If you’re looking for one of the best air fryers, then the Sage the Smart Oven Air Fryer is certainly worth considering. It does far more than just air-frying, effectively delivering a combination of the various cooking appliances you’d need in a kitchen in one compact design. There’s no need to buy a separate slow cooker, pizza oven, toaster, grill or even main oven; the Sage the Smart Oven Air Fryer delivers the functionality of all of them in one stylish appliance. We think it works particularly well as a permanent fixture on the countertop, providing an extra place to cook; or an alternative to your standard built-in oven. So, if you’re wondering “are air fryers worth it?”, then we certainly believe this model ticks a lot of boxes.
The Smart Oven Air Fryer comes with 10 convenient pre-set cooking modes, so we were spoilt for choice when deciding what to cook. Use it to air fry, grill, toast, roast, cook pizza, reheat, warm, slow cook and prepare crumpets from frozen. Its 22-liter capacity makes it large enough to hold a whole chicken, which alone makes it far superior in usability terms than your standard basket air fryer. Sage the Smart Oven Air Fryer can reach temperatures up to 230ºC, which makes it great for crisping foods, while its Element IQ system technology eliminates cold spots for precise and even cooking.
Sitting on top of the countertop day to day, the Smart Oven Air Fryer doesn’t disappoint with Sage’s signature Brushed Stainless Steel styling. But if you prefer a different finish then this model is also available in equally eye-catching Black Truffle and Black Stainless Steel versions. The unit also has a useful viewing window, so you can easily see when your food is ready to eat.
Sage the Smart Oven price & availability
- List price: $529.99 / £329.95 / AU$599
- Available in the US, UK and Australia
As a well-respected brand in the small appliance field, Sage – or Breville in Canada and the US – is known for its signature style of streamlined stainless-steel designs.
At the time of writing, we found the Smart Oven Air Fryer available to buy from the Sage website for £329.95 plus resellers such as Amazon UK, Currys and John Lewis. It’s also available in the US and Australia where it’s known as the Breville the Smart Oven Air Fryer, for $529.99 / AU$599.
The Sage/Breville range comprises the latest professional-style coffee machines for the home, such as the latest Sage the Barista Express Impress, as well as high-tech bread makers, juicers, blenders, microwaves and more. While Sage the Smart Oven Air Fryer is the only appliance that Sage offers in the UK to include an air frying feature, the brand does sell a similarly styled Sage Oven Pro that comes with a specific “cookie” function – as opposed to an air frying mode. In the US, you can also pick up the more expensive Breville the Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro ($319.96), which has 13 cooking functions. Then there’s the top-of-the-range Breville the Joule Oven Air Fryer Pro ($799.99), which comes with an accompanying smart app for optimum control.
Value: 4 / 5
Sage the Smart Oven design
- Useful viewing window
- Great range of cooking trays
- Boxy yet surprisingly compact dimensions to fit the countertop
Sage the Smart Oven Air Fryer’s selection of pre-sets are neatly displayed on an LCD screen on the right of its stylish stainless-steel body. These are designed to give you instant control and make the appliance easy to use.
Using the function dial, you can scroll through the 10 cooking modes on offer, and then simply press start to start cooking. Choose from grill, toast, crumpet, bake, roast, pizza, reheat, warm, air fry and slow cook. You can also adjust the temperature and cooking time using the larger two dials below.
Surprisingly, at 28cm high, the air fryer will easily sit on a kitchen countertop, under the wall cabinets. Note, however, that it does need to be on a stable surface, leaving a minimum distance of 10cm on both sides of the appliances and 15cm above; it can become quite hot in use. A point of consideration, if you’re short on countertop space or have low-hung kitchen cabinets.
The feature we were particularly pleased to see is the air fryer’s ample viewing window, which allows you to peer in to view your food while it’s cooking. Not all air fryers come with a viewing window, so we welcomed its inclusion here.
If you’re cooking chips, as is the case with most air fryers, it’s advisable to shake them half-way through to ensure they’re evenly cooked. One thing that might have been a useful addition to the package is a bit or tong for pulling out the air-fry basket when it’s hot.
When it comes to cleaning, the Smart Oven Air Fryer is much like a standard oven or microwave, with lots of nooks and crannies – including the heating elements – you’ll need to clean in and around. Cleaning the oven’s base proved tricky; it would be wise to clear up any oil splashes before they build up and become difficult to dislodge.
