Cooking potatoes and carrot sticks with spices in an air fryer

Cooking potatoes and carrot sticks with spices in an air fryer. (© Francisco Zeledon - stock.adobe.com)

If you haven’t jumped on the air-fryer bandwagon yet, it’s never too late, especially if you’re trying to eat healthier. These appliances promise to deliver the golden crispiness of deep-fried favorites while using a fraction of the oil, cutting down on fats without compromising taste. With so many options saturating the market, each boasting different features, sizes, and technologies, selecting the best air fryer can feel daunting. But we’re here to help you identify the perfect model for your lifestyle. Whether you’re a busy parent searching for quick, healthy meals or a gourmet aficionado aspiring to experiment with air-fried delicacies, join us as we explore the top contenders that stand out.

Air fryers work by circulating hot air around food placed in a basket, creating a convection effect that cooks and crisps up the food’s exterior, akin to the crunchy texture traditionally achieved by submerging in hot oil. This method not only significantly reduces the calorie and fat content of the cooked food but also cuts down on the preparation and cooking time. Health professionals emphasize the benefits of a low-fat diet for maintaining overall well-being, and air fryers fit the bill perfectly.

Backing this notion, recent research has illuminated a clear linkage between fried food consumption and an uptick in heart-related health issues. The study’s alarming statistics revealed incremental risks associated with regular intake of fried foods — with every four-ounce increase in fried food consumption, the probability of cardiovascular incidents, coronary heart disease, and heart failure climbs by three, two, and 12 percent, respectively. These stark figures highlight why the switch to air frying has become more and more popular.

Choosing a quality air fryer:

  • Capacity: Air fryers come in a variety of capacities, from two to 10 quarts or more. Choose an air fryer with a capacity that is large enough for your needs. If you have a large family or frequently cook for guests, you may want to choose an air fryer with a larger capacity.
  • Power: Air fryers also vary in power, from 800 watts to 1800 watts or more. Choose an air fryer with enough power to cook your food evenly and quickly.
  • Features: Some air fryers offer additional features, such as pre-programmed settings, digital displays, and timers. Consider which features are important to you and choose an air fryer that has them.
  • Price: Air fryers range in price from around $50 to $200 or more. Set a budget before you start shopping and choose an air fryer that fits your budget.

Air fryers can range in price from around cheap to several hundred dollars. More expensive models often have additional features, but a higher price doesn’t always guarantee better performance, so consider your budget and needs. Which are the best air fryers? We’ve done the research and have the answer. Did we miss one you love? Let us know in the comments below.

French fries in an air fryer
French fries in an air fryer (Photo 234068332 | Air Fryer © Yulianny | Dreamstime.com)

List: Best Air Fryers, According to Experts

 

“Even factoring in the time it takes to preheat, the Instant Vortex Plus cooked food the fastest in all of our tests, including producing evenly cooked hand-cut fries in just 14 minutes,” according to Insider. “Best of all, it did a good job of making moist and evenly cooked broccoli and frozen fries.”

“For something that looks nice and fits neatly on the countertop, this 5-quart Cosori air fryer is the best budget air fryer pick,” according to Food & Wine. “It gave excellent results for performance at a lower price than any 4- to 6-quart models we tested. We found it surprisingly roomy for a 5-quart, which is a pleasant surprise for any air fryer basket. It has a pre-heat cycle which can make it more efficient at quickly crisping foods (the fries, wings, and shrimp fared well). It has a bright, easy-to-use display and comes clean with no extra effort. The temperature and time are also easily adjustable down to the minute, which other air fryers lack in precision.”

Cosori Pro LE 5-Quart Air Fryer
Cosori Pro LE 5-Quart Air Fryer

“A top performer in all our cooking tests, it boasts extremely easy controls, with precise temperature settings, a cool-touch basket handle, and even a customizable ‘shake reminder’ to ensure you periodically give your food a little agitation to ensure even doneness,” writes The Spruce Eats. “It has a really nice, compact, sleek, and—most importantly—safe design.” 

Tech Radar says, “This 5-quart budget option produces crisp results. It’s better than other cheap air fryers, but it still requires some experimentation.”

