Air fryers are a fast and effortless method to create crispy, crunchy fried foods at home. If you’re managing your weight, you can whip up meals without the mess or avoid the added calories of cooking with oil. After weeks of testing top standards by cooking chicken wings, frying french fries, and baking cookies, the Ninja Air Fryer Max XL emerged as the best air fryer. The Instant Vortex 6-quart Air Fryer is a terrific deal for a more affordable product that can yet produce excellent results. (For additional information, see my in-depth reviews of the Ninja Air Fryer Max XL and Instant Vortex 6-quart Air Fryer).
The Best Air Fryers
- Best Air Fryer Overall: Ninja Air Fryer Max XL
- Best Value Air Fryer: Instant Vortex 6-Quart Air Fryer
- Best Smart Air Fryer Oven: Breville Joule Oven Air Fryer Pro
Other Air Fryers To Consider
- For A Compact Air Fryer: DASH Tasti-Crisp
- For Big Families: Philips Air Fryer XXL
- For Bakers: Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven
- For Small Kitchens: Ninja Foodi Dual Heat 13-In-1 Flip Away Oven
Air fryers are a convenient countertop device that may add versatility to your weekly menu. They use a fan to circulate air over foods to crisp, brown, or roast them, similar to a convection oven. As a professional chef and mother of a one-year-old, I understand that counter space is valuable, and most busy kitchens don’t have enough for another small-scale appliance. If you add another gadget to the mix, it should be functional, efficient, and versatile. Continue reading to discover why these air fryers are worthwhile investments.
1. Ninja Air Fryer Max XL
$150$170Save $20 (12%)
Style: Basket | Capacity: 5.5 quarts | Maximum Temperature: 450 degrees | Warranty: 1-year | Cooking Functions: 7
- A variety of cooking projects in one easy-to-use machine
- Quick, even frying
- Deep-fried texture without the mess of cooking with oil
- You have low cabinets
The Ninja Air Fryer Max XL is my top selection for a multifunctional air fryer that is sleek, efficient, and easy to operate. According to Chef Damon Daye, the most important component of an air fryer is to circulate air swiftly to turn out crispy, crunchy foods, which this one did with ease. This convenient cooker warms up quickly and circulates air efficiently, leaving me with uniformly fried or crisp food every time. During my hands-on testing, this air fryer produced the most tender yet crunchy chicken wings, golden and crispy fries, and moist chocolate chip cookies among all competitors. Compared to competing air fryers, I found that having a larger temperature range—and the potential to reach 450 degrees—helps this product deliver supremely crispy foods with greater precision. After six months of weekly use, this machine still produces the same dependably crispy results as when I initially got it out of the box.
Testing foods like fries, wings, and cookies yielded crispy, consistent results from the Ninja.
Despite being smaller than other fryers I tested, this air fryer can boil batches of recipes and fried foods. The cooker’s body can accommodate 5.5 quarts of food, which equates to around 3 pounds of french fries or chicken wings (in testing, I could cook a bag of fries and wings, which should feed a few people). The Ninja is fantastic for everyday purposes like roasting veggies, reheating leftovers, or reviving soggy takeout. Still, it’s also good for whipping up game-day snacks or canapés on special occasions. After months of testing, I relied on it to turn my soggy leftovers into tasty, crispy second-day dinners.
Compared to other air fryers I tested, the Ninja’s design makes it easier to use and clean. The basket easily lifts out, including a perforated rack to allow air to circulate beneath the food. When it arrives to cleaning, I love that the Ninja’s basket is dishwasher-safe, but I also found this oven to be incredibly easy to clean by hand—thanks to the nonstick coating on the fryer’s surface. Use a paper towel to wipe away any grease or drippings, or wash with soap and water. Avoid using metal utensils; silicone is better for keeping nonstick cookware.
This air fryer is over 15 inches taller than some of the other ovens I tested, so keep that in mind if you have low-lying cabinets. I was okay with keeping this on my stand for six months of testing, and I’ve started using it to cook things I’d generally rely on my ordinary oven for, such as chicken thighs or roasted broccoli.
This air fryer has a 1-year limited warranty and a 60-day money-back guarantee. Ninja sells additional accessories separately, such as a multi-layer insert that allows you to dehydrate two layers of food simultaneously. Read my Ninja Air Fryer Max XL review for more information.
