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T-Fal FZ7002 Actifry review: Even superb fries don't make this air fryer a good deal

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The Good The T-Fal Actifry air-fries outstandingly good french fries with little or no oil. It has a large capacity and simple controls. It stirs food as it cooks. It's easy to clean.

The Bad It's expensive. It can't cook without its mixing paddle. It can't cook soft or delicate items. There's a risk that liquid in its pan could leak.

The Bottom Line The T-Fal Actifry air-fries outstanding french fries but its limitations and price are spoilers.

6.3 Overall
  • Performance 7
  • Usability 6.5
  • Design 5
  • Features 6

The $200 T-Fal Actifry FZ7002 costs more than basic air fryers we've reviewed like the $70 Simple Chef and $95 Krups Fry Delight. But equipped with a motorized stirring arm, the Actifry does more too. It can mix food by itself while it cooks, which lets it prepare a wider range of dishes. Examples include stir-fry, fried rice and even risotto. The machine also treated me to the best air-fried french fries I've ever tasted.

The Actifry has some serious flaws though. Its paddle mixer is too rough on soft foods like hamburger patties and delicate fresh fish fillets. And unlike similar self-stirring air fryers, the paddle isn't optional. The $230 DeLonghi MultiFry 1363 lets you remove its mixing arm to gain more cooking space.

The Actifry can't handle much liquid either. If you overfill it or attach its paddle incorrectly, fluid will leak out of the fryer and all over your counter. All this makes the Actifry a kitchen unitasker rather than an Instant Pot-like multicooker. So unless you have money to burn or are fanatical about fried food, buy the affordable yet solid Simple Chef snack maker instead.

Stir, fry on automatic

As air fryers go, the Actifry's size is pretty average, which means it's quite large. The appliance won't take up as much counter space as a toaster oven, but it has a bigger footprint than most coffee makers and four-slice toasters. Thankfully its profile is low enough to slide easily under kitchen cabinets.

Physically the fryer consists of two sections. A main circular unit that's squat and bulbous. Inside, under the flip-open lid, is its cooking pan and mixing paddle.The pan has a handle that flips down and out of the way while you cook.

At the center of the pan is the cone-shaped paddle. The device clamps down onto the pan and locks into place, holding them together. In this position, the hollow part of the paddle's cone rests on a rotating spindle. The spindle enters through a hole below the pan. You can pull the pan out of the fryer simply by flipping its handle up and lifting upwards.

The Actifry's second section is a flat control panel. It sits on a rounded bump that extends a few inches from the back of the fryer. The panel is refreshingly simple, with just two buttons: an "on/off switch" and a "timer setting button." In between them is a small LCD screen. Aside from two fat buttons on the front to open the lid, these are the Actifry's only controls.

A latch inside the lid detaches it from the Actifry's hinge. The lid, pan and paddle are all dishwasher safe. Compared to other big air fryers like the $300 Philips Airfryer XXL, I found the Actifry's parts a cinch to hand wash as well.

So simple it's scary

This Actifry model has the most elemental controls I've seen on an air fryer. Other air fryers such as the Philips Airfryer Avance, Krupps Fry Delight, Black and Decker Purify and DeLonghi Multifry all let you control two things -- power and temperature. Not so with the Actifry. You can turn it on or off. That's about it. The air fryer's internal heat level is out of your hands.

It certainly makes cooking with the Actifry dead simple, at least in theory. First, secure the pan and paddle stirrer in place. Next put your food in, close the lid and start it up. Within a few seconds, the paddle begins to rotate slowly. As with the DeLonghi Multifry, the digital timer and cooking functions aren't connected. So, when the timer counts down to zero the air fryer doesn't not turn off. You have to remember to do that yourself.

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The Actifry can air-fry up to 2.2 pounds of frozen french fries at a time.

Brian Bennett/CNET

Performance and taste

The Actifry may not be a monster of an air fryer like the Philips Airfryer XXL (1.4kg capacity) but it still has lots of room. The fryer's 1kg pan can accommodate up to 2.2-pound batches of fries, meatballs, nuggets and other frozen items.

My 23.3-ounce test sample of frozen crinkle-cut french fries (no oil) took 30 minutes to cook in the Actifry. Its roughly the quantity that fits on a standard baking sheet. That's longer than the Philips Airfryer XXL (23 minutes), Philips Avance (18 minutes), Simple Chef (24 minutes), Philips Via (23 minutes) and Krups Fry Delight (27 minutes). 

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The Actifry made the best tasting frozen French fries we've had from an air fryer.

Brian Bennett/CNET

That said the T-Fal's fries were consistently the best we've tasted from any air fryer, coming out superbly crispy, with a creamy, light inner texture.This was true even with fries of different sizes. Hand-cut fries were just as tasty when cooked in the Actifry. They were also uniformly golden brown and delicious. For best results I had to pour 1 tablespoon of oil directly into the Actifry's pan. Tossing the fries with oil in a bowl first left too much oil behind.

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