Tower T17039 5-in-1 Air Fryer review: Cooks a whole chicken in just 45 minutes
If you’ve found yourself experiencing air fryer fatigue while shopping around, then Tower’s T17039 5-in-1 air fryer might be the product you’ve been looking for. On the surface, it doesn’t look like much. But this 11-litre fryer comes with many of the features you’d expect to see in models nearly double its price. What’s more, it has a fully automatic rotisserie function – a feature we’ve yet to see from any other brand.
How does it compare against these pricey brands in everyday use, though? It’s not as speedy but what it lacks in convenience it makes up for in capabilities.
Tower T17039 5-in-1 Air Fryer review: What do you get for the money?
At £120, this is a reasonably priced, mid-range air fryer with enough capacity for a small 1kg chicken or frozen chips for two to three people. As well as its unconventional rotisserie function, it has all the classic features you’d expect from a model at this price, as well as a few premium ones.
This includes a fully digital touchscreen, with adjustable time and temperature settings, as well as a number of preset modes for popular foods such as chips and breaded foods. You can also use the touchscreen to switch between rotisserie cooking, baking, roasting, air frying or dehydrating.
Despite the fancy features, the Tower T17039 doesn’t feel as robust as the more expensive models we’ve reviewed. The body looks and feels cheap and the see-through hinged door, which opens outward, is a tad flimsy.
Inside, however, it’s a different story. Not only is it spacious, there are some high-quality cooking accessories, including all the bits for the rotisserie spit, as well as four baking trays: three cross-hatch crisping ones and a classic solid version.
You get a lot for your money with this air fryer, particularly when compared to pricier brands. But if £120 is still a bit of a stretch and you’re willing to forgo the digital screen and rotisserie function, the £60 Tower T17062 is a good cheap air fryer option. Alternatively, if you’re looking for something with more power and faster cooking times, the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone is another fryer to consider at £180.
Tower T17039 5-in-1 Air Fryer review: What’s good about it?
If that rotisserie has caught your eye though, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a little fiddly to set up at first but worked without a hitch thereafter, cooking an entire 1kg chicken – enough for three people – in just 45 minutes. The end result was perfectly crisp on the outside with a well-cooked, juicy centre. It required no additional prep or basting while cooking, either, making it a relatively fuss-free experience.
Oven chips, chicken nuggets and other breaded and battered frozen foods also came out deliciously crisp using the air fryer setting, in part thanks to the crisping trays. The trays also mean you can get away with not flipping certain food, although you might still want to do this to achieve even browning. Frozen food cooked around three to five minutes quicker than in a conventional oven.
While the use of trays reduces the overall capacity compared to basket air fryers, they allow foods to be crisped from the bottom and top without the need for constant shaking or turning. What’s more, the metal trays, as well as the metal interior of the fryer, are easy to keep clean and don’t hold onto oily residue.
Tower T17039 5-in-1 Air Fryer review: What could be better?
It might be easy to clean but the prep work required to make homemade chips cancels this out somewhat. Unlike premium air fryers, this model requires you to parboil your potatoes for a few minutes for a decent result. In testing, I compared one 200g batch of raw chips with 200g of chips parboiled for three minutes.The first batch produced chips with a dry, overcooked exterior, while the second batch had a crispy exterior and soft, fluffy interior. As good as the latter results were, the extra time and washing up it produces isn’t ideal.
Another niggle that might slow you down is the digital touchscreen. It’s nice to look at, but can be temperamental. On occasion, you’ll need to tap onscreen controls two or three times before it responds and this is even worse if your fingers are wet or oily.
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It doesn’t make it unusable but if aesthetics are less important to you, the T17038 manual model is worth considering. It’s identical in every other way and, as a bonus, is cheaper as well.
Tower T17039 digital 5-in-1 Air Fryer review: Should you buy it?
The Tower digital 5-in-1 is an affordable air fryer with an impressive array of features and accessories. If you’re looking to cook more than just chips, it’s certainly worth considering.
The rotisserie function is fantastic, cooking chicken to juicy perfection in next to no time. Moreover, extras like the digital presets and crisping trays make cooking other types of food relatively simple.
Unfortunately, making chips from scratch is more time consuming than it needs to be due to the need for parboiling. So if that’s predominantly what you want an air fryer for, we’d suggest coughing up a bit more for a premium model such as the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone. For everything else though, it’s ideal.