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This Aicook air fryer promises more than it can actually do. Despite false claims of 10 functions it only does air frying but it does it quite well for the price.
The large cooking area and tall basket can cook a substantial amount of food and the nonstick coating makes it a breeze to clean. Intuitive controls make it easy to operate the fryer without looking at the manual.
If Aicook fixed a few design issues and improved temperature controls this would be a very compelling value.
After trying out the Aicook air fryer toaster oven I have decided to try another air fryer model from this brand: a 5.8QT air fryer. Let’s see if it does a better job this time.
The packaging is pretty standard for this type of device. The box contains a product image and is sturdy enough to protect from light damage. Inside there are 2 foam inserts that provide additional protection. Everything is packed in plastic bags. The air fryer didn’t have any damage from the shipping so great packing job by Aicook.
In the box I have found:
- Aicook air fryer
- Recipe book
- Air frying basket
- Air frying pan
Design and build quality 8/10
The design of this air fryer model is pretty much the industry standard. It basically looks just like any other generic air fryer. The whole external body is made of glossy black plastic. It feels sturdy enough not to call it cheap, but it doesn’t give a very high-quality look.
It has a significant footprint on the countertop measuring at L28 x D39 x H33 cm. However, that enables a rather large cooking area inside the basket. A large cooking surface area is more important than the height of the cooking basket since it’s often recommended to place food in a single layer for the best air frying results. Aicook 5.8QT air fryer weighs 4.4 kg (9.7 lbs) and it’s very easy to move it around.
On the back, there is a hook where you can keep the cable and it also works as a standoff against the wall to ensure optimal airflow from the back. On the bottom, 4 rubber legs keep the air fryer stable and multiple airflow vents.
The digital controls a placed on the top that slides down at an angle. It’s a perfect location to easily control and see the status of cooking.
The basket and the basket pad are made of stainless steel and fully covered in PTFE nonstick coating. Throughout couple of weeks of testing the coating has held up perfectly and didn’t peel or chip in any place. The basked pad has rubber guards on the sides which seem to be designed to protect from contact with the basket. It’s a good design choice because otherwise the nonstick layer might get damaged from continuous brushing against each other while inserting and removing the pad.
The basket pad is only 0.6 mm in thickness. The thicker metal would absorb more heat while preheating and thus give more crispiness to the food in contact with it.
The air fryer has a single heating element and a fan above it.
Controls and ease of use 7/10
The Aicook 5.8QT product page advertises 10 cooking functions and I am not sure what they mean by that. There are 6 presets but the only difference between them is temperature and cooking time. Since there is only a single heating element on the top and a single fan there could be only a single function of convection cooking. The only possible adjustment in those presets might be fan speed but we can’t measure that.
The 6 presets won’t work perfectly each time but they are good indicators of what temperature different foods should be cooked in. You will have to adjust the cooking time depending on the amount of food in the basket and how crispy you like it. During my testing, I always added 10%-20% more cooking time for the best result.
The control panel is intuitive and easy to understand. It also provides acoustic feedback with beeping sounds when pressing the buttons. There are 6 buttons in total.
- Power/Start/Pause button. It’s the only button that lights up while the air fryer is turned off. Pressing it powers on the air fryer. You can press it again to start the pre-heating program. It’s very convenient since you don’t have to adjust any other settings. The default pre-heat temperature is 180 C (350 F) but you can adjust it if you need it hotter. To power off you hold this button for couple of seconds.
- Temperature button. Once you press it the temperature controls turn on. You adjust the temperature using “+” and “-” buttons. You can hold a button and it will register as multiple touches. It’s convenient and you avoid constant beeping after each touch.
Temperature can be changed in intervals of 5 C from 40 C to 200 C. Unfortunately you can’t adjust the temperature while cooking is in progress. In order to do that you need to pause the program, adjust the temperature and run it again.
- Time button. Works the same as temperature controls. Time can be adjusted in 1 minute intervals from 1 minute to 60 minutes.
- Menu button. It controls the preset selection of baking, fries, chicken, shrimps, steak and fish programs. Even after choosing any of the presets you can still adjust temperature and cooking time. It’s very convenient and works as a good starting point.
The basket handle is comfortable and the basket itself isn’t too heavy. The basket insertion and removal require much more force than I feel comfortable in. It needs an extra push to fix the basket in place. When pulling it out I needed to hold the air fryer with one hand and pull with the other. I even had to look at the manual as I thought maybe I was doing it wrong but it seems it’s just the way it works.
After cooking is done you need to place the basket on a heat-resistant pad otherwise you might damage your countertop. Taking the food out is also a bit of a challenge. If you try to pour the food out the basket pad will fall off as well. You have to hold it in place with something to safely pour the food or use tongs to take the food without flipping the basket.
Bad design choices with the basket knock off a couple of points from the ease of use score.
Like with all air fryers you need time to get to know your appliance. Some of them cook faster but run a risk of burning the food and some cook slower. It seems the Aicook model usually needs more time for the best results.
I have made two temperature tests to see how fast it heats up, how well the heat is distributed, and how much the temperature fluctuates from the target temperature.
I have started a cold air fryer and 200 C as the target temperature for the first test. It took 2 minutes to reach the temperature, the same time the pre-heat process lasts. There was a 44 C difference between the hottest and coldest points so it seems the heat is concentrated in the center and the sides remain much less heated.
For the second test, I have set a 170C target temperature. This test has shown that this air fryer model does better than the air fryer toaster oven from Aicook but is still behind the best air fryers we have tested. The temperature inside has fluctuated about 15 C above and below but one of the measurement points hasn’t reached the target temperature at all. It would result in food on the sides being undercooked compared to the center of the basket.
After a few trial runs you should be able to get a hang of how to get the best air frying results from this model. Aicook air fryer usually undercooks the food so you might need to add 10%-20% more time than the recipe requires.
This air fryer is very easy to clean. The nonstick coating works really well and there is barely any fat on the plastic parts inside the air fryer body. Both the basket and the pad are dishwasher safe.
I have encountered only 2 problems when cleaning:
- The steel basket is attached to the plastic bit with a handle using screws. That means you have to put the whole unit to the dishwasher which takes a lot of space. It would be nice to have the removable basket so only the dirty part gets washed.
- The groves on the bottom of the basket pad make it very difficult to clean by hand so in order to keep it well cleaned I always had to use a dishwasher.
Aicook 5.8QT Air Fryer (Black)
Instant Vortex Air Fryer
You can get the same capacity and capabilities from a reputable brand for considerably less money. Overall both air fryers are very similar but Instant is a better value only due to a lower price.
Cosori Smart Air Fryer
For the same price as the Aicook model you get one of the most popular air fryers currently selling. Cosori model offers wireless controls using an app and more presets. I think it’s a much better value in this case
Ninja AF161 Air Fryer
For about 10% more you can get this air fryer from Ninja. It has a little lower capacity of 5.5 QT but has a thicker crisper plate, a broiler rack and few more functions than the Aicook model.