2. Instant Vortex 6-quart Air Fryer
$80$120Save $40 (33%)
Style: Basket | Capacity: 6 quarts | Maximum temperature: 400 degrees | Warranty: 1-year | Functions: 4
- Simple frying projects
- Cooking an entire chicken
- Bringing soggy leftovers back to life
- You want a multifunctional gadget with lots of extra bells and whistles
If you’re searching for a large, efficient, and functional air fryer at an affordable price, the Instant Vortex 6-quart Air Fryer is an excellent choice. At a lesser cost, the machine delivered results similar to the Ninja. The air fryer produced crispy chicken and fries, while the baker produced moist, chewy cookies. The basket holds more food than the Ninja, measuring 12.36 inches wide and holding up to 6 quarts, compared to the Ninja’s 5.5-quart capacity. It also has a few handy features that make it stand out: it beeps when it’s finished preheating and again at a midway point so you can turn, shake, or shuffle foods for more even cooking. Thanks to the basket’s illumination, you can conveniently view what’s going on inside the oven without having to open the door. I had just learned how much I missed the light-up feature in my other devices when I got one, and I’ve since come to rely on it as a quick, easy method to assess the state of my cooking project.
Many other machines I tested had a few extra functions that most chefs will not use. The Instant Vortex, on the other hand, eliminates noise by focusing on four primary functions. I mostly used four functions on all machines, so I love that this machine keeps things simple with only a few key functions. It’s a convenient machine with a more straightforward control panel than some of its competitors, allowing you to select from four distinct presets effortlessly. The control panel features a digital screen with easy-to-read push buttons for each function and a dial for manually adjusting the time or temperature. If you want to cook more food at a time, it’s also larger than the Ninja.
In our tests, the Instant Vortex produced crispy, crunchy foods.
This is an excellent option for home cooks, but a machine with a higher temperature range may be beneficial if you want more exact temperature control to make super-crispy foods. I have yet to find a project that the machine can’t handle throughout my testing, and the 400-degree temperature limit is perfect for my home cooking ventures. It arrives with a one-year limited guarantee, and replacement parts or accessories, such as a wire rack and pizza pan set, are available separately. Read my in-depth Instant Vortex 6-Quart Air Fryer review for additional information on this air fryer.
3. Breville Joule Oven Air Fryer Pro
Style: Oven | Capacity: 21.5 inches wide, 17.3 inches deep | Maximum Temperature: 480 degrees | Warranty: 2-year | Functions: 13
- An automated cooking experience via the Joule app
- Replacing multiple countertop gadgets like a toaster, pizza oven and air fryer.
- Making crispy pizza thanks to the higher temperature range.
- Storage or countertop space is limited
Everybody, no matter how much they love cooking, has days when they wish they could set dinner on autopilot. You can now, thanks to Breville’s fully automated oven, the Joule Oven Pro. With 13 preset cooking functions that can all be managed by the Breville Joule app, this toaster oven-rest air fryer style stands apart from the rest. Once you push the start button, the oven will seamlessly manage the cooking functions, time, and temperature to cook your meal, depending on your chosen recipe. So far, I’ve tested at least ten of Breville’s recipes, and they’re all easy to understand and whip up. During my six months of testing, I’ve come to rely on the automated cooking option to make flawlessly cooked dinners without having to stand over an oven.
Other Top Air Fryers To Consider
4. Dash Tasti-Crisp Air Fryer
$50$60Save $10 (17%)
I loved how straightforward this product is. It could readily fry wings and fries but couldn’t bake cookies without burning the edges. I left it off our list owing to its lack of versatility and small size (2.6-quart capacity). However, try this choice if you’re cooking for one or two people and want something affordable that air fries beautifully. You won’t mind leaving it on your countertop because it comes in hand full of stylish hues.
5. Philips Premium Airfryer XXL
$180$350Save $170 (49%)
This excellent fryer produces crispy chicken wings, golden fries, and nicely baked cookies. Furthermore, with a 7-quart (or 3-pound) capacity, this model qualifies as an “XXL.”It narrowly missed making the top three, but it is less convenient than some other fryers. It takes up much more countertop space, and the control panel could be more complex. Editor’s note: This model is discontinued according to the Phillips website. However, it is still available on Amazon.
6. Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven
This oven impressed me with its baking capabilities but didn’t stand up to the rest of my tests as a specialized air fryer. It’s a versatile and functional toaster oven, and its design means you can cook a wider variety of food styles. If you’re searching for a fryer that can produce the same crispy, crunchy results as a deep fryer, I wouldn’t recommend it.
