The air frying craze is here to stay, so it’s time to jump on board and invest in one of the best air fryers. These countertop cookers are capable of so much more than crisp homemade fries, so don’t be fooled into thinking they’re just an alternative to a deep fat fryer. Air fryers can be used to cook up all sorts of delicious foods from grilled cheese sandwiches to roast vegetables and crunchy chicken nuggets.
With many of us striving to cut our household bills, it seems sensible to seek out lower energy cooking appliances. And using an air fryer instead of heating up a huge oven is a sure-fire way to cut down your electricity use. Lots of foods you would usually cook in a traditional oven cook better, and faster in an air fryer and since it’s much smaller it uses less electricity so it's a win-win.
Some air fryers offer multiple cooking functions including bake and dehydrate. But if it’s a true multi-purpose cooker you want, why not take a look at our guide to the best instant pot. The best multi-cookers from brands like Instant and Ninja can air fry, pressure cook, slow cook and much more.
If it’s a budget friendly air fryer you’re after there are still some Black Friday deals available, although they are fairly limited due to lack of stock. Otherwise, read on for our favorite air fryers, including dual drawer and large capacity models, as well as more compact and multi-functional air fryers, no matter what you're looking for, we've got you covered.
The best air fryer 2022: tried and tested
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The brand behind the iconic Instant Pot also makes air fryers, and its top-of-the-range model consistently turned out the crispiest fries and chicken wings of any air fryers we tested. In our testing, the fries had crisp exteriors but soft, fluffy insides, and the chicken was moist, while its skin was crispy and retained loads of flavor.
The Instant Vortex Plus 6-in-1 Air Fryer with ClearCook & OdourErase builds on the previous iteration, the Instant Vortex Plus, with a plastic window in the basket, and a light, that lets you keep an eye on food while it's cooking, and has a built-in filter to reduce smells too.
However, it doesn't come with any cooking charts, which means you will need to spend time experimenting to achieve the right cooking duration and temperature, particularly when it comes to frozen food. We also found the crisper plate falls out if the basket is tipped up too much when removing food, and the display suffers from fingerprint marks. However, these are minor gripes on what is in our eyes, the best air fryer on the market right now.
If you want a budget-friendly air fryer that's as stylish as it is effective, then the Cosori Pro LE Air Fryer L501 is worth considering. Unlike any of the air fryers we’ve tested previously, the LED and touch control panel is located on the glossy top of this kitchen gadget creating a streamlined look.
On test, we found the air fryer produced crisp, crunchy fries with soft, fluffy potato inside and succulent juicy chicken wings. However, it struggled to evenly brown foods, so we found ourselves tweaking cooking times, and it wasn't effective when cooking frozen foods either.
It has seven presets for dishes such as bacon, seafood, and cake. It also has a reminder to shake, which can be activated when setting the cooking time that will alert you halfway through cooking so you can turn the food to achieve an even crisp.
Read our full Cosori Pro LE Air Fryer L501 review
This air fryer has two separate compartments, so you can cook two different dishes so they’re ready to serve at the same time. In our review, we were impressed at just how quickly the air fryer crisped and evenly browned our fries.
The two cooking drawers, which have crisper plates inside, have an overall capacity of 10-quart / 9.5 liter and are deep enough to hold a 3lb / 1.4kg batch of fries or 4.4lb / 2kg chicken each. Ninja also offers a smaller capacity version, which holds up to 8-quart / 7.6 liters and is known as the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone Air Fryer AF300.
This handy kitchen gadget can roast, dehydrate, bake and even reheat, as well as air fry, although, like most air fryers, the reheat function can't replace a microwave. We were impressed that different cooking methods can be employed in each compartment at the same time and the ‘sync’ feature ensures both compartments finish cooking at the same time, so you’ll never be waiting around for one part of your meal to finish cooking.
It is one of the bulkier air fryers we’ve tested and it does take up a significant chunk of space on a worktop. However, it looks pretty stylish combining a glossy black finish with silver accents.
Read our full Ninja Foodi Max Dual Zone Air Fryer AF400 review
While most choices on this list are basket fryers, this offering from Cuisinart raises the bar with its mini oven or oven toaster design. The Cuisinart TOA-60 Air Fryer Mini Oven is a little more expensive than the others, but you're getting a lot of bang for your buck as it offers every cooking function you could need.
