see that the product was secured with moulded cardboard, but regrettably was wrapped in a thin plastic bag, which felt a little unnecessary.

The plug had a plastic cover, and the wire for the appliance was wrapped in a cable tie. Note that you'll need a pair of scissors to carefully remove the cable tie, and take out the circular piece of cardboard in between the air fryer basket and tray. Also included, (but not guaranteed), was a HelloFresh discount, which was great if you have not tried this meal-in-a-box delivery service.

Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer with dispatch note and HelloFresh discount

(Image credit: Future)

First impressions of the Lakeland Digital Air Fryer

Unboxed Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer

(Image credit: Future)

After taking it out of the box, I gave the Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer a quick wipe down for my own sanity. This involved separating the crisper basket and drawer by push the basket release and separating the two parts. The basket and drawer were then reassembled with a click and slide of a button.

To operate, I pressed the main 'on' button, and was greeted by a pleasant bleep to confirm the machine was awake! The 'on' button also works as a dial to select a preprogrammed setting or choose your own temperature and time.

The temperature ranges from 80°C to 200°C and you can cook anywhere from 1-30 minutes. This is displayed on an attractive LED touchscreen control panel. I particularly liked that with everything I cooked, I could see a countdown timer to let me know how long it would be until I was eating!

Using the machine was pretty self-explanatory with illuminated icons to indicate what can be cooked inside the gadget. In summary, all you need to do is touch the START/PAUSE button, add the food (ensuring not to fill beyond the 'MAX' line), choose your program and the air fryer will automatically start. To pause, simply pull the handle, and to stop, simply press the silver START/PAUSE button. When your food is ready, the machine will bleep five times.

On the first few cooking attempts, the machine did smell a little funny (like plastic burning) but this subsides the more you use the appliance.

Reheating croissants

Reheating a croissant in a Lakeland Digital Crisp air fryer

(Image credit: Future)

We aren't all lucky enough to live in Paris or have an artisan bakery on our doorstep. So unless you've got the time and patience to make laminated dough like a pro, a warm croissant with lots of honeycomb layers is hard to come by. But pre-heating the oven to heat up a few viennoiseries can seem a bit excessive at times... enter the Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer.

Instead of going to Gail's, I tried to cheat the freshly baked mouthfeel by buying a pack of pastries from the local supermarket. Sure, you get what you pay for, so it's worth investing in all-butter pastries where pennies permit. Croissants can otherwise feel a bit bready if cold, but this machine transformed them into a French masterpiece.

Initially, I popped the baked goods on the preprogrammed cake setting and while it wasn't a doughy disaster, they were maybe a little too brown.  On the second attempt, I used the manual function, lowering the temperature and time accordingly (150C for 10 mins), et voila, one crescent-shaped bit of pastry perfection.

Christina's observation: When using the manual function, you'll need to preheat the air fryer with no food in the crisper... a little annoying, but quicker than a conventional fan oven.

Cooking fish fingers

Cooking fish fingers in a Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer

(Image credit: Future)

Fish fingers are a Brit favourite... especially when sandwiched between two slices of soft white bread. It can be a bit of a faff to pre-heat the oven and line a baking sheet to stop the batter or breadcrumb coating from sticking.

While our large cod fingers usually take 15–18 minutes, the Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer cut that time in half. Confusingly, the instruction manual does advise that you use the 'chips and frozen food' function (the fish function is reserved for fillets of fish, like salmon, which we also tried out).

Making homemade chips

Okay, so it's not an air fryer recipe, per se, but French fries are my go-to savoury snack slash side of choice. Given how cheap potatoes are, homemade fries are an affordable mealtime accompaniment, but no one's going to judge if you keep a pack of frozen frites or thick-cut fries in your freezer.

Whichever route you take, you should expect a crispy outer and fluffy center, and that's exactly what we got when we used the Lakeland air fryer. Air fryer vs. oven they're spot on for crunch and a cost-effective choice for when you've got those drive-thru cravings.

If you're cooking shop-bought fries, nine times out of 10 these will come pre-coated in oil, so there's no need to add extra. Use a spray oil if you're chipping your own taters. This way you can control the fat content and cover them evenly.

