Wedges, French fries, chunky or crinkle cut we love our unhealthy potato dishes, so the promise of a kitchen gadget that’d churn out proper deep-fried style chips using only a drop of oil seemed too good to be true. We put it, and our cholesterol level, to the test to find out.
Straight out of the box the Actifry looks and feels impressive - the plastic feels solid as does the flip-up handle on the non-stick bowl. Set up is also remarkably simple - just plug in, set the digital timer and push the go button.
It isn’t small though and measuring 32 x 26 x 32cm it will take up more space than your toaster and kettle combined, but if it’ll make healthy chips who needs toast and tea?
The key to the fryer’s success is the non-stick mixing bowl and paddle (rather like the inside of a washing machine drum) which rotates slowly during cooking. The paddle keeps the food moving and helps to coat each chip with oil and ensure everything is evenly cooked. Heat is generated using a fan blower, which gets hot instantly so there’s no need to pre-heat.
And so to the chips; included with the Actifry is an excellent recipe book with detailed instructions on how to create the perfect French fry or potato wedge as well as hints on stir-frying and even rustling up a sausage and bean cassoulet. Not that we really cared, this test was all about the chips.
First we tried the classic English chip - not to thin, not quite a wedge - we chopped 1kg of potatoes into the perfect shape, dried on kitchen roll as directed and then put them into the Actifry. There’s a handy green measuring spoon included so we knew how much oil to use (50ml to be precise). We poured olive oil over the potato, closed the lid and set the timer for 35min.
The hot air heating had the oil bubbling in a few seconds and after a minute amazingly the chips had all started to brown a little. The paddle keeps the food moving constantly and we were amazed by the even level of cooking.
But we were bored. Even frozen oven chips don’t take 35min, and a deep fat fryer takes less than 5 minutes, so we weren’t happy having to wait.
Luckily the results were worth waiting for because our chips were close to perfect. They were steaming hot, crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle. You could tell they hadn’t been deep fried, but only just. In other words, they still tasted sufficiently unhealthy to feel like a treat.
There are a few niggles though; the timer is so quiet we couldn’t hear it above the noise of the fan and it doesn’t turn itself off when the timer pings. We know this isn’t essential, but it’d be a nice touch. We’re also not convinced it can feed a family of four. Now this could just be us being greedy, but after dishing out two reasonable adult portions there would only be one smallish portion for the kids to fight over.
It’s also very easy to clean, just lift out the non-stock bowl and rinse, and thanks to the air filters the house didn’t stink like a chip shop after cooking.
We’re amazed by the Actifry. Tefal have come up with a genuinely innovative kitchen gadget that works like a charm. It’s safe, easy to use and although it does take its time you won’t be disappointed with the results. The oil gives the chips a deep-fried flavour, but by only using a spoonful (100x less than a deep fat fryer) you can feel much better about scoffing them by the bucket load.