Air Fryers are all the rage these days. At least, that’s what my mom told me after seeing a display for them at Costco. After writing about them for a major business website and reading The Sweethome’s assessment of them (spoiler: they recommend you buy a convection toaster oven instead), I have to be honest: air fryers are probably a fad.
Of course, manufacturers of these appliances could step up their game and make air fryers that not only cook incredible food but also raise your kids to be upstanding citizens, and that could change everything. Also, they do have their benefits (which I will cover below), but you will probably be able to buy many of the subpar models for $5 (with a busted handle) at secondhand stores in approximately three years.
Now that I’ve ruined your excitement about getting one of these appliances, let me guide you in buying one!
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 about half an hour 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. Like, fries will probably need a little 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 Man 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.)
- 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 the 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 Blusmart has perfected it. The other brands 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.
- 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 seven 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 $69 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 one of these new-fangled gadgets. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll choose one of these top 10 best air fryers:
1. 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. For those of you hoping to heat your house with this appliance, this may be a drawback. 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!
- 8 preset programs for fish, cake, meat, skrimps, steak, chicken, fries, and warming it up
- Same temperature range and wattage as the Blusmart
- 2-quart capacity
When I wrote about air fryers for an unnamed major business website, the SimpleTaste Electric Air Fryer was my top pick. Since that article was published, the Blusmart has emerged as the supreme snack-food champion, but this is still a great unit. I don’t like that the timer only goes up to 30 minutes. Users found that this model cooked everything perfectly: fries, croutons, chicken, ribs, vegetables, and SpaghettiOs. One buyer noted that the plastic on the tray is fairly flimsy and it broke off, but SimpleTaste was fast to replace it.
- 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 toaster rack, skewers, and 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. That’s nice of them. The Secura Electric Hot Air Fryer is the most affordable option on our list. It holds 3.4 quarts of ingredients, which is large enough to stuff most of a five-pound turkey breast in. Depending on what you are making, you can probably serve two to four normal adults or half a Kobayashi with this unit.
4. Air Fryer by Cozyna – $
- Holds 3.5 quarts of coconut shrimp
- Comes with an eBook with 50 recipes and a real cookbook
- Every part of this is dishwasher safe
I’m pretty sure Cozyna put all of their efforts into making this air fryer and providing quality customer support and skimped on the marketing. It’s okay if their own marketing materials (see bullet point 2) misspell the name of the company, “Cozina.” The bottom line is this is a quality air fryer. There are almost no complaints about this model. Buyers are impressed with how quickly it can turn raw potatoes into perfect fries (about 15 minutes).
5. Philips Airfryer – $$$
- They paid Gordon Ramsay a ton of money to pretend he likes it
- Comes with a free app with over 150 recipes
- One-year limited warranty
This is the original Philips Airfryer, known as the Viva HD9220. It can hold 1.75 pounds of fries, has a timer that goes for half an hour, and it comes with a recipe booklet and access to an app. Gordon Ramsay said, “It’s just like having my own little sous chef that doesn’t talk back.” I was unable to find how much they paid him. Philips also states that the device has “100% Taste Satisfaction,” but I was unable to find any specifics on this. It’s almost as if it means nothing. Overall, it’s an excellent product, but you can find others that work just as well for half the price.
6. Philips XL Airfryer – $$$
- Holds 2.65 pounds of goodies
- 1750 watts
- Digital touchscreen interface
The Philips XL Airfryer, called the Avance XL HD9240 in some circles, is the most expensive option on our list…by a lot. Ramsay also sold out enough to call this his “little sous chef.” Philips claims that their patented “starfish” in the basket sets their air fryers apart from everyone else’s. The reviewers are fairly mixed on this unit. It does an excellent job with fries, but there are complaints about it being hard to clean, cooking food too quickly, and having too much of a learning curve.
- Comes in black, plum, chili red, and white
- 8 presets, gets up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and has a 30-minute timer
- Comes with recipes that are more involved than “put fries in, turn on”
The GoWISE USA Air Fryer utilizes “Rapid Air Circulation Technology.” In fact, every brand has their own buzzwordy phrase to describe the Maillard reaction. Yet, none of them ever refer to Maillard. Anyway, people who live in RVs love how small of a footprint this unit has and how easy it is to clean. Most of the reviews I’ve read for all of the models (including this GoWISE USA) comment on how much faster air fryers cook than ovens so adjust your recipes accordingly!
8. Power Air Fryer XL 3.4 QT – $$
- 6-in-1 cooking feature: sauté, steam, bake, grill, roast, and air fry (most can do all of these things)
- 1700 watts
- Don’t have to fondle the controls: there are one-touch settings
Buyers of the Power Air Fryer XL are full of hyperbole, including that this air fryer changed their lives. There was a complaint that seems to be common for air fryers: the drawer handle breaks easily. Also, several users found that it was hard to get the drawer to close. Make sure you are not pressing the red basket-release button when you close the drawer.
9. NuWave 36001 Brio Air Fryer – $$
- Accurate Digital LED controls
- 3-quart and 6-quart options
- Temperature range of 100 to 390 degrees Fahrenheit: not hot enough to burn books
When it comes to new wave, I prefer Devo over the 36001 Brio Air Fryer. Still, when it comes to air frying, NuWave has the upper hand. Users liked that the basket is dishwasher safe, they can cook fries for every meal without getting their house all hot, and they can have quasi-healthy meals ready for their family in a dozen minutes.
10. Power Air Fryer XL 5.3 Quart – $$$
- Digital touch panel with seven preset programs
- 1500 watts
- Achieves Maillard reaction with “turbo-cyclonic super-heated air power”
This Power Air Fryer XL model is the largest capacity unit on our list. 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 food crispy and crunchy.
Have you had experiences with air fryers? Which ones? Please share your thoughts below!