Love deep-fried foods, but tired of all the calories and clean-up?
It may be time for you to consider adding an air fryer to your kitchen wares. With dozens of options available on the market, we did the homework and can confidently recommend the Ninja Air Fryer as the best air fryer for your kitchen. This is a model that unites affordability and user-friendliness to offer great-tasting fried food.
The principle behind air frying is convection heat, which is heat that, once generated, is circulated by a high-powered fan. (This is distinct from conduction heat, which is cooking done over a hot surface.) Basically, an air fryer is a small but high-powered convection oven.
What creates the desired “frying” effect is the fan spinning at a rapid rate. A slow fan, which you find on most convection ovens, will simply bake or broil the food.
Air fryers are typically small units. A good one will include design elements such as vents and air holes that help the heat circulate evenly around the food. And since very little heat escapes, the flavors and moisture are trapped in the unit so the food doesn’t dry out.
The result? A wholesome approximation to deep-fried fare. Think tender interior and crunchy exterior.
Though often marketed as a substitute for grease fryers, the air fryer is rapidly becoming a serious piece of cooking ware in its own right. It’s a versatile appliance that offers a unique way to prepare food.
Air fryers are being used to cook more than fries and chicken wings, too. They’ve started to appear in cooking shows and in the homes of celebrity chefs. (Gordon Ramsay uses one to make gourmet dishes like turkey sliders and rib-eye steak!)
This is an exciting new kitchen appliance that can help you lead a healthier life.
Benefits of Air Frying
In general, air fryers are time-efficient and energy-efficient. Best of all, they help you eat healthier.
Here are some of the biggest benefits to these appliances:
- You can dramatically cut down saturated fats, carbs, and oils in your diet while satisfying that craving for something crunchy.
- Air fryers are easier to clean than grease fryers and convection ovens. There’s no container of cooking oil to filter and store, and the individual parts are often dishwasher safe.
- Air fryers cook faster than convection ovens.
- They require less energy than convection ovens, and they don’t heat up your whole house while you use them.
Myths about Air Frying
Before you purchase an air fryer, let’s dispel some myths about them. These are circulated either by marketers trying to make a sale or overly-enthusiastic users. In any event, they could negatively affect your purchasing choices.
There are at least 5 myths worth mentioning.
Myth #1: The odors are contained in the air fryer.
When food is baking in a convection oven, the smell can fill a room. That can be a lovely thing in a home, but it can be an irritation in a dorm. While it does operate with a significantly smaller profile than an oven, your roommate will know when you are cooking with your air fryer.
Odor aside, the air fryer does do a great job of containing smoke and steam — provided you don’t burn anything.
Myth #2: Air-fried food tastes just like deep-fried food.
This is by far the biggest myth. Yes, you can achieve an approximation to traditionally fried food with an air fryer. No, you will not fool anyone into believing that the food you prepared in an air fryer is deep-fried. Yes, you can make fries that are crunchy and scrumptious. No, they will not taste exactly the same.
Myth #3: If you don’t already eat deep-fried foods, you don’t need an air fryer.
It’s better to think of an air fryer as “an oven that crisps your meat.” It offers something unique. It isn’t just an alternative to a deep fryer.
So even if you don’t eat fries or chicken wings on a regular basis at home, an air fryer is still a time-efficient, energy-efficient, and delicious way to prepare all kinds of food — not just traditional deep-fried fare.
Myth #4: You don’t need to use any oil.
Air fryers do not eliminate the need for cooking oil. They do minimize it, and with great success, I might add. You might need only a tablespoon of oil for a pound of meat, maybe 2 for 4 cups of vegetables.
You might forgo the use of oil if you are cooking particularly fatty foods. But generally, at least a little bit of oil is necessary to achieve that crunchy “fried” effect.
Myth #5: An air fryer makes everything taste awesome!
Air fryers rely on oils and fats to achieve their crispiness. These oils and fats must either be native to the food (i.e., marbled meat, chicken with skin, etc.) or they must be added.
Without this, the food will become cracked and dry, so an air fryer may actually make some foods taste worse.
All that said, there are plenty of things that will taste awesome if cooked in an air fryer.
Tips for Getting the Best Results from an Air Fryer
Measure width, not volume.
Because an air fryer cooks food by circulating hot air through a basket, the best results are achieved when the food is prepared in a single flat layer. Stacks of fries or chicken wings piled on each other will only increase the odds of a poor, uneven cook.
Especially if you want to prepare large portions, make sure you are purchasing an air fryer with a wide base. Be warned: Even if a basket boasts many quarts, this does not necessarily mean that it has a wide base.
