What is the Tefal Actifry Genius XL?

The Actifry might have entered our kitchens with the offer of low-fat chips, but a lot has changed since then. Now, Tefal Actifry Genius XL promises to revolutionise all parts of dinner time, not only making fuss-free fries but a wide variety of dishes with nine automatic programmes and manual cooking.

In some ways, it feels like this model has been stripped back to what works well – such as its self-stirring and step-by-step recipes – with more features to max out cooking convenience. These include two programmes that are ‘1 Meal in 1 Go’ – meaning you can add everything at once and let the Actifry handle dinner while you enjoy some free time.

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Actifry Genius XL – Design and features

In terms of design, the Tefal Actifry Genius XL hasn’t altered significantly in shape. Like its predecessors, it has a see-through lid that makes it simple to check on progress. Inside, its non-stick pan features a rotating paddle with a hook-style design that turns and flips food, ensuring even results with its hot-air cooking. You’ll need to make room on your countertops for the cooker, including space above for the lid to open, but the capacity is great for larger families.

The Genius XL will make five main meals or eight side dishes in its 1.7kg-capacity pan (there’s a 1.2kg version, if you don’t need that much room). There’s a chef’s hat programme selection button for chips, breaded food, battered food, rolls, meatballs, chicken pieces, wok for stir-fried food and rice dishes, world cuisine such as curries, and desserts.

Each can have its time or temperature toggled (with up and down and time/temperature buttons), plus there’s a nine-hour delay start and 30-minute keep warm. Cooking can be paused and there’s a clear display counting down time and the mode it’s in.

Tefal Actifry Genius XL – What’s it like to use?

There are a few recipes to get you started with the Actifry Genius XL, but the best way of exploring what it can make is through the app. While a previous model – the Tefal Actifry Smart XL – had Bluetooth connectivity, here the app is more about the choice of recipes, so you can cook anything from homemade granola to calamari or roast chicken.

I started by making meatballs using the manual mode followed by an automatic programme. Placing chopped onion in the pan and half a spoon of oil, I set it cooking for 15 minutes on 160ºC. The Genius XL was quite noisy in operation but it was still possible to have a conversation over it.

The paddle turned continuously as the onions sautéed. After the cooking time had elapsed, the onions hadn’t caramelised sufficiently so I cooked them for a further five minutes. Once finished, the onions were browned but some pieces had dried out and blown around, ending up outside the pan.

Mixing the cooked onion into the meatball mix was messier than incorporating it raw. After rolling into balls and piling up behind the paddle, I selected mode 5 (meatballs) for 20 minutes, which started cooking without stirring.

Once the meatballs had started to brown, the paddle began to turn to rotate them. This broke up some of the meatballs rounds, which was disappointing. However, the finished meat was well cooked and not dry.

Next, I made chips using the mode 1 programme (chips), using the machine’s full 1.7kg capacity. The chipped raw potatoes easily fit into the pan and required only a single Actifry spoon of oil (around 20ml). Mode 1 defaults to a time of 29 minutes, but the chips required 42 minutes – far longer than a deep-fat fryer or oven baking. In this programme, the paddle turned constantly, though, so it was easy to walk away while the potato chips fried. After 25 minutes, the chips had started to brown. At the end of the programme, the chips were well cooked, but there were some charred pieces. The chips were crisp on the outside and soft inside, although not as crunchy as if they’d been oven-baked, nor as flavourful as deep-fried chips.

Finally, I tried one of the 1 Meal in 1 Go settings to make a turkey breast and pepper dish. Using mode 8 (world cuisine), I placed peppers at the back of the pan, plus turkey piled on top of onion and garlic at the front, with the paddle to the right. Having to add ingredients in a specific place makes this ‘one-step’ setting more complicated, but with regular use it could become second nature. Adding oil and vinegar, I set it cooking for 30 minutes. It began to cook without the paddle and started to stir about 15 minutes in. I paused the programme briefly, and resumed it by pressing the start button.

Once finished, I found that a clump of the turkey had stuck to the paddle, so while cooked, it wasn’t browned all over. Nevertheless, the pepper and onion was perfectly sautéed and slightly sweet. The turkey was dry and greasy, so a reduced time with less oil might solve this.

While it was convenient to put everything in the dishwasher, the paddle emerged with food still stuck to it on each occasion, so required hand-washing.

Why buy the Actifry Genius XL?

The Actifry gets better with every incarnation, with the Genius XL creating tasty, healthy meals that require next to no culinary skills or monitoring. It’s perfect for families who might otherwise rely on ready meals and takeaways when they’re multitasking or short on time, or simply for those who don’t enjoy cooking. While it would be great to see the paddle as non-stick as the pan, the Genius XL is otherwise low-maintenance, easy to use and large enough so you can batch cook, too.

Verdict

Conquer your fear of cooking from scratch with this big, friendly health fryer.



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