“I’m ready to jump on the air fryer wagon, but am overwhelmed with all the makes and models. Please tell me what I should get…”
So wrote one customer concerning a future air fryer purchase. In fact, this is one of the most common questions asked by visitors to our site. Why? The large selection of air fryers on the market today vary in capacity, function, and price, and choosing just one can indeed seem overwhelming.
So, what is the best air fryer? More specifically, which air fryer is best suited to the unique needs of you and your family? We’re here to help. First, we’ll introduce you to the types of air fryers that are out there and to our own unique rating system. Then, we’ll examine our top picks in a number of categories to help you make an informed buying choice.
Types of Air Fryers
- Basket style – uses a fully enclosed food basket along with accessories, such as skewers, wire racks, and baking pans.
- Oven style – a small convection oven that fits on the counter top.
- Paddle style – utilizes a revolving paddle that turns or stirs the food while it cooks.
- Infrared halogen style – uses a halogen light bulb to heat food, similar to childhood “oven” cooking toys; typically designed as a lidded glass bowl.
- Multi cookers – multi-function appliances that embrace several cooking styles, such as pressure cooking, air frying, and rice making, rather than a dedicated use.
Our recommendation: Basket style air fryers come in a variety of sizes, are easy to clean, accept a range of accessories, and avoid some of the maintenance issues of other fryer types. For these reasons, we recommended basket style air fryers as the optimal choice for most households.
Still, there are many options to choose from within the realm of basket style air fryers. Which one is right for you? Next, consider our handy system of rating air fryer features.
How Do We Rate Air Fryers?
When deciding on a rating for a particular model of air fryer, we examine a number of categories, asking the following questions.
- Features – What type of display and controls does it use? What colors or accessories does it sport? What does it offer that makes it unique?
- Wattage and Capacity – How many people can it feed? Can you cook more than one type of food at once? How quickly does it heat, and how hot does it get?
- Build Quality – Do customers report equipment failures with this model? Are important parts made of plastic or metal? Does it have any maintenance issues? Does it come with a warranty?
- Customer Reviews – What do real users say about this model? Are their any legitimate, recurring complaints?
- Accessories Included – Does it come with accessories? Can dedicated accessories be purchased directly from the manufacturer? Will it accept universal accessories?
We ask these questions and more so you don’t have to. But, you may still wonder, why should you use an air fryer in the first place? Consider the following benefits.
The Top Benefits of Air Frying
Commercials, infomercials, sales papers, reviews, and online advertisements – you’ve likely heard or seen ads touting what an air fryer can do. Is this appliance worth the hype? We believe so, for the following reasons.
Ease of use. Air fryers are designed to be very simple to use. Even a child could do it – with proper adult supervision, of course. Most air fryers have only two settings – cook time and temperature. These may be regulated using knobs or a digital display, depending on the model. Some have presets for specific for types, allowing you to prepare your food with the touch of a button.
Speed of cooking. Air fryers use super heated air and convection technology to cook food more quickly than comparable conventional methods. This small appliance is also able to preheat more quickly than a conventional oven, saving you even more time.
Healthy cooking. Air fryers typically use one tablespoon of oil or less – sometimes none at all. This effectively reduces fat content by seventy-five percent or more when compared to traditional deep frying. You can also prepare an array of healthy, kid friendly dishes, such as crispy “fried” vegetables, helping everyone in the family to maintain a healthy diet.
Easy cleanup. No more difficult scrubbing of burnt-on food from the oven, or dealing with messy and dangerous grease from a deep fryer! The basket, drawer, and accessories of the air fryer are coated with non-stick surfaces and are dishwasher safe.
Alternative to deep frying. Have you given up the deep fried foods you love for reasons of health or weight loss? With an air fryer, you can enjoy crispy fried flavors without the fat. Air fryers use hot air and a minute amount of oil to “fry” your favorite foods, leaving them crispy on the outside, yet soft and moist on the inside. This process imitates the chemical reactions, called Maillard reactions, that brown deep fried foods and make them taste so good.
Energy efficient. Your air fryer will compliment your green lifestyle. This small appliance is energy efficient, using much less electricity than larger ovens. The faster preheating and cooking times also contribute to energy savings. You will also notice that your air fryer doesn’t heat up the kitchen as conventional ovens do – this leads to additional savings in air conditioning costs during the hot summer months.