Design: 4.5 / 5
Sage the Smart Oven performance
- 10 cooking functions
- Excellent for homemade and frozen chips
- Low noise levels
As mentioned, with 10 cooking functions Sage the Smart Oven Air Fryer has plenty to offer. Its pizza setting, for example, is ideal for Pizza Fridays, while a roast feature delivers the same benefits of a convection oven, albeit in a smaller 22-liter capacity. There’s even a toast setting that can be used to get breakfast ready in minutes.
Alongside pre-sets for certain food groups such as pizza, crumpet and toast, the Smart Oven Air Fryer offers a range of temperature and time options. This allows you to tweak the timings and temperatures as you see fit, both before and during a cooking cycle. So, for example, if something comes out undercooked, you can easily use the control dial to experiment with various cooking times and temperatures until you get it right.
For our review, we’ve decided to focus on the air frying function, using the appliance to air fry chicken wings and make chips – home cut and frozen varieties.
Before using Sage the Smart Oven Air Fryer for the first time, the manual suggests running it empty. The instructions warn that the oven may emit “safe” vapours, and following 20 minutes on the pizza setting, we did notice a slight burning smell in the air. Overall, setup was straightforward. Inside the box you’re spoilt for accessories (there’s a crumb tray, wire racks, grilling rack, roasting pan, air frying basket and pizza pan) and having washed and dried them all thoroughly, we were ready to cook.
The instruction manual is comprehensive in that it takes you through each of the controls and suggests how to use them with the timings and temperatures on offer. However, it doesn’t go in depth on specific food timings. There are a few recipe cards included in the box, though (we pulled out the one for Air Fried Korean Chicken Wings), which you can also find online. We used the suggested cooking timings for this recipe as our benchmark for cooking our own plain chicken wings. It suggested cooking in the air fryer for 30 minutes at 230ºC.
For cooking fatty foods such as chicken wings, the manual advises using the grilling rack – instead of the air fry basket – along with the roasting pan beneath to catch any oil that drips through the cooking process. We were cooking five chicken wings in our test, opting out of using any oil since the chicken skin already contains fat.
The air fryer takes five minutes to preheat, before it starts cooking, so you’ll need to factor in this time if you’re on a tight schedule and cooking lots of different foods.
Following 25 minutes of cooking, we halted the cooking cycle as we could see through the window that the chicken wings looked golden and crispy. We discovered quite a bit of oil in the roasting pan, and while the meat came away from the bone nicely, there wasn’t a lot of it to eat. We decided to conduct this test again, reducing the cooking time by five minutes to ensure the meat wasn’t so dry. The resulting chicken wings were far tastier, succulent and crispy.
Next, we attempted to cook both frozen chips and fresh-cut chips. In Air Fryer mode, you can tailor the temperature and time – from between 50ºC to 230ºC for up to two hours, if desired. We placed 500g of frozen oven chips in the air fryer and pressed start, which automatically suggested a cooking time of 20 minutes at 220ºC. It took a few minutes for the air fryer to preheat before launching into Air Fry mode.
Note that the appliance’s lights go out at the start of the cook cycle, automatically coming back on again in the last 30 seconds of cooking. After shaking the chips half-way through, we decided to take out the frozen chips after 18 minutes of cooking, and we found they had a nice, crispy texture. This setting worked equally well for the home-made fresh-cut chips. It’s worth bearing in mind that if you’re spraying your chips with oil, do so before you place the chips in the oven, so that the oil doesn’t coat the interior of the appliance and make it more difficult to clean afterwards.
The sides of the oven do become quite hot to the touch during and immediately after cooking, and Sage the Smart Oven Air Fryer does emits a little steam out of both sides of the door. We measured the temperature of one side at 85ºC after cooking the frozen chips, which means you should be mindful if the appliance is in reach of young hands.
Much like a standard oven, the air fryer won’t turn off if you open its door half-way through a cooking cycle. You’ll need to take care when handling the trays and shaking the contents of the basket mid-way through cooking, too. When it comes to noise, the Smart Oven Air Fryer is fairly quiet in operation – humming away at an average 57dB in use, as measured by our Decibel Meter App.
Performance: 4.5 / 5
Sage the Smart Oven score card
|Value||A super stylish air fryer with a price tag that reflects its premium features and durable design.||4 / 5|
|Design||An attractive brushed stainless-steel finish and large viewing window make this air fryer a head-turner. You’ll need some space to house it, though – and take care not to touch the sides when it’s running.||4.5 / 5|
|Performance||The air fryer setting is great for crisping chicken and cooking both frozen and hand-cut chips, with the tweakability of the temperature and time settings allowing you to achieve ideal results. Just take care: the exterior of the appliance can get quite hot.||4.5 / 5|
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- First reviewed: November 2022