Air Fryer Buying Guide

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 are up, 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 25 air fryers from 21 brands, including Cuisinart, George Foreman, GoWise, Hamilton Beach, Instant Pot, Ninja, NuWave, and Philips (among others) to find out whether they're worth making room for on your counter. 

Lab Tested for Your Kitchen

We cooked batches of French fries, chicken wings, and chicken nuggets, popular foods that are recommended in the owner's manuals, in many of the air fryers and, for comparison, a deep fryer. The air fryers needed just a few minutes to preheat, while our deep fryer took 15 minutes to get the oil hot. But the deep fryer cooks faster. All in all, when you factor in the time needed to preheat, the air fryers are slightly faster.

Staffers were not told which cooking method was used for each food, yet everybody could tell which foods were deep-fried. While none of the air fryers duplicated deep-fried results, the food was still delicious.  

We cooked these same foods in all of the air fryers, and found that while instructions for cooking times and temperatures vary by manufacturer, there were minor differences in browning, and 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 Larry Ciufo, who leads CR's tests of air fryers. "The real difference among air fryers comes down to convenience, so we designed our tests around that."

Testers evaluated how easy it is to read and use the controls. We used a sound-level meter to do multiple measurements of how loud each air fryer gets during operation, noting the noise at its peak.

And no matter how well a countertop appliance does its job, if cleanup is a hassle, we want you to know. That's why our testers judged how easy it is to clean each air fryer's basket, interior, and exterior.

 

Beyond the Hot Air

The air fryer ratings provide a summary of each model, offering you a good look at each. But before you shop, consider the following.

• Prices vary widely. The air fryers in our ratings sell for around $55 to $200, and we've seen ones for as much as $300. 

Capacities vary too. Air fryers are designed to neatly fit on your counter, and most aren't big enough to cook for a crowd, unless you cook in batches. We measured the capacities of the the air fryers we tested and found that they're between 2 and 5.8 quarts. When cooking, do not overcrowd the basket. This can block the hot air from reaching all the food. The result? Some food is cooked more than others.

Warranties differ. The shortest warranty of the air fryers we tested is 60 days—not exactly a confidence booster. Others in the air fryer ratings usually have a one or two-year warranty. You'll see this mentioned on the summary page of each air fryer. 

Air Fryer Brands

Here are the brands that you'll see in our current air fryer ratings

Bella offers a variety of countertop appliances. Bella air fryers are available on Amazon and at major retailers such as Walmart, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, and department stores.
Black+Decker is a well-known brand of countertop appliances. You'll see their air fryers on Amazon and at a number of mass retailers, such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, Kohl's, Target, and Walmart.
Chefman makes a variety of countertop appliances, including blenders, coffee makers, slow cookers, and air fryers. You'll see their air fryers online and at a variety of retailers, including Target, Walmart, Costco, and Bed Bath & Beyond.
You probably know Cuisinart for its food processors, but Cuisinart also makes a range of countertop appliances, including air fryers and toaster ovens with an air fryer function, and they're widely available. You'll see their air fryers online, including Amazon, and at Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Home Depot, and Target, for example.
Dash offers a variety of air fryers for $50 to $150. They're sold on Amazon and at major retailers such as Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and department stores.
A mid-priced brand with wide distribution, Elite Platinum offers various sizes of air fryers. Available at Amazon, and at major retailers such as Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and department stores.
A well-known kitchenware brand, Farberware air fryers are in the low-to-mid-price range, and sold on Amazon and at major retailers such as Walmart.
George Foreman has lent his name to a variety of countertop appliances for years, and now has an air fryer that's sold by Amazon, Kohl's, and Target.
Gourmia offers air fryers for $50 to $100. They're sold on Amazon, and at Best Buy, Costco, Target, and department stores.
Hamilton Beach is a major brand of countertop appliances, offering air fryers in the $70 to $120 range. You'll see them on Amazon and at major retailers such as Walmart, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and department stores.
Instant Pot became an internet sensation with its multi-cookers, inspiring cookbook authors and millions of home cooks. The company has expanded its line of countertop appliances to include blenders, toaster ovens, air fryers, and more.
Kalorik is known for its countertop appliances. Their air fryers run about $60 to $150, and you'll find them at major retailers such as Walmart, Target, Lowe's, Home Depot, and Amazon.
Krups was once best known as a German manufacturer of coffee makers. Now it sells a number of countertop appliances in the U.S. including toasters, toaster ovens, waffle makers, and yes, air fryers. Available online and at Bed Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel, and Lowe's.
Magic Chef makes ranges and other major appliances, and their lineup has expanded to include countertop appliances—such as coffee makers, toasters, and air fryers. They're sold at Bed, Bath, & Beyond, Home Depot, Walmart, and online, including Amazon.
Midea makes dishwashers, air conditioners, and other major appliances, plus countertop appliances, like air fryers. You'll see them at Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, and on Amazon.
A popular brand of countertop appliances, Ninja air fryers sell for around $100 to $150, and are available on Amazon, and at Walmart, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, and other major retailers.
A well known brand of air fryers, NuWave offers a variety of models, sizes, and features for $70 to $155. They're available on Amazon and at major retailers such as Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and department stores.
Oster offers a range of countertop appliances (including air fryers) at comparatively low price points, and they're widely available online and at major retailers.
You may know Philips for their TVs or lightbulbs, but they also make multi-cookers and air fryers, among other small appliances. The air fryers are sold at Williams-Sonoma, Best Buy, Costco, and online.
This As-Seen-On TV brand is available at Amazon and major retailers such as Walmart, Target, and department stores. Prices range from $80 to $120.
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