Oven replacement. An air fryer can do everything that a traditional oven can do – it can bake, roast, steam roast, grill, and broil. Larger models can even be used to bake whole small chickens. If you’re short on space – such as in a college dorm room or efficiency apartment – or if you are looking for an economical oven replacement, air fryers are for you.
Now, you’ve seen why the air fryer is an appliance that no kitchen should do without. But, how should you go about choosing one? Consider the following.
Things to Consider When Buying an Air Fryer
Don’t be intimidated by the buying process. Consider the following aspects in order to find the perfect air fryer to fit your family’s lifestyle.
Air fryers are available in a wide range of prices. If you are on a budget, you can commonly find high quality air fryers for as little as $49.00. If you’d like to go all-out and bring home all the bells and whistles, high end air fryers sell for as much as $299.00. These prices are, of course, subject to change, and prices typically drop the longer a specific product is on the market. A good practice is to decide on a budget for your new appliance, then get the most powerful air fryer available for that price.
Size and Capacity
Air fryers come in a wide range of sizes as well. The smallest hold just over one quart (about one liter) of food and are suitable for one or two people. Small air fryers are capable of preparing one to two servings of, say, French fries at a time. Large capacity air fryers – up to sixteen quarts – may be able to make six or more servings of food at a time. When purchasing your air fryer, think of the size of your household and how much food you may desire to cook at once. Also consider how many people you typically entertain when feeding guests. Remember, smaller air fryers can still be used to feed a crowd (by filling and refilling), and larger ones are capable of cooking one serving or many.
Display and Controls
What type of control and display panel is best? Manual (analog) knobs or digital touch screens? This is purely a matter of preference, as both styles are equally effective. Some large-print digital displays are advantageous for those with vision impairments. Manual knobs may be preferred by those seeking an escape from the pervasive effects of modern technology.
Additionally, some models of both manual and digital air fryers come with handy presets for automatically cooking foods such as meats, fish, fries, and more. Some allow for custom presents as well, in which you can save the cook time and temperature of your most often prepared foods. These options can help you save valuable time.
Air fryers differ in power, or wattage. Typically, air fryers range from 1,200 watts to 2,100 watts. What do watts mean to you? Higher wattage air fryers will be able to heat faster and maintain hotter temperatures. You may notice that lower wattage air fryers max out at about 350 degrees Fahrenheit, while higher wattage models often top 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher wattage models are generally more energy efficient, heating and cooking more quickly.
Ease of Cleaning
Most air fryers are typically easy to clean. The frying basket and basket drawer should be dishwasher safe. Various models are noted for nonstick coatings, copper, or stainless steel materials. Each material has its own distinct advantages.
Nonstick surfaces, of course, aid in cleaning because they help prevent food from sticking. Residues can then be easily removed during the cleaning process without excess scrubbing. Unlike nonstick surfaces of the past, current materials are designed not to flake or peel, and are dishwasher safe.
A few models, such as the Power XL air fryer, advertise copper components, specifically a baking insert and pizza pan. Copper has become popular in recent years for its nonstick surface, antimicrobial properties, and even heat distribution due to ready conductivity. The Philips XL air fryer touts stainless steel mesh components. These, too, are easy to clean, and are not likely to become discolored with use. They are also resistant to scratches and bacteria.
Air fryers may also differ in basket shape. While both round and square baskets are dishwasher safe and easy to clean, square baskets offer a distinct advantage. The design of square basket are fryers encourages air flow, so food may cook more easily. This increases potential capacity and reduces burns around the edges which, in turn, leaves less burnt-on residue for you to clean up.
A perusal of customer reviews is a good way to get to know your air fryer before you buy it. You can find out what others like about a particular model, and what they did not like. You may learn about special features not mentioned in the product description. You may also discover specific recurrent problems, such as a mechanical malfunction or a component that is easy to break.
Some reviews are posted in video, rather than written, format. Such video reviews can be helpful as they allow you to literally see the air fryer in action. You can view how the drawer is latched and removed, how the control panel operates, the cooking results on the food, and the easy or difficulty of cleanup.
Statistics show, however, that the happiest and unhappiest users are often the most likely to leave reviews. What does this mean to you? Basically, there will always be a few unhappy customers who leave negative reviews – so, don’t let a small number of bad reviews scare you off. If there are more bad reviews than good ones, however, you might want to think twice and/or do more research before buying that particular product.
