When you want the comfort that only crispy French fries or southern-style chicken can bring, but really want to avoid all that bad-for-you fat, one of the best air fryers could be just the ticket. These countertop appliances let you cook up chicken nuggets, wings, mozzarella sticks, onion rings and more while using barely any oil in the process.
Air fryers are unlike a traditional deep fryer, where food is submerged in a vessel of hot oil. Rather, they’re like a super-powered 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. We tested 12 air fryers, cooking up everything from wings to brussels sprouts to entire chickens to find out which is the best.
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What are the best air fryers?
We think the Cosori Smart Wifi Air Fryer is the best air fryer for most people. In our tests, it consistently gave crispy results. Plus, it has digital controls and nonstick-coated, dishwasher safe baskets that make it easy to use and clean. At about $125, it's also not too expensive. If you’re looking for the best air fryer on a budget, we think the GoWISE USA 3.7 Quart 8-in-1 Air Fryer is the best value at well under $100. In spite of its low price, it has digital controls and preset programs to take the guesswork out of air frying.
Don’t want a single-purpose appliance? The Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven is an air fryer that doubles as a toaster oven. Another option is the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro which is a large, multitasking appliance that in addition to serving as an air fryer and toaster can just about replace your full size oven. While it doesn’t come cheap, you get a beautiful, well-made product for your money. If the kids are always arguing about what they want for dinner, the Ninja Foodi 2 Basket Air Fryer could be just the ticket. It has two baskets that can cook chicken nuggets and hamburgers at the same time.
The best air fryers you can buy today
The Cosori Smart Wifi Air Fryer is the best air fryer for most people. It consistently browned and crisped everything from frozen crinkle cut fries to brussels sprouts. It also quickly and superbly roasted a chicken and broiled hamburgers with a lot less of the fuss and mess you get from a traditional oven.
The Cosori has electronic controls with preset programs for commonly cooked foods. During cooking it stays cool enough to touch without risking a burn. The baskets are not only nonstick, they can be popped in the dishwasher. If you like technology, you’ll appreciate the ability to control this appliance and search for recipes from your mobile device or give it orders with a digital assistant.
Read our full Cosori Smart Wifi Air Fryer review.
Don’t let the low price of the GoWISE USA 3.7 Quart 8-in-1 Air Fryer fool you. It’s no slouch at air frying and comes with the digital controls and preprogrammed settings you’d expect from a much more expensive machine. Although the basket is smaller than in many models and could only hold 3 burgers in one layer at once, it was able to roast a 4-pound chicken.
You don’t have to preheat the GoWise, which is a timesaver, and as it cooks, it doesn’t get too hot to touch so you don’t have to worry about an accidental burn. While the baskets aren’t dishwasher safe, they are coated with a nonstick finish for easy hand cleaning. To give you inspiration as to what to cook, the GoWise comes with a cookbook full of recipes. If you find black appliances boring, the GoWise also comes in bright red and purple. If you’re on a budget, the GoWise is the best air fryer for you.
Read our full GoWISE USA 3.7 Quart 8-in-1 Air Fryer review.
We think the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven is the best air fryer if you want the functionality of several appliances in one package. In addition to air frying, it can crisp up bagels, roast a 4-pound chicken, and bake a 12-inch pizza. There’s no preheat required which adds to the cooking time but saves you a step. As it cooks the Cuisinart is very quiet so it won’t prevent you from chatting in the kitchen or having a phone conversation.
Unlike most air fryers, the Cuisinart isn’t housed in plastic and it’s not shaped like a space capsule or giant egg. Instead, it’s constructed of stainless steel and has a boxy design. Not only will it fit neatly on your countertop, it will actually look good. The controls aren’t digital which means they’re very straightforward to operate — you simply set the well-marked dials. However, there are no pre-programmed settings so you have to refer to the manual for air frying temperatures and times.
Read our full Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven review.
The best air fryer for small families is the Dash Compact Air Fryer. It's not much bigger than a coffee maker and does a good job of cooking up an air-fried chicken dinner or hamburgers for just one or two people. With a pair of dials, one for temperature and one for time, it couldn’t be easier to program. When you use the Dash, you may find air frying times are a little on the long side and you will want to be vigilant about tossing your French fries and turning over your chicken cutlets to get evenly browned and crisped results.
