What is the best air fryer?
Air fryers have become all the rage recently, and for a good reason. They allow you to get a crisp, crunchy texture on all kinds of foods without having to cook with a lot of oil. However, there isn’t any actual frying going on. Instead, an air fryer oven essentially acts as a mini convection oven that blasts hot air around the food to give it a crisp texture and delicious taste. It’s truly a win-win appliance.
If you’re in the market for an air fryer but feel overwhelmed by options, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, you’ll learn what you should consider when looking for an air fryer, how they work and what air fryer is right for you. Currently, the Philips HD9741 is the top choice, thanks to its sleek design and intuitive control panel.
What to know before you buy an air fryer
How do air fryers work?
It’s no secret that deep frying food is not a healthy way to prepare your meals. In some cases, it can double or triple the number of calories you’re eating, most of which come from fat. But you can’t beat the amazing texture and flavor that comes from frying food. Air fryers allow you to achieve this effect without increasing your caloric intake.
Air fryers use a fan to blow hot air around your food. The air fryer heats the air up to a set temperature, and then the fan circulates the hot air rapidly throughout the food in the basket. Because this fan is much closer to the food than in a full-size convection oven, air fryers cook food extremely quickly and create a crunchier texture.
Dedicated or multi-purpose appliance
When buying an air fryer, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is whether you want a dedicated air fryer or a countertop convection oven with air frying capabilities. Ultimately, this depends on how much space you have, how often you cook, what kind of recipes you make and how many people you cook for.
A countertop convection oven is more versatile since it has a larger capacity and can roast, toast, bake and broil foods while also acting like a large air fryer. However, if you don’t have enough counter space or only cook for a few people, a dedicated air fryer will allow you to cook food quickly without sacrificing too much room.
Foods you plan on cooking
One thing to keep in mind is what kind of foods you plan on cooking with your air fryer. If you only plan on cooking sides and occasional main course foods, you can likely go with a smaller air fryer. If you want to cook something bigger, like a chicken or roast, you need something bigger to hold everything.
If you’re hoping to improve your diet, an air fryer can help you eat some of your favorite foods without eating as much fat. A way to make meal prep even easier is to find an air fryer that has pre-set options for your favorite foods. After all, you’ll likely want to have an air fryer that serves your needs. It’s a good idea to take a look at your current food intake to dictate what size and type of air fryer you want.
Features to consider when buying a quality air fryer
As mentioned before, when it comes to finding the right air fryer, consider your countertop footprint and cooking capacity. As you might expect, the larger the air fryer, the more space it requires. Finding the balance between enough space and enough power can be a challenge, but with the right forethought beforehand, you’ll find a good fit.
For small households of just one or two people, a small 2-quart air fryer will suffice. These cook quick, small to medium meals, and you can store it in a cabinet easily. The Petalirs 13-Quart Air Fryer is a great example of this. If cooking for a family of four or more, you may want to opt for a large air fryer with a 4- to 6-quart capacity. You can also find extra-large models capable of air frying an entire chicken, such as the Cuisinart TOA-95 Digital AirFryer Toaster Oven.
Depending on the model, air fryers unusually require between 800-2,000 watts. If you want an air fryer that can cook food quickly, find one with higher wattage. But you’ll need to consider how much wattage your kitchen outlets can handle.
For example, 15-amp circuits support up to 1,800 watts, and 20-amp circuits support up to 2,400. You’ll also want to consider how much electricity it uses and how that might impact your electricity bill. No matter what kind of air fryer you pick, follow all safety guidelines. If you choose a very powerful air fryer, avoid plugging any other appliances into the same outlet while it is cooking.
Air fryers typically come with either analog or digital controls. Models with digital controls look sleek and tend to offer more functionality. They also have options to adjust temperature, timing and more. In contrast, analog models are simple for anyone to operate, especially since they only have one or two rotary dials for adjusting time and temperature.
If you’re new to cooking with air fryers, you should be able to make easy air fryer recipes with an analog air fryer. If you’re an air fryer connoisseur, you’ll appreciate the added control that comes with a digital model.
The more settings an air fryer has, the more versatile it will be. Some models may have settings for roasting, reheating, baking and more. Other models will only air fry the food. You can also find air fryers with dedicated settings for specific foods, which takes all the guesswork out of picking temperatures and cooking times. Another great feature to have is timers, which allow you to air fry foods for a set time. This allows you to plan out the rest of your cooking, giving you a lot more control of meal prep.
