We’re always on the lookout for new kitchen gadgets that will make cooking easier and more fun. Air fryers have been popping up all over recently, and for good reason. A way to get crispy french fries or chicken wings as a moment’s notice? We’ll take two.
But if you thought you were overwhelmed with all of the different Instant Pot models, just wait until you see the air fryer market.
Before we dive into the different devices, let’s answer one lingering question.
What is an air fryer and how does it work?
Simply put, it’s deep frying without the oil — AKA deep frying without the unhealthy part. Yes, I guess you could just cut back on fried foods all together, but we all know how that goes…
Deep fryers flash heat foods and take them from frozen to ready-to-eat in minutes by dunking them in a bath of super hot oil. This process jumpstarts the Maillard reaction, which is when food gets brown and crispy and delicious.
While your typical deep fryer needs enough oil to completely drown the food, an air fryer barely uses any (like, a tablespoon at most). Other than that, air fryers basically use the same method, using a convection fan to surround the food with hot air instead of oil. The air bounces off of the bottom of the air fryer and back up through the food, cooking it all over to create that crisping effect in just minutes — something that was previously only possible with deep frying.
Air fryers can also cook a hell of a lot more food than a deep fryer and can be used for things like grilling a steak or baking a pizza. It’s like having a combo oven and deep fryer, except it fits on your counter and doesn’t require frozen food to be thawed before cooking.
Which air fryers is best?
There are various sizes, features, and interfaces from all of the major kitchen brands you’d expect — and some you don’t. We’ll keep it simple and fill you in on the need-to-know details and differences, so your brain doesn’t get too fried.
GoWISE is a brand that has been in the air fryer game for a while, and their XL Air Fryer is basically the Maserati of air fryers. One of the most versatile fryers we’ve seen, the 5.8 quart GoWISE fryer sports a large, attractive touchscreen (and looks like a spaceship dashboard), with multiple options for food presets, temperature, a timer, and more.
This Amazon’s Choice product takes the guesswork out of cooking with the built-in touch screen menu featuring a whopping eight cooking presets: Cook fries, pork, chicken, steak, shrimp, cake (yes, cake!), fish, and pizza without fear of under or overcooking. And if those aren’t enough, you’ll also get a GoWISE recipe book that features 50 yummy ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The coolest part? GoWise lets you choose from an ultra modern design, or a cute retro look. The latter features a slightly smaller screen, holds 2.75 quarts, and has buttons instead of a touchscreen. Choose from eight unique colors here, with prices ranging from $69.99 to $113.04.
If you’re looking for a fryer with a screen but don’t need something huge, the Philips HD9641 Avance Digital Turbostar is the perfect middle ground. Customers in the Amazon reviews rave about how it cooks food evenly — which isn’t as easy to find as you’d think. All you need is a little practice, and you (and your food) will be golden.
The HD9641’s straightforward interface is a mix of sleek and simple, with a QuickControl dial for temperature and time, five cooking presets for popular dishes, and a large screen. (A note on air fryers: It’s rare to get a screen at all). You also have the option of the free Philips recipe app and a recipe book, both featuring more than 200 air fryer recipes to try. The grease tray and food basket are both dishwasher safe.
This is the second generation of the HD9641 model and is 20% smaller than the original so it frees up counter space, but still has the same 1.8-pound/2.75-quart capacity inside. While that’s enough room for a chicken breast or a good amount of french fries, it probably won’t be enough if you’re cooking for more than two. Luckily, Philips also makes a 2.65-pound XL version as well.
The Philips HD9641 Avance Digital Turbostar is one of the pricier options at $299.95, but frequently goes on sale for $249.95. Get yours here.
Another big contender (literally) is the Cozyna Air Fryer XL. This giant device is a #1 best-seller on Amazon, and with all so many other devices on the market, that’s no small feat. Its 5.8-quart basket can hold about 3 pounds of food at once, which matches the largest capacity we’ve seen so far and is perfect for a family of four. But just because it’s big doesn’t mean it requires a ton of oil — this guy requires no more than a tablespoon. According to the listing, that means 70% less fat than typical deep frying.
