Size really is a great reason to buy the Lakeland Digital Compact air fryer it barely takes up any space at all, perfect for homes where space is at a premium. But if you’re cooking for more than one person at a time, you may want to look at other, slightly roomier, compact air fryers such as the Instant Vortex which is also cheaper. That said, for single portions, you’ll get great results from this air fryer.
Easy to store
Simple touch controls
Ample time and temperature settings
Expensive for its size
Not dishwasher safe
Display doesn’t switch off
Why you can trust Ideal Home
Big is not always best and sometimes a teeny version of something is exactly what you need. That's where the Lakeland Digital Compact Air Fryer steps in. If you’ve been keen to get involved in the air fryer craze, but you usually cook for one so you’re not sure if you can justify getting one – this Lakeland air fryer is the answer.
I’ve been impressed by this little air fryer, that despite its small size, doesn’t feel like a lesser version of the big boys. It takes up little more than the space of a kettle on your kitchen counter, so even if you live in a studio apartment, you’ll be able to squeeze it in.
I tried it out for a couple of weeks in place of my usual much bigger air fryer to see if it's worthy of a spot in our round up of the best air fryers. For many foods, it isn’t roomy enough to cope with the portion sizes we would usually cook for our two-person household, but it’s great for single portions. And having said that, it can cook up two portions of some foods like scampi, chips, or vegetables.
It is pricier than its compact competitors though, and it has a smaller capacity. But as one of the smallest air fryers you can buy, this is the best option if you’ve run out of room.
Lakeland Digital Compact Air Fryer specifications
- Material: Plastic
- Colour: Black
- Capacity: 1.6 litres
- Modes: Manual, poultry, steak/ meat, bakes, fresh fries and vegetables, frozen fries and vegetables
- Weight: 2.7kg
- Power: 1200 watts
- Size: 25 x 18 x 30 cm
- Cable length: 78cm
Helen is a regular contributor to Ideal Home, reviewing appliances to let us know what they're worth. She lives in a village in Buckinghamshire and reviewed this air fryer from her own kitchen, which is in a 17th century cottage with unnervingly low beams that make her glad to be short. She tested it by using it to cook all sorts of everyday foods for herself and her husband and was allowed to keep it after the review, to see how it fares in the long run.
Unboxing the product
The air fryer is protected by cardboard inserts, so all the packaging is recyclable, which is an absolute requirement in my book. The small box is a bit of a giveaway that this air fryer will indeed live up to its name and won’t disappoint on the size front.
Upon lifting the air fryer from the box, I was struck by its light weight. But, that’s not to say that it feels flimsy. It’s lightweight because of its compact size, yet it still feels well-made and sturdy enough for the job. Once on the kitchen worktop, I’d say it has the smallest footprint of any air fryer I’ve reviewed – which is a fair few!
For comparison, the footprint on the worktop is similar to a traditional shape kettle – the ones with the handle on top. And because it is so light, it’s really easy to lift in and out of a cupboard if you don’t want to keep it out permanently.
Like most drawer style air fryers, there’s a drawer that pulls out at the front with a good size handle. To give you an idea of the size, I measured the diameter at 16.5cm. The digital touch controls are all on the top, but the display is angled, making it easy to see the buttons and the digital display.
As is typical for an air fryer, there’s not really any set up, I just had to wash out the crisper drawer and the removable perforated tray before use. Having flicked through the instruction booklet, there are a few things to note. It contains a small table detailing cooking times and temperatures for some common foods, plus there are three recipes, and while the breaded mozzarella balls and five spice chicken wings sound great, I’m not sure many people will try out the avocado wedges recipe.
The five preset cooking modes are potentially useful as a starting point, but I was disappointed not to see any information in the instructions detailing the ideal type and amount of food each preset is designed for. For example, when using the poultry preset, one chicken breast is very different to a basket full of wings, so some more details would be helpful in order to make the best use of these presets.
Otherwise, the controls are simple to use, the manual cook function can be set between 60 – 200oC in 5oC intervals. The timer can be set for any time up to 60 minutes and it’s simple to toggle between the two settings using the time/ temperature button.
During cooking the display alternates between showing the cooking time left and the set temperature. I’m not fond of the red display, but that’s a minor and very subjective grumble. But what is annoying is that the display stays lit unless you switch it off at the plug, I’d have preferred an auto switch off function to save power.
Using the air fryer
Given the price, it would have been nice if an automatic preheat had been incorporated into the design. Instead, you have to switch it to your preferred temperature and preheat the air fryer for three minutes without any food inside. I did this by adding an extra three minutes to the overall cooking time and putting my food in after that extra three minutes had elapsed.
Cooking frozen breaded foods
First up I tried cooking frozen scampi and was pleased to be able to fit a whole 230g bag of jumbo scampi into the basket. I followed the oven cooking temp on the back of the scampi pack and set the air fryer to 190oC. I turned the scampi after five minutes and decided it was ready after 10 minutes. It was tasty and had an enjoyable crunch. Although if I’m being super critical, after trying it, I wished I’d left it in for another couple of minutes as the crumb wasn’t quite as crunchy as I’d usually like.
