One of the best air fryers can be just the ticket for a healthy way to get that delicious fried crunch. In one of these nifty countertop appliances you can cook up chicken nuggets, wings, mozzarella sticks, onion rings and more while using barely any oil in the process. When you want the comfort that only crispy French fries or Nashville-style chicken, but really want to avoid all that bad-for-you fat, air fryers are perfect.
An air fryer is unlike a traditional deep fryer, where food is submerged in a hot tub of oil. Rather it’s like a souped-up convection oven with a fan to circulate hot air around the food to crisp it up as it bakes. Not only do you avoid adding excess fat to your diet, you don’t have to lug home gallons of oil, preheat it slowly, and then worry about disposing of all that hot grease after you’ve finished cooking. If you think of all the oil you don’t have to buy, an air fryer just might pay for itself over time.
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An air fryer can also be used for roasting and baking. While you won’t get results that are quite as perfect as in a traditional oven, it can come in handy when you don’t want to turn on the full size oven for a small amount of food or need a second oven.
What are the best air fryers?
Based on our extensive research, we think the Philips TurboStar Digital is the best air fryer for most people. At $149, it's not too-too expensive and reviewers report that it consistently gives the best results. However, it has a fairly small capacity of around 3 quarts, so when you're cooking for a crowd, you'll have to fry up your food in batches. If you're looking for a larger capacity, the GoWise USA Digital Air Fryer comes in sizes ranging from 5 to 7 quarts. And it’s less expensive, with the 7-quart model selling for about $89.
With the Cuisinart Compact Air Fryer Toaster Oven you get an air fryer that doubles as a toaster oven. If you only have room for one large countertop appliance, it might be your best bet. Unlike many air fryers, the Cuisinart is not oddly shaped but rather looks like a large stainless steel cube. The Ninja Air Fryer receives high praise from both consumers and professional reviewers. It competes well with the Philips for top notch air frying results but costs a lot less. Anyone who is looking for a really versatile appliance, should consider the Ninja Foodi, which not only air fries but pressure and slow cooks, dehydrates, sautés and more--and does it all well. It is however, big, heavy and expensive.
Small households and modest kitchens will best be served with the Krups Fry Delight. While it only holds about 2 ½ pounds of food, it doesn’t take up much countertop space relative to other air fryers.
The best air fryers you can buy today
The Philips TurboStar Digital appears at the top of more lists than any other air fryer. Just shy of $200, the TurboStar Digital is not the cheapest option, but you can depend on it to give excellent results and consistently turn out food that tastes like it came out of a deep fat fryer. Keep in mind however, that it only has a capacity of 3 pounds of food so you could just about fry a whole small chicken cut in pieces at once.
As the Philips has digital controls, you set temperatures and times precisely. The drawer-like basket with a nonstick coating is easy to remove and clean and can even fit in the dishwasher. The unit is relatively compact and unlike many big and bulky models, will easily fit under standard cabinets when it’s not being used.
With eight preprogrammed settings for a variety of foods, a wide temperature range and an affordable price, the GoWise 8-in-1 Digital Air Fryer is our top budget pick. And rest assured, it’s no slouch at air frying either. You just might be able to convince your kids the French fries came from their favorite fast food restaurant.
In addition to having a large capacity so you can cook all your chicken in one batch, the GoWise has an alarm that you can set to remind you to toss or turn over your food during cooking to get even browning and crisping. You don’t have to preheat the GoWise which is a timesaver and the frying basket is both nonstick coated and dishwasher safe. If you need inspiration, the GoWise comes with a cookbook full of recipes.
The Cuisinart Compact Air Fryer is a much more versatile cooking appliance than most of the other models on this list. In addition to being an air fryer, it’s a convection toaster oven so it can be used to crisp up bagels, roast a 4-pound chicken, bake a 12-inch pizza and broil hamburgers.