It doesn't just air fry, roast, bake, and reheat. It also convection bakes, convection broils, bakes, and toasts. And, we found it to be a powerful air fryer whose seven functions performed well during testing. Just bear in mind that, as in our experience, it takes a bit of tweaking and guesswork to get cooking times and temperatures right.
Finally, while the air frying function doesn’t make full use of its generous capacity, its spacious interior does grant more real estate to spread out your food while cooking. Plus, as it's several cooking appliances in one, you're also saving counter space.
Read our full Cuisinart TOA-60 Air Fryer Mini Oven review
We haven't seen anything quite like the Ninja Foodi Smart XL 6-in-1 Indoor Grill & Air Fryer with Built in Thermometer, 2nd Generation, DG551. The name is a bit of a mouthful so we'll refer to it as the Ninja DG551.
During our review, we found that the Smart Cook System achieves perfect doneness levels for different types of meats. This can be done by selecting one of four different protein settings and using the Foodi Smart Thermometer, which sits on the side of the appliance when not in use. The Smart Cook System will then monitor the internal temperature of the meat via the thermometer, and detect when the meat is finished cooking per your settings.
While you can’t cook different foods at different temperatures at the same time, this grill creates great char and crispier air-fried foods, and can even cook meat and fish from frozen. The other functions that the Ninja DG551 can do is grill, roast, bake, dehydrate, and broil food - all which we found did better than the Ninja Foodie 6-in-1 10-qt. XL 2-Basket Air Fryer with DualZone Technology, its predecessor.
Read our full Ninja Foodi Smart XL 6-in-1 Indoor Grill & Air Fryer with Built in Thermometer, 2nd Generation, DG551 review (opens in new tab)
Want to keep an eye on your food while it's cooking, but without opening the basket and letting out all the hot air? This Instant's latest air fryer is worth considering.
Not only can the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Air Fryer, which is known in the UK as the Instant Vortex Plus Dual Drawer Air Fryer, have two baskets so you can cook two foods at the same time, but it also comes with a plastic window on the front of each basket. The windows, along with a light in the cooking chamber, mean you can easily watch your food as it browns.
In our review, we were impressed with the results from the air fryer - it turned out crisp, crunchy, and evenly browned fries and chicken wings every time. However, it is one of the most expensive models on the market right now and with no cooking charts, you will need to experiment to ensure foods are cooked exactly to your liking.
It has a larger overall capacity than other Instant air fryers. However, it's worth remembering this is split across two frying baskets, so each basket holds a slightly smaller amount of food - meaning it won't be suitable for larger homes.
Read our full Instant Vortex Plus Dual air fryer review
With a dedicated frozen food setting called Max Crisp, and plenty of cooking charts offering guidance on duration, this is the best air fryer on the market right now for cooking frozen foods. The Ninja Air Fryer Max, which is known as the Ninja Air Fryer Max XL in the US, also turned our crisp, evenly browned homemade fries and chicken wings, and was quiet during use too.
In our review, we found the compact, circular-shaped air fryer does lack a reminder to shake function - a feature that many other air fryers offer and helps ensure the hot air reaches every inch of the food. It also doesn't have an automatic preheat function and the reheat mode can't replace a microwave.
However, for those that primarily cook frozen foods, this is the ideal air fryer. It's also available in a smaller version, which has a 4-quart / 3.8-liter capacity and is called the Ninja Air Fryer.
Read our full Ninja Air Fryer Max review
If you're looking for an air fryer that can feed several mouths, the Philips Airfryer XXL HD9650/99 is the perfect choice thanks to its large 7.3-quart / 7-liter capacity. During testing, we found the air fryer ensured everything we cooked including fries, frozen steak-cut chips, and chicken wings had a satisfying crunch.
It also has an additional insert, which sits between the frying basket and air fryer drawer, that Philips says separates and traps fat secreted by the food during cooking, so you don’t ingest it. This comes in useful as the air fryer uses more oil than most. The recipe booklet recommended using 1Tbsp oil when for 1.1lb / 500g of potato when making homemade fries and the same quantity for six chicken wings, which does slightly reduce the healthiness of the meal you’re cooking - so any fat trapping features are worth having.
