6 Best Air Fryers of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

After many pounds of fries, dozens of chicken breasts, and 11 cakes, we’ve found the best air fryers on the market.

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January 03, 2024

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Photo by: Photo by Jessica Harlan

Photo by Jessica Harlan

Our Top Air Fryer Picks

If you think just about everyone seems to have an air fryer these days, you’re not imagining it. An estimated two-thirds of American households have air fryers, intrigued by their claims of providing crisp food without the mess and health hazards of deep frying in oil.

Air fryers seem to have replaced multicookers like Instant Pot as the hot countertop appliance. And like the multicookers, they’re versatile enough to roast, bake, air fry, heat leftovers, and more. They’re easy and fun to use and more energy-efficient than an oven. This, coupled with the fact that they give off less heat than an oven, means they can even save you money on your utility bill.

The market is crowded with air fryers from a wide range of brands, ranging from well-known companies to less-familiar imported brands, each with different user interfaces, features, and other selling points. We’ve tested a dozen models ranging in price from less than $60 to around $200, and with a capacity from two to 10 quarts to bring you the best air fryers on the market today.

Photo by: Photo by Jessica Harlan

Photo by Jessica Harlan

How We Tested

To determine the best air fryers, we researched some of the most common and readily available air fryers to evaluate 12 different models from seven different well-known and trusted brands. We took into consideration size, capacity, design, features, and how easy and informational the manual is. With each air fryer, we cooked three different foods to see how each performed and how long the foods took to cook in each. We roasted bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and evaluated if the chicken turned out juicy and crisp-skinned. We cooked frozen French fries to see if they’d come out crispy and uniformly browned. And we baked a six-inch round cake using boxed yellow cake mix, evaluating whether the cake rose evenly and was tender and moist inside. Finally, we assessed whether the air fryers were easy to clean.

Photo Courtesy Amazon
What We Like
  1. Transparent panel and interior light
  2. Temperature goes up to 450˚F
  3. Switches to keep warm mode
What We Don't Like
  1. Adjusting time requires repeatedly tapping button

Cuisinart’s take on air fryers won us over because of a few features. First, its temperature goes all the way up to 450˚F, adjustable by 5-degree increments. Most air fryers max out at 400˚F. Second, it’s a no-brainer to use. You can use the functions, which include air fry, bake, broil, roast, or keep warm, or you can use one of the presets for common foods, from frozen French fries to wings to leftovers, programmed with the optimal time and temperature. In our testing, fries turned out crispy and greaseless, cake rose evenly, and chicken had a shatteringly crisp skin and juicy interior. We liked that this model switched automatically to keep warm mode in case you got called away from the kitchen when the cooking cycle ended. And finally, the viewing window and light was helpful in checking cooking progress without opening the drawer. Our only complaint was that a knob to adjust time and temperature would be a lot more efficient than having to repeatedly jab at a button.

  1. Style Basket
  2. Capacity 6 quarts
  3. Dimensions 12” x 16.5” x 12.25”
  4. Functions Air Fry, Roast, Bake, Broil, Keep Warm, French Fries, Wings, Vegetables, Frozen Snacks, Leftovers
Photo Courtesy Walmart
What We Like
  1. Gorgeous design
  2. Stable design doesn’t shift when basket is pulled out
  3. Quiet operation
What We Don't Like
  1. Raised loop on crisping tray causes pans to sit unevenly
  2. Dehydrate setting doesn’t seem useful

We didn’t have high expectations for the performance of this air fryer from Drew Barrymore’s kitchenware brand. How could something this gorgeous also perform well at such a low price? But in our tests, this fryer held its own. Frozen French fries cooked crisp and lightly browned within 10 minutes, and chicken turned out tender and juicy. A cake was a little dark on top and rose unevenly but was otherwise moist. Each of the functions (air fry, roast, reheat, dehydrate) have a default time and temperature setting, which can be adjusted with up and down buttons on the touchscreen. This air fryer comes in seven pretty colors, with matte brass-colored trim. The digital display, when off, disappears into a panel that’s the same on-trend color as the body. It’s a product you can be happy showing off on your counter, while knowing that it’s also standing by to make delicious meals.

