Air fryers cook with very hot circulating air, and provide a healthier alternative to conventional frying because they use little or no oil. They're not really fryers, however. They're countertop convection ovens that rely on a fan to circulate hot air to cook food.
Crispy fried food made with little or no oil is a deliciously tempting offer. That's the golden promise of air fryers, and it helps to explain why sales continue to increase, making air fryers one of the hottest countertop appliances in the past year, according to the market research firm NPD Group.
Air fryers don't fry food. Instead, a fan circulates hot air to quickly cook and crisp the food in the basket. They can also bake and reheat food. Consumer Reports bought and tested over two dozen air fryers from a wide range of brands, including Cuisinart, George Foreman, GoWise, Hamilton Beach, Instant Pot, Ninja, NuWave, and Philips to find out whether they're worth making room for on your counter.
French fries and Buffalo wings are just the beginning. Air fryers do a terrific job cooking a range of foods, including fish and vegetables, such as asparagus, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale chips, according to CR staffers who tried cooking these in an air fryer.