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Philips Airfryer XXL review: Big portions can't redeem this air fryer

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Air fryers generally aren't compact. While not as large as full-blown toaster ovens, they tend to occupy lots of counter space. The Philips Airfryer XXL is big even for these monstrous machines. At $300, the XXL costs a bundle too (the price converts to £211, $386 AU). What the XXL supplies for its sizeable investment though is plenty of room for food.

The Good

The Philips Airfryer XXL has room to cook big batches. It prepares crispy treats with little or no oil.

The Bad

It's expensive, lacks a stirring arm and is hard to wash by hand. Its temperature controls are confusing.

The Bottom Line

The Philips Airfryer XXL cooks in big batches but costs too much considering its flaws.

This hefty cooker can fry up 3-pound batches of potatoes, french fries or frozen snacks. It's even spacious enough to tackle whole chickens -- though small ones. Decked out with a robust 1,725-watt heating system, the Airfryer XXL is powerful as well. And as any air fryer worth its salt, the XXL cooks with little or no oil.

Still there are drawbacks to the Philips Airfryer XXL. First is its steep price tag. Secondly, the XXL lacks an automatic stirring arm. DeLonghi's $230 Multifry 1363 has one yet costs less. I also find the Airfryer XXL's temperature controls confusing. And while the fryer's removable parts are dishwasher safe, it has more pieces to care for. All that adds up to a expensive novelty few will appreciate. Instead, I'd suggest buying this $70 Simple Chef air fryer instead if the cooking method interests you. It does practically the same job for a more sensible price.

Confusing controls, complex parts

From the outside, the Philips Airfryer XXL looks like any number of kitchen air fryers crowding the market. It's an egg-shaped bucket with a flat top and bottom. Its black body is built from plastic and steel as well. Both the $100 Black and Decker Purifry and $230 DeLonghi Multifry 1363 are constructed from similar materials.

Unlike another Philips model, the $300 Advance Collection, the XXL's controls are pretty basic. There are just two dials. A knob on top of the cooker controls its internal temperature. A large timer dial (0 to 60 minutes) sits on the air fryer's front face. The timer also serves as the fryer's power switch.

Directly underneath the timer is a large handle. Pulling it towards you opens a drawer that holds the fryer's food basket. The basket's bottom is metal, mesh and removable. You can take the basket out too. Below that are two more parts. There's a big pan with a scalloped bottom and deep sides. A thin plate with a star-shaped cutout rests freely inside the pan.

Air fryers are a cool concept, but are they worth the price?

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According to Philips, both pieces function to trap any grease and fat that may drip down from food in the basket. The company also says the pan's raised, scalloped bottom acts to focus hot air onto items inside.

That's a lot of parts to fuss with. And while they are all dishwasher safe, they're a pain to wash by hand. Constructed from thin metal with hard edges, you'll need to wash them carefully. Otherwise you run the risk of pinching or scraping your skin.   

Easy, not a breeze to use

Using this air fryer isn't difficult, but it could be easier. You put food you'd like to fry inside the basket and button it up. Thanks to a sturdy rail, the XXL's basket glides open and closes easily. Next, select the temperature and the cook time.

The temperature dial though is less than straightforward. It's labelled in increments of 75 degrees (175 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit). A pair of tiny dots flank some (not all) of the number labels. That can make it hard to tell what temperature you've chosen exactly. As the dial rotates, only one number is fully visible above the fryer's top surface.

I also found the indicator light on the front of the fryer useless. Philips calls it the, "heating-up light." It's supposed to glow when the fryer has reached its set temperature. Unfortunately, the light is on just as much as it's off, no matter how long you cook. The manual also states you don't need to preheat the fryer either, so a light just causes confusion.

Performance and taste

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This air fryer holds up to 3 pounds of frozen french fries.

Brian Bennett/CNET

The big draw of the Philips Airfryer XXL is its large capacity. In that regard it doesn't disappoint. The machine can cook off massive 3-pound batches of french fries, chicken nuggets and other frozen treats. It also accepts big loads of fresh chicken wings, drumsticks, potatoes, sausages, meatballs and veggies. There's even room for a smaller whole chicken.

The Airfryer XXL took 25 minutes to turn out 23 ounces of frozen, crinkle-cut french fries (no oil). That's roughly the amount that can fit on a large baking sheet. It's also a little faster than what the Black and Decker Purifry air fryer took (27 minutes) to prepare a batch the same size.

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Frozen French fries came out golden brown and nicely crisp.

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Quality was just as good though. Fries came out crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. They didn't have the powdery texture of oven-baked fries either. That said, neither did taste as satisfying as the greasier deep-fried variety.

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Fries I cut fresh myself turned out well.

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Homemade fries I cut from a manual press came out better. They had a deeper flavor, pleasing texture and crispness. Of course I used 1 tbsp of oil, as instructed by the manual. They spent longer in the fryer as well (34 minutes).

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Burgers cooked in the XXL air fryer puffed up strangely.

Brian Bennett/CNET

Burgers I cooked in the XXL were tasty but a bit strange. The patties puffed up oddly like balloons as they fried. While extremely moist and juicy, they lacked the charred flavor of grilled or broiled meat. Sausages though were a surprise hit. I threw a full pack of five uncooked bratwurst sausages into the fryer. After 18 minutes of cooking, I had a plate of brats that were truly epic. Their casings popped and crackled while meat inside was rich and succulent.                                  

The Airfryer XXL whipped up delectable chicken wings too. To achieve skin at its crispiest though, I had to fry them already coated with sauce. Either that or serve them entirely without. Based on my experience, however, I can't recommend frying whole chickens in this appliance.

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Whole chickens I roasted in the Philips Airfryer XXL had crispy skin but were overcooked. 

Brian Bennett/CNET

With my 5-pound bird inside, I set the XXL's temperature to 350 degrees F as instructed by the manual. An hour later, the chicken's internal temperature reached 165 degrees F. Its skin was definitely crispy and nicely browned. Unfortunately, the meat inside though was dry and overcooked.

Of course, my chicken did exceed the weight Philips recommends, which is 2.6 to 3.3 pounds (1,200 to 1,500 grams). Those are scrawny birds in my book. Supermarket chickens I tend to see are 5 to 6 pounds.  

Too much fryer for most

So does the $300 Philips Airfryer XXL deserve a spot on your kitchen counter? First, that depends on how much extra space you have. You'll need a lot since the XXL is a monster, and air fryers aren't known for being petite. And if you won't be frying food often or in large batches, spending this much is overkill. That's especially true considering this appliance has confusing controls and lots of parts to care for.

A better alternative is the affordable $70 Simple Chef Air Fryer. Yes it cooks less food but it's also a snap to use and clean. Another option is the $230 DeLonghi Multifry 1363 that also cooks lots of food at once. The Multifry comes with an automatic stirring paddle too, something the XXL lacks.

Are you curious about all the other air fryers we tested out? Check out our air fryer roundup here.

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6.2

Philips Airfryer XXL

Score Breakdown

Performance 7Usability 5.5Design 6Features 5