The best air fryers—and why your friends love them so much

Crisp up frozen food without turning on the oven.

The best air fryers
Chicken wings. Tofu cubes. Sweet potato fries.An Tran via Unsplash

Much like its cousin, the InstantPot, air fryers have have become popular with the velocity of a boy band sensation. It's not hard to see why: they promise to crisp up and "fry" foods with little to no oil. The device forces hot air all around your veggie spring rolls, turning them delicate and golden with just a few spritzes of cooking spray to keep the packages from sticking to the basket. When you don't use a gallon of boiling oil, home-fried foods become healthier, safer, cleaner, and a lot less expensive. Even if you were OK with baking your wontons instead of frying them, the Air Fryer is much faster than your oven.

OK, so maybe you're convinced. Or curious anyway. There are dozens of air fryers on Amazon now. I've tried a lot of them, and these are my favorites.

Breville Convection and Air Fry Smart Oven Air

Convection and Air Fry Smart Oven Air

Replace all your appliances with one.Amazon

You do not need to spend this much to get great air-fried foods, but I couldn't write this list without including one of my favorite multi-cookers. The Breville Convection and Air Fry Smart Oven Air can pretty much replace your oven. It’s got a 1-cubic-foot interior cooking space, features a two-speed convection fan with six independent heating elements, and looks nice. According to Breville, one-cubic-foot can roast a 14-pound turkey or toast up to nine slices of bread. What you get for the price is the ability to perform 13 cooking functions, including toasting, broiling, dehydrating, and baking pizzas. All of these options can be customized and accessed via the digital LCD panel on the front.

Dash 6-quart air fryer

Dash 6-quart air fryer

It also comes with a recipe book.Amazon

Here's your best option for a no-frills air fryer that won't take up an acre of counter space. This non-stick, 6-quart air fryer can fit a whole (small) chicken and, like many Dash appliances, is pretty inexpensive and easy to use. In fact, there are only two dials: one for temperature and one for time. It comes in four colors (red, black, aqua, and white) and the basket is dishwasher-safe.

Ninja Air Fryer

Ninja Air Fryer

Ninja has also got a 6.5-quart pressure cooker and air fryer combo.Amazon

The 1500-watt Ninja Air Fryer is has an even smaller footprint and price, but still reaches 400°F. In the 4-quart basket, you can air fry, reheat, dehydrate, and roast. All four of the pre-programmed cooking settings are available on the cooker’s front panel and all the non-electric parts are dishwasher safe.

T-fal ActiFry

T-fal ActiFry

Most air fryers keep the food in the same place as it cooks.Amazon

The ActiFry has a rotating paddle that distributes oil around your food as it heats up. The fryer holds up to 2.2-pounds of eats and has a ceramic-coated nonstick pan that can go straight into the dishwasher. It's an interesting design, but not without its downsides: you cannot adjust the temperature, which maxes out at 338 degrees.

COSORI Air Fryer

COSORI Air Fryer

Easily accessible preset buttons.Amazon

This 5.8-quart fryer is big enough to fry tater tots for the whole family, and boasts parts you can run through the dishwasher. Its touch-control screen lets you adjust the timer and select from the 11 presets, including for cook times for fries, bacon, chicken, fish, and steak. The 1,700-watt cooker also comes with a 100-recipe booklet and can fit up to a 6-pound chicken.

Dash Compact Air Fryer

Dash Compact Air Fryer

Affordable, and comes in multiple color choices.Amazon

This non-stick, 1.6-quart compact air fryer comes with a dishwasher-safe basket. It comes in five colors: grey, red, black, aqua, and white. This model has a digital display with presets for things like fries and baked goods. Come up with your own recipes, or use the included recipe booklet.