This review is written for anyone thinking of buying a Tefal Actifry Health Fryer or low fat fryer. With so many model names and ranges, things have become a little confusing so we present what you need to know and help you select the Actifry Health Fryer that is right for you and your family. We have a wealth of experience using and reviewing all of the Tefal range of Health Fryers. We have also used and reviewed most of the competition e.g. Duronic, Phillips etc. and will continue to do so as fast as we can get our hands on them.
Tefal have been the leading name in Health Fryers since they launched their original Health Fryer several years ago. Since then, things have moved on and now Tefal have 7 ranges of Health Fryers to choose from. If that is not confusing enough, they continuously refresh their model numbers and so you will find virtually the same device with several model numbers. Our advice is to completely ignore the model number and just focus on the range.
Six of the range all function in a similar way and follow a similar design with a round ceramic bowl, rotating paddle (removable) and hinged lid. Different ranges vary in size, power, versatility, and of course, price. The good news is chips taste great in all of them.
The Actifry Delight Health Fryer is the seventh of their range. This diverts from Tefal’s standard design and has a drawer instead of a bowl, much like many of Tefal’s competitors. Whether this is a sign of things to come from Tefal we doubt very much since Tefal are still the leading supplier or low fat fryers. It is far more likely that Tefal recognise that some customers prefer the alternative style offered by the likes of Phillips, Duronic etc.
Before we go into the detail about the various models, the following comparison table provides an ‘at a glance’ summary of the key features, differences and price (from Amazon).
The basics about Tefal’s Actifry Health Fryers
Apart from the Delight Health Fryer (see later), all other Tefal Actifry Health Fryers follow a similar tried and tested design which has not changed since they first came out. This design, which is unique to Tefal is what sets them apart from other low fat fryers. It is also this design, which in our view provides Tefal with unique advantages. Whilst arguably not the best lucking of kitchen devices, their design enables these health fryers to out-perform all of their rivals including Phillips, Duronic and even Breville. Whereas other manufacturers have produced units that resemble deep fat fryers, Tefal have designed something based on what works best rather than what looks best. That’s not to say that they are ugly or anything, it’s just that their competitors have the edge when it comes to the aesthesis.
The performance of all of the Tefal Health Fryers is more or less the same. The differences are mainly in size and in the case of the ‘2 in 1’, their flexibility. Even the sophisticated Tefal Smart Health Fryer uses the same cooking technology as the humble original health fryer; albeit with ‘Smart’ controls. So, in essence, when you are choosing which model to buy, you can assume that they all cook equally as well as each other all things being equal. Your choice is centred more around capacity, versatility and whether you are likely to require the Smart technology, which is useful if you want to cook a wide variety of recipes.
The main components of these Tefal Health Fryers are:
- A completely removable and dish-washer friendly, round non-stick ceramic bowl of varying sizes. This is attached to a folding handle and lifts out of the unit with the click of a button
- A removable rotating paddle to stir your food during cooking. This is useful for chips as it ensures even cooking, but also for cooking stews, curries, and other recipes (please note, the Actifry Plus is not suitable for liquid recipes)
- A transparent lid through which you can see the contents as they cook, enabling you to intervene if cooking is quicker than you expected
- A timer to set the number of minutes cooking time. These vary from model to model but all provide the same basic functionality
- An auto-stop feature to turn off the appliance when the timer reaches the end of its cooking cycle. This also bleeps to warn you that cooking has completed
- A powerful heat source to cook the food fast and a fan to ensure even cooking
- The 2 in 1 and Smart Health Fryers contain two compartments allowing a whole meal to be cooked in one (more details below)
Actifry Health Fryer Original
The Actifry Health Fryer (Original) is still going strong and apart from some slight tweaks to the timer display has not changed since it first launched. This is not a bad thing because its success is well justified.
With 1 Kg capacity it will suite singles, couples and even small families but it doesn’t have the capacity of its larger siblings and if you do try and cram in too many chips they won’t cook very well and you will end up with soggy chips that take ages.
Tefal claim that you can cook up to 1Kg. In terms of chips that is a large bag of frozen chips. In our view, this is too much and 800g produces far better results. If you are likely to want to cook for a large group you would certainly be advised to choose one of the larger models.
Actifry Health Fryer Health Fryer Plus
The Actifry Health Fryer Plus is a slightly larger model than the original at 1.2Kg capacity. The additional capacity allows more space for the air and contents to circulate. This means that a full 1kg bag of chips is practical and produces great results. We feel that these fryers operate better when not filled to their stated capacity so if you do need to cook for a small family, this would be a better option than the 1kg original model. It gives that bit more flexibility. In all other respects it is exactly the same as the original 1Kg range.