  1. Style Basket
  2. Capacity 6 quarts
  3. Dimensions 15.11" x 12.08" x 13.07"
  4. Functions Air Fry, Roast, Reheat, Dehydrate
Photo Courtesy Amazon
What We Like
  1. Knob to adjust time and temperature
  2. Comes in four colors
  3. Presets can be programmed
What We Don't Like
  1. Larger foods might get too dark on top
  2. Fan is loud

For small households, the Instant Vortex Mini is the perfect air fryer option. It has all the features of Instant’s larger sizes including a sleek touchscreen display with a knob to quickly change time and temperature, and four functions that include roasting and baking programs. The functions have preset time and temperature that can be changed as needed. The device will remember the new time and temperature and default to it the next time you use it. Frozen French fries took 12 minutes to cook and turned out uniformly browned and creamy inside. The temperature only goes up to 400˚F, and a chicken breast roasted at that maximum setting took just 15 minutes to cook. It was juicy and tender inside, with crisp skin. Although the cake got a little scorched on the top before it cooked through, the big chicken breast did not get too dark at its highest point.

With a basket that measures about 6.5 inches in diameter, it just fits one chicken breast, two servings of fries, or a 6-inch round cake pan. This air fryer’s size is well-suited for heating up an afternoon snack or a single serving of leftovers.

  1. Style Basket
  2. Capacity 2 quarts
  3. Dimensions 11.26" x 9.02" x 11.73"
  4. Functions Air Fry, Roast, Bake, Reheat
Photo Courtesy Amazon
What We Like
  1. Each basket has separate time/temperature controls
  2. Smart Finish setting ensures both baskets done cooking at once
  3. Temperature goes up to 450˚F
What We Don't Like
  1. Individual baskets are small
  2. Dehydrate setting isn’t useful

For serious air fryer short order cooks, the Ninja Foodi air fryer is a fun way to get a whole meal on the table with just one appliance. The unit is designed to be basically two separate air fryers in one appliance that is not much bigger than some of the single-basket fryers on our list. Each 4-quart basket has an independent control panel so function, time, and temperature can be programmed separately. The Smart Finish function will program the two baskets so they’ll be finished cooking at the same time — we cooked a batch of fries and a cake at the same time and both were done at once. We tried another handy feature, the Match Cook mode, for cooking one chicken breast in each basket (since two breasts wouldn’t fit in one basket). This mode lets you use both baskets with the same setting without having to program each separately. One drawback is that the baskets are small and narrow; this was the only air fryer we tested that couldn’t accommodate a 6-inch cake pan. The company makes a 10-quart model with bigger baskets that takes up more counter space but might be more useful.

  1. Style Dual basket
  2. Capacity 8 quarts
  3. Dimensions 13.86" x 15.68" x 12.4"
  4. Functions Air Broil, Air Fry, Roast, Reheat, Dehydrate, Bake
Photo Courtesy Amazon
What We Like
  1. Viewing window and interior light
  2. Bar indicates preheating and cooking progress
  3. Air vent reduces cooking odors
What We Don't Like
  1. Manual doesn’t include cooking time/temperature chart
  2. The different beeps and chimes are confusing at first

Air frying newbies will appreciate the easy-to-use interface on this Instant Vortex Plus model, which includes a viewing window to visually monitor cooking progress. The digital display makes it easy to follow the prompts on the screen: choose the cooking function, adjust the time and temperature if needed with the spin of a dial, press start and the device does the rest. It will prompt you when the unit is finished preheating (most Instant air fryers include preheating time in the cooking cycle), will tell you when it’s time to give the food a shake, and the display shows the temperature and counts down the time. The different beeps and chirps were confusing at first, but over time users would start recognizing what each tone means. Not all Instant air fryers say that the frying basket and cooking tray are dishwasher safe, but this model does. We also liked that the exhaust fan channels air through a filter, cutting down on the cooking smells that are so prevalent with some air-fried foods. Instant air fryer manuals always include instructions on how to do a “test run” to learn how to use the air fryer and its feature, which is helpful for someone who’s never tried one before.

  1. Style Basket
  2. Capacity 6 quarts
  3. Dimensions 15.4" x 11.8" x 13"
  4. Functions Air Fry, Roast, Broil, Bake, Reheat, Dehydrate
Photo Courtesy Amazon
What We Like
  1. Works great for larger/longer foods
  2. Removable divider can split drawer in half
  3. Can program each side with different functions, time, temperature
What We Don't Like
  1. Fan is pretty loud
  2. Big basket hard to fit into small or divided sinks

