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Published Oct. 10, 2021

Air fryers are all the rage these days because of their ability to simulate deep frying without having to actually submerge food in oil, as a standard deep fryer would, giving people the ability to enjoy healthier fried food right at home. These small kitchen appliances are essentially small convection ovens, which work by radiating heat from the cooking chamber and using a fan to circulate the hot air around the food. Air fryers also typically cook food faster. Though cooking times vary, they may be reduced by 20 percent or more when compared to traditional ovens.

In addition to health and convenience, air fryers also shine when it comes to versatility. When the uninitiated think of air frying, they may conjure images of perfectly crisped tater tots and appetizers from the freezer section of your local grocery store. But there’s so much more than that. Air fryers are also great for cooking main dishes, from whole chickens and steaks to fresh vegetables and tofu, depending on the size of the fryer. You also absolutely cannot do better for reheating tricky leftovers such as pizza and french fries.

Air fryers can perfectly cook such a wide variety of food because most models have temperature and timer adjustments that allow more precise cooking, in addition to other intelligent features that vary by model. If you’re feeling overwhelmed just thinking about these options, we’ve compiled this guide of the best air fryers on the market today to help you narrow it down. Let’s get frying!

How we picked the best air fryers

In deciding on which products to feature on this list, we examined a variety of appliances with a diverse range of features that would accommodate consumers with average to advanced needs and understanding of the product. We researched 25 to 30 of the best air fryers on the market before settling on the five we chose. The basic criteria we looked at were quart capacity, cook and temperature settings, added-value special features, safety, and accessories.

Though prices have dipped in recent years from when air fryers first began growing in popularity, the downside is that now the market is more inundated with options than ever before. As such, it can be challenging to determine at face value what constitutes the real deal and what is just a cheap imitation.

The best air fryers: Reviews and recommendations

Best air fryer: COSORI 12-in-1 Air Fryer

Less fat, more flavor

Enjoy the same crispy, delicious foods with up to 85 percent less fat. Cosori

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Why it made the cut: Customize and save up to a dozen of your favorite settings for each of the 10 one-touch cooking presets on the bright, easy-to-read LED display.

Specs:

  • Capacity: 5.8 quarts
  • Weight: 12.3 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11.78 x 13.87 x 12 inches

Pros:

  • 12 different cooking functions
  • Personalized shake reminders
  • Nonstick square basket

Cons: 

  • Nonstick coating wears off eventually
  • Operation could be quieter

The COSORI 12-in-1 Air Fryer is all about practical touches, which is why it was named one of the 2021 iF Product Design Awards winners. Enjoy the same crispy, delicious foods with up to 85 percent less fat using any one of 12 different cooking functions. In addition, the digital LED display and touch panel allows you to customize and save your favorite settings, which are angled toward you, so you won’t have to bend down to operate the machine. 

This device also comes with other helpful features, such as personalized shake reminders, which allow you to add an optional reminder to any cooking preset to flip or shake foods halfway through cooking. Learn to cook over 100 recipes with the included recipe guide, which is perfect for those still learning the ropes of air frying.

The removable nonstick square baskets are designed to fit a variety of foods and are also dishwasher safe, PFOA-free, and BPA-free. However, a few users noticed that the non-stick coating starts to wear off after regular use, so you may want to handle and wash with extra care. Another slight downside is that the air fryer can be loud. But thankfully, it doesn’t take long to cook your favorite healthy and delicious meals, so any noise will always be kept to a minimum.

Best affordable air fryer: Ninja 4-Quart Air Fryer

No-frills air-frying

This straightforward air fryer is easy-to-use and won’t set you back a ton of money.
Ninja

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Why it made the cut: Choose between four programmable cooking functions to air fry, roast, reheat, and dehydrate a wide variety of different foods on a budget.

Specs:

  • Capacity: 4 quarts
  • Weight: 10.58 pounds
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 12.1 x 11 inches 

Pros:

  • One-touch control panel
  • Four programmable cooking functions
  • Wide temperature range up to 400 degrees

Cons:

  • Cooking area can be difficult to clean
  • Plastic or chemical smell hard to remove

For straightforward air frying without all the extra bells and whistles, the Ninja 4-Quart Air Fryer lets you choose between four programmable cooking functions: air fry, roast, reheat, and dehydrate. The roast setting is ideal for casseroles and roasted veggies, while the reheat option is optimal for reviving leftover pizza, fries, wings back to crispy perfection. Or choose the dehydrate setting to make homemade dried fruits, veggie chips, and jerky and save even more money.