I air fried one frozen Quorn escalope, though there was just enough space to squeeze a second one beside it, should you want to. I set the temperature to 200oC and five minutes into cooking turned the escalope. At this point I wanted to turn the temperature down, but discovered it’s not possible to adjust the time or the temperature mid-way through cooking, which for me, feels a bit limiting, especially if you’re new to air frying and want to play around with the temperatures a bit. It means if you want to adjust any settings, you’ll need to stop it and start it again with the new settings. Nevertheless, the escalope cooked in 15 minutes, which was five minutes less than it would have taken in the oven and it had a lovely crisp, crunchy crumb.
450g is the maximum amount of chips you can make in this air fryer, so I cut up exactly this amount, rinsed and dried them and coated them in 1tsp oil and some salt and pepper. After preheating I popped them in on the fresh chips preset mode, which cooks at 185oC for 28 minutes. After 14 and 21 minutes I gave the chips a shake, the timer pauses when you remove the drawer, which is helpful.
I left them in for the full 28 minutes, after which some were golden and crisp on the outside with soft and fluffy centres, while some were still a little too pale. I must say though that it’s common for many air fryers to give an inconsistent result when filled to the maximum capacity.
It's also worth pointing out that while this was just enough for two portions to accompany some soup for a modest lunch, at other times, I wouldn’t consider this amount enough to feed two hungry adults.
Air frying meat
Air frying is now my preferred way to cook bacon, the air fryer contains the mess and smells and most importantly of all, cooks the bacon nicely, rendering the fat better than any other method. At 190oC the bacon cooked in just seven minutes, and it tasted great. But, I could only fit two slices of bacon into this air fryer and two slices makes for a very sad bacon sandwich.
I also air fried a whole chicken breast coated in spices and a small amount of oil. I made use of the poultry preset which heats for 20 minutes at 200oC. During cooking I turned the chicken breast twice and it cooked in just 16 minutes. The meat was moist and succulent, while the spicy coating became slightly charred in places, which made for a great flavour. During cooking the outside of the air fryer becomes warm, but not too hot to touch and the handle stays cool.
Air frying broccoli
I made use of the fresh chip and vegetable preset to air fry some broccoli. I took a whole head of broccoli and cut it into florets before coating in ½ tbsp oil and some seasoning. The settings for this mode are preset at 185oC for 28 minutes and they can’t be adjusted. The temperature was fine but had I been able to adjust the time I would have.
After three minutes I checked on the broccoli and gave it a shake, and after six minutes it was done. The stalks still had a good crunch, and the tops were slightly crisped and charred and flavoursome. If you like the stalks a little softer, then yours may need a couple more minutes, but I like a good crunch.
Air frying halloumi
Halloumi cooks surprisingly well in an air fryer and you don’t need to add any oil. I managed to fit three slices in the basket, which was enough for one portion. At 180oC the halloumi cooked in 10 minutes. I turned it halfway through and at the end the outside was crisp and golden, while the inside was soft, a great result with minimal effort.
There are only three recipes in the instruction booklet, but still, I wanted to try one of them just to see if it worked, and mozzarella balls is the one that appealed most to me. However, despite diligently coating the mozzarella balls in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs no less than three times, at the end of the eight minute cook time, the mozzarella had leaked out of all but one of the balls. The breadcrumb shells that were left behind were deliciously crunchy, it’s just a shame they were completely empty in the middle.
While I was slightly disappointed that the main basket and the perforated tray can’t go in the dishwasher. To be honest, they’re so small that washing them by hand isn’t really a chore. The non-stick coating makes cleaning easy. I preferred to fill it with hot water and washing-up liquid and let it sit while I ate my food, which soaked off any dried residues and meant all it needed was a quick wipe when I came back to it. The perforated basket is best cleaned with a washing up brush which will get into the grooves and holes easily.
There are two main competitors when it comes to smaller, space saving air fryers. However, both take up more space on the worktop and both have a larger capacity, but they’re both cheaper than this model so it comes down to whether price or size is your biggest priority.
The Magic Bullet air fryer has a larger 2.5 litre capacity but its dial controls are very basic in comparison to the precise digital controls on this Lakeland air fryer, it’s about £10 cheaper though. Then there’s the Instant Vortex which we love, and you can get it for around £20 cheaper than the Lakeland air fryer. It’s a great performer and even comes in a range of colours, but the larger 2 litre capacity means it takes up slightly more space.
Should you buy the Lakeland Digital Compact Air Fryer?
If you regularly cook for one, whether you’re a single person household, student, or everyone in the house eats at different times, this is a great option. It means you can save money and energy by avoiding turning the oven on for just one portion of food at a time.
Likewise, if you’re short on space, this is one of the smallest air fryers you can buy and that’s certainly a big selling feature. But in my opinion, for many foods it’s just a bit too small for more than one person. Additionally, you’ll have to take into account that it is slightly more expensive than some of its compact competitors.
Overall though it performs well and it’s easy to use, so really the decision comes down to price vs size and which is most important to you.
About this review, and the reviewer
At Ideal Home, we're serious about how we test products, as without having hands-on experience, we can't wholeheartedly recommend making certain buying decisions. That's why we employed the help of our experienced freelancer Helen to tell you exactly what's great, and not so great about this air fryer. With years of reviewing household appliances under her belt, it’s amazing that Helen still loves cooking and still manages to find appliances that surprise her. When she’s not in the kitchen she’s usually either doing some kind of DIY or exercising.
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After completing a Home Economics degree, Helen went on to work for the Good Housekeeping Institute and has been reviewing home appliances ever since. She lives in a small village in Buckinghamshire in the UK.
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