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Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1 review: Cooking convenience (with one tiny catch)

Danielle Amato
17 Aug 2020
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
270
inc VAT

It doesn’t work quite how we expected, but this dual-compartment fryer has some of the best features around

Pros 
Consistent cooking results
Self-stirring paddle
Useful preset cooking modes for common dishes
Cons 
Quite big
Pricey
2in1 function isn’t quite what it seems
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With a whopping 1.7kg capacity, Tefal’s Genius XL 2in1 is the largest model in Tefal’s ever-expanding air-fryer army, cooking up to eight reasonably sized portions of food, or six larger ones at a time. Like most air fryers, it lets you cook crispy chips and other traditional "deep-fried" foods with just one spoonful of oil and produces golden, crunchy results with far less fat than traditional deep frying.

However, where the XL 2in1 stands out is its design. Thanks to its dual cooking compartment and stirring paddle, it’s one of the most sophisticated air fryers you can buy right now. These features are unique to Tefal and only this model has a dual compartment, making this the air fryer to buy if you’re looking for maximum convenience and impressive performance.

Tefal Actifry Genius XL 2in1 review: What you need to know

  • Price: £270
  • 1.7kg (eight portions)
  • Two cooking compartments for air-frying separate ingredients
  • Manual timing and temperature controls
  • Automatic temperature and time adjustment via preset functions
  • Viewing window
  • Self-stirring wand
  • Dishwasher-safe cooking basket
  • Weight: 7kg
  • Dimensions: 32.8 x 47.6 x 23.6cm (WDH)

Buy now from Argos


What do you get for the money?

The Genius XL 2in1 has a unique dual-cooking compartment system. This means there are two separate cooking trays that can be used to cook two different types of food. The bottom compartment has that clever 360-degree stirring paddle for things like chips or even stir-fries. Meanwhile, the removable upper tray (which you never need to use if you’d prefer not to) is designed for foods that don’t typically need stirring such as spring rolls, bread and burgers.

Although Tefal claims you can cook two types of food simultaneously with the Genius XL 2in1, this isn’t strictly the case. Instead, it lets you programme the two trays at once, before prompting you to insert the second compartment only after the first has finished cooking. While the top tray cooks, the bottom enters into a keep-warm mode, meaning that both elements of your meal are still ready to eat at the same time.

As you might expect, the Genius XL 2in1 comes with more than just the standard measuring spoon you find with most air fryers. In the box, there’s the secondary plate for that dual cooking function along with a sturdy, removable handle for the upper tray. Finally, you’ll also find an anti-spill ring, which can be attached to the machine to minimise splatter from messy foods such as curries.

The 1.7kg capacity does mean the Genius XL 2in1 is rather enormous. With a depth of nearly 48cm, it’s the largest air fryer we’ve ever tested, so you’ll need to make plenty of room for it on your kitchen counter. If you’re lucky enough to have the space, though, you’ll want to keep it out on display, as it’s a magnificent beast.

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The main body has that signature, bulbous shape you’ll find on all Actifry machines, as well as the cool-touch handles and buttons. Towards the back, you’ll find a slick digital touchscreen, where you can set the time and temperature, or pick from nine preset modes.

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What can you do with it?

It’s these preset modes that set Tefal’s Actifry Genius range apart from the manufacturer’s Actifry Original models, as they allow you to cook the basics, as well as some less-than-traditional air-fried goods. This includes presets for chips; breaded foods; battered foods; meat or veggie balls; pastries; plain chicken; wok foods such as stir-fries; world foods such as tagine; and, finally, desserts. When using these modes, Tefal’s smart auto-adjustment system automatically changes the temperature and determines how often the stirring paddle rotates to ensure your food never overcooks.

If you prefer to do things your own way, there’s also a manual mode where you can set the time and temperature to your liking. Temperatures range from 70 to 220˚C and you can air fry for up to an hour. There’s also a delayed start option, which allows you to programme the fryer to start cooking up to nine hours in advance. You’ll find a recipe booklet for use with the preset modes, as well as a detailed food chart with different cooking weights and times included with the machine. There’s also an Actifry app with further recipe ideas and suggestions.

What’s it good at?

Unlike some cheaper models, one of the perks of the Genius XL 2in1 is that it comes up to temperature almost instantly, whether you’re using the preset modes or adjusting it manually. You’ll never have to wait for it to preheat, meaning it will cook food quicker than most ovens.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, homemade chips and breaded snacks are where this air fryer really excels. Although we found it is possible to cook your chips with no oil at all, they will have a nicer texture when at least a small amount is used. During testing, 500g of raw potato produced the best results when using Tefal’s minimum oil suggestion of around half a tablespoon – as noted on the Actifry spoon included in the box.

Using the Chips And Fries preset mode, the fryer made relatively crispy chips, with soft centres in 29 minutes. For me this was just right, but for those who prefer their chips really crispy, you may want to run the air fryer manually for a further 8-10 minutes for extra browning and crunch.

The air fryer also produces delicious homemade chicken nuggets. Using the Breaded Food preset mode, two chicken breasts – cut into chunks of approximately 4cm and breaded – came out with supremely crispy outsides and tender, juicy interiors. For larger portions, I’d suggest cooking nuggets in the bottom paddle basket. For smaller portions, alongside chips for example, they'll do better on the top.

Both the stirring paddle and the dual-cooking trays are very useful features that make the cooking process easier and more enjoyable. The paddle does an impressive job of stirring your food and I never found that it squashed or broke the chips down during cooking.

Moreover, the 2in1 feature might not cook two elements simultaneously, but that doesn’t mean it's not worth having. I enjoyed being able to cook my stir-fries and sides in the same machine, without needing to constantly keep an eye on them, and the keep-warm feature meant my food always came out piping hot at the same time.

Buy now from Argos


What could be improved?

The 2in1 feature isn’t the easiest thing to navigate. On my first attempt at programming this feature, I tried to follow the instructions in the recipe booklet and found them to be rather mystifying. After finding better step-by-step instructions in the main manual, I had more success. Having said that, I felt they could still be clearer. As such, I suspect those who struggle with reading and following complex instructions may find this feature quite difficult to use.

Another issue I found is that, while it does a fantastic job of cooking up big portions, the Genius XL 2in1 struggles when there’s less in the pan. When I cooked less than 500g of chips, the end result was dryer. Of course, this is a large-capacity air fryer, so if you’re planning on cooking small portions regularly, I’d suggest opting for a smaller model such as the Actifry Genius+. Otherwise, you can ditch the preset mode and manually adjust the timing and temperature on the machine for better results.

Should I buy it?

Despite the 2in1 function not working quite how I’d expected, it’s difficult not to be impressed by this air fryer. It does a great job of cooking a range of breaded snacks and pastries, and chips, in particular, came out fantastically crisp without having to turn them like you would in a regular oven.

Although there’s a time penalty because they don’t work simultaneously, being able to cook two different elements of a dish in the same machine also makes the cooking process almost entirely hassle-free, as there are no other pots or pans to contend with. You won’t find this feature on any other air fryer, so if convenience is a priority to you, look no further.

If you’re worried about its size, it’s worth pointing out that the Tefal Actifry Genius+ offers many of the same intuitive features (but not the 2in1 function) in a slightly smaller package.

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