Researching air fryers for this piece made one thing pretty clear: They’re more than a TikTok trend. They’ve ballooned in popularity since the late 2010s for their ability to make “healthier” fried food with less oil. Just as with robot vacuums, though, the people I spoke to faced the same problem when choosing an air fryer: What to do when the models look similar but offer wildly different things? As a general rule, air fryers function like a small convection oven — with a fan and exhaust system that blows hot air. According to Ben Mims, a Los Angeles Times cooking columnist (who wrote a pre-pandemic air fryer cookbook), the appliance’s size means you’re “taking [oven] quality and putting it in a really small contraption, which magnifies it times ten.” Beyond that, the toughest decision to make about which one to buy depends on how you’ll use it.
To find the very best air fryers, I compared those we’ve featured on the Strategist before, pulling in recommendations from cookbook authors, chefs, and at-home cooks. I called up friends who owned them for some honest reviews, and also looked at customer feedback.
What we’re looking for:
Single- or multifunctional: Some air fryers are one-trick ponies, while others have settings to grill, dehydrate, bake, and more. If you have a small kitchen, consider a multifunctional model you can also use as, say, a pressure cooker.
Capacity: We’ve listed the capacity of each model in litres to help you figure out how much food you can serve from it.
Size: We’ve also listed each model’s dimensions for a sense of how much room they’ll take up on your counters or in your cupboards.
Best overall air fryer
Single function | 5.5L | 32 x 30 x 30cm
This Cosori air fryer has more than 70,000 reviews on Amazon and comes recommended by writers and recipe developers, including Jennifer West and Rebecca Abbott of Air Frying Foodie. Its 5.5L capacity can fit a roast chicken, according to one customer, with others using it to cook everything from corn on the cob to cheese scones. A total of 821 customers called it easy to use, while 76 reviewers said it was so easy to use that they cook with it every day. It has specific settings for frozen food, toast, seafood, and meat, and should automatically adjust the cook time and temperature to cook each properly.
Best oven air fryer
Multifunctional | 22L | 48 x 40 x 27cm
This air fryer by Sage (known as Breville in the U.S.) offers the most preset functions. Food writer Alyse Whitney has used hers for the past three years, and used an older model for eight years before that. “This is like my ride-or-die appliance,” she says. “It is what will be buried with me.” Sage says the oven can fit a turkey or a five-quart Dutch oven inside (that’s around 4.7 litres), but it’s 50 percent wider than the Corsori. It’s big, and not everyone has the counter space for that. But if you do, Whitney can’t recommend it enough. “I use this as my oven six out of seven days of the week,” she says. “And I use it as my second oven when I’m hosting a party. Two quarter-sheet pans fit nicely in there because it has two levels. The basket ones seem simple but also limiting. I love how many things this one does. Also, it has a clear window, so I can see what’s happening”
Best (less expensive) oven air fryer
Multifunctional | 17L | 31 x 40 x 35cm
If you’re not in a position to invest in the Sage, this Cuisinart model has seven cook functions: air fry, roast, bake, grill, ‘toasties,’ toast, and warm. It’s compact, but should still fit a 12-inch pizza, and it fires at six temperature settings, from 90 to 230 degrees. Older customers enjoyed its ease of use, according to several favourable reviews too.
Best durable air fryer
Multifunctional | 5.7L | 33 x 30 x 38cm
Air fryers as we know them have only been sold since about 2010, so durability is hard to gauge definitively. Still, Jenny Tschiesche, founder of Lunchbox Doctor and air-frying cookbook author, has enjoyed this one for a couple of years, “the longest of any,” she says. “With some of the others, after a few months, the lining starts to come away or you see scratches. But this one has lasted without damage. And that’s something, considering how much it gets used by all family members — including two teenagers.” She and her family use it daily for roasting vegetables; reheating buns; and making chicken nuggets, salmon, sweet-potato fries, flapjacks, and more. For Tschiesche, the fact that many Le Creuset dishes fit in there is a huge plus. The Instant Vortex has six settings, so it’s not quite as multifunctional as the Sage Smart Oven’s 13, but it still does the essential things you’d want in a fryer.
