Few foods elicit satisfaction like those that are deep-fried. Too bad it's such a fat-soaked process. That's why these cookers caught our attention. Each claims to yield state-fair-ready foods using 80 percent less oil than standard models. Just fill the basket and set the temperature, and a system of swirling air and radiative heat takes care of the frying. They roast, grill, and steam, too. "I was amazed how well these worked," says chef Doug Psaltis, who tested each at his Chicago restaurant Bub City. "Only a few teaspoons of oil went a long way." No, they aren't a free pass to eating fried; they're just a smarter way to indulge.
Fill the spoon with oil, set the timer, and watch as the ActiFry utilizes its "heat pulse" system and rotating paddle to fry foods. It steams and roasts, too, and has an audible countdown timer. Psaltis loved its design and how well it made a healthy stir-fry, but he was otherwise unimpressed: "Only firm foods cooked well," he said. "Its paddle smashed soft items like tater tots and french fries." [$200; tfalactifry.com]