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. 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 Nowise USA Digital Hairdryer comes in sizes ranging from 5 to 7 quarts. Unlike many air fryers, the Cuisinart is not oddly shaped but rather looks like a large stainless steel cube.
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 Food, which not only air fries but pressure and slow cooks, dehydrates, sautés and more--and does it all well.
While it only holds about 2 ½ pounds of food, it doesn’t take up much countertop space relative to other air fryers. Just shy of $200, the TurboS tar 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. The unit is relatively compact and unlike many big and bulky models, will easily fit under standard cabinets when it’s not being used.
Type: Digital | Size: 13.5 × 12.5 × 11.5 inches | Capacity: 5.8 quarts | Dishwasher-Safe Parts: No | Easy to Clean: Yes | App Control: No / Recipes-book included | Amazon Rating: 4.0 out of 5 With eight preprogrammed settings for a variety of foods, a wide temperature range and an affordable price, the Nowise 8-in-1 Digital Hairdryer is our top budget pick.
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.
Type: Digital | Size: 13.6 × 11 × 13.3 inches | Capacity: 4 quarts | Dishwasher Safe Parts: Yes | Easy to Clean: Yes | App Control: No / Recipes and book included | Amazon Rating: 4.8 out of 5 And rightly so, according to the pro testers, who claim it rivals the Philips for frying up crispy potatoes and chicken nuggets.
Type: Digital | Size: 14.2 × 16.8 × 13.1 inches | Capacity: 6.5 quarts | Dishwasher Safe Parts: Yes | Easy to Clean: Yes | App Control: No / Recipes and book included | Amazon Rating: 4.6 out of 5 Let’s face it, kitchen appliances can totally dominate your countertop, leaving you with little valuable prep space.
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. 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.
Krupp Fry Delight (Image credit: Krupp) Type: Analog | Size: 16.5 × 13.6 × 13.5 inches | Capacity: 2.6 quarts | Dishwasher Safe Parts: Yes | Easy to Clean: Yes | App Control: No / Recipes-book included | Amazon Rating: 3.5 out of 5 The Krupp 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.
Customer reviews on Amazon praise the Krupp 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.
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.
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. 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 guesstimate what temperature to use and how long to cook.
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 you also need, let’s say a toaster oven or a pressure cooker.
Instead, they act as a small convection oven that circulates hot air around the food. We put the top air fryers on the market through rigorous testing, and we've determined our favorites.
Size: Counter space is precious real estate, especially when you're dealing with a small kitchen. While air fryers are designed to fit neatly on your counter, consider how much space you have to spare when you go to purchase an air fryer.
It's important not to overcrowd the basket, so consider the size of your family when choosing an air fryer. If you're planning to use your air fryer to cook specific dishes, you may want to go with one that comes pre-programmed with that setting to make life a little easier.
Johnson rounded up top air fryers from popular brands including Philips, Cuisinart, Ninja, Hamilton Beach and more. “This airfryer's large, flat basket was key in producing an even crisp on the food's surface,” says Johnson.
The easy pull-out drawer allowed for smooth and secure motion when checking the food for oneness. The basket, drawer, and “fat reducer” heat plate are all dishwasher-safe, making for easy cleanup.
For less than half the price of the Philips air fryer, this model from Color makes for efficient crisping and even cooking every time. At 5.8 quarts capacity, Johnson was able to fit 9 to 10 nuggets and two servings of fries at a time.
The sleek LED screen features a number of presets, plus displays for time and temperature. The only issue Johnson found with this unit was the condensation collected at the bottom of the basket and spilled on the counter when opened.
While this is frustrating, it can be easily overlooked for the airfryer's many features and efficient cooking abilities. Compared to the other air fryers tested, this one worked more quickly than others, helping to cut down on cook time.
The large holes of the crisper plate help to catch any fallen crumbs at the bottom of the basket. We would not recommend this air fryer to larger families, as it only fits one to two servings of food per basket.
For anyone living in an apartment or with limited counter space, this compact air fryer from Cuisinart is a great investment. “This air fryer also functions as a toaster oven and would fit easily under a cabinet without taking up too much space on a counter,” says Johnson.
And in terms of cleanup, the removable parts aren't dishwasher safe, and the mesh basket is a little hard to clean by hand. This air fryer would take some trial and error to get things just right, but overall it acts as an all-in-one appliance that's great for small kitchens.
Buy It: Cuisinart Compact Hairdryer Toaster Oven, $80; Amazon But there are some other air fryers we tested that performed relatively well, although they had drawbacks that kept them out of the running for the final list.
Keep reading for Johnson's thoughts on the air fryers that didn't quite make the cut. The removable parts are not dishwasher safe, and the temperature only works in increments of 15 degrees F. For these reasons, we didn't pick it as a top choice.
Buy It: Hamilton Beach 5-Liter Digital Hairdryer with Nonstick Basket, $120; Wayfair As cute as it is, sadly Johnson found this compact air fryer to be ineffective in terms of even crisping.
Out of all the air fryers we test, this one took the longest amount of time to fully cook the food. Plus, the small holes in the basket didn't allow for the crumbs to effectively fall to the bottom, resulting in noticeable burnt bits.
This unit would be best for a single person, as it only held about four to give nuggets at a time and one to two small portions of French fries.