Updated May 2022
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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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Pros
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HOW WE TESTED

After going through an intensive research process to narrow down our short list of top products in this space, we tested most of our top five — the Dash Tasti Crisp Electric Air Fryer, the COSORI CP158-AF Max XL Air Fryer, and the GoWISE Digitial Air Fryer — to be sure that these products are worth your time. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter and test to verify manufacturer claims.

64
Models
Considered
143
Consumers
Consulted
8
Hours
Researched
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Buying guide for Best air fryers

The brilliantly named air fryer puts a spin on foods you crave so you can indulge the need for a satisfying crunch in a healthier way. The key to perfection is in superheated air that encircles your food, allowing it to cook thoroughly and evenly.

The essential considerations include finding an air fryer large enough for your needs and with intuitive controls that allow the unit to be flexible in its cooking tasks. Additionally, you'll want a model that is easy to clean and offers the option of cooking multiple foods at once. A number of manufacturers have fine-tuned their air fryers, allowing you to create a wide array of culinary wonders.

air fryer
Are you new to rapid hot air technology? Many top-selling models come with informational booklets with cooking tips and recipes to help you make the most out of your new air fryer.

How air fryers work

An air fryer combines several different cooking methods in one convenient appliance.

  • An electric coil suspended above the food provides radiant heating, much like a broiler element or stovetop burner. This dry heat penetrates the food and warms it internally.
  • Meanwhile, a fan positioned above the coil creates a current of superheated air that flows around and under the food. This is convection heating, a cooking method often found in commercial ovens.
  • The convection action converts the small amount of oil you use into a fine mist that coats the food as it circulates. This action mimics the effect traditional deep frying has on foods submerged in hot cooking oil.
  • As the hot air flows, the food's own moisture creates the steam needed to finish the cooking process.
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EXPERT CONSULTANT
Currently Executive Chef at Bon Appétit Management Company, Steve began his tenure with Bon Appétit as Chef de Partie. He has over 10 years of experience, including tenures at two- and three-Michelin star restaurants. Steve is passionate about all things cooking—products, supply chain, management, menu design, and budgeting.
Steve
Executive Chef

Wattage and capacity

To work their magic, air fryers typically require between 800 and 2,100 watts of power. Before you buy an air fryer, make sure your kitchen outlet can support this kind of wattage.

Another important pre-purchase consideration is an air fryer's capacity. Most fryers can cook between 1.5 and 3 pounds of food at a time. This capacity would probably suffice in most households, but your personal circumstances might be different. For example, a two-basket air fryer is a good option for large households, as it can accommodate double the amount of standard models. Some can even cook two different types of food at different temperature settings at once.

I would recommend cooking meat in an air fryer over something you want to turn out more crispy, like french fries.

STAFF
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How to make chicken drumsticks in an air fryer

Did you know that you can make a whole chicken in some air fryers? If you want a model that can prepare this dish, choose one with a 5-quart capacity or larger.

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Size and settings

Most air fryers are relatively compact and easy to fit on a kitchen counter. But despite their straightforward design, some air fryers have settings that may be more or less appealing to you. Most machines include timers and can reach at least 360°F.

Pros and cons of air fryers

There is no doubt that air fryers serve a multitude of purposes in the kitchen, from creating an oil-less version of fried foods to steaming vegetables to baking cupcakes and brownies. But an air fryer does have its limitations and drawbacks.

Pros of cooking with an air fryer:

  • An air fryer produces crisp, moist food without the need for a deep fryer or large amounts of oil. If avoiding saturated fats and heavily fried foods is on your list of dietary priorities, then using an air fryer that requires far less oil than a deep oil fryer is clearly the way to go.
  • Air fryers are versatile and can be used to prepare a large variety of foods. While you may think of french fries, chicken nuggets, and pizza when you think of an air fryer, this small kitchen appliance is also great for cooking food like burgers, fish, air fried chicken wings, baked potatoes, veggies, desserts, and much more. An air fryer can also be used to reheat leftovers.
  • Air fryers are much easier to clean and maintain than traditional deep fryers. There is no large container of hot cooking oil to filter and store. The air fryer's cooking basket can be washed by hand or in a dishwasher between uses.
  • In addition to standard air fryers, the rapid hot air technology is available in combo appliances. For example, you can find an air fryer multi-cooker that also works for pressure cooking and an air fryer toaster oven that fries, roasts, and bakes. What’s more, some countertop convection ovens that rotisserie, bake, roast, and dehydrate also have an air fryer function.

Cons of cooking with an air fryer:

  • The constant flow of dry, superheated air around many foods can eventually strip them of moisture, especially on the surface. While some people may accept a bit of dryness as the price paid for healthier eating, others could be disappointed by the dryness or lack of flavor in air fried foods.
  • Cooking times can be considerably longer in an air fryer than a traditional deep fryer.
  • For those who are new to cooking with an air fryer, it can take some trial and error to achieve great results.