Scroll down to the description of the product to check its measurements. Make sure the basket is wide enough to meet your needs. Otherwise you may end up purchasing an air fryer with a high volume but a tall basket.
Digital controls are the way to go.
There are 2 major reasons that a digital panel outdoes a traditional dial or knob. First, when measuring time and temperature, a digital panel will be more precise.
Second, over time, the paint or etching for traditional dials and knobs will inevitably fade away. A digital panel lasts much longer.
Fattier foods require less oil.
The appeal of air fryers is that they minimize the amount of oil you use to cook. However, if you want to eliminate oil from your diet entirely, fattier foods (i.e., pork shoulder, chicken with the skin on it, etc.) tend to cook much better in an air fryer than other foods, and may require no oil at all.
Best of all, the fat drains out of the meat as it cooks and drips through the grate, collecting at the bottom of the pan, so much of the fat is expelled from the food before you eat it.
The technology behind air fryers is relatively new, and it has a singular job. You need to make sure that it’s doing it well.
To that end, the following factors were considered as we compiled this list:
- Maintenance: Is it easy to clean or repair?
- Design: How intuitive is this product to operate? How precise are the dials?
- Style: Will you be embarrassed to feature this product on your counter for all to see?
- Bonus features: Does the product serve additional functions?
- Noise pollution: When in use, does the product sound like farm equipment starting a metal band on a spring mattress?
- Performance: Does this air fryer cook food thoroughly and evenly?
- Taste: Does the air fryer produce a convincing imitation of a deep fryer?
- Popularity: Which air fryer do you find in the most kitchens?
- Perks: Does the supplier offer a satisfaction guarantee or lifetime warranty? How excellent is the customer service?
With all this in mind, take a look at our list of the 11 best air fryers that you can buy today.
Best Air Fryers
Ninja Air Fryer
The Ninja is a user-friendly unit with a digital panel and 4 primary functions: air fry, roast, reheat, and dehydrate. This makes it a good middle option between the worlds of the gourmet kitchen and the average domestic kitchen. The dehydrate function, especially, is unique. Just slice an apple, toss it in overnight, and voilà: Apple chips!
This unit has a solid design. It is easy to clean and disassemble. And the smart processor offers a wide range of cooking options by altering the temperature and speed of the fan. It uses little to no oil, and it’s large enough for family-sized dinners as well individual-sized snacks.
Among the units listed here, the Ninja is moderately priced. Its appearance may be uninspired, but it gets the job done. It may run on the louder side, depending on the setting. For example, when dehydrating, the Ninja hums gently. However, when air frying, it is about as noisy as the standard microwave.
- Excellent for daily use
- Affordably priced
- Good results
- A bit noisy
Philips Compact Air Fryer
Although the “compact” is listed here to group it with others in its weight class, Philips manufactures several models that all do an excellent job. They particularly excel in a key area: yielding results closest to conventionally fried food, and they do so consistently. A batch of fries in this thing will always come out crunchy, tender, and flavorful, and it will be cooked evenly, even if the fries are tossed in frozen.
It’s no accident that the Philips is the air fryer most likely to appear on celebrity cooking programs. It is also the favorite of professional gourmet chefs like Gordon Ramsay.
Although it has more parts than the average air fryer, the Philips is easy to clean because all the parts are dishwasher safe. It does not use a digital panel, so it takes some care to set the timer and temperature precisely. But this is a minor obstacle on an otherwise great design.
- Consistently excellent results
- Dishwasher safe
- Favored by professional chefs
- Noisy when operating
- Large and heavy
KRUPS Fry Delight
In other lists comparing air fryers, you seldom see the KRUPS included. This is a shame, considering that professional chefs often recommend it as a budget-friendly alternative to the Philips.
While not in the same class as the Philips, it produces some of the best results when compared to other air fryers within the same price range. At the very least, the KRUPS deserves more recognition than it’s received so far.
Like the Philips, the main selling point with the KRUPS is that it consistently yields results closest to conventionally fried food. Still, it does have some design flaws: It uses a manual dial instead of a digital panel (which is less user-friendly), and the basket lacks a non-stick coating (so cleaning will be a workout). However, the “cube” design fits perfectly in a modern or retro-style kitchen, and it also makes it easy to store.
If it’s important to you for an air fryer to imitate a grease fryer as closely as possible, then the KRUPS offers the most bang for your buck.
- Consistently excellent results
- Sleek modern design
- Mid-shelf price, top-shelf product
- Difficult to clean
GoWISE USA Digital Air Fryer
This air fryer is designed for anyone in a hurry. It features 8 preset buttons for pizza, fries, steak, chicken, pork, shrimp, chips, and — just to be different — cake. Presets make this fryer ideal for everyday use. Just toss in your food of choice, click a button, and wait for the bell!