The different air fryer brands have warranties of different lengths. Some warranties are as short as 60 days, while others may extend to two years or more. Warranties can be viewed as a company’s vote of confidence in their product – the product is designed to outlast the warranty, at least. The longer the warranty, the more sound the product may be.
Another consideration is that of buying additional warranties for air fryers with digital controls. Control panels have been known to go bad over time due to the amount of heat they are exposed to. Many retailers offer an extended warranty – typically one to two years beyond the manufacturer’s warranty – for a small fee. Further, some halogen style air fryers use halogen bulbs that are not replaceable; these are known for having a relatively short lifespan. Therefore, extended warranties are advisable for this type of air fryer as well.
All things considered, which air fryer brands are actually the best? Continue reading to find out.
Best Air Fryer Brands
Don’t let the volume of information just considered overwhelm you. You don’t have to examine every air fryer on the market to discover which is the right fit for you. Why? Because we’ve done the hard work for you. Consider the following brands, along with the outstanding features of each.
GoWise USA is one of the most popular brands on the market today. Their products range in size from the economical 2.75 quart air fryer to the 5.8 quart XL. Most models feature digital displays with a soothing blue back light, but dial controls are also available. For the budget conscious, refurbished models can be purchased directly from the manufacturer. GoWise is based in Phoenix, Arizona and upholds the goal of making “your life easier and maybe even healthier.” All air fryers are FDA approved and ETL certified.
Philips produced the original basket style consumer air fryer, which came to the market in 2011. Philips air fryers are utilized and endorsed by famed chef Gordon Ramsey. This “as seen on TV” product, heralded as “a revolution in healthy cooking,” is one of the most recognized and popular on the market. Philips air fryers sport patented features not available from other brands, such as the unique “starfish” design on the bottom of the basket, used to promote air circulation around the food.
Tristar Power XL/Power Oven
The Tristar Power Oven is another “as seen on TV” heavyweight. Endorsed by chef Eric Theiss, Tristar created the new Air Fryer Oven for release in 2017. The Power Air Fryer Oven offers unique features not seen in other brands, such as a rotating mesh basket and a rotisserie spit capable of roasting a whole small chicken. The clear viewing window allows you to watch your food as it cooks for the ultimate in gourmet cooking precision.
Tfal Air Fryer
Tfal was the first company to introduce the air fryer concept to the commercial market in 2007. They are also the inventor of the Actifry, a popular model. The Actifry is a paddle style, rather than basket style, air fryer. This means that the fryer has a stirring paddle that slowly but constantly turns the food while it cooks. This is thought to result in more even cooking.
The above are the best brands on the market, but what if you are just looking for a good deal? Consider our following list of value air fryer brands.
Best Value Brands
Cooks Essential is the in-house brand of QVC, created especially for this company. Their goal is to help users “achieve outstanding results every time.” Cooks essentials offers digital and manual models ranging in size from 2.7 quarts to 5.3 quarts, as well as additional accessories. Cooks Essentials air fryers come in a wide array of hip colors to complement any kitchen decor, including white, black, blue, purple, green, red, and turquoise.
Avalon Bay is a family owned company that seeks to manufacture “stylish and affordable small home appliance products.” Digital and manual 3.7 quart air fryers are available.
Cozyna produces a 3.7 quart model as well as a 5.8 quart XL model. Numerous accessories are available, including racks, baking pans, pizza pans, and muffin tins. The Cozyna air fryer has been endorsed by both Buzz Feed and Hungry Girl.
These were our top picks in brands, but we’ve taken it a step further. Next, we’ll examine individual air fryer models and share our “best of” picks in a number of categories.
The Best Air Fryers on the Market
Our pick for the best overall air fryer is the GoWise 5.8 quart XL air fryer. This model is available in four colors – black, white, purple, and red. The touch screen display allows accurate adjustment of timer and temperature controls, or you can use one of eight advanced presets – Pizza, Fish, Shrimp, Steak, Chicken, Pork, Fries/Chips, or Cake. One unique feature is a Start/Stop button that allows you to change the time and temperature during the cook cycle. The alarm feature reminds you to shake the cook basket at five, ten, and fifteen minute increments, ensuring even cooking with no burns. Accessories include wire racks (including one for toast), skewers, a silicon trivet, pizza pan, bake pan, and fitted parchment liners.
