If eating better is one of your goals for the new year, an air fryer can help — especially if it's your love for fried foods that always seems to be sabotaging your resolution to change your eating habits. These countertop gizmos will take up a bit of space in your kitchen, but really can give you the crisp and crunch that you find irresistible in a piece of Southern fried chicken or even a simple onion ring. However, not all air fryers are created equal. Here are the ones that will satisfy your craving for fries.
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For more than 30 years, I was in charge of testing and reporting on everything from wooden spoons to connected refrigerators at the Good Housekeeping Institute. I've walked the floors of every trade show and read every new product release for longer than most digital publications have existed!
My street cred? I also worked as a chef in New York City restaurants for seven years.
I've tested, used, and played with nearly every piece of kitchen gear (including air fryers) to come on the market for years. When it comes to gear, it takes a lot to impress me, and I know what actually works.
Picked by a Pro. Tested by Real Home Cooks.
I've tested what feels like every air fryer on the market (at all the price points, low to high!) and these are my all-time favorites. But you don't have to take my word and my word alone, either. Kitchn editors — a unique hybrid of professionals and home cooks, who develop and test great recipes in real home kitchens — and real shoppers weighed in on some of these picks too, testing my favorites in the context of their actual home cooking.
After all, when it comes to kitchen gear, what matters is that it works for a home cook — not just that a chef endorses it, or that it passed some high-flying bar in a sterile test kitchen. You want gear that is, above all, practical, long-lasting, and mindful of real cooks, real kitchens, and real budgets.
The Best Air Fryer
Philips Avance Collection XXL Digital Twin TurboStar Air Fryer, $350 at Target
This is the Rolls Royce of air fryers. And just like a luxury car, it doesn't come cheap. But hands down, it's the best and just might be the only one that will truly make you say, "I can't believe this wasn't deep-fried!" During a recent test, I loaded it up with two full bags of frozen waffle fries and every single slice came out golden-brown and crispy without any mushy pieces in the middle or overcooked cardboard-y ones on top. It's also one of the speediest of the genre. It doesn't require the preheating that many air fryers do, yet still cooks up food in the times specified in air fryer recipes. In my kitchen, a whole mess of chicken wings came out crispy without even a drop of oil in just a half-hour. Come Super Bowl, the Philips will be your go-to best friend.
Digital controls make it easy to program and there are even preset times and temperatures for various types of foods like frozen items, poultry, and fish. However, this is a big and heavy appliance (and it's expensive!), so before you click "buy now," be sure you have space for it in your kitchen and that you'll be using it regularly enough to leave it out on your counter (you won't want to be lugging it around too often). To give you lots of ideas as to what to air fry and make it worth the money and space, it comes with a cookbook.
Second opinion: Contributor Danielle Blundell was given a slightly smaller version of this model as a gift and she can't say enough good things about it. "In the summer, the air fryer's a godsend for my small apartment, where turning on the oven really does create a lot of heat. And I have to say that it's better at containing cooking odors as well, which makes a difference when your bedroom is right next to your kitchen."
The Best Air Fryer for Around $100
NuWave Brio 6-Quart Healthy Digital Air Fryer, $130 at Jet
Looking for a family-sized air fryer that won't blow your budget? The NuWave is a close rival to the Philips. It does require preheating, so isn't quite as speedy, and it cooks less evenly, which means you'll want to stop and give the fryer basket a shake more often. With lots of tosses, my Brussels sprouts, coated with just a dash of olive oil, came out delectably crispy — and I found the stray leaves even more irresistible than potato chips.
I love the digital control panel, which has well-defined buttons with large lettering that makes programming completely intuitive. Be prepared to give the NuWave a big chunk of your countertop. But it's not super heavy, so you won't find it difficult to stash away if you don't use it daily or even weekly. And, when this post was edited, Target was offering this guy for a cool $100.
Second opinion: "Wonderful product. Worked as described," says one reviewer. "Purchased for my daughter and granddaughters — all are very ecstatic using it. Would recommend to everybody interested in an air fryer. And even more to those that are skeptical of trying one."
The Best Air Fryer for Small Families
You can jump on the air fryer trend even if there are only two of you in the house, or maybe even one. The cute little Dash holds just a single layer of food at a time. I cooked up small batches of sweet potatoes and broccoli florets and was very pleased with added crunch. In addition to red, white, and black, this air fryer comes in a pretty aqua shade.
Second opinion: "I'm not sure what I love more about this air fryer — the cute design or the goodies that come out of it," says Lisa Freedman, lifestyle director. "If you live alone or are a family of two, there's no need to waste the counter space or money on a larger air fryer. This will get the job done. And it'll look good while doing it."
The Best Multitasking Air Fryer
Black + Decker Large Capacity Air Fry Toaster Oven, $80 at Home Depot
Are your countertops full to the max with appliances and gadgets? Triple up with this toaster/oven/air fryer in one. In addition to an oven shelf for toasting and baking, the Black + Decker comes with a large air frying basket that can hold three pounds of chicken pieces or an entire bag of curly fries. I've found that it makes fried chicken just as good as any restaurant. The machine's biggest drawback? To get the most out of the air frying function, you'll have to do some research, as the manual doesn't include any cooking charts or air frying advice.
Second opinion: "This is one of the best toaster ovens that I've ever had," says one reviewer. "The capacity makes it very versatile and functional. Able to bake a whole chicken or six to eight pieces of toast! We've been using this more than our actual oven ... and it puts a great crisp on whatever is needed with the air frying option."