3. Ninja Foodi 8-Quart DualZone Air Fryer

This gets the thumbs up for the best dual basket machine from Food Network. The website says, “Take advantage of Foodi’s Smart Finish feature: finish two different foods cooking at different times and temps at the same time — think chicken breasts and French fries (they did great in our tests). Or the Match Cook setting for larger amounts of the same food or cook different foods using the same function, temperature, and time. The Foodi also dehydrates in addition to broil, bake, and roast.”

Ninja Foodi 8-Quart DualZone Air Fryer
Ninja Foodi 8-Quart DualZone Air Fryer

Insider writes, “The Ninja Foodi DualZone is like having two full-size air fryers in your kitchen. It features two 5-quart air fryer baskets that you can program to heat independently or for the same time and temp. A ‘smart finish’ function ensures both baskets finish cooking simultaneously if you’re cooking two different types of food. Most importantly, the Ninja Foodi DualZone cooks food evenly without drying out the food. While it was one of the slowest units preparing frozen fries, it quickly produced delicious broccoli and hand-cut fries.”

“Whether you’re feeding a family or batch-cooking for one, this Ninja air fryer is the perfect meal prep companion,” writes Eating Well. “Its dual-zone cooking lets you cook multiple servings of food at once, so you can save time and skip working in batches. However, this convenience might come with a bit of a learning curve: You may need to experiment with cooking different types of foods (like your main dish and sides) that require different temperatures and cooking times in order for them to be ready at the same time.”

4. Ninja AF101 4-Quart Air Fryer

This small air fryer from Ninja “outperformed every other air fryer” according to Food & Wine. “Ninja’s 4-quart tool came through swinging for the fences, with near-perfect cooking results on garlic, wings, shrimp, biscuits, and of course, fries. It’s perfectly nonstick for cleanup, quiet while running, and, thanks to the compact footprint, it’s easy to store. Though the settings are simpler than some advanced models, it does the trick for every classic air fryer function.”

Ninja AF101 4-Quart Air Fryer
Ninja AF101 4-Quart Air Fryer
Food Network says, “This model is sturdy, compact, and feels like it’s made of quality materials, a boon when a lot of air fryer models can feel like they’re made of flimsy plastic that gets too hot to touch. At four quarts, this model is the ideal size for cooking for two people, and cooked all the foods we tested to a beautiful golden brown with a crisp texture. Its handy, multi-function display gives it a more functional appearance than that of a futuristic robot.”
“This Ninja model performed beautifully in a range of cooking tests and really impressed us with its ease of use and cleaning,” states The Spruce Eats. “It had no trouble making deliciously crispy french fries, wings, and shrimp, with a basket and crisper plate that go right in the dishwasher after cooking. Its wings were probably the best in all of our testing, with crisp, golden-brown skin and a juicy, evenly cooked interior. The controls couldn’t be simpler, and we definitely didn’t need to consult the manual before getting started.”

5. Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer

Bon Appetit calls this the best overall toaster oven-style air fryer and you will pay a premium for it to grace your counter. The magazine says, “As mentioned, this is an all-in-one air fryer and regular toaster oven, so if you’d like to make crispy sesame-coconut chicken tenders and cook a whole bird in the same appliance, this is one to consider. The air fry mode activates the ‘super convection’ fan setting, which hits your sweet potato wedges with rapidly circulating air. The Breville is roomy and front-loading, making it easy to cook large items. And the window means you can watch food as it cooks so you don’t have to open the oven to check that dinner isn’t burning, letting precious heat out in the process.”

Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer
Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer

“For families who are serious about investing in a multi-use tool that can handle dozens of functions and be on permanent display on the countertop, the Breville is the best choice,” writes Food & Wine. “Though the brand name precedes it for premium kitchen tools, this smart oven still impressed us amongst the tight competition in the toaster oven category overall. It’ll take on complicated convection needs like chicken wings or French fries just as easily as simple tasks like toast.”

The Spruce Eats says, “This oven might be pricey, but it does a great job as a toaster, broiler, dehydrator, and pizza oven in addition to air fryer. It offers a huge capacity: It can fit nine slices of bread, a 13-inch pizza, or nearly an entire bag of frozen french fries. (It helpfully comes with custom-sized pizza and baking pans along with its large air-fry basket and oven racks.) The controls are simple to use, with a light-up display and simple dial to control the time, as well as a large-type display that’s easy to read, even from across the room.”