Unlike most other air fryers, it’s not made of plastic and shaped like a space capsule or giant egg. Instead, it’s constructed of stainless steel and has a boxy design with a glass door so you can see your food as it cooks. Not only will it fit neatly on your countertop, it will actually look good. However in spite of its name, the Cuisinart is not small and compact. The controls aren’t digital which means there are no preprogrammed settings and it’s very straightforward to operate—you simply turn well marked dials.
Ninja is relatively new to the air fryer game but it makes a darn good product. With 4.8 stars from reviewers, it’s one of the highest rated air fryers sold on Amazon. And rightly so, according to the pro testers, who claim it rivals the Philips for frying up crispy potatoes and chicken nuggets. As it’s very reasonably priced, it’s a great buy for anyone who is on a budget.
It has digital controls and settings for reheating, roasting, and dehydrating as well as air frying. All of these options make it make it a little more complicated to get the hang out of programming the Ninja but they do help you to get perfect results without guessing at the correct times and temperatures. A rack is included so you can cook two batches of food at once.
Let’s face it, kitchen appliances can totally dominate your countertop, leaving you with little valuable prep space. To the rescue: the Ninja Foodi which is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, and air fryer in one! And this multitasking product performs exceptionally well in all 3 modes. You can even combine them so for example, you can pressure cook a whole chicken, and then switch to the air fryer lid to crisp and brown the skin, while keeping the inside nice and moist.
But wait there’s more! The Foodi also has 6 other settings including dehydrate, sauté, steam, and roast. All this functionality comes at a cost. And this odd-shaped machine is heavy so you’ll want to plan on clearing space for it and not lifting it in and out of a cabinet on a regular basis.
The Krups Fry Delight is the lowest-rated air fryer on our list but its performance and compact size makes it a good alternative to some of the more expensive models here, particularly if you have a small family or limited countertop space. With its square shape, it’s attractive too.
Compared with the other air fryers on this list, whose temperature range is measured in the hundreds of degrees, the Krups has a much smaller range — from 300 to 390 degrees Fahrenheit — so you can't use it for much more than air frying. Customer reviews on Amazon praise the Krups for producing crunchy and great-tasting food in small quantities. but a number of critical reviews complained that the handle fell off their units after a relatively short period of use.
How to choose the best air fryer for you
Air fryers range in size, shape, capacity and price. Those machines that cook enough for a whole family tend to be large and oddly shaped so will eat up some space on your countertop and aren’t easy to take in and out of a cabinet or closet. Typically, the best ones come with a relatively steep price but they are likely to come with digital temperature settings for precise control.
Here are the five things to consider when shopping for an air fryer:
Size: Most air fryers are not only not small, but irregularly shaped. Be sure to measure the space on your countertop where you plan to keep your air fryer and the air fryer itself before making a purchase. Don’t forget to check how much room you have from the counter surface to under your cabinets if you want to be able to move the fryer out of the way when you’re not air frying. If you don’t plan on using it often, also consider how heavy the appliance is to see if it will be convenient to lift it in and out of a cabinet or closet.
Capacity: Air fryers are available with a wide range of capacities from about 2 ½ quarts to as much as 8. If you have a large family, go for a larger size. In a small air fryer you may only be able to fry a half pound of French fries or a couple of pieces of chicken while in a large one you can fry a whole bag of Frozen fries and 8 chicken pieces at once.
Type of Controls: Dial controls are intuitive to operate but offer less precision. To set the time you’re basically turning a mechanical timer that dings when time is up. While digital controls can take a little more work to figure out, they are exact and allow for special settings for various types of food so you don’t have to guestimate what temperature to use and how long to cook.
Other functions: Some air fryers do double duty as other appliances. This gives you more versatility and means you’ll have fewer products taking up space in your kitchen. However it also adds to the price of the air fryer so be realistic about whether or not you also need, let’s say a toaster oven or a pressure cooker.
Price: You can spend anywhere from $50 to $500. While the very best air fryers tend to cost more, you can get a very good one for about $100. If you are not sure that you will use your air fryer often resist the temptation to spend top dollar.
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