There are several options in the market if you are considering buying a hot air fryer. However, it seems like there are two brands who are clearly taking the lead in this niche, Tefal with its Actifry family and Philips with their AirFryers. And unless you really are on a budget to make this purchase you will probably want to stick to one of the two since they are the most likely to stay in production for longer and therefore come out with new accessories, community tricks, replacement parts, etc.
Both Philips and Tefal are well trusted brands with a great background in making kitchen appliances, so it can be hard to make a choice just by the brand, so let’s take a look at them side by side so that you can get a better idea of which of these two oil less fryers is right for you.
(if you are in a rush and don’t want to get into all the details you can skip directly to the conclusion section)
The AirFryer clearly beats the Actifry in this section. With the AirFryer you can fry, bake, grill and roast, whereas with the Actifry there is only one way to cook your food.
The fact that the Actifry’s pan has a donut shape, with a whole in the middle, also makes it very difficult to cook large pieces of food such as chicken or steak, whereas the AirFryer’s cooking basket has no such center element allowing for larger pieces of foods to be cooked. You can even use a small oven mold with the AirFryer.
One advantage that the Actifry does have in this area is its stirring paddle. The Stirring paddle will continuously rotate while the food is cooking to make sure it’s all cooked evenly. With the AirFryer on the other hand you’ll have to manually stir the food during the cooking process, usually once but sometimes even more if the cooking basket is quite full. Remember that both of these machines rely on hot air to cook your aliments, and that can’t happen unless the air touches all the surface of the aliments you put inside.
Serves how many?
Until recently the Actifry was the clear winner here. The basic AirFryer and the Digital AirFyer come with a 1.8lbs cooking basket, compared to the 2.2lbs from the Actifry.
The Actifry also comes with a double layer rack that not only allows to cook more food at once but also to separate different kinds of food so that you can cook two different aliments at once without them touching and affecting their flavor. The Digital AirFryer also comes with a double layer rack which is optional for the basic model, but still the Actifry wins when it comes to capacity. The Actifry is advertised to server 6, whereas the AirFryer can only reasonably serve 3.
The supremacy of the Actifry in this area has now been compromise though by the arrival of the AirFryer XL to the stores. This new model within the AirFryer family has a capacity of 2.65lbs, and although the same of the cooking chamber is still not as optimized as the Actifrier’s it sure closes the gap by quite a bit.
Both options are very well designed kitchen appliances, although the Actifry probably has a more traditional design and the AirFryer a more modern and minimal air to it.
The AirFryer’s design reminds in many ways to the designs from brands like Apple which are known for its simplicity and intuitiveness, like the fact that they have no on/off button, they just work when you expect them to and turn off when they aren’t in use. The Actifry on the other hand has more visible parts and buttons which not only make it look more complex than it actually is but also require the user to study the appliance a little more carefully before using it.
The two models follow to very different approaches here. The Actifry is more of a horizontal appliance, while the AirFryer takes more space vertically.
If your kitchen space is tight the AirFryer will definitely take a little less space on your counter top, unless you go for the XL model which has virtually the same footprint as the Actifry and is also a bit taller.
In both cases it’s important to keep in mind that the machines need some space to breathe in order to work properly, as they need to pick up air from the room and then let it go through a series of filtered air escapes on their back. If you place your oil less fryer to close to other appliances or to the wall it might not be able to function properly and you will be risking the machine overheating and being damaged.
Although not strictly related to size it is worth mentioning that the Actifry is lighter than any AirFryer by anywhere from 7lbs to 10lbs. You might want to keep this in mind if you are not planning to keep your visible all the time and will be putting it away after each use.
Both options come with very simple controls that will allow you to set the cooking temperature (on the AirFryer only) and cooking time. All the models available come with a digital display, except for the basic AirFryer which is 100% analogic.
Both options have built in security features to make sure they are perfectly safe to use at home by any type of customer. They both come equipped with cooling systems to avoid getting burned when touching them, although the glass part from the Actifry can get quite hot…
Both options will also automatically interrupt any cooking when you open them before the cooking time is over. However the Actifry does not have the auto shut-off feature that all AirFryers come with, so forgetting to turn it off is always a risk.
Both options are dishwasher safe. The Actifry is a little more complex to disassemble as it has more pieces to detach and will also take up a little more space on the dishwasher, which is perfectly reasonable if you consider it also had a larger cooking capacity.
The Actifry has no accessories available while the AirFryer has a few of them and Philips will probably keep adding more in the future.
So far the AirFryer offers several different cooking pans, such as a grilling pan, a baking pan and the double layer rack (included with the Digital AirFryer and AirFryer XL)
This can be seen as both a good thing and a bad thing. On one hand the fact that the AirFryer has all these optional accessories mean you’ll be able to cook different things and get more creative in the kitchen. The accessories come at a price though, which means the price point of the AirFryer will drastically increase if you want to have them all, as opposed to the Actifry which comes with everything it has to offer out of the box.
Deciding which oil less fryer you should buy really comes down to answer two questions:
- How many people do you need to feed daily?
- What kinds of food are you looking to cook with your hot air fryer?
If are a couple or live alone then the basic or Digital AirFryers are your best option as they serve smaller portions (more than enough for two) and offer a wider range of cooking options, which are nice to have, even if you don’t end up using them.
If you are a family of 3 or more then you probably want to stick to the Actifry or the AirFryer XL, especially if you have kids who are in that age were they eat everything!
The last thing to consider is what kind of foods do you cook the most. If you are looking to cook large pieces of chicken, steak, etc. then the AirFryer will allow you to fit these better, although you will have to manually flip or stir your food regularly during the cooking process. The Actifry on the other hand won’t fit large aliments, but is great to cook rice, stir-fries and other chopped down aliments as the stirring paddle will stir them continuously to make sure very piece is cooked evenly without you having to worry about it.