Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer review: sleek with a decent capacity

It's great for newbies

swan air fryer on countertop
(Image: © Future / Jennifer Oksien)

TechRadar Verdict

The Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer is a great option for air-frying novices, or those who don't have much space on their counter top. It's easy to use and clean, but it has only one basket to cook in and there's no viewing window for checking on cooking progress.


  • +

    Easy to use

  • +

    Helpful notification when cooking is complete

  • +

    Dishwasher-safe parts


  • -

    Only one basket

  • -

    No viewing window

  • -

    One setting (air fry)

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One-minute review

The Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer is one of five models of air fryer offered by this British brand. With a heritage dating back to the 1920s, Swan's product catalogue started with kettles, irons, heater and steamers, but now includes a wider range of goods including kitchenware.

The company launched its best-selling Retro range in 2013. Inspired by the styles of the 50s, 60s and 70s, it's available in an array of colours. The model of Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer I have in for review is Black, but it's also available in cream, green, purple, pink, red, orange, yellow and grey, which means you'll easily find an option to suit your kitchen. Aside from the colour, the overall design of this Swan air fryer is easy on the eyes; in fact, it fits into my old-style kitchen pretty well.

This compact air fryer comes in at £99.99, which, although not cheap, it certainly isn't the most expensive model around. Through the period of review, I found the Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer easy to set up, use and maintain. In addition, it feels like a premium product, so the value on offer is very good indeed.

Read on to discover how well the air fryer was able to cook chips, and plenty more, then head over to our best air fryer guide for a comparison. This model is a single-basket unit and offers just one program. It doesn't have a viewing window.


Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer review: price and availability

  • List price: £99.99 ($112 / $AU 173.90)
  • Only available in the UK

The Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer costs £99.99 and is available direct from Swan UK, or through resellers including Amazon, AO.com and Currys. This model is available in a choice of 10 colours including black, blue, yellow, red and grey, with the widest choice available on the Swan website. It isn't available to buy in the US or Australia.

The specs of our Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer review unit

  • Price: £99.99
  • Capacity: 6 litre 
  • Timer: up to 1 hour
  • Temperature: up to 200ºC
  • Dimensions: 34.6 x 40 x 29.4cm (h x w x l)

Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer review: design

  • 6.34 litres
  • Angular design with a large dial and chrome knobs
  • Removable pan and non-stick cooking basket

The Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer is a single basket air fryer, offering a capacity of 6 litres. I found this made it large enough to cook two portion of chips and six muffins. Measuring 34.6 x 40 x 29.4cm (h x w x l), it doesn't take up much space on the kitchen counter top; plus, for storage purposes, it will easily fit into a cupboard.

Part of Swan's best-selling Retro collection, its design is inspired by 50s, 60s and 70s styling, and includes a large timer dial and a chrome knob and handle. The angular finish isn't uncommon in air fryer design, but here it's very much in keeping with the Retro aesthetic – although opening the drawer to the basket would have felt better had there been more room between its base and the surface of the counter top.

dial and temperature on the swan retro air fryer

Sliding temperature scale and timer (Image credit: Future)

Note that this model can air fry only – it can't bake or roast, for example – and has a temperature range of 0 - 200ºC and a max cooking time of up to 60 minutes. The temperature is set using the sliding scale on the front of the unit, while cooking time is input using the large dial up top. When cooking is complete, the Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer will alert you to the fact using a microwave-type "pinging" sound.

In the box, you'll find a useful recipe booklet that features basic instructions to air fry foods such as chips / fries, burgers and sausages. For any foods that aren't included in the book, I used recipes found on the internet that were suitable for cooking in an air fryer, including the carrot muffin recipe I mention below.

Both the pan and non-stick cooking basket are dishwasher safe, although I preferred to rinse with warm soapy water after each use. The unit itself did tend to attract dust and fingerprints more easily than expected, but a wipe down with a damp cloth was sufficient to remove any smudges.

swan retro air fryer with basket out

(Image credit: Future / Jennifer Oksien)

Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer review: performance

  • No preheat required
  • Cooked foods to perfection
  • No easy way to check on cooking progress

The Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer was my first foray into the world of air fryers, so it was useful to have some instructions to hand when cooking in it for the first time. I started with frozen chips / fries. I gave the pan and cooking tray a quick wash with warm soapy water before first use.

There was no preheating required, so I measured out two portions of frozen chips and spread these out on the cooking tray. The instructions advised 11 - 18 minutes for cooking frozen thick-cut chips, at a temperature of 200ºC, so I set the air fryer  accordingly.

cooking frozen chips in the air fryer

(Image credit: Future)

When cooking time was complete, the Swan air fryer alerted me to the fact via a microwave-type "pinging" sound. The resulting chips displayed even browning on the outside, with a fluffy potato centre. I did find that the more the chips were spread out, with space for the air to better circulate, the more even the cooking. Helpfully, a red light remained on while the Swan air fryer cooled down.

cooking wedges in the swan retro air fryer

(Image credit: Future)

Next, I decided to make potato wedges. There was some prep involved here, including patting the wedges dry and coating them in a little oil. I spread them out on the tray as evenly as possible, as I did with the chips, but opted to cook at 200ºC for 20 minutes – which is the temperature I would have set if cooking wedges in the oven, but at half the time.

