May 29, 2023

The best air fryers — make fried food with fewer calories

Get the crispiness without the grease with this futuristic kitchen accessory.

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We’re always on the lookout for new kitchen gadgets that will make cooking easier and more fun — so pumped was an understatement we first heard claims of a countertop appliance that can make our favorite greasy foods less unhealthy, all with speed similar to an Instant Pot. Air fryers started popping into mainstream eye back in 2017, and now that they’ve had their chance to marinate in the market (food pun intended), it feels like an appropriate time to compare the best ones. (And if you’re in the market for a Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Prime Day deal, it’s helpful to know which devices are the best so when the sales start you’ll know which one to buy.)

SEE ALSO: The best sous vide machines and cooking devices

If you thought you were overwhelmed with all of the different Instant Pot models, just wait until you see how many air fryers are out there.

Before we dive into the different devices, let’s answer some lingering questions.

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. Some may tell you to just cut back on fried foods all together, but is that really the only option?


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 — and drenched in fat.

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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. Not only are you getting that coveted taste and texture without the part that makes it unhealthy, but you’re getting it in half the time. 

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. 

But is air fried food actually healthy?

Taking the guilt out of guilty pleasure snacks is probably the main reason you’re looking to buy an air fryer, right? We will say it’s health-ier: Manufacturers claim that air frying can reduce calorie intake by up to 80 percent — so yes, air frying is certainly a much better preparation alternative. However, scientists aren’t bullshitting with the whole “moderation is key” thing, and calories aren’t the only factor to measure health. Having an air fryer does not mean that a diet consisting of french fries and pizza rolls is a good path to take, and making sure you get those plant-based oils and vitamins from fruits and veggies should still be worked in somehow.

Got a picky eater at home? Air fryers are a bomb way to crisp up zucchinis, carrots, squash, and more to give them some added taste and crunch, teaching kids that they don’t always have to run for cover when the veggies come out.

Which air fryers are best?

As with any beloved appliance, there are various sizes, features, and physical 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. Sorry, we couldn’t resist.

Replaces multiple appliances • Huge capacity for the price • Food can lay flat or rotate
Takes up lots of counter space • Loud
Instant Pot’s first stab at air frying brings hands-off cooking and tons of functions past crisping.

Instant Vortex Plus

Instant Pot expands their product line with an air fryer that can rotate poultry and dehydrate fruit.

  • Capacity:
    10 quarts
  • Color options:
    Stainless steel
  • Extra functions:
    Roast, broil, bake, reheat, rotate, dehydrate
Instant Pot is the single most revolutionary cooking brand of the last 20 years and we’re willing to die on that hill. The Instant Pot’s speedy cooking and ability to perform multiple appliance functions in one completely changed the slow cooker game — why stop there? In July 2019, the foodie world was blessed with the Instant Vortex Plus, a 7-in-1 air fryer so versatile it sounds made up.
It’s wild that Instant Pot waited so long to release an air fryer, but it’s clear that they spent time researching the best air frying techniques, downfalls of competing models, and how to incorporate multitasking. Instead of the typical pull-out basket design, the Vortex takes on the shape of a toaster oven. The overhead heating element and motorized fan rapidly blow air from every direction, effectively eliminating the need for oil by 95 percent. Three trays inside allow snacks to be spread out for even crispiness and can be air fried, baked, or broiled. 
But there’s another function we haven’t seen much of before: A rotisserie basket. Swap the trays out for a rotating cage to roast a whole chicken, toss wings, or make golden-brown fries without pausing to flip. Not only does this mean less work for you, but the omnipresent heat on all sides can reduce cooking times by 20 percent.
And of course there’s a touchscreen. Use the LED display to select cooking times and temperature, or choose from seven preset cooking programs to find the right settings for your recipe. But it gets even more hands off, y’all — like the Instant Pot Ultra and Max cookers, the Vortex remembers your settings to fine tune meals every time.