I cooked my Maris Pipers for 20 minutes on 200°C with 1 tablespoon of oil and the results were pleasantly passable. But having practically lived in my grandad's chippy as a child, I did miss my chips cooked in groundnut oil or beef tallow. Going forward, I'd just make them a special treat instead of compromising on a fakeaway. Air fryer vs. deep fryer – the latter wins for me on this occasion, I'm afraid.

But, the Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer gets kudos for making healthier fried potatoes and has some other benefits. I found out recently that most pre-seasoned fries are coated in a herbed/spiced batter made from wheat, which is a no-no for a family member with coeliac disease. We were able to quickly rustle up hers (first, to eliminate risk of contamination) within minutes.

Cooking bacon

I love bacon as much as the next person, but the grease can be a bit gross to clean up. And, what I often find is that it often requires an eagle-eyed watch under the grill *hello squats for days*, or a torturous swine fat splatter on the forearm if you're using your best non-stick frying pan.

With the Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer, you can safely crisp bacon in the enclosed tray and don't need to supervise your strips.

What I liked about this machine, is that the non-stick basket had holes so that the excess fat could drip off the meat and into the basket, rather than have the rashers swim in grease.

Unfortunately, when looking at what you can cook in an air fryer, the manual advises you not to cook bacon's BFF (sausage) because it is extremely greasy, which was a bit sad because I love a cooked breakfast on the weekend. 

Cooking vegetables

Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer containing chunky mediterranean style vegetables

(Image credit: Future)

As well as cooking 'fast food' in the air fryer, we also tried to bake veggies. To be fair, after all the processed goods, it was nice to get a bit of colour on my plate. So I opted for red onions, butternut squash, courgettes, and peppers, coating 600g of chunky cut veg in about a tablespoon of oil, before seasoning the mix with fajita spices.

Chunky mediterranean style vegetables in white bowl with feta cheese and pomegranate molasses

(Image credit: Future)

The rainbow-coloured result was topped with cubes of feta cheese, a squeeze of lemon juice, and pomegranate molasses for a super tasty lunch while I worked from home!

Making toast in the air fryer

A piece of toast that has been cooked in a Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer

(Image credit: Future)

Toast is one of those foods that you can have any time of the day. While it's most commonly consumed between breakfast and brunch hours, I personally love a spontaneous slice in the evening. But, in this day and age, why do two-slice toasters take up so much room? And, if an air fryer can brown bread, then surely it's worth giving your toaster to someone else, right?

We set the Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer to 170°C for four minutes, flipping halfway through. It's worth mentioning that if you open the air fryer before the time is actually up, it does sound like a bit of a drama queen. But low and behold, after the elapsed time, it understood the assignment.

Texture-wise the toast was a bit dryer than expected (crunchier, but this could be rectified with a shorter cooking time, or fresher bread. But, that colour gets a tick on the toast scale from us.

But – and this is a big but – the basket was only big enough to fit in one slice of bread. Yes, I could have stood two pieces upright, but as I went to close the drawer, the bread looked like it was going to get jammed. Also, having done my homework and reading the instruction manual prior, it appears that overpacking the drawer is the main cause of food not being cooked properly.

Cooking eggs in the air fryer

Three hard boiled eggs cooked in an air fryer

(Image credit: Future)

Being a bit of a gym bunny, I know how important it is to get my protein in. Plus, anything high in this macronutrient tends to keep me full at work. So, of course, the first snack I wanted to try was air fryer hard-boiled eggs.

Sticking to Millie Fender's word, I set the time and temperature and crossed my fingers hoping I'd end up with a solidified white and set yolk. After the (slightly annoying) five bleeps, I was presented with hot shells, but the real proof of the (eggy) pudding was whether the finished ovum would be edible.

Safe to say, after 12 minutes and some careful peeling, I had a perfect egg. No splattering H2O on the hob, and no dry pan from forgetting about the water altogether! I could also recycle that ugly-looking microwave poacher

I repeated the 'eggs-periment' shaving off a few minutes for a soft set egg. Nine minutes was ample enough for the white to harden and middle to remain gooey, which was great for dipping into the aforementioned toast or sat on top of some smashed avocado.