Best air fryer for kids
Single-use | 1.9L | 26 x 21 x 29 cm
Abbott bought the Dash compact air fryer for herself and her husband, but the basket turned out to be too small for their needs. Luckily, her grandson has somewhat adopted it. “He calls it his,” she says, “and knows how to use it, with my supervision. There are no fancy buttons — just knobs for temperature.” She keeps it between about 180 and 200 degrees, “and then there’s a little egg timer.” With a lower wattage than most others on this list, it takes slightly longer to heat up (but really, we’re talking about a difference of minutes). “We’ll stick a corn dog or chicken nuggets in there,” Abbott says, or “bake off a few cookies or biscuits at a time.” Inexpensive, and at less than a foot all around, it can be easily stored in a cabinet. This would also be a good option if you’re just looking for an air fryer to make your snacks a little more fancy rather than a way to cook main meals.
Best basket air fryer
Multifunctional | 3.8L | 11 x 14 x 13cm
Ninja’s basket-style air fryers came up several times in my reporting, coming recommended by Ally Farrell, a TV development producer at Whisper (I noticed TikTok creator Sean Casey has one, too). Farrell, who owns the larger 5L model, told me he’s been impressed by the halloumi fries he’s made in his, which come out “restaurant standard,” but that the standard fryer is quite obtrusive. “It doesn’t look great on a kitchen counter,” he said. “And it takes up a whole cupboard.” So we’ve opted to make the smaller version our best basket-style multifunctional option.
It’s well reviewed on Amazon too, with 85 percent five-star reviews out of almost 5,300. Compared to Phillips, another basket-style fryer, the Ninja goes up an extra 10 degrees to a maximum of 210, which reviewers said helped food get extra crunch. It also has a digital interface, rather than a dial, and pauses cooking if you open the drawer to take a peek.
Best (less expensive) basket air fryer
Multifunctional | 3L | 8.7 x 10 x 10.6 cm
This Tower fryer is a more affordable option. I heard about Tower air fryers most when I conducted a straw poll among my friends, including Beth Hendry, founder of ethically sourced dog accessory brand Milgi, who cooked a lamb shoulder in hers in under 20 minutes. I also saw one used by TikTok creator Holly B Fitness. The Tower is more basic than the Ninja (a manual dial rather than a digital interface, for example), but it has more than 8,000 reviews, 73 percent of which are five-star. The smallish capacity could still make enough extra-crispy chips for a family of four, one parent said, while another said since buying it six months ago they hadn’t used their oven once. It preheats almost instantly, ideal if you’re time-poor. One potential snag: As a cheaper model, the nonstick coating came up several times as wearing through after excessive use or poor care was taken when cleaning it, so make sure to look after it.
Best pressure cooker combo air fryer
Multifunctional | 5.7L | 13.6 x 13.6 x 14 cm
Courtney Kassel, Sifted newsletter co-founder, says she converted to this model after moving in with her friend. “In our apartment, using the oven takes more effort than a simple switch and can often be unreliable both in preheating time and temperature. Our trusty air fryer, however, preheats in minutes, and I’d argue outperforms the oven for [most] tasks.” It has 11 preset functions and is the only one here with a pressure cooker mode. Customers said the large volume (and the fryer basket’s high walls) meant cooking an entire bag of oven chips was a breeze, while the chef-y sous vide function (which cooks sealed food in a bath of perfect-temperature water) was highly recommended by customers. In fact, one reviewer, an ex-chef at a Hilton hotel, said he could sous vide a steak so easily he got rid of his expensive sous vide machine in favour of using his Instant Pot.
Best large air fryer
Multifunctional | 8L | 14.8 x 13.6 x 14 cm
The same Instant Pot also comes in an 8L capacity option, one of the biggest we’ve seen in a basket model. This is largely due to the fact it’s also a pressure cooker, but given how well reviewed the air fryer functionality is, we think this is the best option if you’re feeding a massive group. It has just over 2,000 reviews, and 80 percent of them awarded this five stars.
Best two-drawer air fryer
Multifunctional | 7.6L (two 3.8L baskets) | 35 x 37.5 x 31.5 cm
Double air fryers come in when you want to cook food at different temperatures or for different times — say, when you’re entertaining. This Ninja one edged ahead thanks to its hugely positive reviews (an impressive 90 percent of which were five-star). Customers praised the dual functionality, with many flagging that it works a treat when you’re cooking the various parts of a roast dinner.
• Rebecca Abbott, Air Frying Foodie co-founder
• Ally Farrell, TV development producer at Whisper
• Beth Hendry, founder of dog accessory brand Milgi
• Courtney Kassel, co-founder and co-writer of the newsletter Sifted
• Ben Mims, Los Angles Times cooking columnist and author
• Jenny Tschiesche, founder of Lunchbox Doctor
• Jennifer West, Air Frying Foodie co-founder
• Alyse Whitney, food editor and writer
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