Hands-on review: Proscenic T21 Smart Air Fryer
Image credit: Proscenic Smart Air Fryer
A healthier alternative to deep-fat frying that’s compatible with voice control on your Smart speakers or phone, with support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
Air fryers are a healthy alternative to deep-fat frying but the downside is that they take up a chunk of worktop space. You can cook most things in an oven anyway, so the question is whether they cook better than an oven or not.
The Proscenic T21 is pretty chunky – all air fryers are – but the boxy design is sleek. The lines are clean because there are no buttons; instead it has touch controls on the front that light up.
I started by testing it with frozen French fries. You pre-heat the fryer for five minutes at the right temperature (204°C) then there’s a button for fries. You can select other popular foods with ease and then adjust the time and temperature to suit. To give you a sense of the capacity, it can cook up to 1.7lb (770g).
Frozen fries were superb: good and crispy and faster than oven cooking. The instructions say 9-16 minutes and 9 or 10 minutes was plenty. I slid out the cooking basket twice to shake them. I also tried the home-made fries recipe: thinly slice potatoes, soak in salt water, dry then mix with a little olive oil and cornflour. The results were tasty but they burned too easily on top and regular shaking just wasn’t enough to prevent it. Considering the effort, they just didn’t feel worth it.
The T21 was good with frozen veggie nuggets too, in just 8 minutes. That’s half the time they normally take in the oven and the results were better: crisper on the outside but still juicy in the middle. It cooks food fast, it’s crispy and excess oil drains away. There’s a recipe book featuring everything from steaks to cakes but I concluded that it’s best suited to making frozen convenience food faster and healthier. Or for anyone who just doesn’t have enough oven space for a family dinner and could do with a bit more cooking space.
All that is before even considering the fact that the Proscenic T21 can also connect to an app on your phone.
Setting up the Smart controls was surprisingly simple. I already had the ProscenicHome app on my Android phone from testing the Proscenic 850T Smart vacuum cleaner, though I did have to log out and log back in again for it to find my router. Pairing is the usual drill: you squeeze a button to make the fryer visible to the phone, then connect to it via Wi-Fi briefly to teach it your router’s password. It was pretty effortless.
The app screen is exactly what you’d want: clear buttons for preset cooking functions and easy controls of times and temperature. It replicates what’s on the front of the fryer but improves on its user interface. It stores your cooking history, so you can repeat favourites. You can also share control with other members of the household.
You can turn the Proscenic on and off via app and control everything. So, for example, you can turn it on and set it to preheat. That way you only have to stand up to put the food in. I was, as my kids would say, “living the slug life”.
The app also features a tab full of recipes (air-fryer manufacturers are always trying to persuade users to make much more than chips – it is basically a compact, speedy fan oven). I liked the recipes and found quick inspiration. However I had to go back to the main menu to preheat the machine, then when it was preheating I couldn’t return to the recipe to read the instructions because I was in the middle of cooking. I had to wait until the preheating was over, which was a pain. Each recipe page in the app should include a ‘preheat for this recipe’ button.
My only real quibble with the app control is that the appliance doesn’t communicate with the phone enough. On my phone I could see a countdown of the cooking time, but there was no alert when the cooking cycle finished; I just had the (admittedly loud) beep of the T21 itself to tell me that the food was ready. There were also no “it’s time to shake your fries” reminders.
The app menu includes an option to connect to Amazon Alexa. I’m more of a Google woman though, and it lacked information on how to connect it to Google Home for voice control. I ultimately figured it out for myself. I had to go to the Home app on my phone and give it my Proscenic password so it could log on and add the device. Suddenly I could control it with my voice! I could turn it on and off and control features just by saying “Hey Google”.
It was a great novelty to tell it to warm up the fryer without lifting a finger. However, like all voice control, it was patchy and I found myself reaching for the app in preference because that worked 100 per cent of the time. Either way, it still felt like I was living the slug life.
Should you buy an air fryer? If you usually deep-fry chips, chicken and more, an air fryer is a healthy alternative for sure. And it gives you extra cooking space. But if you get by just fine without then maybe stick to the oven chips.
If you do want an air fryer then the Proscenic T21 is a good one, the Smart features are handy and the price is pretty reasonable.
Tefal’s top-of-the-range air fryers are big and pricey but versatile. The big, round basket has a stirrer so cooking is even. The top Genius model also has a rotating basket above it for two cooking zones. No smart controls but there is a recipe app.
From £189 tefal.co.uk
Ninja Air Fryer
Cheap as healthy chips? The smaller capacity air fryer from Ninja can cook 900g of fries and works much like the Proscenic, but without the Smart controls. Or cook more with the bigger model designed for larger families.
From £99.98 ninjacooking.co.uk
Instant Pot Duo Crisp & Air Fryer 8L
This versatile cooker has two different lids: one for air frying and another for pressure cooking. It also lets you sauté, steam, slow cook, roast, bake and more.
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