UPDATED: January 7, 2019
Air Fryers are all the rage these days. At first, I was skeptical of these appliances. After all, they use the same technology as a convection oven. So, why wouldn’t I just buy a convection toaster oven and use that instead? Well, after using more than half a dozen different models, I can say from personal experience that air fryers are a useful tool to have in your kitchen.
For everything from reheating pizza to showing up at parties with bacon-wrapped tots to making healthy blackened cajun chicken, the air fryer has become an indispensable part of our kitchen. Based on my firsthand knowledge and countless hours of research, below is a comprehensive guide for finding the best air fryer for your needs.
I’ve Heard of Frying Snickers, But Frying the Air?
An odd duck named Louis-Camille Maillard discovered the science behind air fryer technology in 1912. If you know how to make toasted marshmallows properly (slowly rotating them at the very tips of the flames) instead of burning them to lumps of charcoal like an impatient buffoon, then you have used the Maillard reaction. Basically, browned food gets its distinctive flavor from a chemical reaction between reducing sugars and amino acids.
The air fryer sciences your food by shooting a hot stream of air around it. Deep fryers achieve the same reaction with oil. Therefore, the major selling point is “air fryers can give you fried foods with 80% less fat.”
But, How Does It Work?
Most air fryers take 5 to 30 minutes to roast, bake, grill, or fry your food. You just drunkenly pop your shame mozzarella sticks in the tray, set the temp, set the timer, flip or fondle the food midway through, take it out, and immediately burn the roof of your mouth! You might want to spray or toss some items with oil, but I’ve found that this isn’t always necessary. I regularly make tater tots without any oil.
Main Air Fryer Selling Points
Aside from perplexing anyone who enters your kitchen, air fryers are good for some things:
- You Might Save Money – Gone are the days of forking over thousands of dollars a week to Old McDonald’s for his fries and chicken tenders. You can now cook them at home with an air fryer.
- Air Fryers Are Kind of Healthy – If the only appliance you own is a deep fryer, then an air fryer will definitely help you eat healthier. But, if you have an oven, you can cook your meal just as easily and healthily, but it won’t be as…
- Energy Efficient – I think this is the big selling point for air fryers. They are more energy efficient than heating up a toaster oven or conventional oven. I bet Al Gore uses an air fryer to make his appetizers before the Big Game.
- Faster Cooking – You also don’t have to wait forever for your air fryer to preheat. They get up to temp quite quickly, unlike your old lady (pro-tip: cleaning the house will get her going. Also, don’t call her “your old lady.”)
- Small Footprint – Most air fryers take up less space than your average oven or even toaster oven, but they are bigger than a breadbox.
Considerations When Buying an Air Fryer
Not all air fryers are created the same. The variations in product quality and features are part of a sinister conspiracy involving Big Air Fryer and Big Product Review that reaches all the way up to the highest reaches of our government. Here’s what to look for in an air fryer:
- Brand Name – Not a lot of major players in the appliance world have jumped into the air fryer game. Philips came out with the first air fryer in 2010, and Secura has perfected it. The other brands – aside from an errant Black+Decker – are fairly obscure. Despite their obscurity, the brands on our list got it right.
- Wattage – Are you a power freak? If so, go with a higher wattage. This usually means your air fryer can reach higher temperatures faster.
- Dishwasher Safe – Are you tired of spending your weekends at the sink cleaning your various appliances? Well, nip that problem in the bud by buying products that are dishwasher safe, dumb dumb!
- Size – If you live alone and don’t have any friends, I will be your friend. Also, you can probably get away with a smaller capacity air fryer. Otherwise, if you have like six or eight kids, it might be time to get fixed, and a big fryer will be necessary to fill those bellies.
Legally, we’re not allowed to tell you the exact price for the following air fryers on Amazon. Even if we could, they would probably be inaccurate within a day or two. Therefore, our scientists have developed the following pricing guide system thing for you:
- $ = about $50 to $90.99
- $$ = about $91 to $147.99
- $$$ = about $148 to $300
If you want the exact price for any of the air fryers below, you can always just click on them.
Now, you know what to look for in these new-fangled gadgets. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll choose one of these top 10 best air fryers:
UPDATE 1/7/19: We don’t include any air fryer ovens in our guide because they are essentially convection toaster ovens. And, we already have a guide for toaster ovens. Check it out. Also, any air fryers that I specifically mention using were given to me to test.
- Two-year manufacturer’s limited warranty
- 60-minute timer and auto shut-off in case you need to run to the liquor store while waiting for your pizza rolls to be ready
- Comes with BBQ rack, skewers, and tasty recipes
I’m pretty sure Secura is an insurance company based in Wisconsin, but apparently they decided to take a break from their actuarial work to provide tasty treats for us all. Thank goodness they did. The Secura Electric Hot Air Fryer is the best air fryer I’ve ever used. It has 1500 watts of power that quickly cooks just about anything. Depending on what you are making, you can probably serve two to four normal adults or half a Kobayashi with this unit.
