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Best Air Fryers of 2019

NuWave, Ninja, Farberware, and Elite jockey for top spots in Consumer Reports' ratings

The NuWave 37001 air fryer is shown with a batch of just-made french fries.
Testers made french fries in the NuWave 37001 air fryer to find out whether air-fried food tastes like the real thing.

Crispy fries without all the oil? That's the golden promise of air fryers, and it probably explains why roughly 4 million were sold over a recent 12-month period in the U.S. That represents a tenfold increase in two years, according to the market research firm NPD Group. 

These irregularly shaped countertop appliances don't fry food at all. They're actually small convection ovens: A fan circulates hot air to quickly cook food in the basket from the outside in. Finger food you'd typically fry can go in an air fryer instead. Fries, certainly, but add to the list chicken wings, chicken nuggets, jalapeño poppers, cheese sticks—even pizza bites—and you get the idea. Most have small capacities, from 2 to 5.8 quarts (often smaller than claimed, according to our measurements).

In the lab, all 14 models in our air fryer ratings turned out nicely cooked food, though staffers who sampled the results weren't fooled into thinking they were deep-fried. "You can tell the difference," says CR test engineer Larry Ciufo.

Instructions for cooking times and temperatures vary by manufacturer, and though we found minor differences in browning, staffers didn't notice any real differences in taste. "Even when we held cooking times and temperatures constant, the results were very similar—with no discernible differences in taste," says Ciufo. "The real difference among air fryers comes down to convenience, so we designed our tests around that." We evaluate capacity, how easy the controls are to read and use, noise levels, and how much elbow grease it takes to clean a given model. 

Here's a roundup of the five best air fryers from CR's tests, listed alphabetically (not by rank order). 

Tip: Don't overload the air fryer's basket. It can slow down cooking and keep air from reaching all the food, giving you uneven results. And nobody likes soggy fries.
 

1

Elite Platinum EAF-1506D 3.5 Qt Digital
Elite Platinum EAF-1506D 3.5 Qt...

    Elite Platinum EAF-1506D 3.5 Qt...

    CR's take: The shape of the Elite Platinum EAF-1506D air fryer makes it seem bigger than it is—measured capacity is 3.4 quarts—but the handle folds down, making it easier to store. The controls and preprogrammed settings are fairly easy to read, and cleaning the inside and outside of the air fryer is easy. But cleaning the basket takes some doing, knocking its cleaning rating from Excellent down to Very Good. It's relatively quiet, and the warranty is for one year. 

    2

    Farberware HF-919B
    Farberware HF-919B

      Farberware HF-919B

      CR’s take: Its relatively good price and performance make the Farberware HF-919B air fryer a CR Best Buy. It’s among the quietest of the models we’ve tested, earning an Excellent rating in our noise tests (you can actually hear the mechanical timer ticking over the fan noise). The dials are fairly easy to read and use, but the nooks and crannies of the food basket make it tough to clean. The basket’s measured capacity is 3.2 quarts. The two-year warranty is longer than most we tested.

      3

      Ninja AF100
      Ninja AF100

        Ninja AF100

        CR's take: Testers found that the 3-quart Ninja AF100's electronic controls with preprogrammed settings are among the easiest to see and use, earning a rating of Excellent in our assessment of controls. Cleaning the inside and outside of this fryer is fairly easy, but it's on the noisy side. The fan is as loud as a countertop microwave, so you'll hear it running. The warranty covers one year.

        4

        NuWave Brio Air Fryer 36011
        NuWave Brio Air Fryer 36011

          NuWave Brio Air Fryer 36011

          CR's take: The NuWave Brio 36011 is a smaller version of the NuWave 37001, and as such has a measured capacity of just 2.6 quarts, among the smallest we tested. Like the bigger NuWave, the Brio has electronic controls with preprogrammed settings that are among the easiest to see and use of the tested air fryers, earning an Excellent rating in our evaluation of controls. This model isn't as noisy as its sibling, but cleaning the basket is slightly harder. The warranty is one year.

          5

          NuWave 6-Qt 37001
          NuWave 6-Qt 37001

            NuWave 6-Qt 37001

            CR’s take: The NuWave 37001 air fryer boasts the largest capacity of any model we tested, at 5.8 quarts. Our experts find its electronic controls with preprogrammed settings to be among the easiest to see and use. The inside and outside of the appliance are a cinch to clean, but cleaning food out of the holes in the basket takes a little extra effort. This air fryer is on the noisy side, according to our measurements, earning only a Good rating in our noise tests. The fan is as loud as a countertop microwave, so you'll hear it running. The warranty is good for one year.

            For more details and more options, check our air fryer ratings.

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            Kimberly Janeway

            For years I've covered the increasing water and energy efficiency of washers and what it means to consumers, along with innovations in a variety of products, and whether manufacturers deliver on their promises. What I'm really trying to do is to help consumers, and consumers help me by posting comments and posing questions. So thanks!