Best air fryer: Five things to consider

Drastically cut down on fat content without sacrificing the texture and color that makes fried food so appealing when you find the best air fryer for your kitchen.

Air fryers are a unique class of kitchen appliances that have been gracing countertops since their introduction to the market in 2010. The physics of the design itself has been around for much longer than that—they’re essentially a refined design of the traditional convection oven. But the simple appeal of the best air fryer is its ability to simulate the crispness of deep-fried foods while using much less oil.

Inside the cooker, hot air is pushed around the surface of the lightly oiled food, which in turn initiates the browning and crisping reactions that usually occur at lower temperatures during traditional deep-frying. All this is accomplished in a compact countertop form that can cut cooking times by around 20 percent in comparison to traditional ovens. Whether you’re making a meal for one or for the whole family, this delicious and unique cooking style is bound to be welcome in your kitchen. We’ll take you through a few considerations and introduce you to some of the best air fryers that money can buy.

Things to consider when shopping for the best air fryer

Countertop air fryers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, which lends them to be a great way to save space in small homes. Some models offer numerous modes and function as a multi-cooker, giving them the same one-pot appeal of Instant Pots and other appliances in their class. The best air fryer for your particular needs will have a capacity that’s appropriate for the number of portions you’re preparing and will offer a number of cooking modes to cut down on space usage in the kitchen. If you’ll be looking to cook remotely or otherwise control your air fryer wirelessly, a smart, WiFi-enabled model may be your best bet.

How many portions will you cook at once?

Capacities for slow cookers, multi-cookers, and other countertop cooking appliances can vary widely, and the same is true for air fryers. Slow cookers don’t normally come in sizes tailored exclusively for small amounts of food, but air fryers are available in a larger range of sizes, which makes some models suitable for cooking for one to two people. Most air fryers have capacities that are measured in quarts and generally range anywhere from two quarts—ideal for two to three servings of food—up to six quarts, which can prepare batches large enough for entertaining and cooking for groups. When in doubt, go for the best air fryer with a higher capacity, so you’re not left in the lurch if you find yourself in need of quickly preparing a party-size batch of food.

Capacity also plays a role when considering the types of food you’re most likely to prepare in your air fryer, since main courses tend to be denser items, while finger foods are more compact. An air fryer can handle dishes from french fries to whole chickens and everywhere in between, and you’ll want to size yours accordingly depending on what you plan on cooking. Capacity doesn’t necessarily translate into size, either—some cookers are taller and narrower to accommodate large capacities while taking up relatively little counter space. In the end, it should come down to the simple question of how much food you’ll be cooking and how many people you’ll be cooking for.

Best air fryer capacity: Instant Pot Duo Crisp

Does It All

The original multi-cooker now comes with a specialized air fryer lid that crisps and roasts. Amazon

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This eight-quart-capacity air fryer and multi-cooker from Instant Pot has a digital display to keep you apprised of your cooking time and temperature, and it offers 11 one-touch cooking programs. It comes with a multi-level air fryer basket and a dehydrating and broiling tray.

How much storage space do you have for an air fryer?

When considering the best air fryer size and shape, it’s good to think about where it will be stored, the amount of available working space you’ll have left on your countertop when it’s in operation, whether you’ll need to stow it away when it’s not in use. Some models are multi-cookers, which will allow them to replace otherwise redundant devices in your cabinet and on your countertop, thereby saving space just by being there. Others are designed specifically with saving space in mind, and those models may sport a small footprint and a taller silhouette.

Air fryers are typically designed around a heating element and use fans to pump hot air around your food at high volumes to deliver a thorough and uniform crisp. The most common air fryer form factor utilizes a removable basket for holding the food as well as a rack of some kind to allow the oil to drain away and prevent accumulation that would otherwise make your food greasy. Other models rely upon a traditional toaster- or mini-oven design to allow for even more space for holding your food and pave the way for users to take advantage of a number of alternative cooking modes.

Small apartments, offices, and any other kitchen that’s otherwise short on space will excel most with an air fryer that’s designed to be compact. Unless you’re sure that you’ll only ever want to cook small amounts of food, it’s quite possible to end up with a space-saving model of air fryer that still has a relatively generous capacity if you know what to look for. When in doubt, go for a basket-type design, since the fans, heating element, rack, and basket all stack neatly together inside a single central hub.

Best air fryer for small spaces: Dash AirCrisp Pro Electric Air Fryer

Four Color Options

Dash AirCrisp Pro Electric Air Fryer Amazon

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This non-stick, 2-quart compact air fryer comes with a dishwasher-safe basket. The straight-forward appliance comes in four colors: stainless steel, red, black, and aqua. This model is super-easy to use with its front knob timer. Come up with your own recipes, or use the included air fryer recipe booklet.

Do you want a dedicated air fryer or a multi-cooker?

Even the most basic air fryer is essentially a miniature convection oven, so in the event that they are marketed as a single-purpose machine, they are usually able to perform the functions of an air fryer and a small oven at minimum. Others are rightfully marketed as four-in-one devices that might have a basic temperature control system to allow users to dehydrate, roast, and bake foods with a little more granular precision (see next section). But there’s a third category: Instant Pots and other true multi-cookers that can slow cook, pressure cook, and air fry—with the right “crisping” lid. When looking for an air fryer that will fit your needs, consider what devices you already have at home and whether you’re looking to replace or complement them; this is a good place to start that will allow you to whittle down your list of potential options for the best air fryer for you.

Best single-function air fryer: Dash Deluxe Electric Air Fryer

Cook A Lot

Low-fat crisping technology and an easy-to-use interface available in four different colors. Amazon

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This air fryer from Dash features a generous six-quart basket capacity in a stylish and minimalist form factor. It comes with a non-stick fry basket and a recipe guide, and it features an automatic temperature control system and timed cooking with an automatic shutoff feature.