Thanks to its petite, cylindrical shape and glossy finish, the Dash Compact Air Fryer is adorable. In addition to black and white, it also comes in red and aqua. The basket is safe for dishwasher cleaning and because it’s small, it won’t hog too much of your precious rack space.
Read our full Dash Compact Air Fryer review.
The Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro is a handsome appliance that does a lot more than air fry, but it comes with a huge price tag. We think it’s worth the splurge though. Large enough to roast a small turkey, it can just about replace your full-size oven for everyday cooking and serve as a second one at the holidays. On the LCD panel, in addition to the air frying, toasting, baking, and broiling settings you expect from a toaster oven, there are ones for slow cooking, dehydrating, proofing, and reheating among others.
The controls are intuitive to operate and we found that it excelled at roasting a chicken and frying breaded chicken. The brushed stainless steel surfaces give the Breville a professional look but they do get excessively hot during cooking, reaching 252°F during our tests, although the towel bar handle and controls stay cool to the touch. With this oven, you get several racks and pans for pizza and baking which you will have to store when you’re not using them. Breville doesn’t recommend placing them in the dishwasher and the air fryer rack in particular can take a bit of work to get clean.
Read our full Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro review.
The Ninja Foodi 2 Basket Air Fryer can put an end to squabbles over whether to serve French fries or chicken wings at dinner. It has two baskets in which you can cook two different items at the same time at different temperatures; the machine makes sure they’re both ready simultaneously. You also have the option of only cooking in one basket or making a double batch of let’s say chicken nuggets. No preheating is required, which eliminates one step in the cooking process.
This is a well-thought out machine and the settings are clearly marked, but the multi-functionality can be confusing and you will find yourself referring to the manual often at the beginning. However, once you get the hang of programming, it’s easy to do and this air fryer produces great results, particularly for chicken wings, Brussels sprouts and breaded chicken. With its matte gray finish, the Ninja is good looking, but at about the size of a small microwave, will take up considerable countertop space. It’s also heavy so you won’t want to be moving it in and out of a cabinet or closet often.
Read our full Ninja Foodi 2 Basket Air Fryer review.
The Philips Premium Airfryer XXL is one solidly built machine with a sky high price tag. In our tests, it was one of the only air fryers that could crisp up two pounds of French fries to perfection. In fact, your kids might just be convinced that they came from their favorite fast food restaurant. However, other foods, like chicken wings and French fries made from scratch, came out less evenly browned and crunchy. It did broil burgers well and turned out an impressive crispy-skinned roast chicken though. The Philips doesn’t require preheating, which saves a step, but it does take longer to cook than other air fryers as a consequence.
On this model you’ll find digital controls and a dial to select the setting, temperature, and time. The basket glides out on a track, but when you lift it out, it can drip on the countertop or floor and it’s a little tricky to replace. Because the Philips is so heavy, you won’t want to store it away between uses so we suggest you make sure you really want an air fryer before investing in this expensive machine. If you feed a lot of people who love French fries often, it’s definitely the best air fryer and is worth the expense.
Read our full Philips Premium Airfryer XXL review.
We think the Gourmia 6 Quart Digital Air Fryer is one of the best air fryers out there. When it comes to crisping and browning foods while keeping them moist and tender, it’s a close runner-up to our top pick, the Cosori. Plus, it can also be used for broiling and roasting without leaving you with spatters and messy pans to clean up. The only test we found it struggled on was fresh French fries, which just weren’t up to scratch compared to others.
The electronic controls have preset cooking programs to give you an idea what temperature and time to use for foods that you’re most likely to air fry. Once you set the Gourmia, it automatically goes into a preheat mode and then, halfway through the air frying process, alerts you with an onscreen prompt that it’s time to turn your food over. The basket goes in the dishwasher for easy cleanup. Our only gripe with the Gourmia is that it’s not a particularly attractive product, but we’re big believers that function is more important than design.
