We tried Oprah's favorite air fryer—is it worth the hype?
The Yedi Total Package Air Fryer Oven XL is famous and Oprah-approved.
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This has been the year of the air fryer and enthusiasm for these appliances shows no signs of dying down any time soon. Air fryers allow us to indulge in the comfort foods we crave during the holidays without all the fat that usually comes with them. When we saw the new Yedi Total Package Air Fryer Oven XL land on Oprah’s Favorite Things 2020 list, we had to put it to the test to find out if really was a standout in the category.
How does the Yedi Total Package Air Oven XL look and feel?
The Yedi has a generic appearance that doesn’t give the impression that design was the manufacturer’s biggest consideration in developing the product. It has a glossy black plastic housing and an indistinctive digital control panel. However, it does seem sturdy.
Unlike most air fryers, which are egg shaped, the Yedi is boxy. Rather than a fry basket that you slide in and out, it has a drop-down oven door with interior shelves. Taller than it is wide, this air fryer doesn’t take up as much space as something like a standard toaster oven, but it’s not so tall that it won’t fit under a cabinet.
The Yedi comes with two flat mesh trays and a mesh basket for air frying, a cooking rack, a nonstick drip pan, and two silicone mitts. Other accessories include a rotisserie rod, two different cages, a contraption to hold skewers that rotate on the rod, and a set of 10 skewers.
What can the Yedi Total Package Air Fryer Oven XL do?
The Yedi includes a built-in rotisserie, which is a special feature as far as air fryers go. It has a control panel with 16 different functions including preprogrammed temperatures and times, which can be adjusted if desired. There’s also a button for activating the rotisserie. For those times when you want to prepare your food ahead of time, there’s a Delay Start function; just remember not to delay cooking for more than an hour for any foods that need refrigeration.
Settings include French Fries, Pizza, Wings, Chicken, Steak, Fish, Shrimp, Cake, Vegetables, Toast, Dehydrate, Bake, Keep Warm, Defrost, and Frozen Foods as well as Manual, which allows you to program in your desired time and temperature. Unlike most ovens, there’s no broil setting and the highest temperature setting is 430°F.
What we like
- No preheat required
- Good at air frying
- Rotisserie works well
- It’s quiet
- There’s an oven light to check on food
What we don’t like
- Generic design
- Bakes poorly
- Control panel isn’t intuitive
- Manual doesn’t give enough details
- Lots of accessories to store
How does it perform?
The Yedi does a good job of air frying as long as you toss or turn over food during cooking. Because there’s no heating element on the bottom, it primarily browns on top. And as with most air fryers, you get better results with frozen foods than ones prepared from scratch. I air fried frozen French fries in both the mesh tray and in the round rotisserie cage and they came out much crisper when the fries were spread out on the tray than tumbling in the cage.
In spite of the fact that the Yedi has a toast function, it’s not a toaster. It’s basically baking your bread and it does so unevenly. When you press the Toast button you get an oven temperature that you can raise or lower, but you don’t get a choice of number of slices or times for different degrees of doneness. You have to figure out for yourself how long to bake your bread to get it toasted to your liking or if you’d get better results by changing the temperature.
If you have no other way to bake, you can use the Yedi as an oven, but don’t expect to get the kind of baked goods you get from your full-size oven or even a toaster oven. Biscuits came out very unevenly browned on top and barely colored on the bottom. When we baked a cake from a boxed cake mix, it came out almost burnt on top with a huge dome and a lot of cracks.
Asparagus spears cooked up al dente and lightly browned and arctic char filets came out moist and flaky, when I used the Vegetable and Fish settings, respectively.
When I saw how beautiful my rotisserie chicken turned out, it seemed totally worth the work it took to tie up and skewer the chicken before mounting the rotisserie rod in the oven. In just 40 minutes I got a perfectly cooked moist chicken with golden-brown crackling skin, which was a significant upgrade from the ones you buy in the supermarket. However, I cooked a 3-pound chicken and although Yedi says you can rotisserie a chicken up to 5 pounds, it didn’t look like there was much clearance for a larger chicken to rotate in the oven.