Screen size is just right • Reputation for cooking food evenly • Multiple sizes
Significantly pricier than others • No stainless steel details
If you’re willing to fork over the cash, the Philips air fryer has a great reputation and a simple screen interface.

Philips Digital Air Fryer

Pricey but worth it, Philips offers a stellar combo of size, user-friendliness, and even cooking.

  • Capcity:
    2.75 quarts, 4 quarts
  • Color options:
  • Extra functions:
In search of the holy grail? Look no further. Philips is no stranger to being no. 1 in TVs, smart home, and even electric toothbrushes, and somehow, they’re killing the air fryer game, too. We’ve picked their Avance Digital Turbostar as the best overall model — if you’re willing to splurge. It is one of the pricier options, but is almost always on sale.
Even cooking seems like it should be a given with air fryers, but it’s not as easy to find as you’d think. Luckily, that’s not a worry with here, as customers in the Amazon reviews rave about their consistent turnouts. 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. (It’s rare to get a screen at all, and most with screens are borderline overwhelming). Also included are a grease tray and food basket, both dishwasher safe.
This is the second generation of the HD9641 model and is smaller than the original so it frees up counter space, but still has the same 1.8-pound 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. 

2-in-1 pressure cooking function • Massive food basket • Amazing safety features
Takes up a lot of space • Not compatible with accessories from other 6-quart devices
Knock numerous appliances out with the air frying and pressure cooking Foodi – as long as you have room for it.

Ninja Foodi

Ninja Foodi is the air fryer that can pressure cook.

  • Capcity:
    6.5 quarts
  • Color options:
  • Extra functions:
    Pressure cook
Read what reviewers have to say about the Ninja Foodi.
The Instant Pot took the foodie world by storm with its ability to perform numerous appliance duties in a singe machine — the only thing it couldn’t do was air fry. Ninja saw that as an obvious way in. (Now Instant Pot has gotten its foot in the air fryer game.)
Released in fall 2018, the Ninja Foodi (fitting, right?) is coined “the pressure cooker that crisps.” Here’s the thing, though: It also does so much more.
For max precision, the pressure cooking and the air frying are done in two different compartments. The top crisping lid is where Ninja’s TenderCrisp technology works its magic, with options to air fry, bake, broil, and roast. Underneath, the Foodi’s pot does the tenderizing, sautéing, and pressure cooking for juicier parts of the meal like soups, dips, and more. They can’t be used at the same time, but it’s still nicer than having to buy two separate appliances.
As you can probably guess, two compartments don’t make it the most compact thing in the world. This thing is big, awkwardly shaped, and heavy, so if you’re short on counter space (or muscles), you might want to opt for a smaller machine.

Supreme cooking temperature accuracy • Compact device with huge capacity • Functions as a toaster oven, air fryer, and slow cooker
Takes up a lot of room • Pricey
Air frying plus loads of other features make this possibly more versatile than your actual oven.

Breville Smart Oven Air

The mother of oven and air fryer combos conducts highly precise temperatures and can also slow cook.

  • Capacity:
    5.8 quarts
  • Color options:
    Stainless steel
  • Extra functions:
    Air fry, bagel, broil, bake, roast, warm, pizza, proof, reheat, cookies, slow cook, dehydrate
Read what reviewers have to say about the Breville Smart Oven Air.
Using the oven takes forever. Kids complain about waiting 45 minutes for dinner, but we can’t really blame them — messing with preheating, figuring out the knobs to turn, and waiting is the last thing you want to do after a long, hungry day at work. But, in a world of appliances promising to make your life easier, the Breville Air Smart Oven (BOV900BSS) actually does it. This combination air fryer and toaster oven might actually be more versatile than your traditional oven.
A lot of air fryers get shit for not being able to hold an accurate temperature (therefore not cooking things the whole way through), but the Breville Smart Oven Air is known for its excellent temperature accuracy. It’s achieved by Breville’s Element IQ, which sends 1800W heat across six quartz elements to keep temperatures stable depending on what’s inside. This smart method essentially adjusts heat to move where it’s needed, which is a degree of precision that hasn’t really been seen in countertop ovens before. It can also reduce cooking time by up to 30 percent.
Though inevitably a bit of a counter space hog, this oven is quite compact for the 5.8-quart capacity inside (the Ninja Foodi can’t say the same). It’s big enough to serve 14 people, with 16 inches of side-to-side capacity for large cookie sheets, braising pans, and up to four stacked trays. Technically speaking, every meal of your day could be cooked here: Fried bacon, baked personal pizzas, a snack of dehydrated fruit, or a 14-pound turkey are all possibilities — and it even acts as a slow cooker. 

