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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. In this case, a new air fryer is likely coming to your kitchen. 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.
This 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.
To determine which should be in your kitchen, we put 10 popular models to the test. We made French fries, chicken tenders, and even a few whole chickens, judging each on crispiness, versatility, and evenness of heating, plus how easy it was to use and clean throughout the process. In the end, the Ninja Foodi 6-in-1 Air Fryer impressed our testers the most with its ability to cook two types of food at the same time.
Whatever you're looking for one person or a huge household, here are the best air fryers currently on the market.
Best Overall: Ninja Foodi 6-in-1 Air Fryer
What We Love: Can cook different foods at different settings at the same time, easy-to-clean
What We Don't Love: Requires a decent amount of space to store
Some air-fried foods go perfectly together, such as French fries and chicken tenders, but most air fryers cook these separately, leading whichever you cook first to getting cold. Enter 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.
When we tested this in our Lab, it ended up as one of our top performers. It's super simple to start air frying. With both chicken tenders and French fries, the finished results were crispy and evenly cooked, and a batch of fried carrots were appetizing in both texture and taste. It's also very versatile with the ability to roast, reheat, and dehydrate. It doesn't score a perfect 5.0 though since the left basket tended to run slightly hotter than the right side, so you'll have a learning curve with that.
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): 18.9 x 16.3 x 15.8 inches | Weight: 23.4 pounds | Capacity: 8 quarts (4 quarts per basket) | Power: 1690 W
Best Budget: Chefman 2-Liter TurboFry Air Fryer
What We Love: Compact design, easy-to-use dial control, integrated timer with auto-shutoff
What We Don't Love: 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 | Power: 1000 W
Best for a Family of Four: Ninja 4-Quart Air Fryer
What We Love: Wide temperature range, nonstick basket, 4 cooking functions, stops cooking automatically
What We Don't Love: 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 | Power: 1550 W
Most Stylish: Dash 2-Quart Compact Air Fryer
What We Love: Compact design, auto shutoff, adjustable temperature
What We Don't Love: Only 30-minute timer, no presets
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, the smallest capacity you can get with 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. We tested all of them in our Lab and were very impressed with the results. French fries performed the best with one tester commenting, "Such great fries, really impressive crispy outside, [and] fluffy inside." Chicken fingers also came out evenly baked and crispy. Cleanup was simple and extremely easy. We will warn you that the exterior did get very hot, so be safe when using.
This 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 | Power: 1000 W
Most Versatile: Instant Pot Vortex Pro 9-in-1 Air Fryer
What We Love: Large capacity, evenly cooked food, 9 programs
What We Don't Love: 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 | Power: 1500 W
Related: The Best Instant Pots
The Ninja Foodi 6-in-1 Air Fryer (view at Amazon) is our top pick because it’s versatile, easy to use, reasonably priced, and performs exceptionally well. If you only want a small fries every now and then, pick up the super adorable Dash 2-Quart Compact Air Fryer (view at Amazon).
What Are the Other Options?
Cosori Smart 5.8-Quart Air Fryer (view at Amazon): The Cosori air fryer looks sleek, comes pre-programmed with multiple functions, and is exceptionally easy to clean due to a dishwasher-safe fry basket. But during testing, every batch of food came out looking unappetizing and soggy and was unevenly cooked. For those reasons, we can no longer recommend our former Most User-Friendly pick.
Breville BOV900BSS Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro with Super Convection (view at Amazon): The Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro is a lot of things including a toaster oven, a convection oven, and a dehydrator. When we tested it simply as an air fryer, we found that this is the winning reason to buy it though. The wire cage is hard to clean, the timer doesn't pause when the door opens, crumbs fall off, and the oven heated unevenly.
How We Tested
To test air fryers, we cooked a batch each of frozen French fries and chicken tenders, using the same brand and type in each model. With each one, we evaluated how evenly it cooked, how long it took, whether they crisped up, and any other results. We also fried a batch of carrot slices to test if they got crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. If an air fryer had the ability, we made a batch of cornbread and a roast chicken to further test for even heating. Lastly, we measured temperature accuracy and any differences within the air fryer.
Our testers rated each one on the following qualities: Ease of Use, Size, Performance, Versatility and Cleaning. Learn more about how we test products.
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.
How do you clean an air fryer?
Chef Carla Contreras, food stylist and health coach, says to check your air fryer’s directions before proceeding. "Soak [removable parts] in hot soapy water and scrub with a non-scratch scrubby,” she says. "[Do] not use steel wool or metal utensils to scrape the non-stick surfaces, they will scratch,” Contreras says. Jessica Randhawa, owner and head chef of The Forked Spoon suggests soaking parts “if there is dried, caked, or burnt food stuck on the basket.”
Can you put tinfoil in an air fryer?
You shouldn’t. "The basket is engineered to circulate the hot air around the food in a convection style," says Randhawa. "When tinfoil is lined on the basket, it stops the air from circulating as designed." Contreras adds, “If you are looking to cook with less mess, there is parchment paper that is specifically designed for the air fryer.”
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
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.
This list was updated by Siobhan Wallace, commerce editor for Simply Recipes, who thinks Dash's wee air fryer is the perfect size for her NYC studio apartment.
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