Actifry Health Fryer Express XL
The Actifry Health Fryer Express XL boasts a huge 1.7Kg capacity and a powerful heater to boot. The Tefal health Fryer Express XL also has “Dual Motion” technology which claims 30% faster cooking times by circulating the hot air better. This combination ensures cooking times are fast and results perfect. We cooked 1.5Kg of hand cut chips to perfection in 30 minutes and 24 minutes for frozen chips. Frozen chips cook almost as well in a low fat fryer as when deep fried, due to then being more evenly cut and already pre-coated in oil. Despite the large capacity of the Express XL model, you still only require a spoon full of oil.
Actifry Health Fryer 2 in 1
The Actifry Health Fryer 2 in 1 is a departure from the original model and provides two cooking areas allowing for a whole meal to be cooked at once. For example, you can cook chips as normal in the lower areas whilst at the same time cooking steak and vegetables in the tray above. In our review, we cooked several meals including steak, pork chops, asparagus, tomatoes, etc. and the results were very impressive.
This is Tefal’s answer to the larger Halogen Ovens made by other manufacturers, since Tefal does not have a Halogen Oven of its own. Compared to a halogen oven, we preferred the Tefal 2 in 1 since it still cooks chips better than any other manufacturer in our view whilst giving the option of cooking additional food. It won’t cook an entire chicken but then it’s not supposed to be an oven.
With a 1.5Kg capacity, the Actifry Heath Fryer 2 in 1 can certainly cope with larger families whilst still being an every-day unit for smaller families. Even single people would benefit from the 2 in 1 fryer giving its versatility.
Actifry Health Fryer Smart
If you are one of those people who want the best and most modern device, the Smart Actifry Health Fryer is the one for you. The Tefal Smart Fryer has a large 1.7 Kg capacity. This is as large as any other in their range. It is not a 2 in 1 so only has a single chamber for cooking so you won’t be able to cook chips, steak and veg all in one go (see 2 in 1). However, what you do get is ‘Smart’ cooking.
Smart cooking means that you can control the cooking via an app on your Android or iPhone. This can be downloaded in the same way as any other App e.g. Play-store for Android. Once you have downloaded the app, you pair it with the Smart Health Fryer using Bluetooth (not Wi-Fi). Then, you select from over 200 recipes built into the app and the app will control the cooking process. Whether you are cooking 1kg of frozen chips, a batch of scones, or curry sauce, simply select the relevant recipe from the app and it will do the rest and let you know when it has finished. Alternatively, you can use the fryer manually as you would any other.
When we first got hold of one of these we did expect it to be a bit of a gimmick. However, after trying several of the recipes we had to conclude that it does do a better job than you could achieve through manual interaction alone. We suspect that it alters the temperatures during the cooking process depending on the recipe. This ensures for example that scones come out nice and brown but not burnt, and curry sauce does not dry out, whereas chips benefit from the full power of the device to come out nice and crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
Tefal’s first journey into Smart devices is interesting and we expect to see more of these in due course. They are still on the expensive side but this should change in due course, which will make this the obvious choice for many families. However, if your main requirement is simply to cook chips, save your money and opt for a less expensive model.
Actifry Delight Health Fryer
When we first saw the Actifry Delight Health Fryer we were somewhat surprised. Tefal has always produced Health Fryers that followed a similar design and so this is not what we were expecting. We wondered whether Tefal might abandon their traditional design but quickly realised that the Actifry Delight Health Fryer is aimed at those who like the compact design of many of its competitors but still prefer the Tefal brand. Given Tefal’s introduction of the Smart Health Fryer, Tefal are clearly still committed to their traditional design but possibly hedging their bets.
Since the Tefal Delight Health Fryer looks very similar to many other manufacturer’s low fat fryers on the market, we felt quite at home when we opened the box. Instead of having a round bowl and transparent hinged lid, this device has a drawer with a handle and wire basket into which the food is placed. Hot air is circulated at the top and bottom of the basket. This design is arguably more pleasing on the eye and takes up less space. It is also quieter when in use. However, as with all low fat fryers of this design, there are some draw backs as well.
The first thing to say about these types of low fat fryers is that they have a relatively small capacity at 800g. Next, there is no way of seeing the food as it cooks. Because the food is in a draw which is shut tight during cooking, you can’t see it and so have to open the draw during cooking in order to check on it. Lastly, this design has no rotating paddle and so if you happen to fill the drawer too much, the chips will not cook evenly, resulting in poor results. We found that the best approach was in fact to open the draw mid-way through cooking and give the tray a little shake, in the same way you would with a traditional deep fat fryer.
Despite the disadvantages outlined above, we were pleasantly surprised by the performance of this Health Fryer. It looks fantastic with its retro style knobs and buttons and more than holds its own against the competition such as Duronic and Phillips. If appearance and space is an issue for you as opposed to brute force cooking ability then we would highly recommend this device.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Tefal have a larger range of health fryers or low fat fryers than any other manufacturer. They have a unique design which in our opinion performs better than their competitors. All models within the Tefal range perform more or less equally well. When choosing a Tefal Health Fryer, the choice should be based on capacity or versatility (2 in 1 and Smart) rather than whether they will produce great chips as they will all produce great chips.