I also cooked a steak in the steak cage as well as lamb and vegetable kebabs on the skewer rotisserie. I was very pleased with how both the steak and the skewers came out. However, I found that cooking that steak on the oven rack and turning it halfway through was easier and took less time than using the rotisserie cage.
I tried the Defrost, Frozen Foods, and Keep Warm settings, with varying results. The defrost setting nicely thawed a pound of lamb chunks in 30 minutes, leaving them slightly icy in the center and not at all warm or cooked on the outside. It took about 35 minutes to heat up frozen dish of macaroni and cheese and although that was far longer than it would have taken in the microwave, it came out browned and crusty yet not at all dried out.
Depending on how hot your food is to begin with, you can keep it warm for between 10 and 30 minutes using the default Keep Warm setting. And finally, I was able to make a bowlful of crispy kale chips in just two hours using the Dehydrate setting.
Performance aside, how easy is it to use and clean?
Programming the digital control panel involves many steps. You have to press an On/Off button to wake up the panel, select Menu, then scroll through a bar with 16 function pads. If you wish to change the temperature or time you have to press a Temp/Time pad before pressing the higher and lower arrows for each. Then to begin cooking, you have to press On/Off again. Maybe it’s just me, but every single time I used it, I instinctively pressed the Delay Start button before remembering to press On/Off.
There’s no preheat function and there are no prompts for stirring or turning, which makes this a set it and forget it appliance—however, stirring or turning does improve the results and I found myself setting a timer to remind myself to check my food during cooking. While it’s operating, the fan in this product is barely audible and you can turn on an interior light to check on your food.
The manufacturer recommends hand washing all parts, which isn’t easy as they have lots of crevices and can take some detail work to get spotless. The only exception is the drip pan, which has a nonstick finish. As there are a lot of pieces to store and some of them are small and could easily get lost, I’d recommend getting a box or bag to stash them all in.
Unfortunately, the manual that comes with the Yedi is not as helpful as it could be. It explains the basic operation and gives detailed instructions for using the rotisserie including how to truss a chicken but it doesn’t offer much guidance for other foods. (It takes a bit of effort to learn how to set up the rotisserie attachments but after a few uses, I got the hang of it.)
There’s no indication as to what amounts of food to use, no suggested cooking times, and little information on which items to cook with which accessory. A poorly organized recipe booklet is included and its only sections include Vegan Recipes, Keto Recipes, and Dessert.
Yedi offers a two-year limited warranty on the Yedi Total Package Air Fryer Oven XL.
What owners say
On Amazon, the Yedi Total Package Air Fryer Oven XL has almost 2,000 reviews and a star rating of 4.5 out of 5. Users find it easy to operate and rave about its versatility, even going as far as calling it “life-altering.” Negative reviewers note that it browns better on the top than the bottom and that it couldn’t rotate a large chicken.
Is the Yedi Total Package Air Fryer Oven XL worth it?
If you’re looking for an air fryer that can do more than just air fry, the Yedi is a good choice. Although foods like homemade chicken nuggets or French fries don’t come out as well as if they were cooked in a vat of hot oil, they'll still be browned, crispy, and tasty. The Yedi is fine to use an oven for roasting vegetables or heating up a frozen pizza, but it won’t replace either your toaster or your full-size oven for baking. In fact, most of the oven functions can be performed better by a toaster oven. While the rotisserie works well, we don’t see much advantage to it other than for roasting a small chicken. Having said that, it does roast a small chicken extremely well.
Because it’s large and not all that attractive, the Yedi is a workhorse, not a status symbol for your kitchen. If you plan to air fry often and want a little more functionality, a better choice might be the best air fryer we tested, the Philips Airfryer XXL.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.