2-in-1 space saving • Massive capacity for an air fryer • Entirely stainless steel
Unnecessary if you don’t need a toaster oven, obviously • Cheap knobs
If you’ve been wanting a toaster oven as well, this modern 2-in-1 crosses two big appliances off your list.

Cuisinart AirFryer Toaster Oven

Air fry, bake, roast, and broil in this versatile 2-in-1 that’s clutch for families or large groups.

  • Capacity:
    4 pounds
  • Color options:
    Stainless steel
  • Extra functions:
    Bake, toast, broil
Read what reviewers have to say about the Cuisinart AirFryer Toaster Oven.
Counter space is not a thing to take lightly, especially if you’re an apartment dweller. Thankfully, this 2-in-1 from Cuisinart exists. It’s a toaster oven with a built-in air fryer, that’s built for baking, toasting, broiling, and air frying while saving you the counter clutter — unless you already have a toaster oven, that is.
If you live in a full house or host a big group often, the 4-pound capacity of this 2-in-1 device ensures that everyone can be fed on the first batch (whether that’s a 4-pound chicken or 4 pounds of fries). The 16-inch baking tray allows for the hot air to circulate and hit your food evenly, so stirring or flipping probably isn’t necessary. 
Its totally stainless steel exterior makes it a perfect addition to a stainless steel kitchen (while most other options are black with a stainless steel handle), using four dials across the top for temperature, function, time, and a special toast timer. 

Built-in stirring paddle rotates food automatically • Transparent lid for checking progress
Awkward shape for storage • Only one size
Weirdly-shaped but futuristic as hell, the ActiFry stirs for you while you sit back and relax.

T-fal ActiFry Multi-Cooker

Get even, golden brown cooking without the effort with T-Fal’s unique ring shape and built-in stirring paddles.

  • Capacity:
    2.2 pounds (around 2.75 quarts)
  • Color options:
  • Extra functions:
Read what reviewers have to say about the T-fal ActiFry Multi-Cooker.
While you may recognize the brand T-fal for its heavy duty pots and pans, it’s also a force to be reckoned with in the air fryer game. The FZ700251 ActiFry multi cooker is futuristic as hell and has a major “set it and forget it” vibe that most other cookers can’t offer.
Unlike most of the competition, the ActiFry 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 pounds. 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, which is the hardest part. Can we get a hell yeah?
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. Along with your purchase, you’ll also get a 38-recipe cookbook and a measuring spoon.

Stainless steel • Free two-year warranty • Easy to clean • WiFi enabled
You may need to use the warranty • App is not the most user friendly • Touchpad is occasionally unresponsive
This Amazon best-seller makes air frying stress-free thanks to 11 presets.

Cosori Air Fryer

Cosori has garnered reviews comparable to Ninja with a preset for nearly any recipe you could think of.

