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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, which 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 greasy 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 using up cups of 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
What We Like: Wide temperature range, nonstick basket, 4 cooking functions, stops cooking automatically
What We Don't Like: No automatic shutoff or preheat function
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. It can do all of this since it can handle temperatures from 105 to 400 degrees. 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.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 13.6 x 11 x 13.3 inches | Weight: 10.5 pounds | Capacity: 4 quarts | Wattage: 1550 W
Best Budget: Chefman 2-Liter TurboFry Air Fryer
What We Like: Compact design, easy-to-use dial control, integrated timer with auto-shutoff
What We Don't Like: No programmable cooking functions, small capacity
Ready to give an air fryer a go without going over budget? The Chefman TurboFry 2-Liter Air Fryer has some of the same features as more expensive models like a 30-minute timer, adjustable temperature control, and detachable basket. It has a maximum temperature of 400 degrees for frying up anything you can dream of.
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.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 8.5 x 8.5 x 10.5 inches| Weight: 3.3 pounds | Capacity: 2.1 quarts | Wattage: 1000 W
Most Versatile: Instant Pot Vortex Pro 9-in-1 Air Fryer
What We Like: Large capacity, evenly cooked food, 9 programs
What We Don't Like: Large footprint, noisy
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.
With a larger footprint, 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.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 13.8 x 13.2 x 14.4 inches | Weight: 17.5 pounds | Capacity: 10 quarts | Wattage: 1500 W
Related: The Best Instant Pots
Best for Small Kitchens: Dash 2-Quart Compact Air Fryer
What We Like: Compact design, auto shutoff, adjustable temperature
What We Don't Like: Only 30-minute timer, no programs
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.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 10.2 x 8.1 x 11.4 inches | Weight: 5.7 pounds | Capacity: 2 quarts | Wattage: 1000 W
Best for Big Batches: Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro
What We Like: LCD display, 13 functions, includes accessories
What We Don't Like: Pricey, requires a lot of space
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. There's also an option to program different phases of cooking, like when you want to brown your baked chicken just a touch.
The air fryer function maximizes airflow and can reach temperatures of up to 480 degrees, 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.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 21.5 x 17.5 x 12.7 inches | Weight: 47 pounds | Capacity: 1 cubic foot | Wattage: 1800 W
Related: The Best Toaster Ovens
Most User Friendly: Cosori Smart 5.8-Quart Air Fryer
What We Like: Connects to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, 100+ pre-programmed recipes, 11 functions
What We Don't Like: Teflon coating may wear off, buttons can lack responsiveness
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.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 14.2 x 11.7 x 12.6 inches | Weight: 11.9 pounds | Capacity: 5.8 quarts | Wattage: 1700 W
Best for Dual Cooking: Ninja Foodi DZ201 6-in-1 Air Fryer
What We Like: Can cook different foods at different settings at the same time, easy-to-clean
What We Don't Like: Requires a lot of space to store
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. The two sides can operate at different settings and temperatures. The Smart Finish feature syncs cook times in both baskets so everything finishes cooking 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.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 15.6 x 13.8 x 12.4 | Weight: 17.8 pounds | Capacity: 8 quarts (4 quarts per basket) | Wattage: 1690 W
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.
What to Look For in an Air Fryer
The average air fryer has a capacity of 3.5 to 4 quarts. This is suitable for a family of four, though it may not be suitable for cooking large batches of food at once. At that size, you have the option of displaying the air fryer on your countertop or storing it in cabinets.
Smaller 2-quart air fryers are the most compact and ideal for easy storage, though they are likely best for households with just one or two people. Larger air fryers can hold 5 quarts or more—some can even fit a 14-pound turkey—though counter and storage space becomes more limited at this size.
A timer is crucial to cooking with any method or appliance, and air fryers are no exception. Many models feature an integrated timer so following recommended cooking times is easy. Some air fryer timers have an automatic shutoff so food won’t overcook, dry out, or burn. One feature that many consumers enjoy in some models and would like to see in others is a timer function that goes off when the preheating time is finished.
Pre-programmed and smart features are growing in popularity in air fryer models. Many models feature built-in preset buttons for various cooking functions, such as air fry, roast, bake, and more. While simpler models usually don’t have this feature, they may have an easy-to-use dial to control the temperature and time.
Other features to look for in an air fryer include dishwasher-safe parts, nonstick cooking surfaces, and safety features like a cool-touch exterior. For those who prefer kitchen equipment that serves multiple functions, look for air fryers with features that can replace multiple appliances: dehydrator, toaster oven, convection oven, slow cooker, and more.
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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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