The 10 Best Air Fryers
This wiki has been updated 31 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Just because you're trying to prepare healthier meals for yourself and your family doesn't mean you have to give up all of your favorite treats. Any one of these oil-less or minimal-oil air fryers can cook anything from fries and onion rings, to chicken wings and more without the added calories of traditional deep fat fryers, so you can dig in without any of the guilt. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 16, 2020:
It was a busy round of updates that saw a 50% of our previous picks turned over, in order to make room for some exciting new additions. While the Dash Compact was eliminated due to availability issues, the Philips Twin Turbostar XXL was replaced by the Philips TurboStar XXL HD9650/96 — a similar unit that sports a simple digital interface, in lieu of the former’s analog controls. We also switched out the Cuisinart AFR-25 for the Cuisinart TOB-260N1 — a considerably larger model that still sports a stainless steel aesthetic and toaster-oven-style design.
We got rid of the Faberware 42138, instead favoring the fancier Cosori CS158-AF, which boasts Wi-Fi connectivity and app control. And did away with the 12.7-quart GoWise Deluxe – which we’d previously included as a good rotisserie option – in order to make room for roomier alternatives, like the 14-quart NuWave Brio and 27-quart Instant Pot Omni Plus.
Lastly, we made the tough call to remove the Ninja Foodi OP401. As it stands, Ninja currently offers a full line of indoor grills and electric pressure cookers – like the Foodi OP401 – that all include air-fryer functionality. These appliances all look great, and were all considered for inclusion during this round of updates, but ultimately lost out to some of the convection-oven-style choices we chose to rank instead. Our list already included the Ninja SP101 and Ninja AF101, so we felt that the company was already receiving adequate representation, but for the right user (one who’s also interested in either a pressure cooker or an indoor grill) these machines might make a great addition to one’s kitchen, so don't be afraid to check them out.
November 07, 2019:
Most air fryers don't use any oil whatsoever during the cooking process, so don't expect exactly the same results as a deep fat fryer. What they can do, however, is act as highly capable convection ovens that fit relatively easily on your countertop and provide reasonably crispy snack foods like onion rings and french fries. Some, such as the GoWise Deluxe, are large enough to accommodate actual chickens, although depending on the unit you may have to spatchcock (i.e., flatten the backbone) of the bird to fit it inside properly. From one of the more popular modern kitchen appliance manufacturers, the Ninja Food SP101 and Ninja Foodi OP401 are both extremely versatile; the first is a highly capable toaster over and the second is a multipurpose steamer and pressure cooker, so you'll almost certainly get your money's worth out of either. As far as dedicated air fryers go, the Ninja AF101 also happens to be one of the best.
The Cuisinart Toaster Oven is another versatile model, and it comes in a couple different models to accommodate households of varying sizes. Similarly, the Maxi-Matic Elite Platinum offers a range of useful cooking functions. But if you already have the other appliances you need, you may prefer the NuWave Brio 37001 or Philips Twin TurboStar XXL, both of which receive plenty of praise for their crispy results. The Farberware 42138 is also quite effective, and it's both simple and relatively affordable. And if you don't have much room and don't need a very large capacity, the Dash Compact is both one of the smallest and least expensive.
Of course, if you're okay with a high-fat and high-calorie dish every now and then, you can always opt for an actual deep fryer, and if you need to outfit a commercial kitchen, you'll likely have to spring for a high-powered commercial fryer. And for those who want crispy birds that just won't fit in a traditional fryer, there's a host of models designed specifically for whole turkeys.
Quik 'n' Crispy The Quik 'n' Crispy eschews oil entirely and operates using a high-powered convection system that simulates deep fat frying. It comes in 120- and 240-volt versions and is commonly seen in commercial foodservice institutions located in schools and business. As with many commercial-grade devices, it will run you a few thousand dollars, but it can also help provide healthy meals to students and employees on a daily basis. q-n-c.com
Ninja Pressure Cookers Users interested in conserving valuable kitchen-counter space might be interested in one of this company's pressure cookers, with five- to eight-quart sizes that feature integrated air-fryer functionality, effectively consolidating both appliances into a single unit. The largest model draws 1,760 watts, and is big enough to accommodate a seven-pound chicken. ninjakitchen.com
Ninja Indoor Grills Not only are these appliances all capable of air frying, in addition to their primary purpose, but they also provide a welcome luxury to barbecue enthusiasts living in cold climates, as they provide a simple means to grill your favorite foods through the winter months, inside the comfort of your kitchen. ninjakitchen.com
How Air Fryers Work
This creates a consistent flow of fresh, clean air passing over the food during cooking.
