If you love the taste of deep fried food but hate the grease, calories, and mess, have you considered getting one of the best air fryers?
Air fryers are a newer kitchen appliance that is quickly growing in popularity. They produce (nearly) the same delicious results as deep fryers using hot air and a small amount of oil. The fried food you whip up with an air fryer will have up to 75% less fat than the same fried food cooked in a traditional deep fryer!
Are you in purchasing an air fryer but don’t know where to start?
Here are our top picks of the best air fryers on the market and everything you need to know about this appliance.
Editors’ Choice: Philips HD9641/96
Philips invented the air fryer in 2010, so it should be no surprise that they’re the Cadillacs of the air fryer market. The Philips HD9641/96 model is our top pick for the best overall option.
It features an analog-style knob and digital display and five presets. It’s one of the easiest air fryers to use.
The removable basket and drawer feature a non-stick coating and are dishwasher safe, making cleanup a breeze.
Philips HD9641/96 Pros
- Keep warm function: This feature starts when the timer goes off and keeps your food warm for up to 30 minutes.
- Large capacity: The fryer can handle 1.8 pounds of food, which is large enough to accommodate meals for two people or snacks for four.
- Trusted brand: Philips is a brand well-known for its reliability. Products from the company have regularly been in our top picks, including for electric toothbrushes, alarm clocks, and pasta makers.
Philips HD9641/96 Cons
- Higher price: This appliance is more expensive than competitors.
- Temperature increments: You can only adjust the temperature 25 °F increments, which can make cooking or following recipes more difficult.
Best Value: BELLA 2.5 Liter
Air fryers aren’t expensive. Many excellent, affordable units are on the market. Our top pick for the best value is the BELLA 2.5 Liter Air Fryer.
This air fryer features an analog interface, which is perfect for those who prefer old fashioned dials to digital screens. The temperature reaches up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and increases in 25-degree increments.
Bella 2.5 Liter Air Fryer Pros
- Automatic shut-off: The fryer will turn off after you use it, preventing accidents or fires.
- Large capacity: This fryer can handle 2.2 pounds of food.
- Low price: The price is significantly lower than most air fryers on the market.
Bella 2.5 Liter Air Fryer Cons
- Plastic smell: Customers report a plastic smell after the first use. It goes away after further usage.
Dash Compact Air Fryer
If you’re short on counter space but can’t live without an air fryer, check out the Dash Compact Air Fryer.
It one of the smallest air fryers on the market, and it comes in five colors.
This Dash model has a 1.2-liter capacity. It can heat up between 175 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and has a 60-minute timer that automatically shuts off.
Plus, the basket is removable and dishwasher-safe, making cleanup a cinch.
Dash Compact Air Fryer Pros
- Color options: Choose from aqua, black, gray, red, or white.
- Dishwasher safe: You can clean the basket in your dishwasher.
- Small size: This machine stands 14″ high and has a footprint of 11.4″ 13.2″.
Dash Compact Air Fryer Cons
- Small size: Some customers have been surprised at how small it is. Make sure you are okay with the capacity before purchasing it.
Yedi Houseware Air Fryer
Do you love to cook for friends and family? If so, you’ll likely want to invest in a large air fryer with a sizeable capacity.
If capacity is your number one priority with an air fryer, our top pick is the Yedi Total Package XL Air Fryer. This air fryer can hold 5.8 quarts, which is about 17.65 lb and larger than most on the market.
It has seven presets for various food items like french fries and fish, can be increased by 10-degree increments, and has a maximum temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s super easy to use and has a one-year limited warranty.
Yedi Houseware Air Fryer Pros
- 7 presets: These settings make it easy to cook your favorite options.
- Affordable price: Most budgets can handle the cost of this appliance.
- Deluxe accessory cooking kit: The equipment includes a divider for the cooking basket, an eight-inch pizza pan, 50 perforated parchment steaming papers, an eight-inch cake carrel, a multi-purpose rack with three stainless steel skewers, a cupcake silicone pan, and a rubber mat.
Yedi Houseware Air Fryer Cons
- Timer maximum: The maximum is 30 minutes, which may be too short for some items.
Best Multipurpose: NuWave Brio Air Fryer
Whether you’re a seasoned chef who is a pro with the air fryer or a newbie who needs a bit of help and inspiration, the NuWave Brio air fryer is an excellent pick.
