Do I need to upgrade my air-fryer?

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If, like me, you’re finding it restrictive only being able to cook one dish at once, you may want to upgrade to a dual-drawer model.

I’ve tested over 20 different air-fryers for Good Food from the likes of Ninja, Tefal, Breville, and Lakeland, so have seen first-hand exactly what a dual-drawer model can offer – from a larger capacity to more functionality.

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Dual-drawer air-fryer with halloumi and aubergine

Upsizing to a larger model will mean finding a new home for my old one (see our guide how to recycle electricals and appliances if you need tips). Because dual-drawer air-fryers are bigger, they tend to be more expensive and have a chunkier footprint.

But from my hands-on time with these gadgets as a product tester, I fully believe they’re worth the upgrade – not just for my kitchen, but perhaps for yours too.

What are the benefits of dual-drawer air-fryers?

Cook larger portions

One of the obvious benefits of these air-fryers is the extra capacity offer. My single-drawer model can facilitate around two servings max, which is fine for an average weeknight meal. A dual-drawer air-fryer, on the other hand, would allow me to cook bigger portions when I have guests over or batch-cook for the week ahead.

Investing in a dual-drawer model doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing a huge chunk of my worktop either. Take the Ninja Double Stack XL SL400UK air-fryer, which has generated a huge buzz on social media since it launched in April.

This gadget offers an impressive 9.5-litres of capacity (enough to feed up to eight people) but at 28cm wide, is 30 per cent slimmer than the brand’s other 9.5-litre air-fryer, the AF400UK.

Cook two dishes at the same time

There seems to be no end to what you can make in an air-fryer (though even these appliances have their limitations – see our guide on what not to cook in an air-fryer), so you could realistically use them for every part of your meal.

Most dual-drawer models come with sync functions that allow you to air-fry different foods simultaneously, even if using different presets, times or temperatures, so they finish at the same time.

Ninja dual-drawer air-fryer with vegetables

I’ve also found that the best air-fryers avoid transferring any flavours from one zone to another, which means you could – in theory – make air-fryer salmon and air-fryer brownies in separate drawers and still get great tasting results.

Flexible cooking zones

I’m loving the new ‘flexible air-fryer’ trend that we’re seeing from brands like Ninja and Breville, which offer the Ninja FlexDrawer AF500UK and the Breville Halo Flexi air-fryer respectively.

These gadgets are truly versatile in that they offer two independent cooking zones that can be transformed into one extra-large one – simply remove the dividing panel in the centre as and when you need to. With this much capacity to work with I’d have no need to use the oven at all, even when making a roast dinner with all the trimmings.

Is it worth getting a more expensive air-fryer?

You do usually get what you pay for when it comes to small kitchen appliances, and in my experience as a product tester, I’ve found the top-performing air-fryers tend to be on the higher end of the price spectrum.

But that doesn’t mean you should rule out buying a less expensive air-fryer entirely. Most dual-drawers will set you back £150, but even some of the better-rated models I’ve tested come to between £70 and £80.

Dual-drawer air-fryer

The best way to ensure you’re getting good value for money is to do your research. When testing air-fryers for Good Food, I look at an array of factors like how easy the air-fryer is to set up and use, the quality of the materials, and cooking results – and only the top-rated models make it into our best air-fryers guide.

Deals events like Black Friday and Prime Day also provide good opportunities to save on a range of air-fryers. We regularly scour a range of retailer sites to see where the best savings can be made, and only include the models we think offer good value for money in our air-fryer deals guide.

How to recycle your air-fryer

Upgrading your old air-fryer to a shiny, new one can be an exciting prospect, but with an estimated two millions tonnes of electronic waste discarded by UK households each year, it’s worth thinking about the environmental impact of replacing your appliance.

You can limit the amount of e-waste you create by recycling broken electricals or donating old working ones to charity – see our guide on how to recycle electricals and appliances if you need advice.

You don’t necessarily need to buy new either: refurbished appliances are becoming a popular trend owing to their cost-saving and sustainability benefits, and could be an easy way to save on the price of a brand-new air-fryer too.

When should I replace my air-fryer?

It goes without saying that, if your air-fryer isn’t performing as it should be and you’re unable to get it repaired, you may need to buy a new one. But that’s not to say you should put off considering other options until your current gadget stops working.

For me personally, the time to upsize feels right. I know I want to get more from my existing air-fryer, but I’m having to rely on my oven to cook portions that could just as easily fit inside a dual-drawer model.

If you do upgrade, it’s also worth finding out how to take good care of your appliance to ensure it has the longest possible lifespan. Ensure it has a decent warranty, avoid overloading it or using it for extended periods, and clean your air-fryer after every use.

What are the best dual-drawer air-fryers to buy?

With such an array of dual-drawer models on the market, how do you know which ones are worth the investment? Here are a few of our favourites from testing – plus, you can find a full guide to the best dual air-fryers from our friends at olive magazine.

Ninja Foodi MAX Dual Zone AF400UK air-fryer

Ninja Foodi MAX Dual Zone AF400UK air-fryer

Star rating: 5/5

From popular appliance brand Ninja, this dual-drawer model has a 9.9-litre capacity and six presets, which include air-fryer, reheat, max crisp, roast, bake and dehydrate. In test, we particularly liked the brightly lit display and control dial, which allowed us to flit between the different settings with ease.

We used the auto-sync function to air-fry a chicken breast in one drawer and a salmon fillet in the other, and got impressively crisp results from both with no smell or flavour transfer. We also awarded this air-fryer extra marks for its fully recyclable packaging.

Read our full Ninja Foodi MAX Dual Zone AF400UK air-fryer review.

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Instant Vortex Plus Dual air-fryer

Instant Vortex Plus Dual air-fryer

Star rating: 5/5

If you like the idea of owning a dual-drawer but don’t need a 8L+ capacity, this air-fryer from Instant is a great pick – each drawer is 3.8 litres, offering 7.6 litres of space overall. At 40cm across, it’s also slightly less chunky that other dual-drawer models we’ve tested, so ideal for kitchens with smaller countertops.

It has a sleek, minimalist look and ergonomic handles for shaking chips and veggies mid-way through. There are eight presets in total, including sync and match functions, with the option to select either centigrade or fahrenheit on the control panel. The transparent panels on the drawers also allow you to keep an eye on ingredients as they cook.

Read our full Instant Vortex Plus Dual air-fryer review.

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Lakeland 8-litre dual-basket air-fryer

Lakeland Dual Basket Air Fryer With Easy View 8L

Star rating: 4.5/5

This Lakeland air-fryer was one of my favourite appliances that I tested last year, owing its powerful performance and sleek looks – not to mention, it produced the best chicken I’ve had from an air-fryer so far.

Comprising eight presets and an eight-litre capacity (four litres per drawer), it has sync functions and clear windows that you can peek through to see your food cooking. We found the display panel dimly lit and a bit tricky to read, but we got the gist of the controls fairly easily thanks to the manual. As well as chicken, this model also did a great job with chips, salmon and halloumi.

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