- Features unique TurboStar design that helps distribute heat evenly
- Comes with a free app with over 200 recipes
- One-year limited warranty
Philips, the OG of air fryers, continues to innovate. The brand has several excellent models, but we think the Avance Digital Turbostar is the best because of its design. The experts and buyers agree with us. It can hold 1.8 pounds or 2.75 quarts of fries, comes with five pre-programmed settings for popular foods, and it comes with a recipe booklet and access to an app. Overall, if you are willing to pay two or three times more for an air fryer than most perfectly-fine models cost, then the HD9641/96 is the way to go.
- 8 preset programs, including onion rings, fries, shrimp, and fried chicken
- Temperature range of 180 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- 5-quart capacity
The Gourmia Digital Air Fryer cooks faster than any other air fryer I’ve tested. I attribute it to the vents around the outside of the basket that catch the hot air blowing down from the fan and distribute it back onto the food for efficient cooking. This unit comes with a beautiful cookbook with 30 recipes. I’d rate this higher except it’s a pain in the tuchus to clean. Also, if you cook bacon in it or anything else that’s likely to produce a fair amount of grease or other liquids, you need to be careful that you don’t splash the liquids through the vents when you shake the basket.
- Can hold a small chicken or game hen
- Comes with a 16-recipe cookbook, and you can join Club Chefman for more recipes
- The nonstick pan cleans up easily
There are a few things I really enjoyed when testing the Chefman Air Fryer. First, I like when there’s a little window so I can monitor the progress of my food like a culinary peeping Tom. I also found that it was incredibly easy to clean. The size was also impressive, and it’s pretty cool that it comes with a rotisserie setup. However, I made a 5-pound chicken in it, and I guess the bird was too big because the rotisserie was not able to turn properly. Another con is that due to the size, this air fryer isn’t as efficient – and therefore doesn’t cook food as quickly – as the more compact options.
- Holds 3.8 quarts of goodies
- 7 preprogrammed settings: fish, cake, pork, shrimp, steak, chicken, and fries
- Digital touchscreen interface
In my testing, the Tobox Air Fryer was barely behind the Gourmia and Secura air fryers in cooking speed. I was able to make two pounds of french fries from scratch in under 40 minutes. I was also impressed by how easy this was to clean. The appliance comes with a cookbook with 26 recipes, and I found the guidelines were accurate. However, there were so many typos, it was low-key hilarious. The exterior of the unit does not emit much heat so don’t count on it heating your house.
6. Cosori 5.8 Quart Air Fryer – $$
- Comes with the best cookbook I’ve ever seen come with an air fryer
- 11 presets, gets up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and has a 60-minute timer
- Lets you know when to shake it (Note: Don’t shake it like a Polaroid picture)
The Cosori Air Fryer is one of the newer additions to my kitchen. So far, I’m happy with how quickly it cooks foods, and it has a nice, spacious basket that is sure to hold my Totinos Party Pizzas. It’s also easy to clean by hand or in the dishwasher. I only have a couple complaints. First, the basket inadvertently comes detached from the pan easily. I lost some good potatoes when this happened the other night. Also, I wish there were separate time and temperature adjustment buttons. You have to press the same button to adjust both. I’ll get over it. Maybe.
- User-intuitive interface featuring two knobs: temperature and time
- 60-minute timer
- Temperature range of 175 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
The Black+Decker Air Fryer is one of the smallest and most affordable options on our list. This is an excellent barebones option for college students who are just starting out on their own and may just be cooking snacks for themselves during long hours of pretending to study. Buyers appreciate this because it’s different enough from their oven – due to its small stature – to justify having a separate appliance.
8. Oster Dura Ceramic Air Fryer – $$
- LCD screen allows you to set temps and time
- Rotates your food while cooking it
- Can choose to tilt or not tilt the unit
I was really excited to get the Oster Dura Ceramic Air Fryer. I saw it as the future of air frying. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations. First, I’ll give you the good. It rotates your food for you so you don’t have to stop it to shake it. And, there’s a clear window to see how your food is cooking. Unfortunately, some foods rotate better than others. For instance, I still had to shake curly fries. Also, the unit is not very efficient. Heat escapes in so many places that it takes a while for your food to cook. And, since there is a hole in the middle, you can’t put larger items inside. I hope Oster learns from this model because their ideas have potential.
9. Power Air Fryer XL 5.3 Quart – $$
- Digital touch panel with seven preset programs
- Comes with a spray bottle that mists oil onto your fish sticks
- Achieves Maillard reaction with “turbo-cyclonic super-heated air power”
At one time, the Power Air Fryer XL was the largest capacity unit on our list, but the competition has caught up. Verified purchasers liked that it is easy to clean (though for a longer lifespan, you should not put parts in the dishwasher), has a food separator, and it will make all of your most disgusting frozen junk foods crispy and crunchy.
10. Blusmart Electric Air Fryer – $
- Temperatures range from 170 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- 1400 watts and 3.4 quarts
- Comes with a cookbook
The Blusmart Electric Air Fryer not only offers reliable, efficient cooking, but it also has an array of safety measures. For instance, it automatically shuts off after two hours of operation, and it won’t start unless the drawer is securely in place. Most of the users who have commented on the Blusmart air fryer like that it produces fries without the grease. The only complaints were that the instructions are kind of hard to understand and the cookbook lists temperatures in Celsius, and this is America!
Well, that’s our definitive guide to air fryers. Let us know your thoughts below. We will update the list as we test out more models so be sure to revisit this webpage every day!