The NuWave air fryer comes with 11 Touch & Go preset cooking functions, including a Canning setting
What’s more do you need?
NuWave Brio Air Fryer Pros
- 11 Touch & Go preset functions: This fryer makes it easy to make chips, meat, chicken, steak, shrimp, and fish.
- Safe and hassle-free: Automatically switches off when the basket is removed and does not turn on unless it is replaced securely
- Large capacity: This air fryer can hold 6 quarts of food.
NuWave Brio Air Fryer Cons
- Durability: Customers have complained the product is not durable as promised and the non-stick coating of the base tray comes off even if taken care of as directed
Types of Air Fryers
There are two main types of air fryers: pull-out drawer air fryers and flip-top air fryers. Both are top quality, but the key difference is capacity. Pull out drawers are typically easier to use as well, which makes them safer. Not that all of our top choices are pull out drawer air fryers, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some great flip-top air fryers on the market. Let’s look at the differences a bit more:
Pull Out Drawer Air Fryer
Air fryers with pull out drawers are typically vertical. Inside is a fry basket with a handle. To use it, you grab the handle and unhook the basket.
Typically, these air fryers are safer and easier to use than flip-top fryers because the heating element is hidden. On the other hand, they tend to hold less than flip-top.
Thus – if safety and ease of use are your main priorities, a pull out drawer air version may be the best air fryer for you. However, if you prefer an air fryer that can hold as much as possible, you may want to check out flip-tops.
- Easier to use than flip-top air fryers
- Safer than flip-top air fryers
- Less capacity than flip-top air fryers
Flip-top air fryers are built for capacity and tend to be larger than those with pull-out drawers.
They’re also trickier to use because you’ll need to ensure there’s open space above the fryer when opening the lid. In other words, it’s not easy to push it back on the counter below your kitchen cabinets. The heating element is also typically exposed, which makes them harder and riskier to use.
If capacity is your priority, you have ample kitchen counter space, and you feel confident in your ability to safely use an air fryer, a flip-top may be the best option for you.
- More capacity than pull-out drawer air fryers
- Harder to use than pull-out drawer air fryers
- Take up more kitchen counter space than a pull-out drawer
Air Fryer Buyer’s Guide
Air fryers are similar to countertop convection toaster ovens. The top section is a heating mechanism and a fan, and the lower part holds a fryer-style basket. The top pushes hot, rapidly circulating air down and around the fryer basket to cook food.
While you can’t use liquid batter in an air fryer, they’re excellent for battered and frozen items such as french fries, fried chicken, fried fish, onions rings, and similar foods.
Looking to invest in an excellent air fryer for your cooking needs but don’t know where to start? We’re here to help.
Here are some of the things to consider when you purchase an air fryer.
What’s your favorite fried food?
Do you cook it just for yourself or for family or friends?
The answers to these questions will help you determine the size air fryer you need.
If you want to fry large items like chicken breasts, chicken wings, or fish fillets for you and your family, you’ll likely want an air fryer with a large capacity.
Of the air fryers we looked at, the Yeti Houseware Air Fryer had the largest capacity, holding 5.8 quarts or 17.65lbs.
On the other hand, if you want to make french fries, tater tots, and other smaller items and tend to cook for a party of one or two, an air fryer with a lower capacity will suit your needs.
Cleaning and Maintenance
One of the best things about air fryers, when compared to deep fryers, is the reduction of calories and grease. The difference in grease makes cleaning much easier.
Cleaning a deep fryer is a major pain. You have to figure out what to do with the leftover grease. You will also have to scrub your counters after all the splatters from the fryer.
Air fryers, on the other hand, are relatively easy to clean. They often have removable parts, like the fryer basket, that are non-stick and dishwasher safe. You also don’t have nearly as much oil and grease to clean.
When investing in a new kitchen appliance, durability is important. You want something that’s going to last rather than die after you use it a few times.
Some air fryers are more durable than others. One key attribute that adds to durability is a metal inner housing rather than plastic.
A common issue with air fryers is for the digital controls to go bad after a while because of the amount of heat they get.
Others have halogen light bulbs that can’t be replaced and thus have shorter lifespans.
In general, the more you use something, the more wear and tear it will show. If you’re concerned about the durability of your air fryer, check out its warranty and purchase an extended warranty if one is available.
