Best Air Fryers of 2021

Models from Elite, Farberware, Gourmia, GoWise, and Ninja jockey for top spots in Consumer Reports' air fryer ratings

The NuWave 37001 air fryer 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.
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Crispy fries without all the oil? That's the golden promise of air fryers, and it might explain why, in the U.S., 2 million more air fryers were sold in the second quarter of 2020 than in the same period of 2019. And market research firm NPD Group predicts the category will continue its growth surge in 2021. 

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. 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, we found that the 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 Larry Ciufo, the Consumer Reports test engineer who oversees air fryer testing.

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 the food. "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 model.

Below, a roundup of the seven best air fryers from CR's latest tests, listed alphabetically. 

Tip: Don't overload an air fryer's basket. It can slow down cooking and keep air from reaching all of the food, giving you uneven results. For more tips on how to use this countertop appliance, check out our deep dive on how to get the most out of your air fryer

For more info as you shop, see our air fryer buying guide. And you'll find even more options in our air fryer ratings.

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; its 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 a little doing, knocking its cleaning rating from Excellent down to Very Good. It's relatively quiet, and the warranty is for one year. 

    Farberware 3.2 Quart Oil-Less Multi-Functional Fryer Black FT 42138 BK
    Farberware 3.2 Quart Oil-Less...

      Farberware 3.2 Quart Oil-Less...

      CR’s take: Its relatively good price and performance make the Farberware 3.2 Quart Oil-Less Multi-Functional 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 on most of the models we tested.

      Gourmia GAF686 Digital
      Gourmia GAF686 Digital

        Gourmia GAF686 Digital

        CR's take: The Gourmia GAF686 Digital is a newcomer to CR's tests and proves itself worthy of the category's top spot. Though its measured capacity is 4.3 quarts, its overall size is almost equivalent to the smaller-capacity Farberware (above) and NuWave Brio (below). In addition to receiving an Excellent rating for controls, the model earns a Very Good rating for noise and ease of cleaning. The Gourmia also stands out for being the lightest-weight air fryer in our roundup, making it easier to move from the cupboard to the countertop and vice versa. The warranty on this model is good for one year.

        GoWise USA GW22731
        GoWise USA GW22731

          GoWise USA GW22731

          CR's take: Another CR Best Buy, the GoWise GW22731 has measured capacity of 4.9 quarts. Its touch buttons and programmed settings are among the easiest to see and use, earning an Excellent rating in our assessment. And this is one of the quietest air fryers we tested. The exterior’s crevices and the basket’s nooks and crannies take some effort to clean, however. The warranty is for one year.

          Ninja AF100
          Ninja AF100

            Ninja AF100

            CR's take: Testers found that the 3-quart Ninja AF100's electronic controls with preprogrammed settings were also among the easiest to see and use, earning a rating of Excellent in our assessment of them. 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.

            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 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. This model isn't as noisy as its sibling, but cleaning the basket is slightly harder. The warranty is for one year.

              NuWave 6-Qt 37001
              NuWave 6-Qt 37001

                NuWave 6-Qt 37001

                CR’s take: The NuWave 37001 air fryer boasts a measured capacity of 5.8 quarts. Our experts found 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, 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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                Tanya A. Christian

                I've spent more than a decade covering lifestyle, news, and policy. At Consumer Reports, I'm happy to sit at the intersection of these specialties, writing about appliances, product safety and advocacy, consumer fairness, and the best tools and products to help you spruce up your home. When I'm not putting pen to paper, I'm exploring new cultures through travel and taking on home makeover projects, one room at a time.