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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
30 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
174 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best air fryers under $100

Who doesn’t love a plate of crispy French fries or fried chicken? But with all that oil, they’re not very healthy for you. The good news is that you can still enjoy your favorite fried treats without the guilt. How? Meet the air fryer.

An air fryer is a small countertop appliance that allows you to prepare crispy fried foods with little to no oil. It doesn’t really fry your food, though. Instead, it functions as a convection oven, so it moves hot air around the food via a fan. Because the air hits the food from all sides, you get that crisp texture that you love in fried foods. However, since it works like a convection oven, you can use an air fryer to bake, grill, and roast foods, too.

And with plenty of air fryers that come in under $100, you don’t have to break the bank to give air frying a try. But first, you’ll have to decide what size works best for your needs, what temperature range is required for your favorite recipes, and what other features to look for to make using your air fryer as easy as possible.

Our handy shopping guide has all the tips and product recommendations you’ll need to help simplify the shopping process, so you can easily choose the right air fryer for your kitchen.

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When adapting a conventional recipe for your air fryer, you should usually lower the temperature by approximately 25 degrees and cut the cooking time by about 20 percent.

Key considerations


Capacity

Air fryers are countertop appliances, so they are all compact in design. However, there is some variety in terms of how much food you can fit inside. If you’re cooking for a family, keep in mind that you may have to cook multiple batches of food to prepare enough for everyone in your household.

You can usually find air fryers in the following sizes:

  • Small models have a 1- to 3-liter capacity, which is best for households with one to three people.
  • Mid-size models have a 3- to 5-liter capacity, which works well for groups of three to five.
  • Large models have a 5-liter and up capacity, which works well if you have a family of five people or more or entertain regularly.


Wattage

All air fryers run on electricity, but those with a higher wattage can heat up more quickly and regulate the temperature more easily when cold food is added to the appliance. Most air fryers use 800 to 1,500 watts, which most standard electrical outlets can support. Some higher-end models can reach up to 1,800 watts, but they’ll work in most kitchens, too.

Temperature range

When you’re choosing an air fryer, it’s important to consider its temperature range to make sure it’s compatible with your favorite recipes. The lowest temperature setting for most air fryers is usually 175°F or 180°F, though you can find some that go as low as 105°F for dehydrating purposes. Some models can reach up to 390°F, while others can heat to over 400°F. The greater the temperature range that an air fryer offers, the more recipes that you’ll be able to use it for.

Features


Digital controls

Many air fryers feature simple dial controls to choose your temperature setting and cooking mode with. However, some models offer digital controls, which usually feature a touchpad for easy operation. With digital controls, you’re able to choose more precise temperature and timer settings to give you greater control over the cooking process.

Indicator lights

For the easiest operation, choose an air fryer with indicator lights. Most models have two lights: one that shows that the appliance is on and one that lets you know when it has preheated to the selected temperature. Not only do the indicator lights keep you aware of each step in the cooking process, but they also serve a safety purpose, so you know to handle the fryer more carefully when it’s hot.

Presets and modes

Many air fryers have a fairly simple design, so you must manually set the temperature based on the recipe that you’re preparing. However, some models with digital controls have built-in presets for popular fried foods, which take all the guesswork out of preparing your favorite dishes. Some common presets include:

  • French fries
  • Shrimp
  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Shrimp

Because you can also use your air fryer for baking, some models also include a cake and/or pizza setting. You can also find air fryers with reheat, roast, and dehydrate modes for greater versatility.

Timer

A timer is often a convenient feature in an air fryer because it alerts you when your food is done to prevent overcooking. Most models feature simple timers with an indicator light or chime to let you know that the food is done cooking, but some air fryers have timers with an auto-off feature, so the appliance automatically shuts down when the timer goes off.

Ease of cleaning

While air frying typically requires much less oil than traditional frying, cleaning up after you’re finished cooking can sometimes be a pain. If you want an air fryer that’s as easy to clean as possible, choose a model with dishwasher-safe components. That way, you can simply place the food basket and other removable parts on the top shelf of your dishwasher to clean them.

Accessories

An air fryer includes a basket to hold the foods that you’re preparing. However, some models include other accessories to make preparing your favorite recipes even easier. You may want to look for a model that includes a grilling rack or skewers if you like grilled foods. Some air fryers also include a cookbook to give you some recipe ideas if you’re new to air frying.

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Did you know?
While an air fryer is ideal for crisping up frozen French fries, it also works perfectly for homemade fries.
STAFF
BestReviews

Air fryers under $100 prices

Inexpensive: The most affordable air fryers are small compact models with a 1- to 3-liter capacity. They usually cost between $39 and $55 and work best for preparing snacks or cooking for small groups.

Mid-range: These air fryers usually have a capacity between 3 and 5 liters and typically range from $55 to $73. They are ideal if you’re cooking for a family or a group of about five people.

Expensive: The priciest air fryers are extra-large models with a capacity of 5 liters or more. They usually cost between $73 and $99 and are best if you need to cook for a large family or group.

Tips

  • An air fryer should be preheated before adding your food. If your model doesn’t have a preheat setting, set the appliance to your desired temperature and allow it to heat for approximately five minutes before adding your food.
  • Don’t overfill your air fryer’s basket. The hot air won’t be able to circulate properly around the food if it’s stuffed.
  • To make sure your food is as crispy as you’d like, it helps to rotate it while it cooks. Open your fryer and shake the food around in the basket every five to ten minutes so it cooks evenly.
  • While you don’t need as much oil as you would for deep frying, always grease your air fryer basket or rack to prevent foods from sticking.
  • The food you place in your air fryer should always be dry. Pat it down with a paper towel before adding it to the fryer to remove excess moisture.
  • If you’re air frying foods that don’t have much natural fat, mist them lightly with oil before adding them to the air fryer. That will help give foods like potatoes a crispier texture.
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Adding water to the drawer beneath the fryer basket can help prevent your air fryer from smoking while you’re cooking fatty foods like bacon.

FAQ

Q. What kinds of food can I prepare in an air fryer?

A. Because it functions like a countertop convection oven, there are few foods that you can’t make in an air fryer. All your favorite frozen snacks like French fries, onion rings, mozzarella sticks, and jalapeño poppers are ideal candidates for an air fryer, but you can also prepare beef, chicken, fish, and vegetables. If your air fryer is large enough, you may even be able to bake pizzas and cakes.

The only foods that you should avoid putting in your air fryer are those with wet batters. That’s because hot air that circulates through the fryer can actually blow the batter off the food and make a mess.

Q. How do I clean an air fryer?

A. It varies from model to model, so you should always consult your owner’s manual before cleaning your air fryer. If your model features dishwasher-safe components, you can usually place the basket, bucket, and any other removable parts on the top shelf of your dishwasher for cleaning. Otherwise, you should typically soak the removable components in warm, soapy water for five to ten minutes and then scrub the basket and other parts with a non-abrasive sponge or rag before rinsing and drying.

Q. Do I need to add oil to an air fryer?

A. The benefit of an air fryer is that it doesn’t require the same large amounts of oil that a deep fryer does. However, if you want your food to have a nice, crispy exterior, you can mist or brush it lightly with oil to coat it before adding it to the air fryer. You’ll still cut down on the fat and calories without sacrificing the crunchy texture you’re after.

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