I've tried and tested a good glut of air fryers now in our test kitchen. And, while I have all the room in the world in our corporate space, my own cooking area is petite in comparison. Don't get me wrong, for a galley layout it's pretty generous, but once you take into account a microwave, bean-to-cup coffee maker, and a kettle, the counter gets pretty cramped. When I was asked to try out this compact air fryer, my eyes lit up: "Could this actually be 'the one'?"
My fiance often rolls his eyes when we get air fryer samples sent. Before I can get the box through the door, two questions spurt from his mouth. "Another one?" and "Where's it going to go?" So it was nice to test an appliance that was on the smaller side.
The T-fal / Tefal (UK) Easy Fry Compact Digital Health Air Fryer didn't exactly fit in the palm of my hand, but unlike other makes and models, this small-scale appliance is practical enough to be popped on my counter without creating clutter.
T-fal Easy Fry Compact Digital Health Air Fryer specifications
- Weight: 1.6kg (with 0.4kg capacity)
- Dimensions: H11.7" x W10" x D8.1"
- Temperature: 80°C to 200°C
- Cost to run air fryer (per hour): 19c / 17p
- Cooking modes: 6 presets (fries, shrimp, grill, roast, fish, and cake)
- RRP: £94 / $105
- Color(s): Black
- Cleaning: Base: wipe clean | Crisper drawer and basket: wash in hot soapy water
- Comes with: A 15-page A6 instruction booklet
This is a super lightweight air fryer. It rather helpfully comes packaged in an appropriately-sized box that makes carrying it more than manageable.
Opening the box, I was thrilled to score this a star for its eco-friendly approach to packaging. No plastic *check* and a postcard-sized 15-page instruction booklet that didn't feel overwhelming.
Being completely honest, the test kitchen was a bit chaotic when we arrived, so rather than trying to snap a quick picture of the air fryer, the T-fal video I found on YouTube should manage your expectations on what you'll find inside your cardboard box.
First impressions of the T-fal
My initial reaction was, "Aww, this is cute," especially when I placed it in an air fryer photo lineup against other appliances, like the Ninja Foodi Max and Cuisinart Toaster Oven Air Fryer. Despite its slim stature, I was hopeful that it would perform just as well as the Goliath gadgets.
The LED digital interface is slick with a smart blue aesthetic. When turning the machine on, you are presented with six icons to illustrate what can be cooked in the air fryer. If you want a little more control (or are reading the instructions from convenience foods), you can also press the touchscreen to adjust the temperature and timings to your liking. If you leave it on and forget about it, the machine, fortunately, has an auto-off function — ideal because energy is expensive right now!
The non-stick removable grid and basket are both dishwasher safe, which is great if I'm
feeling particularly lazy eating late and don't want to wash up at the sink.
Cooking fish fingers
Battered or breadcrumbed, who doesn't love a fish finger? So in the name of science, I sourced some good old-fashioned Birds Eye fish sticks for this (available in the US and UK). The reason being, they're not too chunky, not too slim. If I were Goldilocks, these coated cod pieces would be just right for testing.
To ensure they were spaced out, I arranged them in a square formation so as not to cramp the container. But this does present an issue. If this machine is made for two (or a small family), then two pieces per person is hardly a portion. If you are trying to feed yourself and your partner, then you'd have to cook your servings separately. Not quite the idyllic night in you'd hope for, especially if you've got home from work and are particularly hungry.
Capacity crisis aside, I was satisfied with the cooking of the fish fingers. The white flesh was piping hot and their little carby jackets were as crispy as you'd expect from your oven.
Would I cook fish sticks in the air fryer again? Aye aye, Captain! But, I'd probably cook them as a part of a meal for one.
Cooking thick-cut frozen fries
Much as I love homemade fries, a bag of frozen tatoes can always be found in my freezer. Although white spuds are my tuber of choice, prepping and peeling after work gives me home economics vibes. And, dare you forget about your fresh potatoes, they'll start growing eyes — gross!
To test the T-fal's ability to cook fluffy, thick-cut fries, we filled the basket with around 12oz / 350g of product and set the fries function. After being alerted by the cute high-pitched pings (five in total), they were cooked, but not as golden as the Instant Pot 6-in-1 air fryer. Regretfully, some of the fries on top were browner than those at the bottom.
Having said that, this might have been because the Instant Pot was set to the packet instructions, whereas I used the T-fal's preset (which was probably for thinner French fries). In hindsight, I would use the custom temperature and time settings to ensure these are as moreish as the other machines.
Cooking bacon rashers is a little bit of a challenge with this machine. If you're fine with playing foodie Jenga, you're going to be okay. Otherwise, arranging your strips can be a bit stressful, particularly if you've bought longer strips from a butcher.
Making roasted Mediterranean vegetables
I'm not sure about you, but those pre-made packs of vegetables are an absolute godsend when it comes to getting my five a day in. Otherwise, while I have all the best intentions, those loosely bought zucchinis and bell peppers die a slow (and furry) death in my refrigerator. So while it is more expensive (and involves a little more plastic), a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do.
