For years, I've hesitated about buying an air fryer. It just seemed like another clunky gimmick to add to the many other clunky gimmicks that fill my kitchen bench. Surely it was a fad that would die off.
Well, it hadn't by 2021 so I decided I'd have to try one for myself. Philips generously sent me their new Airfryer XXL Premium, a big, sleek black machine that retails for a cool $589. That is a lot for an air fryer, but not all air fryers can do what this Philips one can. Like, fit a whole chicken.
But I'm jumping ahead.
I challenged myself to cook a week's worth of meals with the air fryer to see if it really would be worth the investment. Here's how that went.
Air Fryer Meal 1: TikTok Pasta Chips
If you follow TikTok (or know someone young and cool who does) you've probably heard about the TikTok pasta chips. Essentially just cooked pasta (usually penne or rigatoni) that's then thrown into the air fryer to re-cook it into crunchy "chips", the recipe went viral on the social media platform and was the first air fryer recipe I considered.
This is a very easy recipe. You boil your pasta, toss it with oil, parmesan, paprika and, if you're a chilli-head like me, some chilli. Throw it into the basket of the air fryer and cook.
The best part of the Philips Airfryer XXL Premium is that it's got preset, smart controls. For cut-up veggies (and, I decided, pasta that I wanted turned into chips) I just pressed one button and it did all the work, including telling me when to toss the basket to move the pasta around for even cooking.
The result was actually delicious. They're not an eat-alone treat, but a great snack dipped in some yoghurt dip or basil-based dip. Don't skimp on the oil and cheese - I did the first time around and they were a bit bland.
Air Fryer Meal 2: Meatballs
I've never mastered meatballs in a fry pan - I always find they don't cook through, or over-cook. I bought some pre-packaged meatballs and Googled how long to air fry them.
The Philips Airfryer XXL Premium does come with a handy menu of cooking times but sadly meatballs wasn't on there. Still, the great thing about air fryers and their hype is that you can always find a rough time guide for cooking anything you want.
From memory, the guide said around 12 minutes. Yep, things cook fast in the air fryer. I popped them in, set the temperature and time, and waited.
I will say that cooking meatballs REALLY made a stink in the kitchen. A good stink - cooking meat, a smell I like - but heads up to turn your rangehood on to suck up some of the steam that comes out the back of the machine.
The verdict? DELICIOUS. Perfectly crunchy on the outside, effortlessly juicy inside. I couldn't believe it.
Air Fryer Meal 3: Steak
Since the meatballs were a hit I decided to give my air fryer a challenge - steak. We were craving steak for dinner and don't have a BBQ, so it seemed like a good one to try.
I bought two scotch fillets and once again turned to Google for some direction. Forums said to season your steak well, and pop in at 200C for around 12-14 minutes.
Again, this made the kitchen smell like BBQ meat. We also checked on this one more frequently, but were pleasantly surprised when at the end of 12 minutes, we had juicy, medium-rare steaks. They weren't as crisp on the outside as you'd get from a BBQ but the taste was on-par.
Air Fryer Meal 4: Mars Bar Pockets
I found this recipe all over the internet but in the end, made it up myself. It's really just your favourite chocolate bar in fun-size or chopped up form, sandwiched in between two squares of shortcrust pastry. Baste the top with some egg and you're set.
This was... okay. I found it was too much shortcrust pastry in ratio to chocolate, and wasn't really into it. I might try again with filo for a more buttery finish.
Air Fryer Meal 5: Roast Vegetables
I eat roast veggies multiple times a week in winter, and usually I do them in the oven with some olive oil, paprika, salt, pepper and chilli. For the air fryer I used significantly less oil, but the same other ingredients.
I only did brussel sprouts and broccolini. I used the level rack that's included with the Philips Airfryer XXL Premium, which meant I could cook more veggies, more evenly. Both came out super crispy and delicious, although I'd probably add a little more oil next time for flavour.
Air Fryer Meal 6: Pumpkin Chips
My boyfriend insisted on doing pumpkin chips, not sweet potato chips. Basically, we sliced pumpkin very thinly, popped it all in the basket with some oil. We used the preset again like we did with the pasta chips, and it worked a treat - although I think sweet potato would have had a nicer chip flavour.
Air Fryer Meal 7: A Whole Roast Chicken
The piece de resistance. Yes, I did a whole roast chicken in the air fryer.
For the recipe, we made it up. We went with stuffing made of pre-mix crumbs, butter, thyme and lemon. We also slid butter under the skin on top and some thyme and lemon slices, but we had to remove the slices because we made the chicken too fat for the fryer, haha.
Once we sorted that issue out, we used the preset on the fryer. Yep, all you have to do is add in the weight of the chicken, and it does the rest.
It does the rest REALLY well, in fact. Our chicken came out perfectly crispy, but juicy and well-cooked inside. It was the best roast chicken I'd had outside of a restaurant. Hands down. I was shocked, to be honest.
I'd definitely invest in an air fryer and, as a meat eater, a big one like the XXL Premium so I could do roast chicken again. It is just so easy to cook.
It's also easy to clean, a big factor I'm sure for anyone who hates cleaning up after cooking. The basket and base are easy to remove, dishwasher safe and come apart so you can thoroughly clean. I don't have a dishwasher and did find some of the meat grease a bit more time-consuming to wash up by hand, but still pretty easy.
The smell and steam the machine emits could be an issue if you don't have a range hood. It's good to open a window and pop the machine in front of it so the smell and steam can go straight out.
The presets on the Philips Airfryer XXL Premium are a huge win - they cook to perfection and make the process even easier, because you know it's going to cook your meal perfectly, you don't have to keep checking on it.
The Philips Airfryer XXL Premium is $589.