Kitchen appliance first look reviews Breville Halo Health Fryer
The Breville Halo health fryer VDF065 (white) or VDF084 (black) is one of a new breed of countertop fryers that cook ‘fried’ food with less oil. The Halo fryer uses a halogen light to bake, fry and roast food in a non-stick cooking pan. We sent it home with one of our researchers and a large bag of potatoes to test the claim that you can cook 1kg of ‘heavenly good’ chips with just 15ml of oil. These are her first impressions.
We've tested more than a dozen fryers in the Which? lab. See which models we rate as Best Buys in our fryer reviews. If you're not a Which? member you can unlock our full reviews and find great prices online with a £1 trial subscription to Which?
With the Breville Halo health fryer, our volunteer created gorgeous-tasting chips and scampi, evenly grilled chops and a flavoursome stir fry. But she found it slow and slightly inconvenient to use for creating a whole meal because you can’t use the paddle and grill rack at the same time.
She also didn’t like the smoke it left billowing across her kitchen countertop when grilling chops, and thought it took up a large amount of countertop space, too.
Easy to set up
The Halo is intuitive to set up. It comes with a non-stick pan which rotates in the bottom of the fryer, a central paddle which locks into place and agitates the food to make sure it gets cooked on all sides, and a roasting rack which can be used to hold food either very high under the light or just marginally above the bottom of the pan.
It has just two control buttons - on/off and timer set. The controls are clearly marked, but you have to press the on/off button for a surprisingly long time to operate it.
Our researcher loaded 1kg of chunky chips made from fresh potato into the Halo, and spooned over 15ml of olive oil before turning the Halo on.
The halogen light started cooking the food immediately – so there was no waiting for the appliance to warm up. The pan rotated slowly, moving the chips over the fixed paddle, turning them over so that all surfaces got exposed to the halogen light. There's no temperature control, but the halogen light turns on and off during the cooking time to control the rate of cooking.
The printed instructions on the Halo suggest 25-35 minutes for chips – longer than you’d expect from a deep fat fryer. When we tasted them after 25 minutes the chips were cooked but looked a bit pale. An extra 10 minutes of cooking made them crispier.
The chips were evenly cooked, light and fluffy on the inside and tasted delicious. They were crispy on the outside, but rather than the even crisp coating you’d get with fried chips they were unevenly browned with crispy areas. The rotating paddle had pulled some apart as they cooked, so some were mis-shapen. Our tasters loved the flavour, but wouldn’t describe it as a ‘fried’ taste.
Evenly cooked scampi and stir fry
Frozen scampi was evenly cooked in 12 minutes, coming out golden, succulent, crispy and piping hot. But the paddle had pulled some of the coating from the scampi. You could use the pan without the paddle and turn them halfway through, but they might not cook as evenly.
Our researcher tried creating a chicken and bacon stir fry with lemon juice, which she usually cooks in a wok. This was a great success – the chicken was evenly cooked, succulent and well-infused with the sharpness of the lemon. It lacked a bit of colour compared to being cooked in a wok, and was harder to spoon out of the Halo pan than from a wok, but the fat from the bacon was left in the pan effectively and it cooked quickly.
Smoky pork chops
Our researcher tried cooking pork chops – the rack held the chops slightly above the bottom of the pan so the fat could drain off. The chops were evenly cooked and nicely browned after 10 minutes on each side.
However, a light smoke escaped through the lid of the Halo every time the light came on, creating acrid fumes that meant our researcher had to open a window. She would not use the Halo to cook chops again, preferring the taste and convenience of a griddle pan (which also holds the meat above the drained fat) on the hob.
The lid also felt very hot when the fryer had been in use for a long time.
Easy to clean in the dishwasher
The pan, paddle and rack can all be washed in the dishwasher. The pan came out clean each time, but some of the baked-on potato from the chips and scampi coating was left behind on the paddle.
After just four uses the halogen light unit in the lid of the Halo had already developed some baked on grease stains. These were too difficult to remove with a bit of washing-up liquid and scrubbing pad.
First look verdict
The Halo Health Fryer is expensive compared to many deep fat fryers, and you don’t get the same cooking speed or fried taste. It can cook delicious food, but takes up a lot of counter space and is not as convenient to use as an oven for cooking the different components of a meal. We don’t think it's an essential bit of kitchen kit.
The Breville Halo health fryer costs £150 and is available directly from Breville or from a wide range of electrical retailers.
Pros: Easy to set up and clean the removable components, quick to heat up, cooks chips well, food tastes succulent, can be washed in the dishwasher
Cons: Slow to cook chips, chips don’t taste fried, paddle pulls some delicate food apart, difficult to use for one pot cooking, smokes when grilling chops