However, I do like to be a bit fancy, so I zhuzhed these veggies up with some oil and spices and bunged them in on 350°F / 180°C for around 20 minutes. The end result was super tasty and the vegetables maintained their vibrant colors too. If there was one observation, the red onions burned a little, but this was largely down to their size (and this usually happens in the oven anyway).
Cooking Halloumi in the air fryer
Given this is the cheese I grew up on (before it got popular), this was a bit of a sensitive subject for me. As far as I was concerned, there are a few ways to treat this squeaky dairy product. Eat it "raw" sprinkled over pasta, grill or fry your slices, or my favorite: use your barbecue for a marshmallow-like texture.
So the thought of using a countertop convection oven to cook it with hot air seemed bizarre to me. And, my hypothesis was right. I don't mean to say I told you so, but the resulting four pieces of salty Cypriot cheese looked a little sad for themselves after the time elapsed. Yes, they were brown, but texture-wise, they fell short of their charcoal-treated cousins.
Having had years of experience eating it, I even tried to give it a helping hand in the test process. Knowing that it comes packaged in a mint-flecked brine, I was sure to remove all the excess moisture between two pieces of paper towel and add a small spritz of sunflower oil before popping them in the air fryer. Despite this attention to detail, I'm afraid to report that the end product was a little dry in texture.
My advice if you're worried about your energy consumption: fry it quickly in a little oil using a good non-stick frying pan. Or, in the summer, secure the cheese in a BBQ grill basket and place it over hot coals.
How to clean the T-fal EasyFry Compact Digital
When cleaning an air fryer made by T-fal (or any other brand), you need to be careful not to damage the non-stick coating on the basket and tray. Though it may seem like an overly conservative thing to do, I consulted the instruction booklet for advice on how to get rid of oil, marinades, crumbs, and batter.
But if you don't fancy getting to grips with page nine of the booklet — or if you've bought the machine, lost the paperwork, and stumbled across this review — let me summarize.
First things first, you'll want to remove the plug from the wall socket and let the air fryer cool down. You can speed up this process by removing the bowl so no hot air is internalized.
Getting rid of grime on the outside of the appliance is pretty straightforward; simply wipe with a damp cloth and a little elbow grease if stubborn stickiness or grease remains.
To clean the bowl and the grid, use a good washing-up liquid and a non-abrasive sponge. Steer clear of those scratchy metal scourers or be prepared to see your basket rust. As well as facilitating the preparation of mess-free munchies, this layer also protects the metal underneath. Or, if you have a dishwasher, you could pop them straight in there (making sure the spray arm can move freely).
If you've got stubborn batter or a piece of fish skin stuck on the bottom of the bowl or grid, let them soak in hot, soapy water for around 10 minutes. It should be much easier to clean afterward.
Once you've cleaned your basket and grid, wipe them down with a microfiber cloth or tea towel. They should be rust resistant, but better to be safe than sorry.
How does it compare to other air fryers?
For me, although the Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer is bulkier, it makes better fries, salmon, and Mediterranean veg than the T-fal model. The former gives the ingredients a little "breathing room," so food can cook more evenly and have a solid chance of crisping up. Given the Lakeland Digital Crisp Air Fryer is only £16 more, it does have a larger capacity and two more presets. However, I appreciate that this machine is only available in the UK.
If you're in the US and want a small machine, take a look at our Instant Pot 4-in-1 review. This five-star rated machine is available in the UK too, and you'll be paying almost half the price for the Instant Pot 4-in1 at $59.95/£59.99 on Amazon. We've actually seen it go for much less on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Should you buy the T-fal Easy Fry Compact Digital?
I'm going to put it out there and say, while it is a great entry-level model for studio apartments with a strip of counter space, I appreciate that the machine is not a match for my lifestyle.
My significant other and I do enjoy sharing a hearty meal in the evening, so this falls a little short from a practical perspective. Saying that, if you're an independent woman who wants a quick meal and air fryer for around £100/$105, this is a feasible option.
But, if you're weighing up the air fryer vs. deep fat fryer argument in your head, and have an open-plan kitchen diner — go for this. It's healthier, plus your place (including linen and upholstery) won't stink of oil.
I'd say it's good for people who don't eat at the same time but don't want to rely on their microwave or ovens for solitary sustenance. That's not to say it's a bad machine, quite the opposite. From my own user experience, I just don't think I'd be able to cook a protein and carb side for two in it.
T-fal has listed some house rules in its instruction manual when it comes to properly using your air fryer. Notably that you should only use it in your household, so tread carefully if you're thinking about packing it up for a bed and breakfast, hotel/motel, or residential-type environment that you don't own/rent from a landlord.
About this review and the reviewer
Christina Chrysostomou is an eCommerce 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. In this case, the lovely people at AO.com sent us the sample. This means 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.