Breville Smart Oven Air vs. Philips Viva Air Fryer
This spring, we took our annual trip to visit my family in Singapore, my hometown. Singapore is a land where food reigns supreme. The most prominent of bloggers are the one who dedicate themselves to searching for the best food across the island. Because people love food so much, standards are extremely high. I was having lunch with my aunt’s family at a somewhat fancy restaurant in the city. To my surprise, I heard her order “spam fries” in Mandarin. They came out looking very much like fries, except in a darker flesh tone. Out of politeness, I tried a piece… it was good! I declined my second serving to which she replied, “Don’t worry, there’s no fat, it’s air fried.” I know… 😂. So what’s this air frying thing? It’s no surprise that Singaporeans are crazy over the air fryer. Singapore is 80-90F and humid all year round. For that reason, few venture to use their ovens or attempt to deep fry. Air frying solves that problem in the kitchen. These urn-shaped appliances do not radiate much heat at all, yet can “fry” up just about anything without the use of oil. When we got back, Mikee did the research and discovered that Philips was the pioneer in air frying technology. We waited for it to go on sale and got a Viva Air for $99.99. Shortly after, I came across a wirecutter article that claimed air fryers were just a gimmick, that you could actually get the same results on any convection oven, specifically the Breville Smart Oven Pro. Last night, I tested three appliances on my deep-fried favorites: Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi and firm tofu. I’m listing historical price ranges.
Breville Smart Convection Oven Pro - ($159-250)
Breville Smart Oven Air - ($245-$399)
As it turns out, they all air-fry reasonably well. The Philips Viva did the best job in even browning on all sides, followed by the smart oven air. The convection oven struggled the most because it did not have an air frying basket that the other two had. They did however all taste crispy and achieved what I would say is “deep-fried” textures. So which one should you get? It depends.
Why air fry in the first place?
As someone who is on a journey of weight loss, the air fryer is actually a convenient and key support tool for me. It helps me change things up, make food tastes like deep-fried without being deep fried.
The kids love the all-round crispy Cauliflower McNuggets or fries that I make. I’m able to deep fry some serious firm tofu for my favorite indonesian salad, gado gado. If I want to quickly crisp up some veggies, I just have to toss it in there for a few minutes. Miso salmon also comes up perfect in the air fryer. The possibilities are endless.
What about the cheaper air fryers and the cuisinart smart air oven?
I am an appliance snob and frankly do not like the idea of things breaking down on me so I will invest in leaders who are dominant in their category. Like the guys at Phillips, they have been doing what they’re doing for a long time. Breville’s smart oven is smart because it packs in a bunch of extra features like dehydration and proofing temperatures! There’s also cuisinart’s contender which will do the basic baking and air frying. But if you look closely at the specs you’ll know why. It’s a mini - 0.6 cubic feet compared to Breville’s 1.0 cubic feet. That means you won’t be able to bake a 12-pan muffin tray or 1/4 sheet casserole in it. Makes a huge difference if you want an oven that actually acts like a primary oven.
Who should NOT buy this?
Here’s my point of view based on painful lessons from my own personal experiences
If you want to get mileage out of any appliance, it needs to live on the countertop.
- Me, staring at the graveyard of appliances in our pantry.
It doesn’t matter how amazing the appliance is. That is why I haven’t touched my sous vide, yogurt maker, rice cooker in years. (My instant pot and slow cooker gets monthly use for a specific brunch I host at church). So either you have the real estate for it, or you downgrade another appliance to make room for it. Otherwise, save yourself some money and skip this one.