Just when we think we've tried all of the best air fryers on the market, another one comes onto our radar that deserves a spot in our top ten. This can certainly be said for the Xiaomi Mi Smart Air Fryer, which comes from a brand that's traditionally known for creating smartphones, watches and speakers, we didn't know what to expect when we took the Xiaomi Mi for a spin in our test kitchen.
While we did come away from testing feeling that other air fryers outperformed when it purely came to cooking, this is the air fryer that we had the most fun using on our testing day, and we also felt that it fitted right in on the white marble countertops and sleek, modern fittings. If your kitchen design is carefully curated and you're worried about bringing the style down with a conventional air fryer, the Xiaomi Mi Smart Air Fryer will be the one for you.
Xiaomi Mi Smart Air Fryer: specs
- Weight: 5kg
- Power: 1700w
- Dimensions: 9.92 x 13.19 x 11.97 cm
- Temperature: 40°c to 200°c
- Capacity: 5.5 litres/5.8 quarts
- RRP: £84.99
- Colour: White
- Cleaning: Dishwasher-safe drawer and basket, nonstick coating
This air fryer is one of the more attractive options on the market. It's white, with a black smart dial on the front and a pleasing lack of other buttons. It's also quite compact, meaning you'll enjoy cooking for one or two people in its 3.5 litre capacity, but may struggle for large family meals. Setting it up was easy, we simply plugged it in and made sure to remove all the plastic from the inside before touching the controls.
Another big feature is the smart controls. I may be the Small Appliance Editor for Real Homes, but usually app-controlled products fill me with a sense of dread. And while I can't deny that I had a bit of a meltdown syncing this air fryer to my phone, I do genuinely think this was down to our testing facility WiFi and not the fault of the machine. The facility's internet access is (understandably) very secure, so getting it to pair with this random air fryer was virtually impossible. If you're planning on cooking at home though (which let's face it, you definitely are) this won't be a problem.
Better yet, even sans-app, this air fryer is indubitably smart. All the controls happen from the black dial that sits front and centre on the Xiaomi Mi Smart Air Fryer, and while I was initially concerned about the lack of buttons on the air fryer, this is because everything can be controlled neatly from this one central button.
The air fryer comes with pre-set options for cooking everything from vegetables to chicken, which is something I'm usually sceptical about. With Cosori air fryers, for example, each setting is laid out in a cluttered display on the front of the air fryer, but in reality you will need different time and temperature settings for every dish you cook due to the size and volume of the dish. For example on a chicken mode, it will only take about 10 minutes to cook chicken wings, but chicken breasts should be cooked on lower temperatures and for longer.
Xiaomi does have an answer for this though. You can select how full the cooking basket is (half or full) and adjust the time and temperature of each pre-set. And if you're like me and prefer to go manual, that's fine too. There's a manual mode available once you've scrolled through the other pre-sets, which only takes a few seconds.
There are loads of things you can cook in an air fryer, so when we test we get a good spread of ingredients to test various functions. We always cook bacon when reviewing air fryers to see how fast the air fryer can cook smaller servings of meat, perfect for brunches or salads.
In the Xiaomi Mi Smart Air Fryer we cooked at the maximum 200-degree temperature, and laid out three rashers in the basket. We did use quite long rashers, but we noted that they didn't quite fit inside the basket and went slightly up the sides of the basket.
Overall we found that while the bacon cooked in a reasonable six minutes, it was not as crisp as in the Ninja air fryer we tested, and it was a bit chewy in places. We suspected that this might be down to the lower temperature, meaning the bacon didn't get the same treatment as it would from a roaring-hot pan.
On the plus side, the bacon didn't blow around inside the cooking basket, and we noted that the air fryer was one of the quietest ones we tested.
A lot of air fryers come with roast settings, and while the Xiaomi Mi Smart Air Fryer doesn't, we were looking forward to cooking vegetables using the vegetable setting in this air fryer. At this point we found that the dial does require you to turn very slowly if you want to increase the cooking time in one-minute increments, and it defaults to going up at ten minutes at a time if you turn the dial too fast, which isn't very helpful. The same applies to temperature. These are pretty big increments for air fryers which cook things pretty quickly.
