Tefal ActiFry Genius+ review: A pricey but brilliant fryer

The ActiFry Genius+ is the tenth air fryer in Tefal’s healthy-cooking range, following in the footsteps of the larger 1.7kg ActiFry Genius XL 2in1 and the more modestly sized 1kg Actifry Original. Like its predecessors, the Genius+ is an advanced fryer, with premium features aimed at making the air frying process as simple as possible.

Indeed, Tefal is the only brand in the UK to produce air fryers with self-stirring paddles, which is reflected somewhat in the lofty price tag. Is this extra money worth spending for that extra convenience, though? We think so.

Tefal ActiFry Genius+: What you need to know

  • Price: £210
  • 1.2kg capacity (six portions)
  • Adjustable timing and temperature controls
  • Automatic temperature and time adjustment with preset functions
  • Viewing window
  • Self-stirring wand
  • Dishwasher-safe cooking basket
  • Weight: 5kg
  • Dimensions: 30.3 x 43.3 x 23.8cm (WDH)

What do you get for the money?

With a 1.2kg capacity, the ActiFry Genius+ is essentially a slimmed-down version of Tefal’s 1.7kg Genius XL. At this capacity, it’s still plenty big enough to accommodate six small or four larger portions of food but is less well suited to feeding a crowd. It’s surprisingly lightweight considering how wide it is, which means you’ll have little trouble lugging it from cupboard to counter if you need to store it out of the way.

Though it may be large, the Genius Plus is also rather stylish. The attractive digital touchscreen has nine preset functions as well as buttons to pause cooking and adjust timings and temperatures – something you won’t find on Tefal’s original, cheaper Actifry range.

Most of the top of the machine is taken up by its plastic viewing window, which allows you to see exactly how your delicious air-fried goods are getting on. Inside, there’s that self-stirring wand, which churns your food so you don’t have to physically shake or turn in every five minutes.

Like many air fryers, the Genius Plus does get extremely hot on top, but you can open and remove the cooking basket without ever having to touch this part of the machine. This is because both the lid release button and basket handle are made from a different material that stays cool to the touch throughout the cooking process.

The impressive number of presets means you can cook pretty much anything at the touch of a button. Settings include options for chips and fries, breaded snacks, battered snacks, rolls and pastry, meat/veggie balls, plain chicken, wok foods such as fried rice, world foods like tagine and finally, desserts.

Each preset mode sets the timings and temperatures based on the type of food and will, rather cleverly, adjust these automatically during cooking. This means that whether you’re cooking 100g or 300g of chicken nuggets, you will in theory, see the same consistent results every time and is again, something that isn’t present in Tefal’s Actifry Original models.

For those who prefer to cook manually, you can set the air fryer temperature from 70 to 220 degrees celsius, for a maximum of 60 minutes. This is ideal if you find the preset functions don’t quite give you the level or browning or crisp you prefer. The size, shape and amount of food you put into the fryer will directly affect the cooking time required, so having the option to tweak manually is very useful.

What’s it good at?

Everyone loves chips and the Genius+ does a great job of cooking chip-shop style chips with its preset function. With just half a teaspoon of oil, you get fairly crispy chips in just 31 minutes. You don’t need to par-boil the potatoes like you would with some cheaper air fryers and there’s no preheat time either.

Tefal suggests peeling and cutting chips into 10mm thick strips but during testing we didn’t bother peeling or measuring our cut potatoes. Who really has time for that? Despite going off-piste, we found that the chips still came out evenly cooked with a crisp outside and a soft, fluffy inside during each attempt. The self-stirring wand is a blessing too; while the anxious cook in me wanted to keep peeking through the window to see how the food was getting on, there was really no need.

Homemade breadcrumbed chicken nuggets also came out very well using the ‘breaded snack’ preset. The insides stayed juicy and the outer crumb was nice and crispy. Depending on the size of your nuggets or how you like them cooked, you may want to take them out earlier than the suggested time. Mine were ready five minutes early, for instance, as I prefer my food less browned – but thanks to the window it was easy to keep an eye on them. To get an even coat of oil, it’s worth using a cooking spray if you have one, but you’ll achieve similar results if you opt to use the measuring spoon included with the machine.

What could be improved?

While the self stirring wand is a fantastic feature that means you can leave your food alone, it doesn’t flip the fryer’s contents as well as you might by hand. The design has been upgraded from the previous Actifry Original models, but it’s still not perfect. This is more of an issue for chips than anything else, as it means the ones trapped at the bottom are often softer than those on top. You can always give them one big flip manually if you like, but for hardcore crispy chip fans who want a totally hands-off experience, it might dissapoint.

A solid cooking basket and no additional drip tray also means that excess fat has nowhere to go. So if you’re air frying something where fat will render down, such as chicken wings, your food will end up sitting in the excess fat, rather than it draining away. While this isn’t an issue for things like potatoes, homemade nuggets and lean meats where you’ll add just a touch of oil yourself, it does mean high calorie foods aren’t as light on calories as they could be.

Should I buy it?

If you’re committed to making the switch from deep-frying to air-frying for good, it’s worth splashing out on an air fryer like the ActiFry Genius+. Though an air fryer can never fully imitate the levels of crispness of a deep fat fryer, this Tefal can satisfy your fried food cravings with less mess, and depending on what you put in it, less fat.

The preset functions, automatic temperature adjustment and self-stirring wand make it incredibly easy to use, which is exactly what you want when you’re already working hard at eating healthier. Indeed, I was consistently able to achieve a good level of crispness and browning using both its automatic and manual functions.

The only real sticking point is its relatively high price. If you are willing to forgo the preset functions, improved stirring paddle and automatic temperature adjustment, you can pick up Tefal’s 1kg Actifry Original for less than half the amount. There’s no doubt which is the more enjoyable product to use, though, and I’d wager that if you opt for the pricier model, you certainly won’t be disappointed.

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