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.
Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer | £119.99 at Lakeland
This super popular air fryer keeps going out of stock and for good reason! Keep checking back for updates.
TLDR: What I thought of the Lakeland air fryer
This Lakeland air fryer was one of the first I tested, and I was impressed with its performance to say the least. It's great for cooking side dishes, or for making homemade cooking chips or even for reheating food. 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! Given the cost to run an air fryer, it's totally worth the money as it costs a mere 46p to run for one whole hour. If you're a large family then this won't be the best air fryer for you, but if you're a couple or you want something to cook frozen fodder or smaller dishes, then this is the air fryer you want to buy. It's also super easy to use, my only complaints are minor ones!
Testing the Lakeland air fryer
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 into 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'd been using this air fryer for almost a fortnight at the time of reviewing 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.'
The techy stuff
• 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 (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 | Drawer and basket - wash in hot soapy water
• Comes with: A 24-page instruction manual with a few basic recipes
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.
First impressions of the Lakeland Digital Air Fryer
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.
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
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).
Cooking 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
How does it compare to other air fryers?
I'll be honest, until a few months ago *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.
Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer | £119.99 at Lakeland
This super popular air fryer keeps going out of stock and for good reason! Keep checking back for updates.
Is the Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer right for you?
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.
Here are some more air fryer recommendations from us:
If you're looking for something even smaller (and in a nice colour)
This brilliantly small air fryer comes in four colours, and it's nice and small so it won't take up much space in your kitchen. You can even place it in a cupboard. With a 2-litre capacity, it's perfect for making side dishes — or just for making air fryer chips.
Read our Instant Vortex Mini review.
If you want something bigger
Perhaps one of the most popular air fryers around right now, this dual-basket model is great for cooking different foods at the same time at different temperatures and without food touching. It has a combined capacity of 7.6 litres across the two baskets. One side for your chips, the other for your sausages.
Read our Ninja Foodi DualZone review.
If you want something a little cheaper
The Magic Bullet Air Fryer is a brilliant size and a brilliant price. It retails at around £100, but you can often find it on sale for cheaper. It's super easy to use if you want something faff-free, just put your food inside, close the basket, and spin the dial for time and set the temperature. It'll beep once done!
Read our Magic Bullet air fryer review.
About this review and our 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, and she tested it in our impressive review lab in order to compare it with other air fryers. You can find out more about our air fryer testing process if you're interested.
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.