This air fryer also puts the “fry” in frying, as the four-quart ceramic-coated nonstick basket and crisper plate are the perfect size to cook up to two pounds of french fries. With a wide temperature range from 105 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, you can either gently remove moisture from foods or quickly cook and crisp foods with convection heat on manual settings.

The only design flaw is that the interior cooking area, particularly the rubber tabs on the bottom grate, can be challenging to clean. So it might be a good idea to have a dedicated sponge for cleaning the air fryer. A chemical or plastic smell may linger out of the box, so you should thoroughly wash the basket and all components with warm, soapy water before using.

Best small air fryer: GoWISE USA 2.75-Quart Air Fryer

Compact size

Healthier cooking in just 30 minutes or less! GoWise

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Why it made the cut: This air fryer’s miniature size and compact shape leave plenty of room on countertops for other small kitchen items and appliances.

Specs:

  • Capacity: 2.75 quarts
  • Weight: 2 pounds 
  • Dimensions: 8 x 8 x 5 inches

Pros:

  • Easy to use controls
  • Nonstick frying pan and basket
  • Uses little to no oil

Cons:

  • Accessories and steamer papers not included
  • Automatically turns off when finished cooking

Not everyone needs an air fryer big enough to feed a family, which is why this mini-sized GoWISE USA 2.75-Quart Air Fryer is the perfect choice for singles and those who live in small apartments or dorm rooms. With rapid air technology, you can enjoy your favorite fried foods without the extra calories using just a tiny amount of oil or none at all. For healthier eating in no time, choose from seven cooking presets, including fries or chips, meat, shrimp, cake, chicken, steak, and fish.

Easy-to-use controls allow the time and temperature to be set from 175 to 400 degrees, or up to 30 minutes with the push of a button. An alarm will sound when the cooking is finished, and the timer will automatically switch to standby mode. Though some customers wish there was an option to add another minute or two before the fryer stops cooking.

The air fryer also comes with a nonstick, PFOA-free air fry pan and basket with a cool-touch handle and button guard to prevent accidental detachment. Unfortunately, the fryer doesn’t come with many accessories or steamer papers, but you can purchase a kit separately that includes an insert rack, skewers, toasting and warming rack, and more.

Best larger air fryer: Ultrean 8-Quart Air Fryer

Family-sized

Cook for the whole family with ample eight-quart capacity. Ultrean

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Why it made the cut: With a high-capacity output and durable ​​stainless steel design, this air fryer is perfect for large families and those who frequently entertain guests for dinner.

Specs: 

  • Capacity: 8 quarts
  • Weight: 16.37 pounds
  • Dimensions: 13.35 x 15.75 x 13.58 inches

Pros:

  • Durable stainless steel design
  • Easy-to-use LCD touch screen
  • Preheating feature saves even more time

Cons:

  • Touch screen can be finicky
  • Difficult to change the temperature

The whole family will be eating healthier and cleaner when you’re cooking with the Ultrean 8-Quart Air Fryer, which eliminates the messy oil splatter of traditional frying. It’s also easy to operate with eight standard preset cooking functions that cook everything from french fries and bacon to chicken, fish, steak, and whole roasts. Then, when you’re finished, the detachable air frying rack and basket make cleanup a breeze.

The stainless-steel design also makes it more durable compared to comparable air fryers, while the compact, square shape makes it convenient to store when not in use. This air fryer also comes with a handy preheating function to help you saved even more time. Simply press the “P” button and then preheat at 400 degrees for three minutes for even faster cooking.

Though a few users have noted, one minor drawback is that the touch screen display can occasionally be finicky, making it difficult to change the temperature. However, those complaints are definitely exceptions to the rule, as this high-quality air fryer consistently gets high marks from customers across the board.

Best pressure cooker combo: Instant Pot Pro Crisp 11-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

Sky’s the limit

Replace up to 11 kitchen appliances with one convenient gadget. Instant Pot

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Why it made the cut: With 11 functions, including air fry, broil, roast, rotisserie, toast, the limitations of what you can do with this multipurpose gadget are up to your imagination.