Read our full Gourmia 6 Quart Digital Air Fryer review.
If you want browned and crisped foods and you want them fast, you’ll find the Instant Pot 6 Quart Vortex 4 in 1 Air Fryer Oven is the quickest air fryer out there. But, it doesn’t sacrifice cooking results for speed. We found it turned out well browned and crunchy chicken cutlets, fries and Brussels sprouts. Without making a mess, it did an impressive job of broiling burgers and roasting a chicken too. As it cooks, the Instant stays cool enough to touch without risking a burn.
This air fryer has a large and clear control panel, which is easy to use. However, there are no preset programs for specific foods and there are also no time and temperature recommendations in the owner’s manual. If you’re new to air frying you’ll have to visit the company’s website to get cooking charts for various items or seek out another resource. When you do set the oven, it preheats automatically and gives you a prompt when it’s time to shake your mozzarella sticks or flip over your fish.
Read our full Instant Pot 6 Quart Vortex 4 in 1 Air Fryer Oven review.
The versatile KitchenAid Digital Countertop Oven With Air Fryer saves countertop space by serving as a toaster, air fryer and countertop oven in one. For anyone who’s fanatical about how their toast comes out, it produces evenly browned bread that matches the chosen setting. And while the KitchenAid’s not small, it’s not as large as other air fryer toaster ovens, yet has enough room to roast two chickens or bake a large lasagna. This is because the controls are located underneath the oven cavity, not on the side. When it comes to air frying, the KitchenAid can compete with the best of them. In fact, of all we tested, the KitchenAid was the best at making French fries from Idaho potatoes that we had cut ourselves.
To control this model you use two dials and three buttons in conjunction with a small LCD screen. Some of the exterior surfaces, and in particular the door, get excessively hot during cooking — reaching 278°F on test. As it operates, the KitchenAis is fairly quiet though and won’t interfere with after-dinner conversation. The manufacturer includes a large shallow enamel baking pan. While the pan and the racks are dishwasher safe, the manufacturer recommends hand washing them.
Read our full KitchenAid Digital Countertop Oven With Air Fryer review.
Chefs who like to have a lot of control over the cooking process will love the NuWave Brio 6 Quart Digital Air Fryer. In addition to 100 preset programs, it offers multi-stage cooking, features a sear function, comes with a probe for cooking to exact temperatures and a basket divider for cooking two things at once. However, all this functionality makes it very complicated to operate. Before you even begin cooking, you need to read the manual carefully and then keep it nearby to use as a reference.
In our cooking tests, the NuWave did a good, but not great job at air frying. It cooked unevenly, but kept foods moist and tender. The probe worked well, indicating when a chicken was roasted to a spot-on degree of doneness. The basket can be cleaned in the dishwasher if placed on the top rack. With the unit, you get a cookbook and a laminated guide to the 100 preset programs. You can't remotely control this air fryer, but you can access recipes from the NuWave Cooking Club app.
Read our full NuWave Brio 6 Quart Digital Air Fryer review.
The Chefman is not the best air fryer on the market, but it just might be the easiest to use. Anyone who likes things to be simple to operate may be willing to compromise a bit on cooking results and avoid the confusion of the many choices and steps when it comes to programming. We didn’t see as much browning and crisping as we did from other air fryers, even though cooking times tended to be on the longer end of the suggested time range. With some trial and error, we think you could get better results by fine tuning the amount of food, the number of times you stir or turn during cooking and the length of cooking time. The Chefman did excel at air frying hamburgers, producing patties that actually looked like they were cooked on a grill.
We like the compact size and no-frills design of the Chefman and think it would easily fit into even a fancy kitchen without calling attention to itself. Lastly, the price is very reasonable, and will be especially attractive to people who aren’t 100 percent certain they want an air fryer. We’re dubbing this the “starter air fryer”.
Read our full Chefman Turbofry 3.5L Analog Air Fryer review.
