When we first started using and writing about the best health fryers it was because we wanted a healthier frying option. Over the last 6 or 7 years, manufacturers have launched more and more models to choose from. This can make selecting the best health fryer daunting and confusing. This is where we come in. We hope that our experience of cooking healthily using many of these devices will help you to make your choice. If you like what you read and click on one of the links to make a purchase, we may earn a small commission. You can be sure that this won’t affect the price you pay in any way.
Health Fryers have been one of the most successful kitchen revolutions since the microwave. In fact, it has been suggested that nearly 20% of households in the UK already possess a health fryer. When we look at the many benefits health fryers provide, this is no surprise. In short, they can be used to fry food using a very small amount of oil. For example, you can ‘fry’ a 1Kg bag of frozen chips without adding any oil at all. Since frozen chips come pre-coated, that is sufficient. If you like to make your own chips instead, you only need to add a small tea-spoon of oil. This is where Health Fryers get their name. Less oil means healthier.
But what are the results like? Well, fortunately, we have created a handy table to summarise the quality of chips in a number of different scenarios.
|Oven Cooked||Health Fryer Cooked|
|Hand Cut||Hand cooked chips done in the oven do not generally come out anything like real fried chips. You know this and have to accept it, but they are nothing like real chips.||Unlike the hand cut chips done in the oven, the best health fryers do actually go a long way towards creating a result comparable to the real thing. Since they are being stirred continuously (depending on the model), they get coated evenly with a nice crunch too.|
|Frozen||Frozen chips always come out better than hand cut chips in the oven. The manufacturers use the best spuds and coat the chips to make them crisp and golden. That said, however good they may be in the oven, they will be much better cooked in a health fryer.||Frozen chips are almost made for the health fryer and you will get the best results with this combination. In fact, the results are so good that in most cases, they are as good, if not better than deep fried chips. When you use French fries (thin cut) you won’t be able to tell the difference between the deep fried and health fried versions.|
How do Health Fryers Work?
All health fryers work by forcing extremely hot air over and through the food creating temperatures similar to a deep fat fryer. With the addition of a little oil, the chips and other food (see later) crisp at the edges leaving a golden colour. Tefal health fryers have rotating arms that move the contents as they fry. If you want help selecting a Tefal health fryer head off over here. Of course, for some cooking you don’t want your food moved around and so the rotating arm can be removed.
Health fryers come in different shapes and sizes. You may have heard about Halogen Ovens and wondered how these are different from healthy fryers and other terms like low fat fryers etc. Here is our quick explanation.
Health fryers versus Halogen Ovens
Health Fryers come in various capacities from 0.5Kg to 1.5Kg of food. This is still enough chips for a large family, but you won’t be able to cook a whole chicken. For that you would need a Halogen Oven. Why not just buy a Halogen Oven then? Well, because halogen ovens are not as good at frying. It is precisely because of the relatively smaller capacity of the health fryer that all of the heat is focussed in a small place. This is why it behaves like a fryer, whereas the halogen oven behaves more like an oven. That said halogen ovens still perform pretty well and if versatility is what you want, that is probably the best for you.
The halogen oven often consists of two or more shelves on to which you place your food. This means that you can cook several items at once. For example, you could cook meat and chips at once. The Halogen Oven also has a bit more control over things like temperature. Both the Halogen Oven and the Health Fryer have timers. Both are Healthy since they use little or no oil.
Terms like Low Fat Fryer and air fryer are synonymous with health fryer.
Our Best Health Fryers
TEFAL ACTIFRY PLUS HEALTH FRYER
The Tefal Actifry Plus Health Fryer produces exceptional results and in our tests the Tefal ActiFry range produced the best chips of any fryers. Very well built and the only low fat fryers to include rotating paddles and transparent lid.Price: £134.99 Was: £229.99 (-41%)
Tower T17004 AirWave 8 Litre Digital Air Fryer, Turbo Air Technology
The Tower T17005 3.2 Litre Low Fat Healthy Air Fryer with Rapid Air Circulation is priced low but does not perform as well as some of its rivals.
Swan SD90010N 3.2L Low Fat Healthy Air Fryer with Rapid Air Circulation
The Swan SD90010N 3.2 Litre Low Fat Healthy Air Fryer with Rapid Air Circulation looks fantastic, is reasonably prices and produces acceptable resultsPrice: £59.87
Health Fryer Cooking Times
Despite people telling you that health fryers are quick cooking, they are not as fast as a deep fat fryer. On the other hand, they don’t take any time to warm up. Also, once they start, you don’t have to stand over them worrying about boiling hot oil. The worst-case scenario for a full family load of 1Kg chips in our best health fryer range is that they will take about 25 minutes from start to finish. If you opt for French fries you can reduce this to 18 minutes depending on the model you choose and the way you like them. For a small batch of French fries, you are looking at 12 minutes. So, it depends on the quantity and type of chips. All in all, by the time you count the warm-up time of a traditional deep fat fryer, there isn’t much in it.
Another thing you could add is the time to clean up which is always pretty simple with a health fryer. With no oil to filter and store/dispose of, the clean-up time is relatively straightforward, and most health fryers can be disassembled and cleaned in the dishwasher.
What Can I Cook with a Health Fryer Other Than Chips
Whilst we always seem to talk a lot about chips when cooking with Health Fryers, there is a lot more that can be cooked. Basically, anything you would normally use a deep fat fryer for, can be done in a health fryer. For example, Asian Snacks such as samosas, spring rolls, bhajis do really well. We also like chicken nuggets, fried chicken and any form of meat. What people don’t often realise about the health fryer is that you can in some models use them as small ovens. For example, you can cook scones, bake cakes, make sauces such as curry sauce and casseroles. This makes the health fryer, not just a healthy option for making chips but a simple alternative for the traditional oven. Ideal for small batches or for those in small families.
If you decide to opt for the larger and more versatile Halogen Oven instead if the Health Fryer, you can do even more. Don’t think that Halogen Ovens aren’t as healthy as the health fryer. The main difference is their size and versatility. They still use very little or no oil when cooking, which makes them healthy as well.
Health Fryer Summary
The health fryer was a brilliant invention that has changed the kitchen in millions of households. With its bigger cousin the halogen oven, there is plenty positive to say. Choose one that is from a reputable manufacturer and has the capacity you need. If you want to primarily cook chips and do ‘frying’, go for a health fryer. If you want to be a bit more adventurous and cook larger meals, then go for the halogen oven. Make sure you have the space to store it though as they can be quite large unite. Also, make sure it comes with a hinged lid. Why? Because they get very hot and you don’t want to be removing the lid and finding somewhere to put it down. A health fryer will last you many years if looked after. You can replace filters and other parts if you need but you probably won’t.