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Home chefs and cooking enthusiasts know the rush of opening up a new kitchen gadget and using it for the first time. If you conduct thorough research before making your decision, that wave of excitement starts before you even get your hands on your new equipment. In this case, a new air fryer is likely coming to your kitchen.
An air fryer is a small yet powerful kitchen appliance that every home chef should have. It works by convection, that is circulating hot air around a perforated basket containing food. This browns the exterior of food, which makes it perfect for cooking foods that are usually fried.
Gone are the days of overly oily potato wedges, cauliflower wings, and Brussels sprouts. The satisfying crunch and crisp that was once only possible with a deep fryer is now achievable in minutes with an air fryer. If you are looking for a way to make restaurant-style food at home without dousing it in oil, an air fryer is a convenient solution.
To help you narrow down your choices, here are the best air fryers currently on the market.
Best Overall: Ninja AF101 4-Quart Digital Screen Air Fryer
You may associate Ninja products with their popular line of blenders and juicers, but they also make other small kitchen appliances like air fryers. The thoughtfully designed and reasonably priced Ninja AF101 is their entryway into countertop air fryers.
The cooking basket has a nonstick ceramic coating and holds 4 quarts of food, which is approximately equivalent to 2 pounds of fries. While air fryer capacity can range from less than 2 quarts to more than 9 quarts, this size is the sweet spot for small families, couples, and individuals.
In addition to air frying, this model also roasts, reheats, and dehydrates food. Navigate between the four cooking methods with the easy-to-use control panel, which also has a digital countdown timer. When dehydrating food, such as making fruit leathers, use the separate multi-layer rack to allow for a larger capacity.
Best Budget: Chefman 2-Quart Analog Air Fryer
Ready to give an air fryer a go without going over budget? The Chefman TurboFry 2-Quart Air Fryer has some of the same features as more expensive models like a 30-minute timer, adjustable temperature control, and detachable BPA-free basket.
For people whose kitchen storage is running low, the space-saving compact design of this air fryer is a huge perk. It is also easy to clean since the nonstick basket and tray are removable and safe to use in the top rack of the dishwasher.
A unique feature of this budget-friendly air fryer is the cool touch exterior. This safety measure can prevent burns when cooking. This can also give parents peace of mind since children may be tempted to touch the shiny equipment.
Most Versatile: Instant Pot Vortex Pro 9-in-1 Air Fryer
There seems to be a small kitchen appliance for just about everything from pressure cooking to air frying. While one piece of equipment can’t do everything, it can come pretty close. The Instant Vortex Pro Air Fryer Oven 9-in-1 can air fry, roast, broil, bake, toast, reheat, proof, dehydrate, and rotisserie.
Measuring 13.2 x 13.8 x 14.4 inches, this air fryer may take up more space than most, but it replaces your toaster, convection oven, and more. While many air fryers have a removable basket that must be shaken every now and then to encourage even cooking, this one has a tumble-fry basket so heat is evenly distributed. This air fryer also achieves a top-notch crispy texture with its 1-step even-crisp technology.
Another advantage of this air fryer is that it requires little to no preheating time, giving it a leg up on other air fryers and convection ovens.
Related: The 6 Best Instant Pots in 2021
Best for Small Kitchens: Dash 2-Quart Compact Air Fryer
While it is tempting to go for the biggest air fryer possible, there is one major downside: storage. The compact Dash Air Fryer is the perfect solution. This model holds 2 quarts of food, so it’s about half the capacity of other air fryers. The design is especially slim and sleek, which makes it easy to store or leave on the counter.
Like larger models, this compact air fryer is packed with similar features, such as auto-shutoff, nonstick basket, and temperature control. It is also reasonably priced, making it a great option for beginners who want to see if the air fryer life is right for them.
Since it is lightweight and easy to pack, it is a popular option among college students and travelers. Plus, it comes in several cool colors and includes a recipe guide.
Best for Big Batch Cooking: Breville Smart Oven Air Convection Toaster/Pizza Oven
Whether you have a big family or like to meal prep, a large air fryer comes in handy when small batches just aren’t enough. In those cases, splurging on the Breville is warranted.
This air fryer serves as a convection oven, toaster, slow cooker, dehydrator, and more for a total of 13 functions. With the large 1-foot interior, you can even roast a 14-pound turkey or bake a 13-inch pizza. With double racks, you can also take advantage of the vertical space and cook twice as much food at a time.
The air fryer function maximizes airflow, so food gets crispy and brown on all sides. Breville’s smart convection technology allows a greater volume of air to enter the cooking chamber, increasing crispiness while reducing cooking time by up to 30 percent.
Related: The 7 Best Toaster Ovens in 2021
Best User-Friendly: Cosori Smart 5.8-Quart Air Fryer
Nothing says “user-friendliness” like a digital touchscreen complete with preset cooking buttons. Fortunately, the Cosori Smart Air Fryer has 11 preset buttons for go-to options like frozen foods, French fries, vegetables, bread, dessert, and more.
It is also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, so voice commands contribute to the user-friendliness factor. Since it’s Wi-Fi-enabled, you can control it wirelessly from your mobile devices. When you’re ready to get cooking, the app is loaded with more than 100 recipes created specifically for this air fryer. Select a recipe from within the app and the air fryer will automatically just the settings for that dish.
In addition to the large 5.8-quart capacity, this air fryer is designed practically. The display is ergonomically placed at an angle for easy viewing without bending over. It also has a sleek base that can fit on your countertop or save space when storing.
Best for Dual Cooking: Ninja Foodi 6-in-1 Air Fryer
Some air-fried foods go perfectly together, such as French fries and chicken tenders. But with most air fryers, you have to cook these separately, leading whichever you cook first to get cold while the other cooks.
One solution for quick and easy dinners is taking advantage of the Ninja Foodi Air Fryer with DualZone Technology. It’s essentially two air fryers in one, so you can prepare a main dish and side dish at the same time.
This model holds up to 8 quarts of food at a time, split between two 4-quart baskets. Both the baskets and crisper plates have a ceramic nonstick coating that is dishwasher safe and easy to clean. From cooking to clean up, this air fryer cuts back on time spent in the kitchen.
The Ninja 4-in-1 AF101 Air Fryer (view at Amazon) is our top pick because it’s versatile, easy to use, reasonably priced, and space-saving. If you want something that can handle a larger volume of food, splurge on the Breville Smart Oven Air Convection Toaster/Pizza Oven (view at Amazon) since its interior measures 1 cubic foot.
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Lacey Bourassa is a health and wellness writer with a specialty in food-related topics and a passion for kitchen gadgets. She has an impressive collection of small kitchen appliances and tools, including an air fryer that gets plenty of use.
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