Easy to clean
Quieter than other air fryers
Temperature cannot be set above 400 degrees
Cooking basket can be tricky to insert
We purchased the Chefman 3.5 Liter Matte Digital TurboFry Air Fryer so our reviewer could put it to the test in her kitchen. Keep reading for our full product review.
By now you’ve probably heard about the air-frying craze and know a few home cooks who swear by their fryer. But did you know air fryers are highly versatile? They can be used for so many more recipes than just making oilless versions of french fries and potato chips—although those are good, too. Since an air fryer works a lot like a convection oven (there’s a heat source and a fan to distribute that heat), you can basically cook anything in an air fryer that you’d put in the oven–as long as it fits, that is. Think caramelized brussels sprouts, delicate kale chips, crisp bacon, light and fluffy doughnuts, and juicy meatballs. Chances are, the air fryer will cook your food faster and use less electricity than a standard oven.
The air fryers available today are designed with this cooking versatility in mind. Many models come loaded with cooking presets and various cooking racks so they’re ready to bake a pizza, roast a chicken, or dehydrate apple slices at the touch of a button. But if you prefer appliances with simpler controls, there’s an air fryer for you, too. The Chefman 3.5 Liter Matte Digital TurboFry Air Fryer is affordable, compact, and easy to operate. It has a pared-down control panel that’s available in both digital or analog formats. Although the settings are limited to time and temperature without any one-touch cooking presets, this air fryer can still be used to bake, fry, and roast. We cleared some space on the kitchen counter and gave this air fryer a try. Here’s our review.
Design: Sleek space-saver
This air fryer is surprisingly compact and lightweight compared to other air-fryer ovens we’ve reviewed. It fit beneath our kitchen cabinets, and the domed shape can easily be tucked into a kitchen corner. Plus, at inches wide, it doesn’t take up too much counter space. It would be easy to keep this air fryer stored out of sight in a pantry closet or cabinet since it can be moved around effortlessly.
The matte black finish looks good and resists fingerprints and smudges, so it’s easy to keep looking like new. And, since the controls only illuminate when the unit is powered on, there are no unsightly buttons or text when not in use.
Setup: Ready out of the box
This air fryer is the easiest to set up out of all the air fryers we’ve reviewed. It was packed in one piece without any accessories, so all we had to do was take it out of the box, plug it in, and give the cooking basket a quick wash.
Features: Digital controls
We love when we can unwrap a new kitchen appliance and get right to cooking without reading lengthy instructions first. If you’re not a fan of lengthy instructions, you’re going to appreciate the simplicity of this air fryer’s control panel.
There are five touch buttons: two to select time or temperature, plus/minus buttons to set time and temperature, and a start/stop button. We reviewed the model with digital controls, but the analog controls look just as intuitive with two dials to set time and temperature. The temperature can be set anywhere from 200 to 400 degrees, and the timer can be set up to 60 minutes on both models.
The cooking basket contains a flat, removable insert that keeps food off the bottom of the basket for hot-air circulation. The basket has a 3.5 liter or 14.7-cup capacity, and although that sounds like plenty of space to cook for a crowd, there are limits to what we could fit inside–more on that in a moment.
Performance: Food requires flipping
We used this air fryer to “fry” frozen french fries, bake frozen salmon burgers, reheat pizza slices, and roast both fresh and frozen brussels sprouts. We plugged it in, placed our food in the basket, set time and temperature, and pressed start. Since there are no cooking presets on this machine, we consulted the recommended cooking times in the manual. The digital control panel buttons are easy to use and responsive with a light touch.
Vegetables and frozen items cooked fast, although frozen fries took closer to 20 minutes—longer than expected—but the wait was worth it.
We had the best results when we flipped our food halfway through cooking time, but this is typical of most air fryers. Our vegetables and frozen items cooked fast, although frozen fries took closer to 20 minutes—longer than expected—but the wait was worth it since they turned out crisp and golden. Frozen brussels sprouts turned brown and crispy (just like roasting) without any oil and frozen salmon burgers were cooked through with a toasty exterior in about 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
The removable tray in the bottom of the cooking basket fell out when we tried to pour our fries onto a platter. It’s something to be aware of since the tray is hot and could be a burn risk. We found it much easier—and safer—to use tongs or a spatula to remove food from the cooking basket.
While the food basket is deep, there’s not a lot of surface area, which limited how much food we could prepare at once. The cooking basket is round and measures 8 inches in diameter, which is too small to fit a frozen pizza, although we were able to reheat a single leftover slice. It wasn’t our favorite use for this air fryer though, since the pizza crust turned out crisp on the edges but soggy on the bottom.
Although you can fit plenty of frozen fries, tots, or vegetables in the basket, remember that food crisps best in an air fryer when it’s arranged in a single layer. Overcrowding could result in prolonged cooking times or uneven cooking. Plus, it’s a lot harder to give the basket a shake mid-fry, which is recommended for even cooking if it’s filled to the brim.
Cleaning: Dishwasher-safe basket
The air-fryer basket and tray are easy to clean. They’re both nonstick coated, so food slides right off. If things get a little greasy, both the basket and tray can be placed in the dishwasher, but honestly, with so few pieces to clean, we opted to wash it in the sink. If you prefer washing by hand like us, just be sure to use a nonabrasive sponge to prevent scratching the nonstick coating.
The digital version of the Chefman TurboFry air fryer retails for about $80, which is significantly less expensive than oven-style air fryers and multi-cookers that typically retail in the $150-$300 range. It’s a more affordable option for home cooks who are curious to try air-frying for the first time or who plan to air-fry only occasionally. If you want to save even more, opt for the analog version, which retails for about $60.
If you want to save even more, opt for the analog version, which retails for about $60.
Chefman 3.5 Liter Matte Digital TurboFry Air Fryer Review vs. Ninja Foodi 5-in-1 Indoor Grill
The Ninja Foodi 5-in-1 Indoor Grill, which we also reviewed, is technically an indoor grill, but it’s also an air fryer and can be used for baking and roasting. The extra functionality comes at a greater cost, retailing for $230, but it comes with a grilling grate, crisping basket, and cooking pot. It's a powerful cooker, and the smokeless grilling function is most impressive. In our tests, we cooked salmon and chicken in minutes with grill marks that looked like the real deal.
The Ninja has a greater temperature range of 105 to 500 degrees and packs more power with 1750 watts. In our tests, we found the Ninja cooks faster. Its crisping basket is a bit bigger with a 4-quart capacity, compared to the roughly 3.5-quart basket on the Chefman, but it’s boxy and heavier, making it harder to store.
It’s a good value that's a great choice if you have limited space or budget.
The Chefman 3.5 Liter Matte Digital TurboFry Air Fryer is extremely easy to use and available with your choice of a digital or analog control panel—plus, it’s a cinch to keep clean and affordable, making it a great option for college students, new home cooks, or anyone who wants to try air-frying without spending a ton.
- Product Name 3.5-Liter Matte Digital TurboFry Air Fryer
- Product Brand Chefman
- MPN RJ38-V3-35T
- Price $99.99
- Weight 5 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 8 x 8 x 9.5 in.
- Wattage 1200
- Warranty 1 year
- What’s Included Air fryer, instruction manual, recipe book