Air fryers have nothing to do with frying. In reality, they are nothing more than mini-versions of convection ovens, so to speak. So if you use a fan oven at home, you cook in exactly the same way.
But air fryers have become all the rage because they’re so easy to use: you put the food in, press a button, and come back 15 to 20 minutes later to eat. Since they are much smaller than a normal oven, they also work much faster. Plus, if you just want to cook a chicken or fries, they’re more energy efficient: it takes far less energy to cook in one than to heat up a huge oven.
However, what is gained in efficiency and energy savings is lost in counter space. An air fryer is a bulky box that requires a dedicated spot, and if you end up having to store it in a far away cupboard, you might not bother to retrieve it and fire up the oven instead.
Xiaomi is best known for its phones and fitness bands, but it also offers a range of smart home products, such as sensors, cameras, light bulbs and routers. And of course this smart 3.5 liter fryer.
Mi Air Fryer Design
- 3.5 liter capacity
- 33.5 x 25.2 x 30.4cm
- A numbering operation
This has to be one of the best looking air fryers on the market. These aren’t usually the prettiest appliances: they’re big, square, featureless boxes for the counter.
Xiaomi took advantage of this circumstance, turning the lack of functions into a feature in itself. The Mi Smart Air Fryer is stark white and minimalist, with an almost invisible power key and a single central dial, rather than a series of buttons.
The dial houses a digital display that displays a top menu of cooking options, including expected fries, chicken wings, and fish. But there are also dried fruit and cake options.
Can you really bake a cake in an air fryer? Of course: it’s a mini convection oven. You’ll have to experiment with the settings though, because I guarantee your first try won’t be perfect. However, once you figure this out, you can bake a cupcake in half the time it takes in the oven.
There’s also a steak setting, which I wouldn’t recommend using unless you’re the kind of maniac who likes to bake a steak.
In addition to the presets, there is a manual cook option. If you select it, you can adjust the temperature and cooking time, so once you’ve shredded your first pie or steak, you can adjust the times and try again.
The air fryer measures 13.25″ x 10″ x 12″ and has an internal capacity of 3.5 liters, enough space to cook two servings of food: quarter pound or chicken breasts, fries for two or a few fries.
The obvious limitation of an air fryer of this size is the fact that it cannot fit an entire dinner for two people. Still, it’s handy if you’re looking for a quick way to cook part of the meal (fries, chicken breast) while preparing the rest on the hob (steak, stir-fry, steamed vegetables).
But keep in mind that this is a device more suitable for cooking alone, or perhaps for a couple. Families will need something much bigger.
Although I like the design of the Mi Fryer, I’m less convinced by its build quality. The drawer tends to jam when opening and closing. After a few uses, I struggled with it. This left me with some doubts about the longevity of the device.
Using the Mi Air Fryer
- Cooking range from 40°C to 200°C
- 8 preset programs
- Wi-Fi connectivity
The Mi Fryer is basically silly. If you use one of the preset programs, it will even remind you halfway through to turn the food or, in the case of fries, to shake it.
It comes with a removable grid. I found that if I put a steak or burger in it, I didn’t need to flip the food halfway through the cooking cycle, allowing for more laziness.
Still, it’s a smart air fryer, so to get the most out of it you’ll need to download the free Xiaomi Home app, which is available for Apple and Android. (By the way, you can still use the air fryer manually.)
Setup is very easy: just follow the instructions to connect the fryer to Wi-Fi and you’re good to go. In my case, it connected instantly.
The functions of the fryer app are very simple and straightforward, one might even say limited. There are the same cooking presets you’ll find on the device itself, plus a defrost function and an option to create and name custom recipes.
Probably the most useful smart feature is the ability to control cooking from the app, with the ability to switch off or pause the program remotely. It’s a really handy feature.
You can also schedule cooking and start a cooking program via voice control via Google Home Assistant, although in my experience it’s complicated to set up and not worth the effort.
However, Xiaomi predicts that you could also “put your food in the Mi Smart Air Fryer ahead of time, and enjoy the delicious hot meals waiting for you when you come home from work in the evening”.
It sounds like a terrible idea. Do you really want to leave food at room temperature all day to save half an hour of cooking? It looks like they are trying to use the smart features. But this is something characteristic of smart kitchen appliances in general.
Like the Proscenic T21, another smart air fryer we reviewed, the Mi app includes recipes, each accompanied by a cooking schedule. The recipes range from the most basic (burgers, roasted broccoli) to the most daring (cheesecake, dried fruit).
They are also more complicated, involving preheating steps, placing aluminum foil in the basket and, in the case of cakes, finding the right size pan to fit in the air fryer.
All things considered, an air fryer is a lot like a microwave. And there are two types of microwave cooks: those who know all the settings and research the recipes to produce perfectly poached salmon, and those who heat leftovers until they burst or the tin rattles.
If you’re in the latter group (like me), you’ll never use all of these recipes, so you really need to think about how you’d use the smart features.
Price and availability
The Mi Smart Air Fryer has a retail price of 97.99 dollars and is sold in most stores at this price.
It’s a bit more expensive than similar sized air fryers without the smart feature. However, it is cheaper than the Proscenic T21 Smart Air Fryer, which currently costs $106.86. However, it is a much larger device (5.5 liters) with a noticeably more robust construction.
The Mi fryer is very beautiful, although it seems a little flimsy and I don’t think it will last a lifetime. Plus, there’s the question of whether you want to pay extra for a small fryer to get the extra smart features. These are limited unless you want to experiment with more complicated recipes in the air fryer.
If you want to consider more options, you can check out our guide to the best air fryers.
- Xiaomi Mi Smart Air Fryer: Specifications
- Model Number: BHR4857HK
- Capacity: 3.5 liters
- Dimensions: 33.5 x 25.2 x 30.4 cm
- Power: 1500 watts