If you’re in the mood for something that isn’t included in the list of presets, the temperature and timer can be customized. The digital panel makes this easy and precise. A book of recipes with detailed cooking instructions is included in the bargain. Plus, the distinctive egg shape is sleek and modern — perfect for a variety of kitchen styles.
This is a recognized bestseller with high reviews. That said, serious signs of wear are occasionally reported after about 2 months of regular use. Among these, the non-stick black coating may begin to peel from the cooking basket, the fryer may operate a bit louder, or, rarely, it may cease working entirely.
- Ideal for daily use
- Fairly priced
- Stylish modern design
- Difficult to clean
- Loud when operating
- Non-stick coating may peel
NuWave Brio Digital Air Fryer
For domestic cooks who have owned and experimented with multiple different air fryers, the Brio often comes out on top when compared with others in the same price range and size. For most cooks looking to replace their air fryers, the Brio is the natural upgrade.
The Brio is a domestic favorite because it is so user-friendly. It features a digital panel with a number of pre-settings for typical fare, like fries and chicken nuggets. Time and temperature settings can be customized with ease. There’s even a preheat option.
The results are not as consistently excellent as the Philips or the KRUPS (food items like fries are reported to cook less evenly or with less-than-optimal crispiness) and the basket is a bit difficult to clean. But it’s a solid choice at a fair price, and much quieter than similar models.
- Dishwasher safe
- Average to good results
- Difficult-to-clean basket
- Non-stick coating may peel
- Uninspired style
Cuisinart TOA-60 Air Fryer Toaster Oven
This unit takes the place of 2 kitchen appliances: an air fryer and a toaster oven. While it ranks among the priciest units in this list, it is cheaper than buying both kitchen appliances separately. So there’s that to consider.
The Cuisinart has a basket to be used with its air fryer setting. Despite doing double-duty, the Cuisinart actually tends to produce either equal or better results than the standard air fryer.
The Cuisinart does not have digital controls, and all the parts must be washed by hand. It’s not much to look at, but if you’re in the market for a multipurpose air fryer (or toaster oven), this is a solid choice.
- Good to excellent results
- Favored by professional cooks
- Troublesome to clean
- Analog controls
Magic Chef Digital XL Air Fryer
From one of the most trusted brands in kitchen appliances, the Magic Chef XL Digital Air Fryer gives you a host of high-end features, such as exact temperature control, at an affordable price. The appliance has a sleek design that looks great on just about any counter top. The basket has a cool-touch handle and a nonstick basket for easy use and cleaning.
This air fryer has a user-friendly touch screen that allows you to select from 7 different presets for the most common air-fried foods. You can also use the timer and temperature controls to fine-tune your favorite recipes. With the Magic Chef, you’ll be able to cook for the whole family or just yourself with a large 5.6-quart basket.
Some customers report that there’s a strong “new appliance” smell to this product, and possibly even a plastic taste to the first batch of food made with it. But a thorough cleaning should get rid of any unpleasant smell or taste.
- Touch screen
- Precise temperature controls
- Large capacity basket
- Drawer may get off-track
- Must clean thoroughly before use
Cozyna XL Air Fryer
The Cozyna is a mammoth unit, offering the ability to cook large amounts of food in diverse ways for several people. Most of the units on this list are on the smaller end of the spectrum (though larger sizes of the same models are often available), but the Cozyna is clearly trying to be the domestic cook’s go-to kitchen appliance.
That said, the Cozyna may look deceptively straightforward. Truth is, with its broad array of accessories, it is insanely versatile. It not only fries, but also bakes, grills, roasts, and even steams your food of choice. The Cozyna wants to do it all (and it wants to do it for an army). However, it seems more interested in doing many things adequately than one or two things excellently.
Complaints about the Cozyna are seldom about the same thing (which speaks well of the product), except that the handle is reported to occasionally loosen or break off. But this seems to seldom happen (and, frankly, it’s a potential problem for anything with handles).
- Affordable price tag
- Dishwasher safe
- Average performance
- Not user-friendly
BLACK+DECKER PuriFry Air Fryer
The PuriFry uses dials for time and temperature rather than a digital panel. Some users have found it difficult to set precise measurements, and complaints abound over the teeny-tiny size of the text. (Some had to resort to using a magnifying glass!) But it does include a basket divider so multiple foods can be fried simultaneously without mingling, which is nice.
The PuriFry does score well in performance. However, many of the problems with this product come down to basic hardware: The handle may break off, the fan sometimes stops spinning, the basket eventually refuses to slide in all the way. This is one of the least expensive items on this list, and you seem to get what you pay for.