6. Instant Pot Duo Crisp

“Air fryers often get a bad rap for being uni-taskers, but Instant Pot has bucked the trend by adding air fryer functionality to its already quite versatile multicookers,” writes Insider. “The Duo Crisp comes with two separate lids — a traditional Instant Pot lid you’ll use for all your pressure and slow cooking and another equipped with an electric heating coil and fan that you’ll use for air frying, broiling, dehydrating, and more.”

Instant Pot Duo Crisp
Instant Pot Duo Crisp

This is an Amazon bestseller and Bon Appetit states, “It comes with two lids: one for pressure cooking and one for air frying. You can switch between them with ease while saving room in your cupboard (or on your counter) since you only need one appliance to handle it all.”

The Spruce Eats reports, “We’re big fans of the Instant Pot company for its popular line of electric pressure cookers, so our expectations for its air fryer were admittedly high. This multipurpose appliance nonetheless managed to exceed them. It combines the features of a standard air fryer with the functionality of a countertop oven, plus a rotating rotisserie. As a standard air fryer, the Instant Vortex was able to cook very evenly despite its large capacity, doing a fantastic job with everything we threw at it.”

7. Ninja Air Fryer Max XL

The third Ninja air fryer to make our list rounds out the Top 7. Bon Appetit says, “If you don’t have a lot of countertop space to spare, you usually cook in small batches, or you just want a compact air fryer, go for the basket-style variety. The average basket-style air fryer is ideal for serving two people. It has intuitive cooking functions that make it easy to use.”

Ninja Air Fryer Max XL
Ninja Air Fryer Max XL

Executive chef Damon Daye told Forbes, “The single most important aspect of an air fryer is to circulate air quickly to turn out crispy, crunchy foods.” He says “The Ninja Air Fryer Max XL, my top pick, did that with ease. The key? It heats up quickly and circulates air efficiently so that my food was uniformly fried or crisped every time. During my hands-on testing, I made tender yet crunchy chicken wings, golden and crispy fries, and perfectly soft chocolate chip cookies. The wider temperature range—and the ability to reach 450 degrees—helps this product yield supremely crispy foods with more precision, compared to other air fryers. I’ve used this machine weekly for six months—it still provides the same consistently crispy results that it did when I first took it out of the box.”

Good Housekeeping writes, “It scored the highest marks across the board for ease of use, thanks to its intuitive, easy-to-read buttons and clear and useful owner’s manual. During our tests, the air fryer basket slid in and out easily, which made handling a breeze. We’re fans of the basket’s slick, ceramic nonstick interior, and we like that the removable tray fits snugly and securely in the bottom of the basket so you don’t have to worry about it falling out when you turn the food out onto a plate. Both the basket and tray are dishwasher safe and easy to clean, even if you choose to hand wash.”

Tips for Using Your Air Fryer

Here are a few tips for using your air fryer:

  • Preheat your air fryer: This will help your food cook evenly and quickly.
  • Cut your food into evenly sized pieces.
  • Don’t overcrowd the basket.
  • Shake or toss your food halfway through cooking: This will help it cook evenly and prevent it from sticking to the basket.
  • Add oil sparingly: Air fryers use little to no oil, so you don’t need to add much oil to your food.

By following these tips, you can get the most out of your air fryer and enjoy delicious, healthy meals.

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Sources:

Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

About Amy Chodroff

Amy Chodroff is a recovering Morning Radio Show Host and award-winning broadcaster who recently retired from DFW’s Morning News on KLIF in Dallas. Fondly known as the “Chief Googler” by her friends, it was a seamless transition for StudyFinds to enlist her expertise for their “Best of the Best” franchise. Amy has an innate curiosity and a penchant for thorough research before any purchase and she’s constantly on the hunt for top-notch products. Outside of her digital explorations, Amy loves to explore the world with her husband and is the proud mother of two adult daughters. You can also find Amy on the pickleball court, perfecting her dink and drop shots.

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1 Comment

  1. lu says:

    Every single source shown here has been influenced by advertising. Plus, not all were tested by every source. Try Consumer Reports to get a more accurate story.