Why is there an air fryer shortage and what can I do about it?
Air fryers are hugely popular right now. With many retailers running low on stock, our experts share their advice for finding the best models, plus some surprising alternatives to consider
The demand for air fryers has surged to the point that the super-popular appliance is now in short supply.
Shortages first started occurring over the summer, with demand for some models now far outstripping supply in the run-up to the busiest retail period of the year.
Price comparison site Price Runner said it has seen a 22,000% rise in clicks on the highly popular Ninja air fryer this October, compared to October 2021. This model is currently widely out of stock.
Other air fryers have seen a significant uptick more recently, with Price Runner seeing a 462% increase in clicks on the Tefal ActiFry Genius XL air fryer, another model with stock shortages, from July to October 2022.
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Our best air fryer review saw a year-on-year increase of over half a million page views in October, a surge of 1,375%.
As waitlists are mounting and supply ever-changing, we have investigated what you can do if you’re trying to get your hands on an air fryer.
Why is there an air fryer shortage in the UK?
The current cost-of-living crisis has propelled energy-saving air fryers into the spotlight.
Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that in the first week of October, 93% of those surveyed reported their cost of living had increased, compared to the same week last year.
Rising costs are having a knock-on impact on how we use our homes. The BBC Good Food nation survey 2022 showed that 18% of participants have switched off their ovens for good.
Air fryers can provide a low-energy alternative to an oven depending on the model and your energy provider. Research by Utilita shows that an air fryer costs only £52.74 to use for a year, compared to an electric oven, which costs on average £316.64.
Social media has also played a massive part in turning air fryers into a much-desired, sell-out appliance.
The video format of TikTok has been particularly influential in showing people just how easy air fryers are to use. One TikTok account dedicated to air fryer recipes, @airfry_jen, has nearly 100,000 followers and a video for a pasta bake cooked in the air fryer that has over 9 million views.
Demand has been steadily rising during 2022 according to retailer Lakeland: “We have seen a 51% increase in the sale of air fryers this year."
Other retailers have also noticed a sharp rise, compared to previous years. Online marketplace On Buy has reported a 4635% increase in air fryer sales in October 2022, compared to the same period in 2021 – and many retailers it stocks have sold out entirely.
In response, retailers have been trying different tactics to make sure we can all still get hold of air fryers.
Lakeland has been working to diversify the brands it stocks in order to keep up with demand. A spokesperson from Lakeland told us: "The buying department has been working hard to introduce new branded models from the likes of Instant Pot, Cuisinart and more."
Is it better to buy an air fryer now or wait for deals?
It can be tempting to wait for big sale events like Black Friday to try to get the biggest savings, but this is the time when air fryers are most likely to be out of stock due to higher demand.
If you’re looking to buy an air fryer today and beat the shortages, we’ve done the research for you, with a round-up of today’s best air fryer deals. Stock levels are changing frequently, so we're regularly checking stock online to keep you updated on prices and availability. You can also read our guide: are air-fryers worth it?
How to keep track of air fryer stock in the UK
The best way to make sure you don’t get caught out by stock shortages is to stay in the loop about which products are on the market. Sign up to the BBC Good Food newsletter to get information on the latest deals and promotions on kitchen appliances, as well as exclusive reader offers.
If you have your eye on a particular air fryer that's out of stock, you might be able to turn on notifications that let you know when it comes back in, or set up Google alerts.
Make sure you check stock availability across several trusted retailers, as stock levels will vary depending on the shop.
Prices can change a lot, especially during big sale events like Black Friday. Retailers will often hold some stock back for these events, but air fryers are still likely to sell out during this peak period of online shopping. So, if there’s an air fryer you want, buy it as soon as it’s at a price point you’re happy with — the longer you wait, the more likely it is to be out of stock.
Some retailers will still let an order be processed, only to tell you that the air fryer you’ve had your heart set on won't arrive for several months, so make sure you check the listed delivery date to avoid getting caught out.
When is an air fryer deal too good to be true?
Some retailers, like Ninja, have reported a rise in fraudulent sites claiming to have air fryers that are sold out everywhere else.
Only buy from retailers that you know and trust. It's important to read reviews and do your research, especially when buying an expensive item. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
What’s the best air fryer for me?
There are different types of air fryers depending on what you want to use it for. Styles that have been featured less on social media are more likely to be in stock, but it’s important to make the right choice for you. We outline the different types here, and offer our tried-and-tested favourites, below:
- Rotisserie air fryers are designed for cooking dishes such as whole chickens evenly with a golden finish, alongside chips in the basket below, all while potentially using less energy than an oven. If you’re looking to keep cooking your Sunday roast amidst rising energy prices, this could be a good option.
- Interior paddle air fryers keep food moving round in the tray without the oil draining away, which could work well for things like rice, as well as frying.
- Basket-style air fryers have a basket or trays that slide out of the main unit. Food cooked in these often needs to be tossed mid-cooking to ensure even heating, but they can be great for crispy chips or chicken.
- Mini-oven air fryers heat food using convection or fan technology, and are a perfect alternative to a traditional oven, especially if you are cooking for one.
If you’re not sure which air fryer you are looking for, read our guide to the best air fryers in 2022.
Air fryer alternatives
If you’re looking to use your oven less, an air fryer is a good option, as they're effectively convection ovens in miniature, with additional functions to boast. But, there are lots of kitchen appliances out there that may be better suited to your needs and easier to get your hands on.
Multicookers are incredibly versatile and will save both money and space thanks to the variety of functions they pack in. Most offer air frying as a function, plus steaming, sautéing, baking, slow cooking and often pressure cooking, meaning they can make anything from a creamy chicken korma to decadent chocolate & marmalade steamed pudding.
Multicookers are also great for families, as they often have a ‘keep warm’ function, which can be really useful for busy weeknights.
As the days get colder and the nights draw in, you might find yourself thinking more about comfort foods like spicy carrot & lentil soup, rich beef bourguignon or hearty lamb shanks with meat melting off the bone. If this is more your style, a slow cooker might be better suited to your needs.
Slow cookers are a really useful appliance, with lower energy usage than a traditional oven, despite longer cooking times. Unsure whether a slow cooker might be right for you? Our guide to the best slow cookers in 2022 is a good place to start.
Three air fryers you can buy right now
Ninja AF160UK air fryer max 5.2-litre
- Available from Currys (£149)
Best air fryer for quick baking
Star rating: 5/5
The circular non-stick tray makes this air fryer great for baking cakes, really adding to its versatility. It comes with a wide range of preset options, including max crisp, air fry, bake, reheat and dehydrate.
Read the full Ninja AF160UK air fryer max review.
Sage The Smart Oven air fryer
Best multi-tasking air fryer
Star rating: 5/5
This large air fryer has a really premium feel and looks great on a counter. The spacious model means there is room to make a meal for four, with a number of different settings. Usually top of the price range, this would be a great air fryer to get during a sales event.
£329 at AO.com
Read the full Sage The Smart Oven air fryer review
Breville Halo rotisserie air fryer oven
- Available from Argos (£170)
Best rotisserie air fryer for chips
Star rating: 5/5
This air fryer works as an alternative to your main oven, allowing you to cook food in less time with less oil, and potentially using less energy. The well-lit interior allows you to keep an eye on your food as it cooks, and we found the rotisserie function quite mesmerising.
Read the full Breville Halo rotisserie air fryer oven review.