Best air fryer/multi-cooker combo: Philips Kitchen Appliances Digital Twin TurboStar Airfryer XXL

Everything Is On The Menu

Stylish multi-cooker that heats up instantly and includes an array of dishwasher-safe parts. Amazon

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This three pound-capacity air fryer from Philips has a digital display to keep you apprised of your cooking time and temperature, and it offers seven cooking modes as well as five one-touch programs. It’s also designed with a proprietary fat reduction system that captures excess fat as it drips, leaving your meals with up to 90 percent less fat than traditional fried food. With all the flavor and none of the fat, you’re sure to love cooking with this air fryer.

Could you use an extra oven in the kitchen?

The typical air fryer comes with a generous number of cooking modes and functions thanks to the versatility of its internal architecture, and the range of these modes can be extended further with accessories. Some manufacturers stretch this design by pivoting to more traditional form factors to increase the internal space and allow users to prepare items normally impossible in traditional air fryers, like rotisserie chicken and pizza. These designs are usually modular in nature and come with an array of compatible accessories like roasting spits and pans to allow users access to the full range of the device’s potential. You can use these units as you would a toaster oven, or a full-sized oven for roasting and baking.

Best air fryer oven: COSORI 12-in-1 Air Fryer Toaster Oven Combo

Less Appliances In Your Kitchen

Stainless steel construction and an LCD display make this a multi-cooker Amazon

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This COSORI air fryer oven is an incredibly versatile pick, offering 12 cooking modes and a capacity that allows for preparing a chicken rotisserie-style using the included accessories. It can function as a dehydrator, toaster, fryer, and countertop oven thanks to its 1,800 watts of power and spacious interior.

Do you want to control it with your phone?

Smart functionality is one of the newer conveniences that’s made its way to home appliances, granting users the ability to control what’s going in the kitchen from anywhere, whether it’s down the street or just down the hall. This has very obvious and practical applications in the world of cooking, especially when dealing with standalone devices like slow cookers and air fryers since it allows busy people who have no choice but to multitask and folks who would just rather stick to their schedules to relinquish control of cooking and trust that the food will be prepared properly without needing to babysit it.

WiFi compatibility allows air fryers to link up to your phone for easy control and monitoring of the cooking process, and most models report a range of data including timing and temperature. Got a meeting you have to get to? With a WiFi-enabled air fryer, there’s no need to get up and check on your meal while it cooks, and everything from stopping the cooking process or adding a few extra minutes to the clock is all possible with the quick tap of a finger.

If you’re interested in hands-free control of your air fryer, consider an Alexa-enabled device that will grant you access to voice controls as well as verbal updates of your meal’s cooking progress. An air fryer is already a time-saving device, and adding smart tech only serves to increase these benefits.

Best air fryer with smart controls: COSORI Smart WiFi Air Fryer

Control From Your Phone

Remote-controlled cooking, with over meal ideas included in the proprietary app. Amazon

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This air fryer connects to your WiFi and allows you to control your meals via your smartphone or using voice commands on compatible smart hub devices. It’s designed with a nonstick basket and includes a unique set of 11 presets that are fine-tuned to specific meals including steak and root vegetables. With total control from the screen of your phone, there are few better kitchen appliances on the market.

Best air fryer brands to know

Since air fryers are relatively new to the industry of household electronics, there’s a lot of room for competition and innovation amongst brands, and consumers are reaping the benefits. The very first air fryer was invented by a marketing manager at Philips, which continues to offer one of the best available fryers on the market. The other two brands highlighted below, Ninja and Dash, aren’t nearly as old as Philips but have both carved out a reputation for themselves as innovative brands that offer high-quality, reliable household appliances. Here, you can count on finding the best air fryer for your kitchen.

Philips

Philips is a Dutch multinational conglomerate founded in 1891 by Frederik Philips and his son Gerard. The company is well known for its wide range of electronics offerings that include personal audio devices, smart bulbs, and electric toothbrushes. Air fryers are part of their domestic appliance line, which includes air purifiers, coffee makers, and more.

Ninja

The Ninja brand is a property of SharkNinja Operating LLC, a Boston-based designer of home devices known for their kitchen appliances including blenders and food processors as well as their vacuum and steam cleaners under the Shark brand. In 2017, SharkNinja was acquired by CDH Private Equity. They operate offices out of Canada, China, Japan, Germany, France, and the UK.

Dash

The Dash brand of electronics is owned by StoreBound, a consumer appliance and houseware company focused on better living. StoreBound is known for cultivating an impressive organic social media following that includes more than 1 million users on Instagram alone. Dash is named after StoreBound’s founder and CEO Evan Dash, and the company works with inventors and licensing partners to create new and innovative products.

Best cheap air fryer: What you get for under $50

There are few air fryers available on the market for under $50, but models like the Chefman TurboFry can get you at least halfway to where the models on our list will. If you opt to save some money, be prepared to sacrifice a bit of the durability and user-friendliness of pricier offerings. Models in this price range typically don’t offer extra accessories and cooking modes, which will cut down on the versatility of your fryer as well, which is something to think about if you’re trying to save space. However, if budget is an important shopping factor, then you are sure to enjoy using a cheap air fryer!

A final word on shopping for the best air fryer

Air frying is an incredibly healthy alternative to deep-frying because it renders classic crispiness and delicious results with much less added fat. This unique style of cooking is something to be excited about, to be sure, but one of the most overlooked things about an air fryer is its versatility. Adding one of these to your kitchen will open you up to a whole range of possibilities when it comes to mealtime, and it just might replace a couple of antiquated appliances you have sitting around, too. If you’re looking for a solution to making cooking quicker and healthier, buying the best air fryer should be your first stop.