7. Ninja Foodi 13-in-1 Dual Heat Air Fry Oven & Countertop Oven
$288$300Save $12 (4%) With Coupon
The mobility and convenience of this toaster oven that flips away when not in use are unrivaled. Although I was pleased to observe that the cookies cooked flawlessly, they did not match the version of the other air fryers when frying items such as wings or fries. I noticed that the tops of the wings and fries were crisp, but the bottoms were a little soggy. As a result, I would recommend something other than it as a sole frying option.
One Tested Air Fryer I Don’t Recommend
Cosori Air Fryer Max XL: This oven produced excellent results but is more challenging to use than others. It was noisy when running, and I found the drawer’s button needing to be clearer and clearer. The chicken and fries were cooked nicely. However, the cookies were burned and blackened on the outside. Given its typical price and capacity, our list has better, comparable options, such as the Ninja Air Fryer Max XL and the Instant Vortex 6-quart Air Fryer.
How I Tested The Best Air Fryers
Like any other kitchen gadget, the greatest air fryer should be convenient, easy to use, and straightforward to store. Before testing any of these goods, I evaluated aesthetic elements such as how much space each development takes up on the countertop, how easy they are to store, and how difficult they are to set up. I observed the control panel and noted how simple or complicated the controls are for a novice.
I put each air fryer to work to test its basic functionality. I fried frozen french fries to test the air frying ability with dry food and only a little cooking spray. To test the ease of air frying with oily, fatty food, I fried chicken wings to check how each oven would handle dripping juices to ensure they didn’t produce any smoke. To put my culinary skills to the test, I cooked chocolate chip cookies and brownies. I observed how uniformly the treats were roasted throughout, ensuring they weren’t too crispy or blackened on the exterior.
I used the same temperature settings and timeframe in my cooking tests to ensure uniformity… Make cookies, fries, and wings.
I used the same temperature and time with each product for each recipe to preserve consistency; then, I evaluated the finished products. French fries and chicken wings should be golden and crispy through the basket, with tender, moist insides. At the end of the cooking procedure, I kept the color and texture of each food. Finally, I evaluated how easy cleaning each basket or tray in a regular sink was.
I tested each of these products on a weekly basis for six months to see if they stood up to the test of time. I’m happy to report that each machine still works as well as it did when I first took it out of the box, reinforcing my belief in each product’s capacity as a functional, efficient cooking gadget.
How To Pick An Air Fryer
Air fryers operate similarly to convection ovens in terms of how they work. A fan system circulates air quickly around the oven, allowing food to attain the crispy, crunchy quality that fryers are known for. According to Weinstein and Scarborough, “an air fryer is not a ‘fryer.’ It’s a hot-air dehydrator.” It uses extremely hot air currents to dry out coatings till they’re impossibly crispy with very little (or no) additional oil (or occasionally none at all).”
Most air fryers have a basket or wire rack that places food above the base, allowing air to circulate the bottom and create a 360-degree heat flow. Over email, Weinstein and Scarborough gave tips for shopping for an air fryer. “Look for a well-built machine,” they advised. “More metal means more stability, durability, and longevity.” Metal air fryers retain heat better, last longer, and work more efficiently. A cheap plastic one, not so much.” Here are some things to think about while shopping for an air fryer.
There are two styles of air fryers to choose from: basket-style and toaster oven-style.
Basket-style air fryers resemble deep fryers in that food is placed on a rack, and air flows from all sides to cook the food. Basket-style air fryers have handles, making them easy to open and shake or turn food with one hand. This style is ideal for frying chicken wings, french fries, crispy Brussels sprouts, and handmade tortilla chips. This style uses air that quickly circulates throughout the basket to cook food from all sides. While most basket-style air fryers can bake, the results aren’t necessarily as consistent as with a toaster oven. That means basket-style air fryers aren’t as versatile as toaster oven-style air fryers, which can cook pizzas, bagels, and toast—they’re cookers that efficiently circulate air to generate crispy, crunchy results.
Toaster oven-style fryers feature a variety of functions, including the ability to bake, roast, dehydrate, toast, and more. Food is placed on sheet trays or wire racks that slide into the oven horizontally. Like a regular oven, heat is generated from the bottom. These air fryers are an excellent choice for buyers searching for a multipurpose appliance that can do a lot of various duties.