Features

Many air fryers use just a small amount of oil, but some health-conscious consumers might opt for a completely oil-free fryer. “Multipurpose” air fryers can cook two or more types of food at once. Other features you might be interested in include digital programmable settings, rapid-cook technology, and nonstick surfaces.

Controls

When it comes to cooking functions, you can expect to find simple dial controls on basic models and sleek touchscreens with preset functions on high-end options. Presets make it possible to cook various types of food with the precise time and temperature required with the touch of a button.

Frying basket

The frying basket is the part of an air fryer where food is placed during the cooking process. It has a handle that stays cool to the touch so it’s safe to remove from the unit for checking or serving food. When it’s time for cleanup, many fry baskets can be placed in the dishwasher.

Quality air fryers have baskets that are made of stainless steel with a nonstick interior coating. They vary in size depending on the model.

Crisping plate

Crafted of metal with holes that help the hot air circulate, this removable component fits in the bottom of the frying basket and helps produce a uniform crispy finish. Also sometimes referred to as a crisping tray, it typically has a nonstick finish and can usually be cleaned in the dishwasher.

air fryers
DID YOU KNOW?
Some air fryers offer a higher temperature maximum than others. French fries and chicken typically require about 360°F to cook. Steak requires a slightly hotter setting.
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Air fryer prices

Air fryer prices commonly begin above the $100 mark. For example, the popular Ninja Foodi is often found for around $249. That said, you get what you pay for — an excellent product — and there are sales to be found. The best of these appliances make up for their high price tags with efficient frying and easy cleanup. Budget-conscious consumers can definitely find fryers in their price range, as can those who are looking for a high-end model.

The case against deep frying

As air fryers grow in popularity, it’s important to understand the reasons why traditional deep frying has become an “issue” with many health-conscious cooks.

First off, the amount of saturated fat contained in lard and other animal fats is high. Diets rich in saturated fats can lead to arterial clogging, which in turn can lead to strokes and heart disease, according to some medical sources.

Here are some other reasons why people are replacing deep frying with other cooking methods:

  1. Cooking oils break down over time. Animal-based shortenings have a very limited shelf life, as they do not react well with the outside air and become rancid. Vegetable oils also begin to separate into water and fat after several deep-frying sessions. Replacing these cooking oils, especially in the quantities required for larger deep fryers, can become expensive and time-consuming.
  2. Deep frying creates hazardous byproducts. Small bits of batter or dry coating tend to fall into the cooking oil as products cook. Some sources believe these carbonized pieces form hazardous, possibly carcinogenic, chemicals that people could inadvertently ingest along with their meals.
  3. Deep fryers require diligent maintenance. A deep fryer remains too hot to handle for several hours after use. As such, it’s a challenge to perform important tasks like oil filtering. Working with large amounts of animal-based fat is also a messy and thankless job for many cooks. There is also the problem of having a large container of scalding hot oil within reach of small children.
  4. Ideal cooking temperatures are hard to maintain. The secret to successful deep frying is maintaining a proper oil temperature. When cooking oil falls below a certain temperature, the food's internal moisture does not repel the oil as well, resulting in greasy, undercooked food. Simply putting a bag of frozen food into a hot deep fryer will affect the oil temperature, and the heating elements of many deep fryers take a long time to recover from the shock. This is not a concern with superheated cooking methods such as convection or air frying.

Air fryers cook fast, but preheating the appliance before placing food in the basket will further cut down on cooking times.

STAFF
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air fryer
If you’re considering an air fryer instead of a deep fryer because you want to reduce your consumption of oil, you’re on the right track. But even air fryer recipes often require a little bit of oil.

FAQ

Q: What if I need to add seasoning or ingredients to a dish? Can I remove the cooking basket?

A: It depends on the model, so consult your owner's manual to be certain. Many air fryers do allow you to pull out the basket during the cooking cycle in order to stir the product or add seasoning. The unit should shut off automatically if it has this feature.

Q: Can I cook more than one food item at the same time in a standard air fryer?

A: Many models offer dividers that keep different food items separate during a cooking cycle. We recommend only combining foods with similar prep times or temperatures to avoid overcooking or undercooking.

Q: Can I cook frozen meats or vegetables in an air fryer?

A: Yes, in most cases you can prepare meats and vegetables from a frozen state in an air fryer. The superheated air and convection action draw excess moisture to an exhaust port, so frozen foods won't become mushy from unwanted steaming. It is important to keep in mind that cooking times may be extended considerably when starting from frozen.

Q: Can I use aluminum foil or other baking paper in an air fryer?

A: Since air fryers do not use microwave technology, you can safely use aluminum foil or metal containers. Parchment paper will also work in an air fryer. The important thing to remember is that the superheated air requires free circulation to work. Food wrappers should not block the natural flow of hot air around the cooking chamber.

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