How to clean the Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer

Handwashing the Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer

(Image credit: Future)

To ensure the food didn't look dry, I coated some of the above foods in a little oil to help them brown. Of course, you don't have to do this, but if you prefer to use your hands to mix food or you're a little messy, you may accidentally end up with fingerprints on the exterior of your Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer. This can be quickly resolved by wiping the base unit and control panel with a clean, damp cloth, then drying it.

Millie Fender handwashing the Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer non-stick basket

(Image credit: Future)

To clean the crisper drawer and basket, I washed them in hot soapy water, using a non-abrasive sponge. Unfortunately, when referring back to the instruction manual on how to clean the air fryer, it didn't look like any of the components were dishwasher friendly.

And, if you've taken the crisper drawer and basket out and have spotted some crumbs, a damp non-abrasive cloth will pick up any debris. I actually hovered a handheld vac inside to pick up any remaining bits of food. If there's anything stuck to the bottom of the crisper drawer or basket, pre-soak them for 10 minutes before washing up with a soft-bristled brush or sponge that isn't going to damage or scratch the non-stick surfaces.

You shouldn't need to, but if you do, cleaning the heating element isn't as scary as it seems. Just use a clean, dry brush around the area.

It goes without saying that electronics and water don't mix, so do not be tempted to submerge the machine itself it in a sink of water, otherwise your warranty will be invalidated and you could end up with a nasty shock!

Of course, you can also put the non-stick basket in the dishwasher too, as demonstrated below.

Christna Chrysostomou putting Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer inside dishwasher

(Image credit: Future)

How does it compare to other air fryers?

I'll be honest, until today *shock horror*, I was an air fryer virgin... but my mum had the Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 MAX Multi Cooker, so I thought I'd pop the Lakeland in the car and take it for a play date with this appliance. In all honesty, it wouldn't be a fair comparison to look at them alongside one another. The Ninja Foodi is intended for a larger family, has several specialist functions...and, as a brand leader is practically the Goliath of the air fryer market.

Over time, I'll be testing out a number of other air fryers where she will be able to make a fair assessment of these countertop convection ovens.

Should you buy the Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer?

Yes, but I feel that your expectations should be managed before making the purchase to ensure this air fryer is worth it. It's great for cooking the same 'category' of food if it can be cooked at the same temperature and time.

If you're wanting to cook, for example, salmon fillets and some homemade sweet potato fries for two at the same time, this might not be for you. One of the mistakes people commonly make is to overpack their air fryer (and this dish alone would cramp the container).

Saying that, if your oven is already full and you only wanted to cook chips or onion rings as a side, then you can cook up to half a kilo of sides without taking up a oven shelf's worth of space.

Christina illustration
Christina Chrysostomou

Christina is a self-confessed foodie who enjoys the quiet life in Essex for the most part but is willing to make the commute into the city to enjoy the best London has to offer on the culinary scene.

However, with a wedding in the pipeline, nearly all of her disposable income has gone on planning the perfect summertime event. 'Can I cook my wedding cake in an air fryer?' She certainly questioned it when asked to review the Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer review! She's been using this air fryer for almost a fortnight and has been finding all sorts of ways to incorporate the air fryer into her lifestyle. From dinner to dried home decor, and confetti, she certainly believes in the adage: 'If you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves.'

About this review and the reviewer

Christina Chrysostomou is a content editor for Real Homes where she reviews household products to make your life easier at home, primarily focusing on cleaning and small kitchen appliances. She was sent this product to review at home to test out its air frying performance.

We are not given any compensation for our reviews, but we may be gifted the product meaning that we can test it over a greater length of time and update our reviews if required. We also receive affiliate commission for some products brought through our site.

Christina Chrysostomou
Ecommerce Editor

Bonjour, Yasou, Hello — I'm Christina, ecommerce editor at Real Homes. Along with my super creative colleagues, I create content to help you create a chic home on a budget. I live in a two-bed maisonette with a garage and garden in Essex. Geographically, it's perfect; I've got the forest on my doorstep, and London is just 15 minutes by tube or car. I specialize in small kitchen appliances so that you can prepare food with ease at home. Prior to working for the Future plc family, I've worked on a number of consumer events including the Ideal Home Show, Grand Designs Live, and Good Homes Magazine. With a plethora of experience in digital marketing, editorial, and social media, I have an eye for what should be in your shopping basket.