Best Compact Air Fryers

Updated September 2021
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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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How we decided

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

30 Models Considered
26 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
61 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 compact air fryers

If you have a small kitchen, you can quickly max out your available space for appliances. After your microwave, coffee maker, and toaster oven, countertop appliances really have to offer something unique and be small enough to fit or they run the risk of becoming an inconvenience instead of a convenience. A compact air fryer is one of the appliances that fit this criterion.

Compact air fryers are small — some are as tiny as 10 inches tall — and offer a unique and fast way of cooking limited portions of food that are incredibly satisfying. As if that isn't enough, when used properly, an air fryer can help set an individual on the path to making healthier food choices.

We've provided all you need to know about the features of quality compact air fryers, as well as get some insight into how this appliance works and how it can benefit you. If you've stopped by this page to make a quick purchasing decision, consider one of the compact air fryers that we've spotlighted in this article.
 

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Choose the right size air fryer according to the number of people you’re feeding and the space available in your kitchen.

Key considerations

Size

Size is relative. It’s important to understand your individual needs for how much food you’ll likely be cooking at one time, as well as the available space in your kitchen.

Air fryer size is most commonly represented in quarts. The smallest will hold between 1 and 2 quarts. At this size, you should be able to cook two chicken breasts at a time or a single chicken breast and a serving of fries. Air fryers of 3 or 4 quarts should be able to comfortably cook at least four average-size chicken breasts.

To help you get an idea of how small you can go, consider the information below. Remember, this is for average portion sizes. People who eat more or less may need to adjust. Also, this information is designed for the individual with limited kitchen space who wants a fryer that is as compact as possible and still gets the job done.

  • 2 quarts: One person
  • 3 quarts: Two people
  • 4 quarts: Three people
  • 5 or 6 quarts: Four people
dyk1
Did You Know?
A compact air fryer can reduce the cooking time of some of your favorite foods to just a few minutes.
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Features

Controls

Inexpensive compact air fryers are simple to operate because they don't have much to control. These work with dials: twist one dial to set the temperature and another to set the timer, much like on an inexpensive toaster oven. More expensive models offer a greater amount of control and precision. They may have a few presets for certain types of food and a memory function as well.

Digital: If you prefer push-button technology, you'll have to pay a little more for a compact air fryer, but you will get more convenience when it comes to precision, presets, and memory function. Some of the digital models also include a remote.

Light: It’s important to know when the compact air fryer is operating. The most basic models have a light that lets you know when the power is on.

Screen: More advanced models have a screen that tells you the current temperature, remaining cooking time, and other information.

Safety

If safety is a concern, look for a model that is BPA-free and has overheat protection and automatic shutoff. Additionally, you may want to consider a model with a cool-touch handle and a lock to prevent the accidental opening of the cooking drawer.

Style

The style of your compact air fryer is a matter of individual choice. Some models come in bright colors while others are a more neutral black or silver. Most compact air fryers are cylindrical, but there are a few rectangular models. If you’re going to leave your air fryer on the counter, you might want to choose a model that matches the other appliances in your kitchen.

Maintenance

Some compact air fryers have components that are safe to put in the dishwasher. If this is appealing to you, look for a model that clearly states "dishwasher safe" and do a little research to find out which parts actually are.

Accessories

If you’re purchasing a compact air fryer, you're not going to get all the bells and whistles you'd get with a 16-quart air fryer, but you should get at least a couple of useful accessories. A metal basket, toaster rack, tongs, oil brush, silicone mitts, fry liners, and recipe book are all possible options. But don't get your hopes up here. The included extras will likely be very basic.
 


Foods that are not ideal for a compact air fryer include wet batter and anything that melts or is light enough to be affected by the air current, such as fresh greens.

Staff
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Compact air fryer prices

Inexpensive: At less than $60, you will find very basic models of up to a 2-quart capacity. These air fryers have temperature and timer controls, along with a drawer for cooking, but not much else.

Mid-range: From $60 to $100, the air fryers have more features and are a little larger, possibly up to 5 quarts. Additionally, the controls may be digital and offer a greater degree of precision.

Expensive: Once you move past $100, you could be looking at models that are larger than "compact." These fryers may have a rack and basket and be the size of a countertop convection oven. You also may find units that operate with a remote. Just be careful that the fryers in this range aren’t too large for your available space.
 

Dyk2
Did You Know?
While many people think of an air fryer as an alternate way to fry food, the versatile cooking appliance can be used to cook nearly anything you usually bake in an oven, including cookies.
Staff
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Tips

It’s important to clean a compact air fryer so it functions efficiently as well as to prevent residual odors that could affect the flavor of the food. To get the most out of your compact air fryer, here are a few cleaning tips.

  • Follow all of the manufacturer's recommendations. The best way to clean your compact air fryer after every use is to follow the directions in the owner's manual. If that isn’t available, the following guidelines should work for most units.
  • Unplug the fryer and let it cool. Before attempting to clean the fryer, the first step is to unplug it and let it cool for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  • Wipe down the outside. The outside of the compact air fryer can be gently cleaned using a soft, moist towel.
  • Clean the accessories separately. Remove the basket, pan, and so on from inside the unit and clean them with hot water and a non-abrasive cleaning agent.  An abrasive cleaner could damage any nonstick coating. Items with cooked-on food might need to be soaked before cleaning. If there is any remaining residue, consider using a degreasing liquid.
  • Clean the heating element. Use a soft-bristled brush to carefully remove stuck-on food particles from the heating element.
  • Dry the fryer completely. Ensure that every part of the compact air fryer is dry before using it again.
     
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Don’t fill the air fryer too full. In order for it to work, there must be room around the food to allow the air to circulate freely.

FAQ

Q. Does an air fryer actually fry foods?

A. To deep-fry foods, you heat oil to between 325°F and 400°F. When you place the food in the oil, it quickly heats the outside surface by boiling away the moisture, making it crispy while the inside of the food remains moist. With an air fryer, instead of cooking the food in hot oil, it circulates hot air around the food. The result is roughly the same: the exterior gets crispy while the moisture is sealed inside. In other words, while an air fryer technically does not “fry” foods (by definition, frying requires oil or fat), it functions in a similar manner by using hot air instead of oil or fat.

Q. What are some advantages of using a compact air fryer?

A. The obvious advantage of using a compact air fryer is the space you’ll save with the compact design. A compact air fryer takes up less space and can fit in kitchens where a full-size model might not be an option. With a compact air fryer, you can also cook smaller portions and use less energy (unless you cook several batches). Because of the smaller interior, a compact air fryer typically cooks much more quickly than a full-size model. Last, because of the diminished space, it’s easier to clean up. In summary, a compact air fryer can save you space, energy, and time while also cutting down on cleaning chores.

Q. Is using an air fryer healthier than other cooking methods?

A. While using an air fryer does require considerably less oil than deep-frying, it doesn't necessarily mean that simply switching to an air fryer guarantees a healthy diet. That comes down to personal responsibility. The type and amount of food you eat can impact your diet as much as the way it’s cooked. Purchasing a compact air fryer can be a step in the right direction toward a healthier lifestyle, but it isn’t a cure-all. Wise food choices, exercise, and the proper amount of sleep are all crucial to maintaining optimum health.
 

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