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Sunday, 16 January 2011

Tefal ActiFry Family Review

When I was asked if I would like to try the newly launched family sized ActiFry made by Tefal, I jumped at the chance. I had seen the magazine adverts and was curious about the fryer. The fryer's main selling point is that it can cook food - such as chips - using only ½ a spoonful of oil!

Tefal ActiFry 1057 R

Before I tell you about the performance of the ActiFry, I want to mention the appearance. It looks very futuristic and is rather revolutionary in design. The fryer is quite large and does take up quite a bit of room on the kitchen counter, but this one was the family sized one with a larger cooking capacity (1.5 kg). I found it to be fairly noisy, making a whirring noise for the cooking duration and the plastic rim seems to be a little flimsy.

On the plus side, it is really easy to clean, it all comes apart and even the lid can unclip for cleaning; the ceramic bowl, lid & paddle are all dishwasher safe. The handle of the ActiFry folds down for storage and you can fold it down during the cooking process. The electrical cord can be removed and placed inside when you want to store the ActiFry in a cupboard. The ActiFry has a clear lid so you can see the food rotating while cooking, and there is a digital control LCD screen with a timer that is easy to use and beeps once the time is up. It automatically turns off once the timer has beeped. It comes with a really good recipe book that has comprehensive cooking times at the back and recipe nutrition information.

Tefal ActiFry 1033 R
It is quite large on the bench, I had to clear space for it

How does it work? There is a specially designed paddle, which gently stirs the food coating the outside with a fine mist of oil, while a unique patented technology allows hot air to circulate through the food for perfect, even cooking with only 3% fat.

Inside actifry 1053 R
Measuring spoon for oil and rotating paddle - you can use your favourite oil in the ActiFry

I was feeling rather skeptical, but after using the ActiFry I was quite impressed. We don't have chips in our house very often, and when we do, I cook them in a special chip pan (with basket) on the hob. I do the twice cooked method, in which I cook all the potatoes on a lower heat in batches, then finish them in very hot oil which results in beautiful crisp chips.

With the ActiFry cooker, you cut all the potatoes you need (it can cook up to 1.5 kg/3½ lbs, which serves 6), dry them with a clean tea towel or kitchen roll, before putting them all into the ActiFry pan. Using the special spoon, you measure out the correct amount of oil for the potatoes and pour it over. Set the timer and you are then free to get on with the rest of the meal. The largest amount of chips will take about 45 minutes. That seems a long time, but in reality, you can just leave it to do its thing - no standing there worrying if the oil will catch fire, no repeatedly draining the batches of chips for a large family. The time is less if you do a smaller batch of chips, for 250 g/9 oz the time is only 22 minutes.

Tefal ActiFry Chips 0971 R
My chips - softer yes, but more healthy!

The chips themselves are not quite the same as the oil deep fried ones, they seem softer and not so crunchy. You can get them brown and crisp though, and can flavour them with paprika, herbs, spices or lemon etc. I would say that if you loved and ate a lot of chips, but want to do it in a more healthy way, or you have children who like to eat chips, the ActiFry is great. For those who like real deep fried chips and make them infrequently, this may not be the fryer for you. If you buy oven chips, you can cook them in the ActiFry very successfully.

Chips in ActiFry 0952 R
We ate more fried potatoes in the last couple of weeks than in the last year!

The ActiFry is extremely versatile. As well as chips, I used it for making crispy new potato wedges, cooking root vegetables, tortilla chips & strips, stir-fried vegetables, fried fruits and it makes the best croutons ever! I love that you can throw the food in and there is no turning/flipping over of the food.

There is none of that horrible 'frying' smell that you get with deep fried chips and you feel safe using the ActiFry. The clear plastic lid does get quite hot during the cooking period, but it is still safer than having a pan of deep hot oil on the stove. You can leave it on while you prepare your fish/meat or take a phone call. Unfortunately, it doesn't do two things at once - you still have to cook the rest of the meal!