The Cozyna Air Fryer doesn’t have presets or a a screen to show temperature and time, so you’ll have to pay attention to the numbers on the dial to make sure everything is correct. However, Cozyna does offer two cookbooks (a physical one and an e-book) of 50 recipes to try, which includes ideas ranging from chicken, to Thai food, to desserts. Plus, if anything goes wrong, Cozyna offers a 60-day money back guarantee, and people in the reviews say that Cozyna’s customer service is amazing. (Cozyna also has a digital, touchscreen air fryer, with a slightly smaller basket and a 4.4 out of 5 star rating on Amazon.)
Though this air fryer offers a crazy amount of quality and an extra large size, the price is pretty moderate: Get it for just $109.99 here.
While you may recognize the brand T-fal for their heavy duty pots and pans, they’re also a force to be reckoned with in the air fryer game. The Amazon’s Choice FZ700251 ActiFry multi cooker is futuristic as hell and the ultimate hands-free cooker.
Unlike most other air fryers we see, the T-fal does not sport a pull-out food drawer. Instead, the overhead lid opens to reveal a dishwasher-safe, ring-shaped basket that can hold up to 2.2 lbs. Once turned on, the Actifry’s built-in stirring paddle will rotate your food under the hot air, so you don’t have to depend on stirring or flipping for even cooking. Along with your purchase, you’ll also get a 38-recipe cookbook and a measuring spoon.
The transparent lid allows you to look in on how your food is coming along. But if you don’t have time to check in (or just don’t feel like it), don’t worry — a buzzer will go off once the timer is done.
The T-fal Actifry usually goes for $249.99, but is frequently on sale for as low as $154.99. Get it here.
Another Amazon’s Choice air fryer hails from home gadget megabrand Black+Decker. The HF110SBDPurify 2-Liter Air Fryer is a great midsize option, and is one of the best air fryers when it comes to perfectly crisping food. This is due to dual convection fans that work to circulate hot air, producing that highly desired golden-brown crunch without the excess oil. You will have to flip or stir, but that’s no biggie.
Not only is this eight-cup device powerful on the inside, but is one of the most aesthetically pleasing options on the exterior. Its stainless steel features make it easy to match your modern kitchen, and there are also white models as well. There’s no screen, but this air fryer is equipped with two lights: one to show when the unit is on, and one to show when the unit is preheated. Customers in the reviews say there’s little to no wait time. Just use the temperature dial to heat your fryer to anywhere from 175-400 degrees.
Shish kebabs, anyone? Another well-reviewed air fryer on Amazon is the Secura 1500 Watt 3.4 quart electric air fryer. Not only is it a good size at 3.4 quarts, but it also comes with accessories like a BBQ rack and tongs for easy indoor grilling.
Though the Secura fryer doesn’t have a screen, it’s still a powerhouse, complete with a temperature dial (up to 400 degrees), a timer dial, and six food settings to do the work for you. Its stainless steel interface allows it to blend seamlessly with the rest of your stainless steel appliances.
The Secura 1500 Watt fryer regularly goes for $109.99, but we’ve seen it on sale for as low as $65.95. Get it here.
If you’re looking for a serious bang for your buck, the BELLA 14538 Electric Hot Air Fryer is the way to go. This no frills air fryer was rated 5 stars by nearly 70% of Amazon users, which is pretty notable — especially for a device that’s less than 60 bucks.
Able to hold 2.5 liters or 2.2 pounds of food at once, the BELLA Air Fryer is slightly larger than the Black+Decker and Philips devices and slightly smaller than the XL Cozyna. Its interface is simple and features a dial for the timer and a dial for the temperature, with a max of 400 degrees. Like all of the devices above, its food basket is dishwasher safe and thus super easy to clean. According to the listing, heats up quickly and is equipped with overheating protection.
Get yours for $58.99 here.
One of the more unique models comes in the form of the Big Boss Oilless Air Fryer. This see-through air fryer features a massive 16-quart container, which is easily the biggest we’ve seen — like, a whole rotisserie chicken can fit in this guy. If you’re cooking two smaller items, the fryer also comes with an extra tray to cook two things at once. Just put your food in the container, bring the arm down, secure the glass lid, and you’re on your way to a three-course meal in minutes.