Versatility Some air fryers can bake, roast, dehydrate, and toast foods, while others simply air fry. While multifunctional cookers can help you save space and money, they don’t necessarily have the crisping power of a dedicated air fryer. Evaluate what you’ll use the product for before selecting it. “Learning about the air fryer’s settings will help you make a better decision,” added Daye. “Perhaps the most important decision is whether you want an air fryer that only does one thing or many things.” Some are simply air fryers, while others feature broil, dehydrate, proof, and other settings,” he continued.
If you want a streamlined and simple machine, choose an air fryer with a simple control panel that does not do many other functions. A versatile product is your best bet to tackle various cooking jobs with one convenient machine.
When adding a new gadget to your kitchen, evaluating the product’s size and your available storage space is important. “Although an air fryer is a small countertop appliance, height is still the most important factor you must consider,” stated Weinstein and Scarborough. Buying the largest machine you can easily handle or store.” Having a bigger machine will allow you to cook more food at once. It’s important not to overcrowd a fryer, whether an air fryer or a deep fryer. Thus, a wider cooking basket will help space out foods, resulting in more consistent airflow and crispier foods.
To ensure it will fit in the cabinet, evaluate your countertop and cabinet height first. Air fryers come in a combination of shapes and sizes. To ensure they fit smoothly inside your sink, you’ll also need to measure the drawer and any items that need cleaning. Finally, examine the cooking basket’s capacity and how many people you’ll be cooking for regularly. A 5-quart cooking basket is a good size for most modest families.
Whatever type air fryer you choose, remember that airflow is the key to crispy results. That means you should choose an air fryer with the appropriate accessories to allow airflow from all directions. A wire or mesh air fry basket permits food to stand up off the base, allowing air to circulate evenly underneath. If you’re working with a toaster-oven style, ensure the tray has a wire or mesh rack that rests on top of it. This is critical for crispy food not sitting in its grease or fluids. Ensure it comes with a frying basket to keep foods crispy before selecting an air fryer, whether basket style or toaster oven style.
With a Culinary Arts degree from the Institute of Culinary Education and years of knowledge working as a professional chef in restaurants, catering kitchens, and private residences, I’m constantly searching for methods to make my kitchen run more smoothly and efficiently. As a freelance food product judge, I aim to assist other home cooks in doing the same. My professional culinary knowledge allows me to make informed and extensive product suggestions that assist home cooks in running a more efficient household. Because there are so many household gadgets accessible, I choose functional, versatile, and affordable things. My work is in Food & Wine, Real Simple, FoodNetwork.com, Taste of Home, and other publications.
In addition to my six months of hands-on testing, I consulted with specialists Bruce Weinstein, Mark Scarborough, and Damon Daye to find the top air fryers. Weinstein and Scarborough have written nine kitchen gadget books, including The Essential Air Fryer Cookbook and the soon-to-be-released Instant Air Fryer Bible. Damon Daye is the head chef of The Steak Truck, a New York-based food truck, and has worked with air fryers in restaurants, home kitchens, and food trucks.
What Size Air Fryer Do I Need?
A 2 to 3-quart air fryer will suffice for one or two people; for families of three or four, a 5 to 6-quart air fryer would suffice. You can find versions that cook 10 quarts or more food for larger households (and appetites). Also, consider if you’ll be cooking complete meals in your air fryer or simply side dishes—if you want to crisp up a basket of fries for a few people, a somewhat smaller one would be enough.
How Do You Convert A Regular Recipe For Air Frying?
Because air fryers circulate heat quickly, Chef Daye recommends modifying a standard recipe by decreasing the cook time and temperature. “Reduce your cooking time by about 20 to 30 minutes and your temperature by about 25 degrees Fahrenheit,” he advised. You can also get more cooking ideas from recipe blogs or books.
What Are Some Of The Best Foods To Cook In An Air Fryer?
According to Weinstein and Scarborough, frozen food prepared for the oven will be far better when cooked in an air fryer since the quick air flow helps crisp it up, similar to a convection oven. Pour the frozen food into the fryer without letting it defrost for the best results. Also good for bringing stale leftovers back to life are air fryers. The quick air movement provides a crispy, crunchy coating to leftover food while warming it from the inside. Weinstein and Scarborough note that any food that benefits from caramelization will do nicely in an air fryer. “Chicken wings and parsnip fries are a personal favorite,” they stated. “The machine carries out the sweet, caramelized best in both.”
Alternatively, Chef Daye advises avoiding cooking foods with a very wet batter. “When placed in an air fryer, the batter will not immediately set and solidify like it does when deep fried, and thus will make a mess in your air fryer,” he explained.