The book that comes with the ActiFry has recipes such as bolognaise sauce, chicken korma, sausage & bean cassoulet, apples with hazelnuts & popcorn, lamb with cherry tomatoes, ratatouille, apricots with almonds, and honeyed pineapple with mango.
Here are some of the dishes I made with it:

salad with tortilla strips 1018 R
Healthy tortilla strips, a breeze to make

Tefal ActiFry Croutons 1039 R
Herby croutons take just 6-8 minutes to cook, there's no turning them unlike conventional baking

Greek Lemon Potatoes 0999 R
Lemon Greek style new potatoes, actually these were better than the ones I make in the oven

Butternut Squash 1021 R
Spiced butternut squash, crisp & delicious

The ActiFry would be perfect for busy, health conscious mums, and anyone who is trying to cut down on traditional fried foods. It is so much more than a chip fryer, and did I mention there was no standing over it stirring/flipping?!!

On the whole, I loved using the ActiFry and didn't really want to give it back. My main concern was that it didn't seem as robust as I would like. Having said that, I was rather sad to package it back up for it's return journey, as it was well used while I had it. At least I know what to put on my Christmas list, it's only 342 days away!

tefal ActiFry 1037 R

The RRP for the family sized Tefal ActiFry £229.99, but you can get it for £171.84 according to the Tefal website, where they have a price comparison page. You can read more about Tefal products on their website.

The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
With thanks to Tefal and Rebecca at Slice.

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2011 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.


Jacqueline Meldrum said...

What a good idea! I never deep fry anything, but wouldn't feel so bad doing it this way.

Katie said...

Wow those chips look delicious and healthy too - winner all round!

Deeba PAB said...

A great product and well reviewed... I'd love to own one of these beauties! How lucky that you got one to review! Love the taters...mmm

Maggie said...

I love a good kitchen gadget, especially one that works!
I don't make chips very often these days because of the fat. They took it back off you Nic, no -really!!

Patricia (La Chatte Gitane) said...

Sorry Nic, there is only a few electical kitchen gadgets I own: my oven, toaster, kenwood and my deep fat fryer. If I would want to make low fat versions, I just use my oven.
Great that you like it (shame you had to return it), but if I had my way I would be cooking outside over an open fire ;-))

Cynthia said...

I rarely deep fry but I would love to have this. I like my fries the way they came out here - soft.

Sounds like a good product.

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

I saw these being reviewed on This Morning about six months ago and they were impressed with it too. I only ever make oven chips at home since I'm terrified of deep fat frying so these would be a great compromise. I love the suggestion to coat with paprika, I think I'd go on a total potato fest if I had one. Wonder if Daily Spud has seen them?!

Cakewhiz said...

Those chips look awesome! I don't deep fry food much but if i ever decide to, i have your detailed review of this product to consider :)

Nic said...

Jacqueline - I think it's really quite a good product as I try not to do too much deep frying either.

katie - It is pretty good and as you say a winner all round.

Deeba - thanks, I wouldn't mind owning one too.

Maggie - no, we don't have chips that often either and yes, they want it back boo hoo! It's still waiting for collection though - maybe I should hijack it, lol!

Patricia - chips made in the oven are just as good really, but nothing beats an open fire for cooking!

Cynthia - I found it to be quite a good product, a little pricey though.

Sarah - we did go on a potato fest for a couple of weeks, lol!

Cakewhiz - it is quite hard to outlay the money on something when you haven't tried the end product, but they really were ok. Sometimes food shows have Tefal products, look out for one and try the chips to see if you like them!

Unknown said...

I don't think I cook fries often enough to justify the purchase. That said owning one of these might change that. Would have loved to see how this would have handled sweet potato fries which I absolutely adore. All the best to you too for 2011:-)

Jules said...

I'd love to give one of these a try but would have to give up my KitchenAid to make space! It's good that there is more than just chips you can make in it.

Jan said...

They're taking it back?!! Nooooo!

Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours said...

What a shame you were not allowed to keep it. A PR misjudgement on their part, as factoring in the return courier costs the marginal cost of giving you one could not have been that much.

Nic said...

Jan & Helen - I got to keep the ActiFry after all!

James from Thedeepfatfryer said...

I only ever make oven chips at home since I'm terrified of deep fat frying so these would be a great compromise. I love the suggestion to coat with paprika, I think I'd go on a total potato fest if I had one.