For large families or those who want to cook multiple foods at once in their air fryer, the Instant Vortex 9-Quart model is a great pick. This air fryer is just a few inches wider than smaller models, and still fits easily and unobtrusively under a cabinet. The basket is designed with one long crisping tray and a removable panel that slides into a grove to divide the basket in two. It’s not immediately obvious that each side can be operated independently with its own cooking cycle, but a quick scan of the manual will explain that pressing the dial twice shifts the appliance into VersaZone mode, and each side can be programmed with the function, time, and temperature, since this air fryer has two fans and two heating elements. Because of the larger size of the compartment, chicken breasts took a little longer to cook than some of the other models and needed to be rotated so the skin browned evenly. But they came out perfectly cooked with tender meat and crispy skin. We tried cooking bacon at one temperature and fries at another using VersaZone mode. The side with the shorter cooking time stayed in preheat mode before prompting to add food, so that both sides finished cooking at the same time. The compartment is big enough for even a 9-inch rimless cake pan or a square baking pan. Because of the larger cooking surface — 13 inches by nearly 10 inches — this is the only air fryer in which the dehydrate feature might actually be useful. Serious air frying enthusiasts will appreciate the versatility and capacity of this super-sized air fryer.

  1. Style Basket
  2. Capacity 9 quarts
  3. Dimensions 15.9" x 15.1" x 12.3"
  4. Functions Air Fry, Roast, Bake, Reheat, Broil, Dehydrate

What to Consider When Searching for an Air Fryer

If you’ve been on the fence about whether this appliance deserves some real estate on your kitchen counter, now’s a good time to make your move. With a wider variety of brands, models, and sizes, there’s truly an air fryer to suit every need.

Style: Air fryers come in two main styles: Basket-style air fryers have a drawer that pulls out to add the food and take up a smaller footprint on the countertop. Toaster oven-style air fryers are exactly that — they are designed like mini countertop ovens, with an inside rack and a door that pulls open to slide in a tray of food. These typically have toasting functions in addition to baking and air frying. Some air fryers also have dual zones, meaning that two foods can be cooked separately at the same time, sometimes even at different temperatures.

Capacity: Sizes range from a 2-quart to 9-quart capacity. The smallest air fryers are good for making meals for one or two people or for side dishes. A 6-quart capacity can feed a family of three or four. The larger capacities are better for large groups. Keep in mind that the capacity listed on the package doesn’t necessarily mean that you can fill the basket with that amount of food. Many foods need to be cooked in a single layer, so a better indication of how much an air fryer will hold would be the dimensions of the crisping tray.

Features and Functions: As more and more housewares companies come out with air fryers, the number of features and options available has grown. Depending on your needs, you can find air fryers that have multiple functions such as baking and dehydrating, and even viewing windows and odor-eating filters. Some functions are more useful than others; several of the fryers we tested have a dehydrating function, which can be programmed to cook for hours at a low temperature. However, because the air fryers have such a small interior capacity if food is in the single layer required for dehydrating, this feature doesn’t seem particularly useful.

Price: Finally, basket-style air fryers are relatively affordable — the most expensive model on our list is only around $200, while there are plenty of models for under $100. You’ll pay more, however, for toaster oven-style air fryers.

FAQs

Are air fryers healthy?

Air fryers require very little oil to produce crispy, golden-brown foods. A spritz of cooking oil is often all that is needed for crispy, delicious results. For this reason, air fryers are a much healthier cooking method than deep-frying or pan-frying. What’s more, using an air fryer to cook healthy foods such as chicken breasts, fish, or vegetables will often make them more palatable, which means that even picky eaters will be more likely to eat them.

How do you clean an air fryer?

The cooking drawers and crisping tray inserts of an air fryer are removable. For many models, these components are dishwasher safe, although the drawers are bulky and will likely take up a lot of space in a dishwasher. These parts can also be hand washed with soap and warm water. Because they’re coated with a nonstick coating, even baked-on food will release fairly easily. Don’t use sharp utensils or abrasive cleaning products or sponges with them. Instant Brands recommends a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to remove stubborn baked-on grease or residue. The exterior of an air fryer can be wiped clean with a damp cloth and mild dish soap. The internal cooking chamber and the heating coil should also be checked after every use for food and oil splatters and wiped clean with a damp cloth. The body of the air fryer should never be submerged in water, and it shouldn’t be run with soap and water in the cooking basket.

Can I use oil or nonstick spray in an air fryer?

The basket and crisping tray of the air fryer has a nonstick coating, so nonstick spray or oil isn’t needed. In fact, nonstick sprays can create a buildup on the interior surfaces of the air fryer basket. If you want crispy food, add oil to the food itself. Spray the food lightly on all sides with oil, such as olive oil spray, or use a pastry brush or basting brush to brush the oil onto the food.

Can I use aluminum foil or parchment in an air fryer?

Unlike a microwave, aluminum foil and metal pans can be used in an air fryer. Parchment paper also can be used without burning. Keep in mind that if the crisper tray is lined with aluminum foil or parchment, the air won’t circulate as well to the underside of the food so food may need to be flipped over partway through cooking.

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