Home Electronics & Tech Philips Essential XL Airfryer – Review

Philips Essential XL Airfryer – Review

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A Philips Essential XL Airfryer surrounded by food

If you’re in the market for an air fryer, chances are you’ve come across the Philips name. The Dutch brand invented the convenient cooker in 2008 and has become the dominant force in countertop convection. Jesse Adams has been using the Essential XL Airfryer for a year and shares his ownership experience.

Philips has sold more than 10 million air fryers in 14 years, and the Essential XL Airfryer model on test here has been among the brand’s best sellers. It’s a middle-of-the-road unit as far as size, specs and features go and at around R3 000 it comes in at a relatively accessible price point.

Appearance and use

That touchscreen is a clever user interface with only five press-able ‘buttons’ – one for on/off/start/stop, and up and down arrows for temperature and cooking time. There are seven presets for cooking programs such as frozen snacks, French fries and fish, but navigating to them via those aforementioned up and down arrows is a bit tedious.

Cooking with the Philips Essential XL

Over time you’ll learn which foods types need more heat and which need less, but we pretty much use the default 180 degrees for most meals and adjust cooking time accordingly. The far simpler air fryer models with two knobs are appealing both for convenience and cost, and if we were ever to replace the Essential XL we’d likely consider a downgrade.

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Capacity

The 1.2kg basket capacity and the 6.2 litre cooking drawer it fits in are fairly standard sizes for today’s air fryers, and are plenty big enough for most meals barring full chickens. It’s also frustrating that the basket is just a fraction too small for those 25cm frozen pizzas we all know so well, but Philips does offer an XXL version that will probably accept these nicely.

Build quality

We are a little surprised with how loosely the basket and drawer click together, and it sometimes needs a firm shove to engage the locks which hold it in place when cooking. As mentioned, the Essential line is intended to be more affordable and we’re assuming some pricier models are of higher quality.

The last word in crispiness

That said, the cooking qualities of the Philips Essential XL are fantastic, especially with those foods intended to be crispy as an end result. French fries, chicken nuggets, samoosas, spring rolls and crumbed items like chicken kiev or cordon bleu all come out deliciously golden with restaurant-like outer layer crunches. All of these take around 15 minutes in an air fryer, give or take. In fact, 15 minutes is pretty much the go-to setting for most foods unless you’re reheating (which it’s also useful for).

It’s also very forgiving for those lacking in culinary deftness. Stick your meal in, push a few buttons, and it dishes up decent results almost every time.

Power consumption and rating

With a 2 000 watt power rating the Philips Essential XL is quite an electricity eater, but in fairness that’s still less than most conventional ovens. Microwave ovens may use a little less power and can heat foods quicker, but the quality of cooking is incomparable. Since the Airfryer arrived in our kitchen we’ve hardly used our microwave. The same can be said for our big oven, actually.

Pricing varies depending on the store, and we’ve seen this model offered for anything between R2 950 and R3 700 so shop around. Almost all Philips consumer products come with respectable two-year warranties.

The Philips Essential XL scores 4 out of 5.

4.0 out of 5.0 stars
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