Foods like french fries and fried chicken sure are delicious, but with all the extra calories and oils, they aren’t very good for you. Instead of going to McDonalds or KFC, there’s a cooking gadget you can use to get delicious and crunchy foods with just a fraction of the calories. What is this magical device? It’s an air fryer, and when used correctly, it can mimic the effects of deep frying while only using just a little bit of oil.
You still get that crispy, golden exterior and the soft, fluffy center. We should stress that you shouldn’t expect the exact same results as you would get using a deep fryer, as an air fryer does not actually “fry” anything. It cooks your food with electric heat that’s circulated by powerful fans, and that hot air helps get the surface of the food dry and crispy while keeping the inside moist. Some air fryers include other features and functions too. You might see an air fryer that also has a dehydrating function or a convection feature, for instance. If you’re in the market to try an air fryer as a calorie-saving alternative to traditional frying, we’ve rounded up the best air fryers on the market. If you’re looking for the best convection ovens, you can check out our list of the best of those appliances as well.
Breville Smart Oven Air ($399)
The Breville Smart Oven Air does everything from toasting to dehydrating to air-frying, and anyone without a lot of counter space to spare can get this one appliance that performs the tasks of many.
With 13 cooking functions, this gadget can do just about everything you’d want to do in the kitchen. It can accommodate nine slices of bread and toast them to a golden crisp. It can cook a 13-inch pizza or 12 muffins in a tray. It can even roast up a 14-pound turkey (Thanksgiving, we’re looking at you). When it comes to air-frying, the device offers two different fan speeds, an easy-to-program timer, and preset functions for different foods. The high heat maximizes airflow, so your “fried” foods are perfectly crispy. This one appliance can single-handedly replace your toaster, dehydrator, slow cooker, and maybe even your regular oven.
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The Philips Avance Collection Digital Turbostar Airfryer is a solid option for anyone looking to try air-frying for the first time.
This foolproof air fryer is much more user-friendly than most models, thanks to its digital display, programmable timer, and intuitive interface. This appliance is also good at what it does — it cooks fried foods 50 percent more evenly than other brands. You’ll likely experience some trial and error when cooking air-fried foods for the first time, but the four presets for popular dishes will help start you out on the right foot. The air fryer also comes with a recipe book and app that includes hundreds of recipes to choose from.
If you want a more inexpensive option, Philips Viva TurboStar AirFryer is similar to the Digital model, however it has a different display, less bells and whistles, and it starts at $160.
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Not a fan of digital displays and touchscreens? This air fryer keeps it old-school in the best way, and is perfect for those who prefer manual controls and a traditional vibe.
The Cuisinart Convection Toaster Oven Air Fryer is a simple option for those who just can’t stand digital displays, touchscreens, and other modern shenanigans. It has 1800 watts of power for fast heating, and it’s extremely quiet. The controls are easy to use, and the seven preset functions make this a versatile addition to your kitchen counter space. Whether you’re frying some chicken, roasting a turkey, or cooking up some asparagus, this Cuisinart toaster oven and air fryer has you covered in one convenient package.
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Looking to dip your toe into the world of air-frying without making a dent in the wallet? This is for you. The Gowise Electric Air Fryer delivers effective air-frying for a lower price than most brands.
For the price, this device air-fries foods very well. Accommodating a maximum of 3.7 quarts, it has a smaller capacity than most. The basket is removable and easy to clean, and the user-friendly touchscreen offers preset programs for your favorite recipes. Now you can try air-frying without spending an arm and a leg.
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T-Fal Actifry Airfryer ($151)
Oprah named it one of the best gifts for college students in 2016. Need we say more? This device is perfect for those who are looking for that perfect french fry crisp without excess oil.
The T-Fal Actifry Airfryer is a standout option that will air-fry foods perfectly without breaking the bank. The most unique aspect of its design is a rotating “arm” that moves the food around inside the fryer while it’s cooking, which ensures all sides get equal exposure to the hot air and equal crispiness. While some users may see this as a pro, others will find that the arm ends up mangling more delicate foods, such as fish.
The secure lid guarantees you won’t splatter oil everywhere, and the filter ensures your kitchen isn’t left with odor for days. Plus, the ceramic-coated nonstick pan is removable and easy to clean. The relatively lower price point and the efficacy of the appliance make it a great gift option.
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If you want to save counter space or money by getting two appliances in one, this pressure cooker from Ninja doubles as an air fryer. You can pressure cook a rotisserie style chicken, and then crisp it afterward in the same device.
The TenderCrisp function cooks foods quickly, giving you the option of whipping up creations with a perfectly crispy, wonderfully golden finish that will make you forget you’re actually eating a healthier version of your favorite fried snacks. The 6.5-quart pot is a good size for pressure cooking, while the 4-quart one is perfect for air-frying. Both are ceramic-coated and nonstick. Because this appliance does double duty, you can start off with the pressure cooker function to seal in those savory juices, then finish it off with a golden-brown crisp. Plus, you can also steam, roast, and broil foods — talk about a multipurpose kitchen tool.
The Ninja Foodi has a few different model and price options. The main difference between the models is that some of the pricier models have a dehydrate function for making recipes like beef jerky, while lower-priced models like the OP300 don’t include a dehydrate function. Check out our full review of the Ninja Foodi here.