The best air fryers have soared in popularity in recent years, known for their convenience in rustling up fried foods in less time. Not only can they cook fried foods rapidly using little or no oil, but they are also known to be slightly cheaper to run than a standard oven, saving you money on bills.
But before you rush out to grab one, buying the right capacity for your cooking needs can make all the difference. Typically, air fryers range from 2-quarts right up to 16-quarts (ideal for large households), so one can easily take up a lot of countertop space. And as a Homes writer, my abundance of kitchen appliances had already taken over our small kitchen. That’s why I opted for a compact air fryer — standing at just 13.3 inches (34cm) tall, it comes with a 2L basket (the right size for my family of three), yet has an impressive 1000W power.
Also, how often will you be using it? After owning my air fryer for two years, I’ve certainly put it to good use, impressed by its crispier and tasty results. If you’re only intending to use it now and again, small is definitely more cost-effective. However, if you’re looking to cook up a family feast, or have plenty of counter space, I would advise on a bigger model to save on time and energy. In any case, I still wouldn’t trade in my tiny air fryer — here’s why.
Plus, our Homes content editor had her air fryer for years — but only use it for one thing.
1. A smaller air fryer reheats foods in no time
Going small for your air fryer doesn't mean sacrificing quality. Previously, I would reheat foods in one of the best microwaves, but would always find that fried dishes would lose their crispy texture. Now, I simply pop my leftovers or takeouts in the air fryer and heat for one minute. Not only will it warm foods quickly, but they'll have that delicious crunch and fresh taste that you can only get from deep frying. In addition, a tiny air fryer is ideal if you just want to reheat single portions each time, without wasting energy.
2. It's ideal for quick party snacks
Whether I’m hosting a party, or have a few friends over, my tiny air fryer has saved the day for quickly rustling up bite-sized snacks. Tasty treats such as spring rolls, chicken wings, vegetable samosas or any other finger-foods come out crispy and delicious. Best of all, it cooks your food in half the time that oven baking takes, so your guests won’t have to wait too long for their starters.
3. It cooks French Fries to perfection
Each time I’d oven-cook frozen fries, they would never have a consistent crunch, and instead have a disappointing soft texture. In which case, I’d crank up the gas and leave it in to cook for a little longer (annoying). But cooking fries in my tiny air fryer offers impressive results each time. Ideal for cooking small portions, fries come out much crispier and with a texture to rival the fast-food restaurants. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out these 5 best air fryer recipes for restaurant-quality food.
4. Good for quick fry-ups
If you don’t fancy making bacon in a frying pan, the air fryer will perfectly crisp bacon for you. What’s more, the fat will render off during cooking, which makes this a healthier method than using the stove or pan. It’s also quick to cook a few rashers in just 7 minutes. Of course, you can adjust cooking times according to how crispy you prefer them.
5. Cleaning is a breeze
More importantly, having a tiny air fryer means it’s easier to clean, and less maintenance. One downside of kitchen appliances is the messy clean up at the end, especially if parts can’t be thrown into the dishwasher. But my air fryer basket is super quick to wash by hand, rather than waiting to load the dishwasher. In addition, it’s easy to store in a cupboard without taking up a huge amount of space. Which is ideal for someone like me who has an appliance for almost everything imaginable!
If you're new to the world of air frying, you’ll need to know how to use an air fryer for best results. For more air fryer tips, tricks and how tos, check out 11 Air fryer mistakes you’re probably making, 9 things you should never put in an air fryer, how to use an air fryer and are air fryers actually healthy? Here’s what you need to know. Also, read about how to stop your air fryer from overheating since it could be a potential fire hazard.