Buying Guide

Best Air Fryers

Compact Air Fryers
A white compact air fryer sits on a kitchen counter near salad ingredients.
  • Compact air fryers generally provide enough food for one or two people. The size of the basket usually indicates the capacity of a unit, with smaller air fryers usually making a maximum of eight cups (or two liters) of food. 
  • Compact air fryers take up less counter space than standard models, but many do not have digital controls. 
  • Some compact models are designed to be tall and narrow to fit into particular cabinets or countertops. 
High-Capacity Air Fryers
A whole chicken cooks rotisserie style in a large air fryer on a kitchen counter.
  • High-capacity air fryers are more spacious and have baskets that can accommodate five to more than 12 quarts of food. The largest are often referred to as “air fryer ovens.” 
  • They are the best air fryers for families who need larger meals or people who entertain more often or want to cook larger items like chickens, turkeys or pizza. 
  • Baskets have two or three levels for keeping food items separate while cooking. 
  • Potential cons of high-capacity air fryers is that they tend to be more expensive, harder to clean and take up more counter space. 
Paddle-Type Air Fryers
French fries sit in a paddle-type air fryer on a counter alongside fried chicken and vegetables.
  • Many air fryers come with baskets that must be removed so the food can be stirred during preparation. Paddle-type air fryers, however, require less attention. 
  • These self-stirring air fryers include a rotating paddle that turns the food to ensure that its evenly cooked, as opposed to undercooking one side and overcooking the other. 
  • They tend to be more expensive than basket air fryers. 
Digital Air Fryers
An air fryer with a digital screen sits on a counter next to salmon filets, steak fries and corn on the cob.
  • Digital air fryers offer the option of more exact time and temperature settings compared to analog controls. 
  • Some digital air fryers have LED displays and touch screen settings. 
  • A memory feature can recall the previous settings to cook the same kind of item twice at the touch of a button.
Best Combination Air Fryers
A combination air dryer/toaster oven sits on a counter next to sweet potato fries.
  • Air fryer/toaster oven combinations are designed to add the flexibility of toaster ovens to the functionality of air fryers. 
  • Air fryer/pressure cooker combinations, similarly, can cook crispy “air fried” items as well as flavorful stews, pastas, rice dishes and more fairly quickly in the traditional style of pressure cookers.
  • Combination models can be more bulky and expensive than either appliance individually, but take up less space on a countertop than two.
Air Fryers vs. Convection Ovens
A photo on the left shows an air fryer and a photo on the right shows a convection oven.

Air fryers operate in a similar way to traditional convection ovens for comparable results. 

  • Convection ovens have higher capacity and are better for larger families or people who frequently cook for larger groups. They take more time to preheat and thus use more energy. Also, they often take up more space and are harder to clean.
  • Air fryers tend to be more compact and efficient for one or two people. They cook more quickly and some users find that they are better than convection ovens at preparing frozen foods and breaded foods such as jalapeño poppers, chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks. They also tend to be more gentle on baked goods such as soufflés, take up less space and are easier to clean. 
Special Features
An air fryer with multiple shelves for pizza and other foods sits on a counter next to bowls of fries and vegetables.

Look for air fryers that have these key features that may meet your needs and preferences. 

  • Accessories such as pizza racks, baking pans and drip trays. 
  • Timers with preset options and automatic shutoff. 
  • Multi-level baskets for air-frying two or more items simultaneously, such as fish and chips. 
  • Interior light to more easily monitor the cooking progress. 
  • Sleek designs and choice of colors to match your kitchen. 
  • Removable, dishwasher safe parts for easy cleaning.
  • No-slip feet. 

Tip: Most air fryers have a non-stick coating, but still need to be seasoned to ensure that food is unlikely to stick.

Of the types of food cookers, the best air fryers for your home offer quick and easy ways to prepare fried chicken and other favorite foods that would be traditionally deep fried. Some users find that the flavors of air-fried foods more closely resemble oven cooking than deep frying, but top air fryers offer significant advantages in saving time, using less oil, reducing clean-up and taking up less space in your kitchen.