Air fryers are relatively simple yet innovative cooking devices that work in a similar manner to convection ovens. They use a mechanical fan to circulate hot air at high speeds to cook foods faster and give them a crispy texture akin to what you can accomplish with deep frying.
In addition to using forced hot air, most air fryers also make use of a grill plate for additional heating. This cooks food evenly, from every direction at once. There is no need to flip the food, as is the case in a regular oven, and there is no worry of food sticking together during cooking, as is the case with battered foods in deep fryers.
Because the heating element in an air fryer is so close to the food, and the fan is circulating extremely hot air all around it, the Maillard reaction makes the exterior crispy and flavorful.
All air fryers contain some type of intake and exhaust system. Most of the time, the intake is located underneath the unit, allowing fresh air to travel into the system during cooking. Once the air enters the unit, it is heated to the optimal cooking temperature and dispersed over the food. This creates a consistent flow of fresh, clean air passing over the food during cooking. To maintain the correct amount of pressure inside the cooking unit, the used air is then emitted through a vent, often located at the top or rear of the air fryer. Before being released, the air is filtered and cooled to make the unit suitable for indoor use.
Benefits Of An Air Fryer
There is no arguing that fried food is delicious, this is most likely why it has persisted for generations. In fact, the traditional method of frying food is thought to date all the back to the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt in 2500 BCE. Unfortunately, the traditional method of frying food, while tasty, is also extremely unhealthy.
In addition, there is no chance of overheated oil catching fire as the heat is controlled to a precise temperature by the unit.
When fried, food absorbs large quantities of fatty oils, which results in increased caloric intake during meals. If done improperly or at too low of a temperature, the food will absorb even more oil. The consumption of high levels of fatty oils, trans fats, and calories can lead to obesity, clogged arteries, high cholesterol and more.
Air frying food reduces the amount of oil food is exposed to during cooking. An air fryer uses 70% to 80% less oil than deep frying, yet can accomplish very similar results. French fries and fried chicken can be cooked with just a tablespoon of oil, while raw meats can be cooked with virtually no oil at all. This makes air frying a piece of meat even healthy than sautéing or pan frying.
In addition to health benefits, those who use an air fryer will notice a number of other advantages including saving time and money. Air fryers take less time to heat up than a traditional oven and cook food quicker. What may take thirty to forty minutes in a traditional oven, can often be accomplished in under twenty when using an air fryer. Air fryers also make for quick clean up. The basket which contains the food during cooking is removable and most of the components are dishwasher safe.
Air fryers are also safer than traditional deep fat fryers. There is less chance of splattering oneself with hot oils and no large containers of hot oil which can potentially be spilled. In addition, there is no chance of overheated oil catching fire as the heat is controlled to a precise temperature by the unit. They also eliminate the hassle of trying to find an environmentally friendly way to discard used frying oil.
How To Choose The Right Air Fryer
There are a number of factors that should influence one's decision when considering which air fryer to purchase. Size plays an important role in how useful a particular model will be for your lifestyle. If you have a large family with kids, buying a larger model that can accommodate enough food to feed multiple people is a must. On the other hand, a bachelor living alone who is just looking for a quick and healthy way to prepare meals can go with a smaller unit. Most air fryers have a capacity ranging from 1.8 to 2.5 gallons.
Size plays an important role in how useful a particular model will be for your lifestyle.
Temperature range is another important consideration. It is beneficial to pick a model that allows for a wide range of temperature settings as different foods will require different cooking temperatures. Not only should one look for one with a wide range, it is also a good idea to find a model that has a high maximum temperature. Some models may only get to 360 degrees Fahrenheit, while other models may reach upwards of 400 degrees.
Alert notification volume should be factored into the buying decision as well. Audible alerts for when a fryer is preheated and when the cooking time has elapsed can be so quiet that they can only be heard when standing in the same room, while others have overly loud alarms that can be heard when watching TV in another room. Your needs will dictate which is better for you.
Other considerations to take into account include how intuitive the controls are as well as any budgetary constraints one has. After that, one might want to consider the design to ensure it has a similar style and color as their other cooking appliances.