How much you can expect to spend on an air fryer
Pricing ultimately depends on size, power, brand, features and accessories. You can find small, budget-friendly air fryers for as little as $30. If you want a larger, advanced model from a well-known brand name, it will cost around $100-$200.
Air fryer FAQ
Can I put frozen foods in an air fryer?
A. Yes. In most cases, you can cook frozen foods in an air fryer. However, they will take longer to cook than thawed items. This depends on how dense the foods are. For example, frozen chicken nuggets will take longer to cook than frozen fries.
Should I batter foods before putting them in my air fryer?
A. Nope! In fact, an air fryer doesn’t have anything for you set wet batters in. This means the batter will just drip off the food while it’s cooking. If you are trying to achieve that nice crispy crust, you can dredge the items in flour.
Is it safe to put aluminum foil inside an air fryer?
A. Yes, but there is something to keep in mind with this. Air fryers don’t use microwave technology, so you can absolutely put a layer of aluminum foil on the bottom to contain messes. Just be aware that foil can limit airflow which can impact how crisp your food becomes. The less foil you use, the more airflow you will have.
Best air fryers 2021
Top air fryer
What you need to know: It’s a sleek air fryer with 2-quart capacity. This model is a smart choice for users with all kinds of experience levels. It has an intuitive digital control panel, which is great for small main plates and sides.
What you’ll love: It’s equipped with the brand’s innovative fat-removing technology and features a convenient turbo function for preparing those rushed weekday meals. If you have 2 to 3 people in your home, this is a great choice. If you need more space, there are larger versions available, too.
What you should consider: You can only adjust the temperature in 25-degree increments, which can make it hard to cook more delicate foods that require specific temperatures.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top air fryer for the money
What you need to know: If you are on a tight budget and want a standard air fryer that doesn’t take up a lot of counter space, the Tasti Crisp fits the bill. Even though it doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles, it gets the job done.
What you’ll love: This 1,000-watt air fryer with 2.6-quart capacity is a compact yet effective appliance. The simple rotary control dials eliminate any learning curve, and it comes in several stylish colors, including aqua and a vibrant red. Since it’s smaller, it can either take up residence on your countertop for regular use or stay in a cabinet.
What you should consider: The numbers and time markings can wear off over time.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Wayfair and Kohl’s
Top air fryer for experienced users
Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro
What you need to know: Even though it’s one of the pricier options on the market, this air fryer has 1,800 watts of power to back up it’s multiappliance functionality. From air frying to roasting to dehydration, this model is perfect for people who want to level up their air frying game.
What you’ll love: It has six different independent quartz elements to effectively heat the air, and digital temperature control to ensure there aren’t any cold pockets in your food. The convection fan has two speeds, regular and super, which allows you to cook food more quickly if needed. It comes with various accessories, including a pizza pan, a roasting rack, a mesh basket and more.
What you should consider: Some users had difficulty resolving issues with Breville’s customer support line.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top air fryer for beginners
Cosori Pro Air Fryer Oven Combo
What you need to know: If you’re looking for a user-friendly air fryer that can feed a larger household, this model is a good way to go. It has 1,700 watts of power and a large food basket that can hold larger portions easily.
What you’ll love: The frying basket has a nonstick coating, and it’s dishwasher-safe, making cleanup a breeze. The 5.8-quart capacity can hold a few sides at once, or one large main dish. The controls are intuitive, and it comes with a handy recipe book, helping those who are new to air frying feel more at home with the product. And Cosori’s customer support team is available to troubleshoot issues, should they arise.
What you should consider: It takes up a fair amount of space, so make sure you have the room in your kitchen for this sizeable appliance.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: With the ability to roast, reheat and dehydrate, in addition to air fry, the AF101 is a versatile model that will be a welcome addition to any kitchen. Make sure you have enough space for this reliable air fryer since you’ll likely want to use it regularly.
What you’ll love: Ninja is a well-known culinary brand that develops incredible appliances for the kitchen. It offers a wide temperature range, and the 4-quart capacity allows you to cook meals for the whole family. And the 1,550-wattage help you cook foods quickly and effectively.
What you should consider: Some users reported issues with durability.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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