That said, the PuriFry might be a good choice for someone who is curious about air frying but hasn’t decided whether or not to commit to it long-term. As an experimental purchase, it might teach you just what you need to know before upgrading to a Brio, KRUPS, or Philips.
- Affordable price tag
- Good performance
- Poor make
- Not user-friendly
- Loud when operating
Secura 4-Liter Electric Hot Air Fryer
The Secura is a popular choice, and for good reason — it consistently receives strong reviews from buyers. It comes with some helpful accessories, including a toaster rack and skewers. If something breaks — such as the basket handle — the manufacturer sells parts individually, so they’re easy to replace. A 2-year manufacturer’s limited warranty is included with the purchase.
The only consistent complaint against the Secura is the make of the basket. After several uses, it tends to warp, making it difficult to insert back into the unit. There are other minor issues, too: The unit does not feature a digital panel, and certain design elements (again, with the basket) make it difficult to clean.
This might not be the most inspired choice on the market. But it is a perfectly adequate air fryer with lots of happy customers.
- Easy to replace parts
- Helpful accessories
- 2-year limited warranty
- Not versatile
- May break down quickly
- Difficult to clean
DASH Compact Electric Air Fryer + Oven Cooker
We’ll be honest: The DASH isn’t our favorite air fryer. Users complain like clockwork over food unevenly fried, and even when the DASH manages to cook thoroughly (sometimes after numerous attempts), it often fails to achieve that distinctive crispy exterior — the very raison d’être of the air fryer!
But all things considered, there are worse air fryers on the market. The DASH manages a pretty high approval rating on sites like Amazon, so there are clearly plenty of happy customers for this product. In short, this air fryer isn’t the safest bet — though that price tag is alluring.
If nothing else, there’s definitely something to say for its style. The distinctive pill shape and selection of bright colors can really complement a modern or retro-style kitchen. Like the PuriFry, the DASH might be a good choice for someone who just wants to try out air frying before deciding to purchase a pricier model like the Brio, KRUPS, or Philips.
- Distinctive and colorful style
- Affordable price tag
- Takes up little countertop space
- Inconsistent performance
- Cheap hardware
- Small portions
I own a convection oven. Do I need an air fryer?
While a convection oven and an air fryer are identical in principle — i.e., they cook food by circulating heat through a fan — they differ in execution. An air fryer will have a more powerful fan and the heat source will be positioned above the food. Very few convection ovens share these 2 features, without which the food will simply be baked or broiled instead of achieving that desired “fried” effect.
Our suggestion? Look up a few recipes for air fryers and attempt them with your convection oven before making a decision.
Can I cook with my air fryer without using any oil?
At least some oil must be used for the food to achieve the desired “fried” effect. This oil must be either native to the food (i.e., marbled meat, chicken with skin, etc.), or it must be added.
You will not need much — far less than a traditional deep fryer. A pound of meat or 4 cups of vegetables may require no more than a tablespoon of oil each. But without any oil, the food will become cracked and dry.
Can I use aluminum in my air fryer without damaging it?
Yes. An air fryer uses convection heat, not microwaves, so it is safe to cook with metal containers and aluminum foil. Treat the air fryer like a small convection oven: They both operate on the same principle.
Can I cook frozen foods in my air fryer?
Yes. Most models allow food to be prepared from a frozen state, whether it is meat or vegetables. Excess moisture escapes through an exhaust port, so food will not soften due to too much steam.
However, cooking time might be extended if foods are frozen. Consult your owner’s manual to be certain.
What are the best air fryers?
Air fryers are enjoying newfound popularity as more and more folks look to eat healthier and live better. But not all of the air fryers on the market are worth your time and money.
That’s what you’ve got us for.
We’ve analyzed the experiences of hundreds of consumers like you. Then, we evaluated each product based on a range of criteria, including design, performance, price, style, and more. Based on this research, we’re confident in our final selection for the best air fryer: the Ninja Air Fryer.
But there are plenty of other great choices, too. Take a look at the full list of all 11 winners and you’re bound to find one that’s a perfect fit for your kitchen.
If you’re ready to upgrade your kitchen with some new appliances, the following items will bring dinnertime to the next level. Check out these recommendations from the RAVE staff:
- Zojirushi 3-Cup Rice Cooker:You know what will go great with that chicken you just roasted in the air fryer? A cup of white rice, the world’s most versatile food.
- Kikkerland Vintage Streamline Kitchen Timer: This classic staple of early modern kitchens has a way of staying relevant. We like the vintage models, not only because they look classy, but because they tend to be more durable.
- Bonavita 8-Cup One-Touch Coffee Maker: What’s a kitchen without a coffee maker? The Bonavita was our top choice among all the options on the market.