Ease of Use
If you find your fryer too complicated to use, the ratings it got in reviews don’t matter.
Appliances aren’t a one-size-fits-all kind of product. When looking at air fryers, take a good look at the control panel and hardware to make sure you understand how to use the fryer. Otherwise, you’ll have another appliance that you never use.
Look at the size, weight, and settings. Ask yourself questions like:
- Is it too heavy for you to move?
- Is the lid too hard to lift?
- Is the basket too tricky to insert?
- Do you understand what the dials and preset buttons do? If not, is the instruction manual clear so you can learn?
These questions can help you buy an appliance that is useable.
Not all air fryers heat to the same temperature.
Some get hotter than others, some enable to you adjust the temperature, and others heat to one maximum temperature no matter what you’re cooking.
The majority of air fryers we looked have a maximum heat of 400 degrees. Some get a little hotter (450 degrees) while others don’t break 350 degrees.
Think about what you’ll want to air fry and see how hot you’ll need the fryer to be. If your favorite fried dishes are okay getting crisp at 350 degrees, the maximum temperature likely isn’t a concern.
However, if you like your dishes extra crunchy, get a fryer that offers higher temperatures.
Number of Preset Cooking Programs
The number of preset cooking programs directly correlates to the ease of use. Some people like lots of options, while other people want to keep things simple.
Common preset programs include:
- French Fries
Some fryers also have smart presets, which allow you to program the timer yourself so that you can make your favorite dish.
Are you a fast food fan? You’ve probably noticed the prices of your favorite meals have increased over the past few years.
Air fryers are an excellent way of making your favorite fast food items at home for an affordable cost. When you do the math of the cost of an air fryer versus a few value meals (especially if you have a family), you’ll realize you much you’re saving.
Air fryers aren’t expensive. Depending on your budget and your needs, you can find an excellent one for less than $75. That’s less than ten meals at McDonald’s.
Of course, the cheaper models typically have fewer features. For a little more money, you can get one with more features.
We’ve all heard (or experienced) horror stories that come with deep frying food. Some people have suffered oil burns or kitchen fires. Therefore, safety is a huge priority with any new kitchen appliance.
Most air fryers come with safety measures such as an automatic shutoff after a set amount of time (typically 30 minutes).
Additional features you can look for include:
- Automatic shutoff after the fry basket is removed
- “Cool touch” exterior
- Non-slip feet.
If you have children in the house, look for an air fryer with as many safety features as possible.
Air fryers won’t necessarily save you more energy than other cooking methods. They may even use more power than traditional deep fryers and even slow cookers.
However, if you want an air fryer, your goal is likely making delicious food, not energy efficiency.
Take a look at the below cooking wattage stats to see how common kitchen appliances stack up to the air fryer:
- Deep fat fryer running for 14 minutes: 0.41 KWh
- Small slow cooker on low for 8 hours: 0.56 kWh
- Large regular oven for 1 hour: 0.6 kWh
- Large slow cooker on high for 4 hours: 1 kWh
- Large slow cooker on low for 8 hours: 1.4 kWh
- Hot air fryer for 30 minutes: .7 kWh
As you can see, the hot air fryer uses the same amount or more energy than other appliances would to make the same foods.
If you’re worried about the durability of your air fryer, purchase one with a longer warranty.
Most air fryers have a one- or two-year manufacturer’s limited warranty. Some retailers also offer extended warranty options.
Tips for Using an Air Fryer
Air fryers aren’t difficult to use. If you’ve never used one before, remember the following tips:
- Shake it up: Open the air fryer a few times during the cooking process to keep items like french fries from compressing.
- Give space: Don’t overcrowd your air fryer. Otherwise, the air won’t be able to circulate.
- Spray well: Spray your food with cooking spray or add some oil to keep food from sticking.
- Keep things dry: If you marinate your food, pat everything before cooking to avoid splatter and smoke.
Finally, don’t forget to try new things. Air fryers aren’t just for frying! Check out non-fried recipes such as baked items, roasted meats, and grilled veggies. Many people love cooking salmon in air fryers.
Air fryers can expand what you can do with your kitchen and are helpful appliances to have. Use our top picks and our buying guide to help you find the right option for you.
If deep frying is more of your thing, read our reviews of the best deep fryers on the market.