Best for Budget
Our pick for a budget-friendly air fryer is the Stove and Brick 3.2 quart digital air fryer. This model has a large, bright yellow and blue touch screen display. The circulating fan is also designed to be low noise when compared with similar appliances.
Best for Value
Which air fryer offers the best overall value? Our pick is the Power Air Fryer XL 5.3 quart deluxe. What sets this air fryer apart is the included accessory kit, white consists of a copper pizza pan, copper baking pan, and tongs. The digital display includes one-touch presets. This model comes in red or black to match your kitchen decor.
Best for Capacity
If you’re looking for a large capacity air fryer, we recommend the Big Boss 16 quart air fryer. This air fryer uses convection currents along with its halogen and infrared heat sources. Two wire trays allow you to cook two different foods at the same time. This model is available in your choice of black, blue, copper, white, purple, or red.
Best for Versatility
The title of most versatile air fryer goes to the Power Air Fryer Oven. Its numerous accessories truly make it a counter top powerhouse. Not only can you bake, grill, and roast as with other models, but its revolving rotisserie spit allows you to beautifully prepare small fowl, gyro meat, and more. Watch your food as it cooks through the large viewing window.
Best for Simplicity
Sometimes, you’re just looking for a simple, no frills tool to get the job done. When it comes to air fryers, the Bella Hot Air Fryer delivers. This small fryer has a 2.6 quart capacity, perfect for one to three people. Its sleek design has two manual dials, an adjustable thermostat, and a 60 minute timer.
Best for Minimal Space
Looking to set up housekeeping in an efficiency apartment, shared dormitory, or other small space? Try the Dash Compact Air Fryer. With a footprint of just over 10 inches by 8 inches, this 1.2 liter (about 5 cups) air fryer may be the smallest on the market. Often described as “cute” in customer reviews, the Dash comes in four colors – red, white, black, and turquoise – to suit any taste.
Best for Lowest Price
Are you looking for a discount air fryer that still packs a punch? We recommend Walmart’s Farberware Air Fryer. This small air fryer has one of the lowest price tags we’ve ever seen.
Best for Turkey
Most air fryers are too small to handle even a young tom turkey. However, for you turkey connoisseurs, we located one that can. The Char-Broil Big Easy Oil-less Liquid Propane Turkey Fryer can handle whole turkeys, whole chickens, and roasts weighing up to 16 pounds. The kit includes a lifter and meat thermometer for accurate and safe cooking. Additional accessories include the “Better Basket,” which makes lifting food easier and collapses to one inch in height for easy storage; the “bunk-bed basket,” which rests atop the original basket for cooking two foods at once; a 22 piece kit, complete with leg racks, rib hooks, kabob skewers, and more; and the Big Easy Cover, designed to protect your device from “snow, hail, rain, and the wind.”
Note that, like oil turkey fryers, this air fryer is designed to be used out of doors, rather than in the home kitchen. Heat is provided by a propane burner, without the risk of hot oil spills from traditional turkey deep fryers.
Best for High End (Power and Quality)
Are you looking for an air frying powerhouse? For a big bruiser that could feed an army of hungry teenagers? For a large array of accessories produced by the original manufacturer? For a trusted brand used and endorsed by world renowned chefs? If you answered yes to any of these questions, look no further than the Philips XL. This extra large air fryer is one of the most popular models on the market, and for good reason. This big guy can handle more than 2.5 pounds of food at once – that’s the equivalent of two large bags of frozen French fries. Abundant accessories are available from the manufacturer. The digital screen is loaded with cooking presents, and not only does the device have a long 60 minutes timer, but an auto-shutoff feature for safety. This air fryer is sure to satisfy everyone’s appetite for good food, energy savings, easy cleanup, and ease of use.
So, have you decided? Which air fryer will you be bringing home? We’ve examined all of the essential qualifications, from price and capacity to warranty and customer reviews. We’ve also looked at the best brands and the best performing models, big and small, pricey and budget friendly. You’re now equipped to buy with confidence. So, what are you waiting for? Start using your new air fryer today!
Do you still have questions about specific models or features? We’re here to help. Post any questions in the comments section below. Be sure to check out our other helpful articles for more information on using your new air fryer.
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