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Scientists put air fryer to the test against other kitchen appliances

Air fryers are the must-have Christmas gifts of 2022, promising a quick and cheap way to cook our meals in a time when energy prices are through the roof.

By heating up food by blasting it with hot air, there is also no need for calorific oil, making it a healthier alternative to pan frying.

Reviewers at Which? decided to compare the trendy gadget with microwaves, hobs and ovens to see if it really delivers on all its claims.

They cooked chips, roasted a chicken and baked a cake in all the different kitchen appliances and compared them on cooking time, energy use and cost.

The Which? testers compared the Morphy Richards Health Fryer 480003 (pictured) to other common cooking appliances

They found that the pressure cooker was both the cheapest and quickest way of roasting a chicken, taking 32 minutes and costing a tiny 11p - 28p cheaper than the electric oven

They found that the pressure cooker was both the cheapest and quickest way of roasting a chicken, taking 32 minutes and costing a tiny 11p – 28p cheaper than the electric oven

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO COOK IN AN AIR FRYER? 

Chicken – 18p

Chips – 10p

Cake – 8p

Jacket potato – 13p

 

The researchers found that air fryers proved up to three times cheaper than a conventional oven to run, and cooked the food equally as well or even better.

However, air fryers can cost anywhere between £30 and £300, so it may take some time any savings made on running costs to offset the purchase.

Microwaves, pressure cookers and slow cookers also have lower running costs than ovens, but don’t always give the best results.

Emily Seymour, Which? Energy Editor, said: ‘Energy bills are a real concern for millions of households across the country, especially when many are already feeling the pressures of the cost of living crisis, and cooking is one of the everyday costs that really mount up over time.

‘There has been a surge of interest in air fryers and smaller cooking appliances in recent months, and our research shows that the hype could be justified in some cases, as we’ve found these products cost less to cook certain foods than conventional ovens.

‘The cost savings will soon be lost if you have to cook more than one batch though, so it’s still better to use your oven if you’re cooking large quantities. 

‘But for quick, small meals, we’ve found that it’s worth trying out the alternatives.’

The air fryer cooked the roast chicken's skin nicely, and also gave perfect, tender meat, all for just 18p. If you ditched the oven and used an air fryer every weekend for the rest of the year, using the gadget would equate to an annual saving of £11 (stock image)

The air fryer cooked the roast chicken’s skin nicely, and also gave perfect, tender meat, all for just 18p. If you ditched the oven and used an air fryer every weekend for the rest of the year, using the gadget would equate to an annual saving of £11 (stock image)

The Which? testers initially cooked a three pound (1.4 kg) chicken in all these appliances, including both a halogen and conventional oven.

They found that the pressure cooker was both the cheapest and quickest way of roasting the bird, taking 32 minutes and costing a tiny 11p – 28p cheaper than the electric oven.

However, unlike the oven, it fell short on getting achieving one of the highlights of a Sunday roast – the brown, crispy skin.

The air fryer also cooked the chicken’s skin nicely, but also gave perfect, tender meat, all for just 18p.

If you ditched the oven and used an air fryer every weekend for the rest of the year, using the gadget would equate to an annual saving of £11.

The testers did note that the chicken cooked in the electric oven was also a little dry, meaning the air fryer came out on top over all other appliances. 

None of the appliances were perfect on cooking quality, with some chips overcooked and some undercooked. But the air fryer again came in first place in both speed and price, with the fries taking just 23 minutes to heat up

None of the appliances were perfect on cooking quality, with some chips overcooked and some undercooked. But the air fryer again came in first place in both speed and price, with the fries taking just 23 minutes to heat up

While Prue Leith may shake her head at the sight of a baker pouring batter into an air fryer, there was not a soggy bottom in sight when the 'Showstopper' emerged. It only costed 8p and was done in almost half the time of the electric oven at 33 minutes

While Prue Leith may shake her head at the sight of a baker pouring batter into an air fryer, there was not a soggy bottom in sight when the ‘Showstopper’ emerged. It only costed 8p and was done in almost half the time of the electric oven at 33 minutes

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO COOK IN AN AIR FRYER? 

Chicken – 53 minutes

Chips – 23 minutes

Cake – 33 minutes

Jacket potato – 48 minutes

The testers next cooked two portions of chips in an air fryer, halogen oven and electric oven.

None of the appliances were perfect on cooking quality, with some chips overcooked and some undercooked.

But the air fryer again came in first place in both speed and price, with the fries taking just 23 minutes to heat up.

It was also about a third of the price of cooking in an electric oven, and less than half the price of the halogen oven.

The only drawback is its capacity, as the  Morphy Richards Health Fryer 480003 tested recommend only a maximum of 500g of chips, which is about three portions worth.

For those that fancy themselves the next Bake Off champion, the Which? testers also tried baking a cake in a variety of different appliances.

While Prue Leith may shake her head at the sight of a baker pouring batter into an air fryer, there was not a soggy bottom in sight when the ‘Showstopper’ emerged.

It only costed 8p and was done in almost half the time of the electric oven at 33 minutes.

However, the three-egg cake did come out rather smaller than those from the other appliances, due to the fryer’s size limitations.

The induction hob and pressure cooker were joint winners for cooking soup, as they both cost 9p to run, but the former gave a better consistency and the latter was six minutes faster

The induction hob and pressure cooker were joint winners for cooking soup, as they both cost 9p to run, but the former gave a better consistency and the latter was six minutes faster

The microwave was the cheapest and quickest method of steaming broccoli, costing just 3p to cook the broccoli florets in five minutes, while the induction hob gave the best results

The microwave was the cheapest and quickest method of steaming broccoli, costing just 3p to cook the broccoli florets in five minutes, while the induction hob gave the best results

Liquids cannot be put in an air fryer, therefore the testers tried heating a smooth butternut squash soup with an induction hob, pressure cooker and slow cooker.

The induction hob and pressure cooker were joint winners, as they both cost 9p to run, but the former gave a better consistency and the latter was six minutes faster.

However, the slow cooker received a bonus point for requiring less hands-on attention, and was therefore the most convenient.

When steaming vegetables, it was another case of having two joint winners – the induction hob and the microwave.

The microwave was the cheapest and quickest method, costing just 3p to cook the broccoli florets in five minutes, while the induction hob gave the best results.

A pressure cooker overcooked the veg, took over double the time of the microwaves and used the most energy of 0.204 kWh.

All appliances them gave a fluffy potato, however the microwave was the clear winner, taking just eight minutes to cook it for 5p worth of energy

All appliances them gave a fluffy potato, however the microwave was the clear winner, taking just eight minutes to cook it for 5p worth of energy

The humble jacket potato was the last food tested by the Which? team, and they used the whole range of appliances to do so.

All of them gave a fluffy potato, however the microwave was the clear winner, taking just eight minutes to cook it for 5p worth of energy.

The air fryer and pressure cooker were also strong performers, costing 13p and 9p respectively, and taking 48 minutes and 32 minutes each. 

Oven cooking the potato was the longest and most energy intensive way of preparing it, but did give the crispiest skin of them all. 

Due to its tray size, the air fryer would only allow for one potato to be cooked at a time.

The results of the study therefore suggest it a great product for households with fewer mouths or smaller stomachs.

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