Specs:

  • Capacity: 8 quarts
  • Weight: 26.1 pounds
  • Dimensions: 15.35 x 12.57 x 14.78 inches

Pros:

  • Impressive 11-in-1 functionality
  • Customizable cooking programs
  • Evencrisp technology uses 95 percent less oil

Cons: 

  • Large size makes it difficult to store
  • Dual lids are also cumbersome

Minimalists will love the Instant Pot Pro Crisp 11-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, which allows you to replace up to 11 kitchen appliances so you can air fry, pressure cook, slow cook, steam, sauté, sous vide, roast, broil, dehydrate, and more with just one machine. Though, with the size of this beast, you may need to get rid of some other gadgets just to make room for it on your counter. To dictate your favorite recipes, it also comes with five fully programmable settings.

Two interchangeable lids make it easy to switch between the pressure cooker and air fryer functions. However, the extra lid can be cumbersome to store, but it delivers all the crunch and tenderness of deep-frying with 95 percent less oil using Evencrisp technology.

For all your cooking needs, the pot also comes with standard includes accessories such as a stainless-steel multi-use steam rack, a nonstick multi-level air fryer basket with a stainless dehydrating/broiling tray, and a heat-resistant protective pad and storage cover. So you and your family will sleep well at night knowing that the safety features protect against overheating, steam, splashing, and more.

Things to consider before buying an air fryer

Capacity

For the reasons we’ve already laid out, shopping for an air fryer can be a daunting task. So in deciding which air fryer is the right pick for you and your family, first consider your basic needs for an air fryer. For example, how many people will you be feeding on a regular basis? For obvious reasons, singles and couples can get away with having a standard, smaller quart-capacity air fryer. On the other hand, larger families, particularly kids, may opt for a workhorse that can produce snacks and meals for the whole family daily or multiple times per week.

Uses

Another thing to ask yourself is what type of cooking you plan to do with an air fryer. Likewise, if your main goal is to throw pizza rolls and fries into your air fryer for the big game or movie night, your needs may be different than someone who plans to regularly cook entire meals, main dishes, sides, and veggies with it. As such, the former air fryer user can probably get away with a more budget-friendly air fryer with standard features, whereas the latter may want to invest in a model that also doubles as a pressure cooker or a toaster oven.

Space

Space is another significant consideration, as air fryers tend to take up a not-insignificant amount of real estate on kitchen counters. Do you have somewhere to store an air fryer? However, if you’re considering a combination air fryer, you also may be able to get rid of a few excessive kitchen gadgets, which could be a good trade-off. Heck, you might even end up with even more counter space when all is said and done!

FAQs

Q: How does air-fried food taste?

How air-fried foods taste depends on who you ask. Technically, since the food is not actually deep-fried, it’s not going to replicate that crispiness and flavor of deep-frying completely. That said, they do come pretty close. Air fryers are basically tiny convection ovens that work by circulating hot air around the food. So essentially, it tastes like extra-crispy oven-baked food, which is not a bad thing when you’re saving so many calories and fat.

Q: Is air frying healthier than baking?

Whether air frying is healthier than baking boils down to how much oil you’re using. Air fryers require little to no oil. However, depending on what you’re baking in a conventional oven, you’re probably also adding fat or oil to help with the cooking process and prevent the food from sticking to baking sheets and roasting pans. So if you add the same amount of oil to your air fryer as you would a baked dish, even if that’s no oil, then the air-fried dish would be just as healthy as if you would have baked it.

Q: Can you put aluminum foil in an air fryer?

Since we’ve always been taught not to put aluminum foil in the microwave, you may be wondering if it’s safe to put it in the air fryer. In a word, yes, it’s safe to put aluminum foil in an air fryer cooking basket. However, it’s not necessarily the best option. Manufacturers generally advise that parchment paper or an empty basket are better options since they won’t interfere with the cooking process.

Final thoughts about the best air fryers

There are so many models and features to consider when dealing with air fryers that it can be difficult to even the playing field. That’s why our pick for the best air fryer is the Ninja 4-Quart Air Fryer. In addition to being the top-rated product on this list, it also comes with standard features and an affordable price tag. The four-quart capacity is also just enough for people who have light to medium air frying needs.

However, families and those who plan to be using their air fryer heavily may want to consider a larger capacity model such as the COSORI 12-in-1 Air Fryer or Ultrean 8-Quart Air Fryer. It all just depends on how you plan to use the air fryer and how many people you’re feeding.

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