We cooked cubes of butternut squash, courgette, pepper and red onion, which all have different cooking points. We noted in some air fryers that the red onion came out burnt, but the Xiaomi Mi Smart Air Fryer didn't burn it.
We were missing the char we'd usually expect when roasting vegetables after 20 minutes, but they were all cooked quite well and there was also no burning. The results didn't impress us too much, but they're definitely comparable to the results you'd get cooking in an oven for about 30 minutes, meaning you still save time overall.
Air fryers are famed for making delicious fries, so we always test to see how well they make homemade wedges when putting one through its paces. The Xiaomi Mi Smart Air Fryer has a fries setting, so we used this but adjusted the temperature so it was consistent with the other air fryers we were testing, to make the review fair.
The chips looked pretty good after 20 minutes of cooking, but even after shaking midway we noticed that the tops of the fries were more cooked than the bottom, and that some were more cooked than others. Our results in the Instant Vortex were more consistent.
We did enjoy how fluffy the fries were, but they were lacking that crispiness we are used to when air frying. After our bacon and vegetable test, we started to suspect that this air fryer doesn't extract as much moisture as it could, meaning that items may not get as crisp because they're sat in a more moist environment when cooking.
Cooking from frozen
Air fryers and freezer food are a match made in heaven. Whether you only have time for a 20-minute lunch, or you have hungry mouths to feed and can't wait for the oven to pre-heat, the air fryer will always speed up your cooking time when it comes to chicken fillets or fish fingers.
We tested some chicken goujons in the Xiaomi Mi Smart Air Fryer, cooking them for just 12 minutes to reach a crisp texture, half of the recommended oven cooking time (yes, we did check to see if they were thoroughly cooked through).
Of all the air fryers we tested, the chicken goujons came out as one of the crispiest consistencies, which surprised us giving its lack of crisping ability for bacon or chips. We suspected that because there was a low moisture content the Xiaomi Mi Smart Air Fryer was able to add that bread-coated crunch a bit more easily this time around.
After this testing we noted that the air fryer had become quite hot to touch, suggesting that after prolonged periods you'd have to be careful around kids or pets.
No complaints here, the nonstick coating of this air fryer means it's easy to clean by hand, and it also can go in the dishwasher. Happy days.
The included grilling rack is not nonstick, so you might struggle to scrub away remnants of meat or veggies after using it, but again, it can go in the dishwasher.
Should you buy the Xiaomi Mi Smart Air Fryer
Despite some hit-and-miss cooking results, we did really enjoy this air fryer. The design feels high-quality for something that costs well under £100, and it's got some smart features that we've not seen elsewhere. Top of our tick list was the uncluttered design and easy controls, which don't sacrifice user experience for smart features, something I've experienced with rival air fryers in the past.
That said, don't buy this air fryer if you don't mind an uglier model but want something that cooks like a pro. For that, take a look at our Cosori Air Fryer review, which is slightly more expensive but will achieve that crisp finish with no difficulties.
About this review, and our reviewer
Millie Fender is an ecommerce editor at Real Homes, specializing in small appliances and all things cooking. She loves putting new products to the test, whether they're air fryers, blenders, or even pizza ovens, and her family and friends love eating the results.
Millie has a constant stream of new products waiting to be reviewed in her kitchen. It's a little snug, so if she thinks anything deserves to stay there, you know it's something special.
The Instant Vortex Mini was sent to Millie by Instant Brands, and she tested it for a prolonged period before writing this review. Millie uses her air fryer at least once a day, so it was very thoroughly put through its paces ahead of this review. Because Instant Brands kindly allowed her to keep it, she will keep this review updated as she continues to use it in her kitchen (that is, when she's not testing other air fryers!)
Find out more about how we review products at Real Homes.