However, this is a bulky appliance. So if you're tight on countertop space, you may find yourself having to store it in a cupboard.
Read our full Philips Airfryer XXL HD9650/99 review
If you're looking for a simple-to-use air fryer, the Instant Vortex turned out the same crisp, evenly browned fries and succulent chicken during testing as its more expensive sibling (above). That's without the myriad of settings to navigate.
The Vortex can air-fry, roast, bake and reheat, but there’s no option to grill or dehydrate here. Although we found some of the extra cooking methods weren’t quite as effective as the air fryer setting. For example, cinnamon rolls cooked on the bake setting were far too crisp after the allotted time.
It has the same capacity that can hold a 4lb / 1.8kg chicken or 2lb / 1kg of fries as the Instant Vortex Plus, so it's got the same bulky footprint. If you don’t have enough room to keep it on a countertop, you’ll need to store it away when it’s not in use.
Read our full Instant Vortex Air Fryer review
More compact than most of the air fryers we’ve tested, the Philips Essential Airfryer HD9252/91 has a 5-quart / 4.8-liter capacity. Philips says is sufficient for three servings, making it ideal for smaller households
It did a solid job at crisping fries and chicken wings in our tests, however, we found it requires oil to cook many foods, even items such as chicken wings, which can be cooked in rival air fryers in this list without any oil. This does slightly reduce the healthiness of the meal you’re cooking.
As well as air-frying, the appliance, which is easy to clean as both sections of the frying basket are dishwasher-safe, can also roast, bake and reheat, too. It was also the quietest air fryer we’ve tested to date, registering 52db on our meter, which is the equivalent to the gentle hum of a refrigerator. In addition, the exterior casing remained cool to the touch throughout cooking.
Read our full Philips Essential Airfryer HD9252/91 review
If you're an individual or a couple with small appetites, this small capacity air fryer is ideal. A more compact version of the Instant Vortex (above), turned out crisp, evenly browned fries and succulent chicken during our testing.
The Vortex Mini can air-fry, roast, bake and reheat as well, and it's easy to clean - although while the crisper plate is dishwasher safe, the basket itself can't be cleaned in a dishwasher. Due to the smaller capacity, some experimentation is required to ensure you get the perfect crunchy exterior, and the reheat function can't rival a microwave. However, considering the affordable price tag and compact size, we think it's a great buy.
Read our full Instant Vortex Mini air fryer review
How we test air fryers
To compare each air fryer, we've cooked up batches and batches of fries and chicken wings. As well as evaluating how, crisp, evenly browned and in the case of chicken wings, how moist and juicy the meat was, we’ve also compared how easy they are to use.
We rated each design on how many settings it offers, how durable and easy to clean the body and parts are, how loud their fans are and how hot the exterior casing gets. For each model we wanted to know whether it was simple to use design and didn’t require reading a thick instruction manual before use, came with useful accessories such as frying baskets, or a recipe book for inspiration.
What to consider when buying an air fryer
There are a number of considerations that need taking into account when choosing the best air fryer for you.
Start by deciding which type of air fryer you want. Basket air fryers tend to be healthier because they funnel the juices, as well as the fat, away from the food but you can’t check on the food without opening them and letting cold air in, which can stall the cooking process.
Bowl air fryers, however, have glass lids so you can keep an eye on your meal, but the cooking juices remain in the air fryer and in contact with the food, making it tastier but not as healthy.
You’ll also need to check the capacity of the air fryer. If you’re feeding four or more mouths, look for larger air fryers, which can hold around 6.5 quarts / 6 liters, while couples will find designs that have a capacity of around 2.5 quarts / 2.5 liters will be sufficient. Some of the best air fryers also have more than one compartment, which means you can cook multiple foods at the same time.
As we’ve already mentioned, if you’re tight on space look for air fryers that offer a multitude of different cooking methods, to cut down on the number of appliances that clutter up your kitchen countertop. Also, consider whether you want an air fryer with smart features that means you can switch it on or off from your smartphone.
How to choose the best air fryer for you
Preheat times are short when air frying and they also use less electricity than a traditional oven. For more on these benefits, take a look at our dive into the question: 'do air fryers use a lot of electricity?'.
