Best Small Air Fryers From Consumer Report’s Tests

These small-capacity models are less expensive than their larger counterparts, but they turn out crispy food just as well

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Air fryer with chicken nuggets. Photo: Getty Images

If you have a small kitchen with limited counter space, having an air fryer may sound like wishful thinking. Many are designed to cook food for a crowd—and regardless of their cooking capacity, they tend to eat up counter space. 

But there are small air fryers that are perfect for homes with fewer diners or compact kitchens. Consumer Reports’ tests show that these machines can turn out food that’s crisped to perfection, using little or no oil. They also tend to cost less than many larger models.

How do you find one of these small cookers among the dozens out there? You can’t judge by an air fryer’s footprint—or even its claimed capacity. Instead, the key is the size of a model’s basket or tray, which determines how much food it can actually handle.

In CR’s air fryer lab, our engineers measure each model’s capacity, which is typically smaller than what’s advertised. Measured capacities in our ratings range from 1.3 quarts all the way up to 8.9 quarts, while claimed capacities range from 1.8 pounds to 9.5 quarts.

Comparing models can also be a challenge because brands use different units of measurement—pounds, liters, or quarts—to indicate the amount of food a model can hold. “We convert all of the models in our ratings to quarts so people can compare apples to apples,” says Larry Cuifo, lead engineer for CR’s air fryer tests.

In a review of recommended models from our ratings, we found that regardless of a basket’s size, these appliances do a great job. French fries, frozen chicken nuggets, and wings are just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to the dishes and meals you can make in a fraction of the time. Note, however, that you can expect one of these small fryers to fit a chicken patty or two, but not a whole chicken.

We’ve rounded up the five best small air fryers from our tests, listed in alphabetical order below. All have a measured capacity of 4 quarts or less. Looking for an air fryer that can cook for a family of four or more? See our picks for the best large air fryers

For more information on these popular kitchen appliances, check out our air fryer buying guide. And to get all the specs on the full lineup of air fryers we’ve tested, CR members can go to our air fryer ratings.

Measured capacity: 2.7 quarts
Dimensions: 13" H x 11" W x 15" D

The Chefman TurboFry 4.5 Quart air fryer is the latest shining star in our air fryer ratings. It aces our noise and controls tests, and earns a Very Good score for cleaning. Despite its larger claimed capacity, the interior basket measures just 2.7 quarts and it’s less than a foot wide. The one-year warranty is on a par with most of the models we test.

Measured capacity: 2.4 quarts

Dimensions: 12” H x 10” W x 13” D

A CR Best Buy, the Chefman TurboFry Touch has a measured capacity of just 2.4 quarts and takes up less than a cubic foot of space. It earns high marks for controls and ease of cleaning, and it operates quietly, acing our noise test. Though it does have a digital display, it does not come with programmed settings. That means you’ll need to have a general idea of the temperature and time required for each recipe. It does, however, come with a one-year warranty, as well as a cookbook and parchment liners for the fryer basket.

Measured capacity: 1.9 quarts

Dimensions: 11” H x 9” W x 11” D

The Dash Digital Tasti Crisp is small but mighty. At a measured capacity of 1.9 quarts and an overall size of less than a square foot, this 6-pound model is one of the most compact air fryers in our ratings. Still, it ranks among the best. It earns a Very Good score for controls and cleaning, and excels in our noise test. It has a one-year warranty, which is typical for most models.

Measured capacity: 3.4 quarts

Dimensions: 13" H x 11" W x 13" D

The Gourmia 5qt Analog Air Fryer earns Very Good ratings for the legibility and ease of its controls and for its relatively quiet operation. It’s a standout when it comes to cleaning, earning an Excellent rating in that category. Its great performance, coupled with its affordable price, make it a CR Best Buy. Note that the basket’s claimed capacity is 5 quarts, while CR’s test engineers measured it at 3.4 quarts. It is less than a foot wide. The one-year warranty is on a par with most of the models we test.

Measured capacity: 3.6 quarts

Dimensions: 13" H x 11" W x 14" D

The Williams Sonoma Open Kitchen Digital Air Fryer, a Williams Sonoma exclusive, has a brushed stainless steel exterior. The interior basket size measures 3.6 quarts and it takes up slightly more than a cubic foot of space. It earns a middling score for its controls but aces the noise test. It’s also pretty easy to clean. This model is designed with a digital display and programmed settings. Like most of the models we test, this one comes with a one-year warranty.

Headshot of CRO Home Editor Tanya Christian

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.