We’ve already sampled air-frying products on the site, but nevertheless we are pleased to be able to test an air-fryer from one of the biggest brands within the segment: Philips. They call this one the Viva Airfryer (HD9220) and it’s designed to glide into your kitchen workflow, replacing oven baked and deep frying methods. But does it meet these requirements?
Air-frying is still a relatively new concept and Philips feel the product that provides the service is worthy of a crisp look. The Viva collection of home appliances from Philips all share modern designs. The Philips Viva Airfryer looks nothing like a traditional fryer, and its glossy curved plastic body (available in black or white) resembles a futuristic space probe. It’s a contemporary design that you will want people to see within your kitchen. The plastic body didn’t get too hot to pick up just after cooking and the rubber grips on the base keep the 7kg appliance level and steady when the basket is pushed in and pulled out.
The 0.8L basket is adequate when feeding a family of four with a generous portion of chips each, but if you need more capacity Philips do offer air-fryers with capacities of up to 3L. The basket is particularly smooth to use when whisking it in and out of the air-fryer, but unlike the Russell Hobbs Purifry, which stops cooking when the basket is removed, the Philips Viva keeps on running. This is an annoyance when frying light contents like kale, as it can blow out of the basket due to the fan still being in operation when opening. The only solution is to twist the time control back to '0' which disables the cooking process, but it’s an inconvenience and is really the one thing we think could be improved.
A major design incorporation on this air-fryer that we hadn’t seen previously on similar competitors like the Russell Hobbs Purifry, is a 0.8m retractable chord. This is really handy and means we only need to extend the chord out to the socket for the distance required. When finished the chord can be retracted into the rear of the body so it doesn’t take up any countertop space - very tidy.
The non-stick basket clicks in and out of a non-stick drawer for collecting residues such as grease and debris when cooking. It’s an easy design to work with because it makes serving simple - but even better both are dishwasher safe for a painless cleaning process.
Two analogue controls are situated on the front and the scheme is externally easy to use. Philips have even printed instructions next to them giving a quick reference for the required times and temperatures of commonly cooked foods. The top control sets temperature, which ranges from 80°C-200°C, and the lower control is for setting the time. It can be set to count down from 30 minutes, and once the desired time is reached a cheerful bell will ding and the Philips Viva Airfryer will automatically turn off.
How It Works
Air-frying isn’t a highly incomprehensible concept - in fact it’s very simple. Air is sucked through the Viva Airfryer past a heating element and is then circulated around the food via a fan. The basket is designed in such a way as to allow hot air to travel right around the food contents with the intention of cooking evenly. So it can roast, bake and fry.
Potato Chips: Achieving a crunchy golden texture with a soft and fluffy interior is our idea of a perfect chip. Deep fat frying achieves this with little effort, but oven baked is a more tricky venture and often the results are lacklustre. The Philips Viva Airfryer accomplishes our idea of a perfect chip again and again even with different potato thicknesses, and only ever using just one teaspoon of sunflower oil. The results are reminiscent of deep fried chips but don’t leave your mouth or fingers with a layer of grease afterwards. A full (0.8L) basket of chips are ready for our consumption in around 16 minutes at 180°C.
Sweet Potato Chips: These are a softer and, of course, a sweeter product to gain crispy results from. They’re a lot moister when compared with popular varieties of potato, but still only need one teaspoon of oil for an entire basket. The interior was soft and silky on the tongue and the exterior developed an enjoyable caramelised crunchy skin. They cook slower than regular chips and so at 180°C they take roughly 20 minutes.
Onion Bhajis: The first thing to note about these is that the wet mixture didn’t drip through the basket's mesh floor. We coated each bhaji with half a teaspoon of oil, and this enabled them to develop a crispy exterior. From experimentation we found that setting the temperature to 140°C for 12 minutes meant we didn’t burn the exteriors and there was enough time to allow heat to penetrate into these larger food products, so the onions were cooked throughout. The moisture from the onions and fat that was already within the mixture left a non-dry interior that was delectably flavour rich from all the spices. The fact that we were using a mere fraction of the oil that would be used when deep frying Bhajis made surprisingly little difference to the taste.
Chocolate Chip Cupcakes: We did these just to show you can. It may not be the most practical method to bake cupcakes, but it worked. They rose well and were particularly airy when eaten - but most importantly we all agreed that they were tasty and only took a mere 7 minutes to bake at 200°C.
We’re becoming increasingly health conscious as a society but many find it hard to withdraw from routines. The Philips Viva Airfryer offers you a solution to this problem by allowing you to cook the same foods that you might usually fry in deep fat, with similarly crispy and fluffy results but dramatically less fat. At £200 it’s a steep purchase, but isn’t a gimmick and we think does consistently deliver slightly crispier results than the Russell Hobbs Purifry.