Most modern air fryers consist of a pull-out drawer with a crisper tray inside, similar to the perforated trays found in a fryer or oven. This design allows any excess oil to be removed from the contents, decreasing the eventual fat content on the plate. The handle found on the drawer is also handy for shaking the food part-way through cooking, which encourages an even distribution of crispiness.
Some larger air fryers even have dual-zone modes that allow you to set specific settings for different foods you want to cook at the same time. For more tips and tricks on getting the most out of your appliance, take a look at our guide to how air fryers work.
There are many other benefits to enjoy when switching to one of the best air fryers, including the relative lack of clean-up when cooking traditionally oily foods like sausages. And even if you do end up making a mess, you can take a look at our article on how to clean an air fryer - which may involve just popping the relevant elements into the dishwasher when you're done.
Of course, despite all of these pros to getting an air fryer, sometimes they're not the right fit for every kitchen. If you're short on space, for example, you could consider one of the best Instant Pots or alternative multi-cookers, which includes some models that mimic the effect of a standalone air fryer.
Is air-fried food healthier?
There's no denying air fryers use substantially less oil than deep frying, but just how healthy are they? Some foods, most of which are frozen or have naturally occurring fat, like Chicken Wings, are suitable for air frying without any oil at all. Fries, roast potatoes, and other traditional crisp foods will need some oil, but how much varies between air fryers.
In our tests, manufacturers' instructions have recommended anywhere from 1tsp to 1tbsp of oil per 1.1lb / 500g of fries, so if you want to use as little oil as possible - we'd suggest you check how oil is required before you purchase a specific model. It's also crucial to remember the healthiness of what you make in your air fryer, all depends on what you actually put in it, to begin with. To find out more, read how healthy are air fryers?
What can you cook in an air fryer?
Fries, roast potatoes, chicken wings, and other deep-fried favorites are obvious dishes to cook in an air fryer, but that's not all you can whip up in one of these handy kitchen gadgets. You can prepare anything you can cook in a traditional fan oven, space permitting, because they work in the same way.
So whether that's frozen foods, mini pizzas, or even gnocchi and ravioli - it can all be cooked in an air fryer. You can even make fudgy brownies in an air fryer, in less time than it takes in an oven.
In fact, we've spent more than 12 months attempting to cook some of our favorite dishes in this kitchen gadget. We found an air fryer can rival KFC when it comes to fried chicken, and was also the answer when it came to creating crisp, crunchy crackling on pork belly.
As well as being used in place of an oven, air fryers can be an easier way to prepare dishes usually cooked on a stove, without having to watch them like a hawk and turn them before they burn. In particular, we discovered French Toast and grilled cheese work extremely well in the kitchen gadget.
If you're a fan of fries but unsure how to go about making them in an air fryer, then check out our advice, which even details an air fryer trick that's a game-changer when it comes to cooking fries.
If you're still unsure we've got plenty of inspiration when it comes to what you can cook in an air fryer?.
What can't be cooked in an air fryer
While there are plenty of foods that can be cooked in an air fryer, there are some things you should avoid putting in this cooking appliance. These include foods dipped in batter, as the liquid will simply slide off the item and leave a mess in the frying basket.
Anything lightweight such as an individual slice of bread, or leafy greens, is likely to get blown around the cooking cavity, and unlikely to brown and crisp evenly. Similarly, large joints of meat, such as a whole chicken, will fill the air frying drawer and mean the hot air can't circulate, so it also won't be evenly crisped and browned.
Finally, anybody seeking to cook red meat so it's rare or medium-rare will struggle to do so in an air fryer. The cooking duration in this appliance is much quicker than when using traditional methods, which means it's likely to be ready before the outside has had time to brown.
How does an air fryer work?
Despite its name, an air fryer doesn't actually fry. Utilizing a very cleverly designed fan oven, it efficiently uses airflow to cook in a way and at a speed that conventional ovens, even fan ones, cannot.
Some of the best air fryers are also multi-cookers, meaning that the air circulated doesn't just air fry. A single countertop device can make tasty fries but also work as a toaster oven, a dehydrator, a slow cooker and a pizza oven, as well as heat up last night's takeout leftovers and bake brilliant bagels too.
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