How we tested
To find the best air fryers, we tested a range of popular models to determine how well they air fry as well as how convenient they are to use. In each air fryer, we cooked both frozen and homemade French fries, Brussels sprouts, chicken wings, chicken breasts breaded with Panko crumbs, and hamburgers. We cooked whole chickens in those fryers that had baskets large enough to accommodate them. We added a tablespoon of oil to the made-from-scratch French fries and Brussels sprouts but otherwise added no other ingredients to any items. Everything was cooked on the setting recommended by the manufacturer until tender or cooked to a safe internal temperature. In those models that can toast, we toasted white bread on the light, medium, and dark settings. Each food was evaluated for browning, crisping, and how evenly it cooked and how moist and tender it came out.
To rate the ease of use of each air fryer, we considered how convenient it was to set the controls, slide the basket in and out, and of course, how easy it was to clean up. We checked to see if the manual adequately explained how to use the product, which we think is particularly important in view of the fact that air fryers are more often part of a multifunctional design. We measured the sound level of each air fryer while it was operating to determine how much it would interfere with conversation in the kitchen and took surface temperatures on eight places that the user is likely to touch during cooking to determine if it could be a hazard.
Air fryer test results
The following table shows the noise produced from each air fryer in operation as well as the highest recorded external temperature.
|Average Noise (dB)||Highest external temperature (°F)|
|Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro||61.4||252.1|
|Chefman TurboFry 3.5L Analog Air Fryer||59.3||166.2|
|Cosori Smart Wifi Air Fryer||65.3||128.8|
|Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven||54.7||259.6|
|Dash Compact Air Fryer||60.6||143.6|
|Gourmia 6 Quart Digital Air Fryer||60||157.5|
|GoWISE USA 3.7 Quart 8-in-1 Air Fryer||58.8||124.3|
|Instant Pot 6 Quart Vortex 4 in 1 Air Fryer Oven||66.5||126.6|
|KitchenAid Digital Countertop Oven With Air Fryer||54.4||278.3|
|Ninja Foodi 2 Basket Air Fryer||65.5||137.1|
|NuWave Brio 6 Quart Digital Air Fryer||63.4||151.7|
|Philips Premium Airfryer XXL||64.7||138.5|
How to choose the best air fryer for you
Air fryers vary in size, shape, capacity and price. The most expensive ones are solidly built, but not necessarily the best at air frying, nor the most convenient to use.
Here are the five things to consider when shopping for an air fryer:
Size: Most air fryers are not only large, but they’re irregularly shaped. Be sure to measure the space on your countertop where you plan to keep your air fryer and the machine itself before making a purchase. Don’t forget to check how much room you have from the counter surface to the bottom of your cabinets if you want to be able to move the fryer back and out of the way when you’re not using it. 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 labeled with a wide range of capacities from as little as two quarts to as much as eight. However, the stated capacity is not necessarily a good indication of how much food you can cook at one time. For best results, it’s not a good idea to pile up food to the top of the basket. Few models can cook more than a pound of food like French fries or veggies at a time. When you’re making chicken or hamburgers you’re limited to how many pieces you can fit on the bottom of the basket. It’s more important to check the diameter of the basket than its volume.
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 double up 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 need the extra functions.
Price: You can spend anywhere from $50 to $400 on an air fryer. While the 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.
When to replace your air fryer
There are reports of air fryers lasting as little as three months or as long as eight years, though manufacturers typically provide one to three years of warranty. One thing you can do to extend your fryer’s life is keep it clean. By hand washing the basket and avoiding using metal utensils to stir or turn foods, you can prevent one of the major complaints about air fryers — that the non-stick finish eventually begins peeling off.
Another common occurrence are broken handles. Cleaning baskets by hand can also help prevent this problem. You should also try to avoid pulling on them with force. If your machine should completely malfunction and it is no longer under warranty, your best bet is to buy a new one. If you do get a repair quote, and it’s more than 50 percent of the price of a new air fryer, our advice would be to consider buying a replacement.
When you shop for a new air fryer you’ll find a much bigger selection of options is now available. You can choose a small space-saving model that holds just enough for one or two portions or a multitasking appliance that does more than just air fry. There are many toaster ovens on the market that can air fry as well as toast, bake and broil; some even come equipped with rotisseries. A few companies offer air frying appliances that can pressure cook or slow cook as well.
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