  • Capacity:
  • Color options:
    Stainless steel
  • Extra functions:
    Steak, poultry, seafood, shrimp, bacon, frozen foods, french fries, vegetables, root vegetables, bread, desserts, preheat
A simple search of “air fryer” on Amazon will land you at this device. Cosori, though not one of those brands that you’d immediately recognize from a famous line of kitchen appliances, has made a name for itself solely from this air fryer. It’s one of the rare basket models that comes in stainless steel instead of black or white, and boasts an impressive number of 5-star reviews.
Most air fryers have a few presets to take some guesswork out of common recipes, but the Cosori air fryer wants to be your new head chef. Once it preheats, a tap of one of 11 cooking presets on the touchscreen puts you on the fast track without having to research air fryer hacks on Pinterest. Crispy french fries don’t even scratch the surface of the built-in instructions: shrimp, bacon, root vegetables, and cake are just a few, but you can still toggle the temperature and time if you have your own preferences. There’s also a shake reminder that lets you know to stir or flip your food for an even fry, and automatic shut off and keep warm functions if you’re not eating right away.
We haven’t even gotten to the coolest part yet: Cosori offers both digital and WiFi air fryers, meaning you have the choice to remotely control the appliance via your phone, Alexa, or Google Assistant if you opt for the WiFi model.
Despite being one of the best reviewed models on Amazon, some customers report that the device becomes unresponsive after a few uses. Pretty much any product ever will have its fair share of random issues — it happens to iPhones all the time. Cosori relieves your worries by offering a free two-year guarantee.

Lots of recipe presets for the price • Large capacity • Comes with recipe book • Regularly on sale
Temperature and interface aren’t always reliable • Non-stick needs to be cleaned carefully
GoWISE has an impressive budget model on its hands with yummy presets and a simple interface.

GoWise USA XL Digital Air Fryer

This versatile, large model from GoWise is an affordable way into air frying.

  • Capacity:
    5.8 quarts
  • Color options:
  • Extra functions:
    Fries, pork, chicken, steak, shrimp, cake, fish, pizza
Touchscreens on appliances can make even the most ’80s kitchens look modern, and you don’t have to pay premium prices for an air fryer with one. The GoWise XL 5.8-quart air fryer features an LCD touchscreen and is probably the most customizable fryer you can get for less than $100.
Frying, baking, grilling, and roasting are all possible here, with eight built-in presets for fries, pork, chicken, steak, shrimp, cake, fish, and pizza. When your ingredients need to be stirred or shaken, the device will warn you in increments of five, 10, or 15 minutes. If you need to change temperature or time (or do a taste test), just use the stop/start button to make changes mid-cook.
Pro tip: Don’t expect the circulation or temperature precision of a Ninja or Breville fryer from this budget option. It’s a great starter device for easing into healthier fried meals, but restaurant steaks probably can’t be achieved.

Super unique pastel color selection • Included recipe book • Small for easy storage
Reviews mention it breaks easily • No built-in presets
The cutest air fryer on the market is great for light snacks or personal meals and is easily storable.

GoWISE USA 2.75-quart Air Fryer

This retro fryer is handy for quick snacks and appetizers, but don’t expect high-tech customization.

  • Capacity:
    2.75 quarts
  • Color options:
    Black, white, red, purple, mint, red, mustard yellow, blush
  • Extra functions:

When an air fryer comes in enough colors to match your outfit, you know you’re in for a good time. GoWise has snuck a model into most size categories, but the 2.75-quart one is one of the only models that’s a reliable budget alternative to the 2.75-quart Philips Turbostar. 
KitchenAid mixers get a big chunk of their attention from that rainbow color selection, but that’s rarely an option for appliances like air fryers. From mint green and pastel yellow to vibrant red and purple, this small, unsuspecting cooker will give your counter a pop of color.
There’s no reason to pay for a touchscreen or a long list of presets if your purpose for getting an air fryer ends at snacks or personal appetizers. This mini cooker can heat to 400 degrees, has a 30-minute timer, and the listing says it can also bake, grill, and roast. At under three quarts, it’s roomy enough to cook a personal steak or corn on the cob, yet small enough to shove in your remaining cabinet space or take on a camping trip.

Ultra simple to use • Heats up fast • Classy color options
Pricey for low number of features • No preset cooking functions • Only one size
Newbie? No problem. Black+Decker offers a straightforward mid-size device that’s perfect for snacks.

Black+Decker Purifry

Ease into air frying with straightforward controls and a basket perfect for quick snacks.

