Ninja AF100UK air fryer review: small, yet powerful

In this Ninja AF100UK air fryer review we find that Ninja's smallest and cheapest air fryer is still a big hitter.
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  • As the smallest air fryer available from Ninja, the AF100UK is also their cheapest model at £129.99. With its 3.8 litre capacity it’s a great size for two person households, but it can cook up to 900g chips, so will serve four at a stretch.

    It’s the perfect choice for smaller kitchens, it requires minimal space on your worktop and if you don’t want to leave it out all the time, this lightweight air fryer is easy to lift in and out of a cupboard. It’s not just for air fried chips though, it can also roast, dehydrate and reheat. So it’s equally useful for warming last night’s leftover pizza or drying fresh herbs from your garden.

    It might be the smallest and cheapest model from Ninja but this air fryer isn’t lacking anything when it comes to performance. Everything I made in it was crisped and browned to perfection, plus it’s fast and very easy to use. It’s certainly one of the best air fryers on the market.

    Ideal Home rated 4.5 out of 5 stars

    Reasons to buy:

    • Simple to use
    • Compact footprint
    • Dishwasher safe
    • Recipes and cooking charts included
    • Great performance

    Reasons to avoid:

    • Expensive for size
    • No automatic preheat

    Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

    Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

    Specs

    • Material: Plastic
    • Colour: Grey
    • Capacity: 3.8 litres
    • Modes: Air fry, roast, reheat, dehydrate
    • Weight: 5.2kg
    • Power: 1550W
    • Size: 36 x 25 x 32cm (h x w x d)

    Unboxing

    Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

    This Ninja air fryer comes in a sturdy box that’s not too big to lift onto the kitchen worktop. On opening, I was pleased to see it’s protected by easily recyclable cardboard inserts, with very little plastic in the box. It comes with a handy quick start guide that includes some recipes for inspiration as well as cooking charts. The cooking charts give you guideline cooking times and temperatures for common foods, which is particularly helpful if you’re new to air frying.

    The air fryer itself has a simple control panel that doesn’t take much working out and I didn’t need to consult the instruction booklet at all. It’s got a button for each of the cooking functions: air fry, roast, dehydrate, and reheat. The time and temperature settings are controlled with up and down arrows for each and whichever one you’re adjusting will be displayed on the small screen.

    Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

    The non-stick ceramic coated cooking pan pulls out easily thanks to the large handle. It comes with what Ninja call a crisper plate, which is a perforated cooking plate that allows air to circulate around food, as well as allowing excess oil to drip away into the pan below. The crisper plate is removable, but when in position three rubber feet grip the pan so it stays put even when tipping food out.

    Using the Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

    As I’ve already mentioned, there’s not much to get to grips with, the uncomplicated control panel makes it easy to get cooking straight away. And although I didn’t feel the need to read the instruction manual, a quick browse through it alerted me to the fact a preheat is advisable. Ninja recommend preheating the air fryer for three minutes before adding food. But unlike some other air fryers I’ve reviewed, it doesn’t have a preheat stage built in. You have to start it up with the timer set to three minutes. This is mildly annoying because once you’ve added the food after the preheat, you then have to reset the time and temperature for cooking.

    Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

    Another point worth noting is that there’s no reminder to shake or turn your food part way through cooking, so you’ll have to remember to do this to ensure you get even results. When you select the air fry function, it doesn’t remember your previous settings, it always defaults to 200oC and 20 minutes. I don’t mind this, but if you frequently cook the same foods, you might find yourself wishing it remembered the time and temperature from last time.

    It can air fry at temperatures between 150oC – 210oC and the timer can be set from one minute up to one hour. The timer will count down and an audio alert will let you know when your food is ready. This isn’t a silent appliance, it emits a low pitched hum that’s equivalent to my extractor fan on it’s middle setting.

    Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

    Cooking bacon in the Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

    To air fry bacon I followed the suggested time and temperature in the cooking chart. Before adding my bacon, I set the air fryer to preheat for three minutes at 180oC. Then I placed the bacon on the crisper plate, but there’s only enough space for three to four rashers. I managed three on my first attempt but squeezed in four the second time I used it. Although if you want to cook more you could probably get away with overlapping them a little, because they will move apart as they shrink.

    Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

    I set the timer for eight minutes, but after five minutes the bacon was cooked and the fat had crisped up enough for me. A pleasing amount of fat had dripped into the pan below the crisper, which definitely made it feel healthier. And with no bacon grease to clean up from anywhere other than the pan, it was mess free in comparison to pan frying or even grilling.

    Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

    Heating frozen fish in the Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

    In my experience breaded foods always crisp up really well in air fryers and this Ninja was no exception. After the three minute preheat, I placed two frozen breaded haddock fillets onto the crisper plate and opted for the settings suggested in the cooking chart, which was 200oC for 14 minutes.

    Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

    Although I checked them a couple of times, I didn’t turn them. Despite this, both fillets were evenly cooked and had crisped up well on the base. The breaded coating had a great crunch, yet the fish was still moist. And the best part was that the 14 minute cook time was far quicker than the 25 minutes they would have taken in my oven.

    Making chips in the Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

    For thick cut chips I followed the advice in the quick start guide which suggests soaking the chips in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes before cooking. This removes excess starch and creates a better chip, but you have to make sure you pat them dry thoroughly before cooking. I use a clean tea towel for this part.

    The guide suggests between ½ and 3 tbsp of oil, I opted for one which was plenty to coat 500g chips. I cooked at the suggested 200oC, Ninja says they’ll take 23-26 minutes, but mine were done in 23. With just a couple of good shakes during cooking, I was rewarded with golden crisp chips that were fluffy in the centre, exactly the result I was looking for.

    Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

    Roasting vegetables in the Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

    Having made lots of protein and carbs in the air fryer, I decided I better cook some vegetables for balance. I chopped up some red onion, pepper and mushrooms and coated in one tablespoon of oil plus some seasoning. This tasty combination of vegetables is one of my favourites for adding to all kinds of hot and cold pasta dishes, but to achieve the lightly charred, roasted texture I like, can take an hour or so in the oven.

    Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

    After flicking through the cooking charts, I guessed at 200oC for 20 minutes, which turned out to be spot on. The cooking pan was initially quite full and I gave it a good shake every five minutes to ensure all the vegetables cooked up evenly. I was super happy with the result, they had a beautiful lightly charred texture on the outside, but inside the peppers and onions hadn’t gone too soft or soggy.

    As the vegetables cook, lots of steam is emitted which vents out of the back of the air fryer. The vent points upwards, so I noticed condensation forming on the underside of the shelf above. This is easily avoided though by slightly altering the position of the air fryer next time.

    Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

    Cleaning

    The shiny plastic exterior of the air fryer wipes down easily with a damp cloth and doesn’t dry with smears. Though I did find it slightly frustrating that the silver handle shows marks if you grab it with greasy or wet hands. Having said this, I like that the control panel has a matte surface that doesn’t mark with fingerprints.

    The cooking pan and crisper plate can both go in the dishwasher. I washed them by hand several times and they came clean really quickly thanks to the non-stick surface.

    Should you buy the Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer?

    Ninja AF100UK Air Fryer

    There are lots of reasons to buy this air fryer and only a few minor downsides that I can think of. I enjoyed its simplicity, there’s nothing complicated or fussy to get your head around. What’s more, it works really well, it quickly and evenly crisped and browned everything I put in it. I would have preferred a preheat stage built into the settings but having to set it separately was only a minor grumble.

    For the price of the AF100UK you can get larger capacity air fryers from other brands, so it is a tad on the expensive side. But having said that, if you’re not looking for a larger capacity model, this is a great air fryer and it doesn’t take up too much space on your worktop.

    About this review, and the reviewer

    Helen McCue is a freelance contributor who trained as a Home Economist. After starting her career in the food industry, she moved into home appliance reviews, utilising her cooking skills and experience to put all kinds of products to the test, and over the years has reviewed hundreds of home and kitchen appliances for a variety of publications.

    Having completely renovated her current house, Helen reviews kitchen appliances from her open plan kitchen at home in a beautiful Berkshire village. When she’s not working, Helen can be found enjoying the local countryside or dreaming about her next house renovation project.

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