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How one air fryer showed I can never go back to cooking fries in the oven again

Air Fryer
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

When it comes to cooking, there are plenty of gadgets that can help from the best Instant Pots, which can speed up cooking times when using cheaper, tougher cuts of meat, to the best blenders that can blitz vegetables into silky smooth soups. 

There are some gadgets I can’t live without; for example my trusty KitchenAid stand mixer as I’m always whipping up cakes, bread and other tasty bakes for friends and family, while others get used just once and spend the rest of their time cluttering your countertops. So I’m surprised as you, when I admit an air fryer has become one of my must-have kitchen gadgets. 

I’ve tested air fryers in the past, and felt very disappointed with them. What’s the point if all they can offer is soggy fries and anemic-looking chicken? However, when I reviewed the Instant Vortex Plus Air Fryer, I was blown away by the results.

It’s taken the top-spot in the best air fryers and now I’m considering changing the way I cook fries forever. Here’s why I think an air fryer is the best way to make fries, and more. 

Air fryers speed up cooking

Don’t get me wrong, I love fries as much as the next person but I also try to eat as healthily as possible, so I’ve never been one to deep fry chips, or anything else for that matter. Instead, when I felt like indulging in some tasty treats, I’d make my own oven-baked fries. 

It’s a time-consuming process though, once I’d peeled and chopped potatoes, par-boiled them for five minutes, and then coated them in low-calorie spray oil, while the oven was pre-heating. Then they’d cook for 15 minutes, then I’d remove the tray and painstakingly turn each fry before letting them cook for 15 minutes again. A quick process it certainly wasn’t.

However, the air fryer can shave 10-15 minutes of the overall cooking time, as fries take just 20 minutes. 

Once the potatoes are peeled and chopped, they do need to be soaked in water for at least 10 minutes and then thoroughly dried (to ensure a crisp exterior and so they don’t stick together), but in a bid to stick to my healthy eating regime plan meals in advance and usually do some of the prep in the morning or at lunchtime. 

This includes peeling and chopping potatoes and then leaving them in a bowl of water so they don’t go brown, meaning there are no extra steps involved here. 

There’s also no need to carefully turn each chip halfway through, as the frying basket allows hot air to circulate. Instead, the food just needs a quick shake halfway through cooking, and the Instant Vortex Plus even offers up an audible alert when I need to do this.  

Even more benefits to air fryers… 

It's not just fries that can be cooked in an air fryer, I also cooked-up some delicious chicken wings with similar crisp crunchy skin, and succulent tender meat, meaning it’s so much more than a one-it wonder. 

It’s not just the time aspect either. The Instant Vortex Plus has a wipe clean frying basket with a dishwasher-safe crisper tray that’s less than half the overall footprint of the oven tray I use to cook fries in the oven. 

I usually find there’s not enough room in the dishwasher when I’ve cooked a full meal to include the oven tray, so I have to wait until one cycle has ended and then put the dishwasher on again to ensure the tray can be cleaned too. However the air fyer’s crisper tray takes up the same amount of space in the dishwasher as an extra dinner plate, so I have no problems fitting it in the dishwasher load after I’ve eaten. 

The air fryer uses less energy than my oven, too (full disclosure I have a freestanding electric cooker that has an induction hob on top so uses more energy than many standard electric built-in ovens). 

To cook fries, my oven needs to be in use for 40 minutes (10 minutes preheating and 30 minutes cooking), which uses 0.63kwh while the air fryer uses 0.5kwh in the 20 minutes it takes to cook fries. `

There are downsides though - the Instant Vortex Plus is a bulky appliance and does take up a fair amount of countertop space (sadly, I don’t have a cupboard I can stash it away in when it’s not in use) and it doesn’t come cheap at $119.95 / £119.99 / AU$269 

However for me, at least, these downsides pale into insignificance when I put that crisp, fluffy fry into my mouth - that’s heaven and makes the air fryer worth the cost and countertop space. I certainly won’t be making fries any other way from now on.

Today's best air fryer savings 

Carrie-Ann Skinner

Carrie-Ann Skinner is Smart Home & Appliances Editor at TechRadar and covers smart home devices such as smart plugs and smart lights, as well as large and small appliances including vacuum cleaners, air fryers, and blenders. She’s also a keen baker and can often be found rustling up cake in her spare time.