  • Capacity:
    2 liters (2.11 quarts)
  • Colors:
    Black/stainless steel
  • Extra functions:

Intense snackers, look no further: Hailing from home gadget megabrand Black+Decker. Their Purify 2-Liter Air Fryer is a bomb midsize option to squeeze on that last inch of open counter space and promises perfectly crisped appetizers or small meals.
The best part? There’s next to no learning curve. Once you perfect the flipping action, it’s one of the most straightforward of the bunch — so even if toast is the most advanced you’ve been able to make meal wise, this machine is nothing you can’t handle. With no screen and only two dials to control temperature and time (with two lights to show preheating status), it’s a basic approach that’s nearly impossible to mess up.
Quick bites are the name of the game here: An 8 cup capacity gives wiggle room for 10 chicken nuggets or onion rings, 15 pizza rolls, or a half pound of french fries — it’s also been said to be one of the best models to tackle frozen foods. Frying up a main course (like an actual chicken) probably isn’t likely, but it’s clutch for those side dishes or meals for one.
Bonus: It’s also one of the most aesthetically pleasing options. Its stainless steel accents make it a seamless addition to any modern kitchen. 

Super affordable • Great color options • Small and portable
Small basket is limiting • Only one size option • Won’t last the longest
If you’re snacking on a budget, Dash’s no-frills air fryer gets the job done and can be taken anywhere.

Dash Compact Air Fryer

Skip the drive-thru and the boring campfire foods with this portable fryer from Dash.

  • Capacity:
    2 quarts
  • Color options:
    White, black, grey, red, aqua
  • Extra functions:

No matter how great they sound, forking over $100 or more for an air fryer may not be within your budget. Thankfully, there are a few cheap air fryers on the market that don’t sacrifice quality. Our favorite cheap air fryer is the Dash Compact Air Fryer, a reliable little sidekick that can be taken nearly anywhere.
This no-frills fryer offers the bare minimum of features — and when you’re a newbie or only planning on using it sparingly, there’s no point to paying for extras. Set your temperature and time using their respective knobs, stir or flip once if you’re feeling ambitious, and come back in a few minutes to a hot, crispy snack. Dash’s model is the scrawniest of the bunch, offering a 1.6-quart capacity to fit personal batches of fries, hot wings, fish, cinnamon rolls, and more — perfect for a college dorm, apartment, or camping RV. (Just don’t expect to feed more than one at a time.)
There aren’t many negative reviews, and most that do exist speak to the manufacturer quality. Unfortunately, you can’t expect restaurant-grade longevity in a model that costs so little, but if you use it sparingly, it’ll get the job done.
Dash always shines in the looks department: Offering a handful of adorable colors to match any decorating style, this little fryer makes an easy gift.

Offers indoor grilling options • Preset cooking functions • Next to no negative reviews
Complaints of not getting hot enough • Only one size
Bring that warm-weather grilling indoors with the BBQ rack, skewers, and handy preset functions.

Secura 3.4-quart Electric Air Fryer

It air fries, it lets you grill indoors, and it’s totally affordable. Sign us up!

  • Capacity:
    3.4 quarts
  • Color options:
  • Extra functions:
    Cake, bread, steak

Burgers, anyone? Get your summer BBQ on year round with the Secura Electric Air Fryer, one of the only on the market to include accessories like a BBQ rack and tongs for easy indoor grilling. At 1500 watts, it’s a true powerhouse and has garnered a stellar collection of reviews.
At a pretty hefty 3.4 quarts, Secura’s basket is more than enough to hold a decent amount of appetizers like quiche or ingredients for shish kebabs, as well as main entrees like falafel, three patties at once, or even a 5-pound turkey.
Though the Secura fryer doesn’t have a screen, its complexity is upped by six preset food settings (fries, steak, chicken wings, cake, bread, and other meat) to do the work for you, as well a temperature dial and a timer dial. Its stainless steel interface allows it to blend seamlessly with the rest of your stainless steel appliances.