T-Fal Actifry Review
Pros: Simple interface
Cons: Mediocre cooking performance, limited adjustability
Our Analysis and Test Results
While the T-fal Actifry isn't a particularly poor performer in any category, it also doesn't have any salient strong points, making it less than attractive for most people looking to do some air frying.
Turning in average to good performances in all of our tests, the T-fal Actifry's overall score rightly fell into the middle group of contenders.
This is where the T-fal Actifry lost some favor with us. While it didn't do a particularly poor job in preparing food, most of its main rivals were able to do a noticeably better job.
The main issue we ran into with the Actifry's cooking was its lack of consistency. It generally was able to get a nice, golden, and crispy layer on foods, but that crisp was almost always accompanied by some softer, even soggy bits. In almost all the other models we tested, even if they couldn't match the perfect golden bits of food cooked with the Actifry, were able to get a more even crisp that resulted in better overall taste and texture.
The Actifry is one of the few models that offers a mixing paddle that gently stirs foods as you cook them. We found that this worked great for smaller sized items, say diced bell peppers, but food with any heft to it tends to get obliterated by the paddle (we have a slew of crushed tater tots that can attest to this fact). Therefore, for most food items, we would suggest cooking without the paddle (just be careful not to drop any food through the hole it leaves in the fry basket).
The Actifry offers a super simple, but also super limited, user experience. You're certainly not going to feel flummoxed using this device, but you're also likely to find recipes that its settings won't accommodate.
The controls of the Actifry couldn't be simpler, just an on/off button and a completely separate kitchen timer (which does not turn off the device when the time expires). This simplicity can feel freeing, but there are no options to adjust the temperature (we measured that it consistently settles into 350˚ and stays there), which can be frustrating if you run into a recipe that calls for a specific temperature.
The Actifry is one of the few air fryers with a lid that opens up, rather than a drawer that slides out. You press two buttons to open the lid and it swings up rather aggressively. The lid is also tall enough when opened that it could wack into low cabinets or, if you're a shorter person working on a higher countertop, clock you in the face. You might want to be careful about that.
Our final complaint with the Actifry's user experience is the paddle that stirs food while it cooks. This is a nice feature for finely diced and smaller foods, it is generally detrimental for some larger air frying staples like onion rings and tater tots. You can cook without the paddle, but doing so leaves a hole in the middle of the basket where food can easily fall, making shaking foods slightly treacherous.
It may seem like we've bashed the user-friendliness of the Actifry quite a bit. In reality using it isn't all that difficult, but it does provide more small annoyances than most of the other models we tested.
Ease of Cleaning
If you cook a dish that does not use the mixing paddle, the Actifry is quite easy to clean. Grease tends to wash away easily and a quick scrub and rinse leaves everything looking spotless. If you cook with the mixing paddle, however, it has sharp edges, a rough texture, and difficult to reach nooks and crannies that can prove quite frustrating to clean thoroughly.
The Actifry's temperature accuracy is a bit of a tricky thing to pin down. When turned on it preheats up to 350˚ and remains at that temperature with a steadfast determination. However, there is no way to adjust that temperature whatsoever, and there is nothing in the Actifry's literature saying what temperature it is actually supposed to reach. For sheer consistency we awarded the Actifry an above average score in this metric, but that lack of adjustability makes that temperature accuracy less useful than in other models.
The T-fal Actifry's list price of $138 is on the higher end of the range for dedicated air fryers, yet it fails to provide high-end performance. Therefore we would call its overall value somewhat poor. Models like the Ninja Air Fryer and the GoWISE 3.7 Quart offer much more performance per dollar.
The T-fal Actifry offers average performance across the board, and thus we do not feel that it justifies its above average cost.
— Max Mutter and Michelle Powell
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