These days air fryers are widely available, and the choice is pretty much endless! A far cry from when air fryers were first put on the market by Philips way back when! With all this choice, there are many factors you need to consider to make the right air fryer choice. One of those is deciding whether you should buy a digital or a manual style air fryer. If you have ever asked yourself this question, please read on to get my take…..
Why should you listen to me? Well, I have used all kinds of air fryers for well over a decade now, so can speak from personal experience rather than regurgitate information from the internet 🙂
What do we mean by a Digital or Manual Air Fryer?
If you are asking yourself what the heck I am talking about when it comes to digital or manual air fryers, let me explain what I mean by this quickly before we start.
A digital air fryer is one that uses such modern delights as touch screens and digital panels to control the operation of the air fryer. Whereas a manual air fryer (sometimes known as an analogue air fryer) forgoes these modern elements and only uses the more ‘old school’ knobs and buttons instead!
Digital VS Manual Air Fryer: 7 Points to Consider
When thinking of buying a digital or manual air fryer, these are the main points I would consider…
Operating a manual air fryer is as easy as it gets. You simply twist some knobs or dials to set the temperature and cook time and away you go. This simplicity is attractive to some and is a major reason why you still find manual air fryers among the top selling air fryers even in this modern age.
On the flip side, some people would tell you that digital air fryers are over complex and hard to use. You end up squinting at a digital screen and endlessly pressing touch sensitive buttons that don’t always respond as you would like.
It is clear to me that if longevity is a key consideration, then you should go for the manual air fryer models. Simply put, with all their digital screen and touch sensitive or capacitive buttons, digital air fryers have fair more to go wrong than their manual counterparts. Dials and knobs are far less likely to go wrong after all! So a manual air fryer should last much longer than a digital air fyer.
But don’t think you can just go out there and buy the cheapest manual air fryer! My first air fryer was a generic Chinese branded manual air fryer, but flaking non stick coating and a malfunctioning catch on the lid (that meant it couldn’t stay closed) put paid to that pretty quick. So you still need to buy a quality air fryer even if it is a manual one!
3. Fine Tuning
If you want the ultimate control over the temperature and time settings on your air fryer, then a manual air fryer might be better suited. This is because the rotary dials can be increased or decreased in increments of 1. A lot of digital air fryers like to force you to only change such things in increments of 5 or even 10 at a time, leaving some users wanting more fine tuning. This is not the case with all digital air fryers, so you should do your own research before you buy!
One of the features that people love about digital air fryers is the ability to have preset cook settings for common dishes. Some air fryers come already set with these for commonly air fried items such as french fries or chicken. And we now have the pleasure of smart air fryers where you can program in your own presets for dishes you make often. This was something I loved in my review of the Proscenics T21 air fryer.
If speed if your ultimate goal when using an air fryer, I would suggest going for a manual air fryer. This is because twisting a few dials or knobs is way quicker than setting your temperature and times with touch sensitive or capacitive buttons. The constant clicking of buttons with become annoying if speed is your ultimate goal.
The only caveat comes in the form of some smart air fryers. For example, the T21 air fryer mentioned above allows you to set your air fryer from the accompanying app. As long as you have all your key recipes programmed in, it becomes a one touch operation!
The simpler manual air fryer will undoubtedly cost less than a fully fledged digital equivalent. All those digital screens and buttons cost more to manufacture, meaning you have to pay a slight premium. The best way to illustrate this is to go look at the Philips Turbostar air fryer linked below. If you click on the image and view it over at Amazon, you will see that it has a manual and a digital version. The digital version is not far off double the price of its manual sister at the time of writing!
Clearly if cost is a major consideration, a manual air fryer might fit your budget better! The difference can be significant!
7. Energy Efficiency
If you are bothered about energy usage or energy efficiency, a manual air fryer would be marginally better. It doesn’t need that extra energy to light up a digital panel, making it use slightly less electricity. It’s not a massive difference but for some this may be a factor.
So Should I Buy a Digital or Manual Air Fryer?
I can tell you that for me I prefer digital air fryers. I am a bit of a geek at heart so love the hi-tech nature and programmability of these types of air fryers. But, of course, we are all different and have our own sets of priorities. You should go through the points of comparison made above and simply decide for yourself. Hopefully, I have given you at least a good starting point upon which to do this.
Which Digital Air Fryer Should I Buy?
For me, if you are going to go the digital route I would go the whole hog and get a smart air fryer with an accompanying app. The ease of control and programmability you get with the app really makes your air fryer a joy to use.
This Cosori model acts as the perfect compromise. It is a modern and sleek looking air fryer that has a simple digital control panel. But the Cosori app can be used to really tailor your air frying and get to that almost one touch cooking.
I have been really impressed with what Cosori has been doing lately with their air fryer design and functionality, and this is a perfect example. Click the image of the air fryer below to view it for yourself over at Amazon.
Which Manual Air Fryer Should I Buy?
If you have decided after reading my article that a manual air fryer is for you, I would personally go for a Philips air fryer model. Philips are renowned for making high-quality air fryers, and when combined with the simplicity of manual operation, you should have an appliance that will last you many years. It may cost more than other manual air fryers you might see, but if you buy this model, you won’t have to buy another for a long time!
I am linking to the XXL model below (click the image to view over at Amazon) as I like the idea of more room in my air fryer. It allows me to cook whole meals in there and lessens the need to batch cook when air frying more several people. However, if you want something cheaper, you could go for the smaller version linked above (in the section I talked about price).