The results were delicious – an evenly browned exterior with fluffy potato inside. My experience means I'll definitely continue to use the air fryer to make wedges from now on.

I attempted to bake in the Swan air fryer, too. I found a recipe for carrot muffins, which appeared easy to follow. I placed six silicone muffin cases in the pan, and then added the batter to each. I set the temperature to 160ºC and the timer to 10 minutes.

Each cake achieved the perfect rise, with good browning and a light and fluffy middle. The muffins were easy to take out of the silicone cases, a sign that you've achieved an even bake. The pan isn't quite big enough to fit in an eight-inch cake tin, I'm a convert to using the air fryer to cook muffins!

swan retro air fryer baking cup cakes

(Image credit: Future)

The one downside I discovered with my time with the Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer is that the lack of a viewing window means there's no easy way to check on cooking progress. Pulling out the drawer will likely cause heat to escape, which may impact cooking times. Nevertheless, it is advised that snack foods should be shaken mid-cook for the best results.

In addition, I did notice a faint plastic smell coming from the air fryer during the first few times of cooking in it. Although it isn't mentioned in the booklet, I expect it's the heating element. The smell did disappear after the fourth or fifth use.

I measured a noise level reading of 59dB when the air fryer was in use which is a similar pitch to that of a conversation. It's a constant hum that ceases once cooking is complete. There is no keep warm function - it'll just stop when the timer 'pings'.

Should you buy the Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer?

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer
ValueIt's widely available in the UK and arrives in a choice of colours.5/5
DesignThe chrome finish to the dials and knobs give the air fryer a retro vibe. Dishwasher safe parts makes cleanup easy, but the air fryer could do with a viewing window.4.5/5
PerformanceEasy to set cooking times and temperatures, and it produces delicious results. There may be a time when 60 minutes isn't long enough, however.4.5/5

Buy it if....

You're short on kitchen counter top space 

The Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer doesn't take up much room, on the countertop or in a cupboard for storage.

Your budget is limited

The Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer costs £99.99 ($112/ $AU174), which although doesn't make it the cheapest air fryer around, it certainly isn't the most expensive – and I do feel that it's worth every penny.

You have only a couple of mouths to feed

The 6-litre capacity is perfect for cooking for two adults, or for occasional use for snacks. If you're a family of four or more, we'd recommend the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer Air Fryer.

Don't buy it if...

You have a hungry household

The Swan Retro 6L doesn't offer enough space in the basket to cook more than one food type at a time.

You like to check on cooking progress

With no viewing window, your only method of keeping an eye on cooking will be to open the drawer, which may impact the results.

Retro design isn't your thing

If retro styling is a turn-off, then there are more modern-looking air fryers on the market, such as the Xiaomi Mi Smart Air Fryer, which will have greater appeal.

Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer review: also consider

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Swan 4.7L Air FryerSwan Digital 5.5L Air FryerSwan Duo Digital 9L Air Fryer
No. of programmes1113
Timerup to 1 hourup to 1 hourup to 1 hour
Max. temperature200C200C200C
Dimensions32 x 27 x 32cm (h x w x d)Info not available32.2 x 40.5 x 36.4cm (h x w x d)

If you know you want an air fryer but not a Swan air fryer, here are some great alternatives...


Ninja Foodi Max Dual Zone Air Fryer AF400UK

Proving mega popular during the Black Friday sales, the Ninja Foodi AF400UK offers two separate cooking zones. These allow you to prepare different foods at the same time – and, as well as air fry, this model can even bake, roast, reheat and dehydrate. It's expensive, though, but you might find it's worth it.

Read our full Ninja Foodi Max Dual Zone Air Fryer AF400UK review


Instant Vortex Plus 6-in-1 Air Fryer

Including a window and light, this air fryer makes it possible for you to keep an eye on food as it is cooking. Offering six functions – air fry, roast, bake, grill, reheat and dehydrate –it even comes with built-in filters to remove any cooking odours. Cooking frozen foods will require some experimentation, however.

Read our full Instant Vortex Plus 6-in-1 Air Fryer with ClearCook & OdourErase review

How I tested the Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer

  • I used the Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer for several months
  • I used it to cook meals and bake cakes

The Swan Retro 6L Manual Air Fryer was used every couple of days for several months to cook frozen and fresh foods, and even bake cakes.

My preference with regards to cleaning and maintenance was to wipe over its  surface with a microfibre cloth, and hand-wash the drawer and basket with warm soapy water. However, all parts are dishwasher safe; but they will take up significant room in your appliance .

I've been writing about air fryers since the summer of 2022, when they were the hottest kitchen appliance to own. They continue to be in high demand, and I'm currently reviewing the Swan Duo Digital 9L Air Fryer – yet to officially launch – for comparison.

  • First reviewed: September 2022
Jennifer Oksien
Editor, Top Ten Reviews

Jennifer (Jenny) is currently the editor of Top Ten Reviews, but prior to that, she was TechRadar's Homes Editor. She has over a decade of experience as a digital product writer specialising in appliances, smart tech and mattresses for some of the UK's leading retailers and magazine titles such as Real Homes, Ideal Home and Livingetc. Generally, you’ll find her watching the latest Netflix series, digging around in the garden or attempting to make a cake that is edible.