REVIEW – Most of us are trying to be a little more health-conscious these days. Usually, eating healthier means giving up fried foods. But, they are oh, so delicious! Air frying otherwise deep-fried foods helps make them healthier by significantly reducing, and in some cases, eliminating the oil or fat used to fry. OK – nobody is saying that air frying turns tots into health food, but if it can cut calories and fat from a tot and still produce results that resemble dropping a basket of them into hot oil, what’s not to love?
What is it?
The Uten air fryer is essentially a convection oven on steroids. It circulates super-hot air continuously, allowing food to rapidly cook. If there is a thin film of oil on the food, it will boil that oil, producing a crispy surface much like you get from deep frying.
What’s in the box?
- Air fryer
- Includes basket with a removable bottom platform
- Wire food stand
- User guide
- Contact info card
- Weight: 11 pounds
- Height: 14.5 inches
- Width: 10.5 inches
- Depth: (handle to power cord mount): 14.5 inches
- Capacity: 6.9QT
- Power: 1700W
- Voltage: AC 120V
- Frequency: 60HZ
- Auto-Off: Yes
- Auto-Pause: Yes – pauses when the basket is removed
- Presets: eight
- Temperature range: 180-400 Farenheight
- Timer: 1 – 30 minutes
Design and features
The fryer is pretty stylish. It is covered in glossy all-black high-impact plastic.
The digital setting controls and display are located on top of the unit.
An aside – I’ll apologize for the photos and reflections. This thing is super glossy everywhere and it is all but impossible to photograph it without distracting reflections, given that I don’t have a photo studio with totally seamless walls and ceilings.
The four buttons along the bottom of the display are a pause/play button, a power/start button, a presets button, and a shake timer button. The two up/down arrows on the left and right adjust the temperature (left) and time (right).
The remainder of the display is just that, display. Pressing the preset button cycles through the eight presets: fries, meat, shrimp, cake, pizza, fish, steak and chicken. The selected preset flashes.
The temperature and timer display is located on the front, just above the basket handle. You’ll see that in the video below.
The power cord is attached on the back. Unfortunately, there is no onboard storage for the cord and it just hangs out the back.
The hot air vents are on both sides of the power cord.
This is where the hot air is exhausted. It comes out low to the counter, so be sure that nothing heat-sensitive sits right behind fryer.
The basket slides into the front of the unit with a pretty positive snap.
The false bottom sits in the basket, allowing excess liquid to drain away from the food. The optional wire stand sits on top of that, allowing you to stack food for additional cooking capacity. That’s a nice touch. Everything can go in the dishwasher, making cleanup a snap, even though the basket takes quite a bit of space. It is non-stick coated, as is the bottom insert, so hand washing is also a pretty simple chore.
The only setup to do is thoroughly wash the basket, false bottom and cooking rack.
To begin cooking, plug in the unit, hit the power button and then, either choose a preset or manually set the time and temp. Pressing the power/start button again gets things going. I found this confusing as there is a play/pause button as well. It made sense to me to use the power button to turn it on or off and hit the play button to start cooking. That play/pause button only works once the fryer is running. If you want to end the cooking early, pressing the power button immediately stops the heating, and in about 20 seconds, shuts off the blower and powers down.
The play/pause button pauses during cooking. Once paused, pressing it again resumes cooking.
When the fryer is cooking, the display shows a moving series of dots and the front display flips between time remaining and the set temperature.
The capacity of this monster is huge at 6.9 quarts. You could whip up enough tots or fries in this to feed a family. We cooked two chicken breasts side-by-side in the basket with plenty of room. If we needed to do more, we could have added the wire stand for two-layer cooking. The chicken turned out moist and well-cooked, as expected. The natural fats in the chicken handled all the oil needs, so there was nothing added.
We also tried cooking some chips. My wife used a mandolin slicer to thick-cut the potatoes. This is an important step, as we discovered in a previous cooking experiment that thin cut chips simply blow all over the place in the cooker. After tossing the chips in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, they went into the fryer. They took about 18 minutes to cook, with a shake about halfway through to redistribute the chips. They turned out nicely crisp and tasty.
During cooking, if you slide the basket out, the fryer completely stops. I like this. We have another air fryer. When you pull out that basket, it keeps blowing up a storm, so if you’re cooking something relatively light, it blows all over the place. Why pull out the basket, you say? Many recipes for loose items, fries, tots, chips, etc., recommend a shake or stir partway through cooking to separate items that make be stuck together. The Uten appears to power down when you pull the basket, but it is much smarter than that. As soon as you push the basket back in place, it picks up right where it left off. That’s a pretty nice feature. It also prevents you from reaching into an active cooking appliance – also a good thing.
How do you remember to shake? That fourth button on the right is the timer. Pressing it cycles through 5/10/15 timers as a shake reminder. That’s another nice touch.
For me, the presets are kind of a hit and miss. Here are the recommended cooking times and temps from the user guide.
Here are the preset values (temp/minutes):
- Fries 400/15
- Meat 370/25
- Shrimp 330/20
- Cake 320/30
- Pizza 330/20
- Fish 330/20
- Steak 370/20
- Chicken 400/20
As you can see, there is very little agreement between the preset values and the cooking guide. The inclusion of the presets seems more like a selling feature than a practical feature since you’ll be adjusting time and temp all the time anyway. Why not just set things manually?
Both the chicken and chips needed a few more minutes to finish cooking than the manual suggested. That’s when I noticed the comment below the chart that says you should heat a cold unit for three minutes prior to cooking. Our other air fryer has a preheat cycle, so not having that feature is a minus for the Uten.
Finally, the Uten is noticeably quieter than our other air fryer.
What I like
- Nice presets if they happen to work for you
- Auto-pause feature when pulling out the basket is nice
What I’d change
- Have the presets agree with what is in the manual
- Add some sort of cord storage
- Since a cold unit needs to be heated prior to cooking, having a preheat cycle would be nice
We love our air fryer. Living in central Florida, where temps and humidity levels regularly simultaneously run in the mid-90s all summer means that we don’t like heating the house by cooking in the oven. An air fryer lets us cook for two with minimal excess heating. I was curious whether this Uten unit would displace our incumbent fryer.
So far, I’m pretty impressed with the results. The capacity is enormous. This offers two benefits. The first is obvious – we can cook a lot in it. The second is that when we don’t cook a lot, there is plenty of space to spread out the items so they don’t touch, allowing for more even cooking. It is much quieter than our old unit as well. That’s a big plus in an open-concept living space where the cooking area is adjacent to the TV watching space.
If I were to complain, the huge capacity comes with a huge footprint. At nearly 15″ tall, this takes a lot of storage space, which is at a premium in our home. Still, that’s a pretty good tradeoff for what the Uten air fryer brings to the table or countertop. I think this will find a permanent place in our kitchen.